Just when you thought the Mitsubishi SUV range was full, the Eclipse Cross wedges it’s way in between the ASX and the Outlander. It’s available initially with 2WD, with the 4WD models arriving about the same time this review goes up.
The Eclipse Cross is based on the Outlander platform, but it is a largely all new vehicle and it features an all new engine. This is a small 1.5 litre four-cylinder turbo, although it packs a respectable 112kW and 254 Nm of torque. The Eclipse Cross also has a CVT gearbox. Now I’m no fan of CVTs, and while I won’t bore you with the technical details in operation most of these gearboxes make the engine sound like a hyena dissecting a howler monkey with a rusty chainsaw. A CVT also makes it feel as if there’s a rubber band between the throttle pedal and the cars performance.
But the CVT in the Eclipse Cross is different. Instead of constantly altering the gear ratio it goes through eight ‘steps’, effectively mimicking an eight-speed gearbox. Many other CVT equipped vehicles will do this, but the Eclipse Cross goes deeper, with a much ‘intelligent’ programming in the gearchanges. That makes it actually good to drive. Couple that with decent performance from the turbocharged engine and the Eclipse cross does make a sporty addition to the range.
Ride and handling is pretty much standard fare you would expect from a mid-sized SUV, with decent handling and a ride quality that is OK most of the time but is a choppy over rough roads.
The styling is not unattractive, as far as mid-sized SUVs go, and there are a few details that stand out in this NZ$45,590 VRX. This includes the split window in the rear hatch, which provides a truly impressive rearwards view.
There’s also a dual sunroof, head up display, and a new touchpad system that allows you to control features in the infotainment system. Mitsubishi calls it a Smartphone Display Audio interface and it is essentially a small pad next to the handbrake that operates like a trackpad on a laptop. You can scroll through menus and push down on the touchpad to select and item. It works well, although you really need a smartphone to make the most of the system.
Like many new cars today the Eclipse Cross comes with a full range of electronic safety features which include Forward Collision Mitigation (which will automatically brake the car if a collision is about to occur), Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a Multi-Around View Monitor that helps manoeuvres in tight spots. The Adaptive Cruise Control can be used in traffic down to a standstill and in general works well, but the system tends to apply the brakes too abruptly for many passengers.
The Eclipse Cross is a handy option for people who want something around the size of the Outlander but something that looks sportier and drives in a more spirited manner.