2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Mitsubishi SUV looks like today, drives like yesterday

The rise and rise of the SUV has led to some brands almost abandoning those old-hat conveyances - you know, hatchbacks, sedans and coupes.

Mitsubishi once had a wide range in Australia and made a great local model, the Magna, in Adelaide from 1985-2005. It's now a predominantly SUV outfit, plus the Triton one-tonner, the cheap and cheerful Mirage and the Lancer, a relic from the Cretaceous period.

The new Eclipse Cross slots into Mitsubishi's SUV portfolio between the compact ASX and mid-size Outlander.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: Comes in three grades, from $30,500 to $38,500.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: Comes in three grades, from $30,500 to $38,500.

All three grades are powered by a 1.5-litre turbo turning the continuously variable transmission.

The front-wheel drive LS starts at $30,500. We're in the mid-spec Exceed, at $36,000; it's also available with all-wheel drive, at $38,500.

 

VALUE

Exceed specification covers most of a family's wagon requirements, with such bonus luxe as a double sunroof, dual zone aircon and front seats that are heated and power adjustable.

Fake carbon-fibre and high gloss black plastic, framed by sweeping silver trim, adorn a twin cockpit-style dash with conventional instruments. The Eclipse is made in Japan, so fit and finish are excellent.

Infotainment includes a seven-inch touchscreen, plus a touchpad on the centre console.

Eclipse Cross: Cabin benefits from Japanese quality of fit and finish.
Eclipse Cross: Cabin benefits from Japanese quality of fit and finish.

Once you get the hang of how far and how hard to swipe, the touchpad works well, so you don't often have to reach for the screen. Standard are Apple Carplay/Android Auto connectivity and digital radio but there's no navigation - you need to use your phone for that.

Voice control is an adventure. The nice lady who runs things doesn't like it if you speak loudly and tells you so in quite a stern tone. You have two chances to hit her preferred volume before she gets annoyed and refuses to listen to you, so you have to restart voice and try again.

Touchpad works well in tandem with screen ... voice control is another matter.
Touchpad works well in tandem with screen ... voice control is another matter.

When you ask her - softly and tenderly -- to make a call, she takes you through a long, convoluted process and seems reluctant to just get on with it and dial the flaming number. I think she must have had a loud boyfriend and phone bill trauma at some stage in her life.

 

COMFORT

Or maybe she's just uncomfortable. Rugged in town, the ride jolts on sharp bumps and concrete joins, which generate excessive thump and bump as well.

It improves at highway speeds but the oversprung Eclipse lacks the compliance and comfort expected in a family vehicle.

You perch on a flat, short cushion, with good upper body support from a properly contoured, well-bolstered backrest. The wheel could use more reach adjustment to allow for long legs.

A strut in the middle of the tailgate window doesn't seriously impede rearward vision. Big side mirrors, parking sensors and camera views (360/180 degrees plus kerbside) allow you to see what's happening all around.

Good outward vision: Split tailgate window presents no handicap.
Good outward vision: Split tailgate window presents no handicap.

Firm and supportive, the rear bench has 200mm of travel, plus adjustable backrest angle, so legroom is generous, though the tapered roofline will test headroom for tall passengers.

The absence of vents plus the clumsy middle seat belt configuration reduce the Eclipse's kid carrier appeal; on the credit side, access is easy and kids will like the high seating position.

The design-driven coupe-style rear end looks sharp but seriously compromises boot space - most rivals have more. In 60-40 split fold extended mode, the floor isn't flat, either.

 

SAFETY

You get the lot in the Exceed, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

 

DRIVING

On the strength of its performance or dynamics, the Eclipse is not going to win any class comparisons.

The 1.5-litre turbo is laggy at low revs and, from rest, the go pedal needs a serious poke to get a response, especially in Eco mode. Once the CVT wakes up and engages meaningfully with the engine, mid-range performance is strong and the pedal is more responsive.

It cruises easily and quietly on the highway, returning 7-8L/100km on regular unleaded, which isn't spectacularly frugal. Around town, despite the absence of auto stop-start, you can achieve single figures, though in Normal mode you'll get respectable performance but consumption can increase to 10-12L/100km.

The CVT also has paddles, which mimic an eight-speed automatic.

Just like an old school SUV, the Eclipse gives you loud, clear "back off or bad things might happen" signals at very low dynamic limits.

Eclipse Cross: Low dynamic limits.
Eclipse Cross: Low dynamic limits.

Sloppy handling is characterised by exaggerated body roll in corners, deep, early understeer and less than disciplined roadholding, typical of oversprung/underdamped suspension. The steering itself is rubbery and vague, while the brakes are only adequate.

 

HEART SAYS

I love the rakish, coupe shape. At last, an SUV that doesn't look like an SUV.

 

HEAD SAYS

I get A-grade connectivity, safety and made-in-Japan quality. It's also the right size - most other SUVs at this price are smaller or bigger than I need. I'll wait for the inevitable Mitsubishi discount deal.

 

ALTERNATIVES

MAZDA CX-5 MAXX SPORT FROM $34,390

No ball of fire either, with a naturally aspirated 114kW 2.0-litre/six-speed auto, but a superior drive to the Eclipse and better fuel economy too. Comparable safety, minus adaptive cruise.

VW TIGUAN 118TSI TRENDLINE FROM $34,490

Pick of the class, with a punchy, frugal 110kW 1.4-litre turbo/six-speed auto/front-wheel drive, great handling, comfortable ride and much more load space. Auto emergency braking standard.

 

VERDICT

2.5 stars

Doesn't drive as good as it looks or as its price suggests. Sure, it's got the family friendly feature list, infotainment and blue-chip safety but, on the road, the Eclipse feels like yesterday's SUV.

 

MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS EXCEED

PRICE $36,000 (average)

Supplied Cars Page 3: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Supplied Cars Page 3: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

SERVICING $1100 for 3 years (average), 5-yr warranty (long)

ENGINE 1.5-litre 4-cyl turbo, 110kW/250Nm (average)

SAFETY 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise, rear cross traffic alert (excellent)

THIRST 7.3L/100km (above average)

SPARE Space-saver (not ideal)

CARGO 341L (with max rear seat legroom; small)

News Corp Australia

Rider excited to take on nation's best

Rider excited to take on nation's best

Jaycie Trace will proudly represent Nanango's St Patrick's school.

Upgrades making South Burnett roads safer

Upgrades making South Burnett roads safer

The upgrades are all scheduled to take place this financial year.

Doctor reflects on the women who inspire her

Doctor reflects on the women who inspire her

The Burnett's Linda Stewart's family inspired her to become a doctor

Local Partners