In a crowded crossover marketplace, Mitsubishi’s recent offerings have not quite hit the mark. That’s why we’re more than a little curious about the new 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. Compared to the competition, the Outlander seemed too long and underpowered, while the Outlander Sport came across as too small … and underpowered. Enter the Eclipse Cross, a new crossover that slots in between those two and matches up better in terms of its basic dimensions to the likes of the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and Mazda CX-5, to name a few. And for the most part it’s a handsomely styled machine, with a bit more attitude than we’ve seen from Mitsubishi before.
We’re still not sure about the underpowered part of the equation, because although Mitsubishi has said the U.S.-market Eclipse Cross will be powered exclusively by a new 1.5-liter direct-injected and turbocharged engine, it has not yet released any power, torque or fuel economy figures. And the only transmission we’ll get is a continuously variable automatic, which could go either way depending on how well it’s tuned. It does have an eight-speed manual override Sport mode, though. Apart from the manual mode, the brand-new 2017 Honda CR-V uses a similar powertrain and drives smoothly, feels powerful and is easy on gas. The Eclipse Cross, therefore, has a lot to live up to, but we won’t be sure how it fares until an eventual test drive later this year.
What we can say is it’s a handsome crossover with bold styling that’s more cohesive than other recent efforts. The look is distinctively different from the competition, and from a pure aesthetic point of view it kind of works. But a few things give us pause, such as the downward-sloping rear window line that makes it a bit harder to access the rear seat without ducking. There’s no lack of headroom once we’re seated, though. And then there’s the body line that bisects the rear hatch glass into two pieces right in the middle of the driver’s view out the rearview mirror. It’s slender, but we’re not sure the styling payoff is sufficient to warrant such a move.
The inside is reasonably well trimmed, but it’s by no means the best we’ve seen in the segment. There’s a head-up display for the driver, and we like the good-size 8-inch infotainment screen that’s mounted high in the center of the dash. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, too. Thing is, you control it all by dragging your finger around on a touchpad, just like a laptop. We can’t imagine doing that in a moving vehicle every time we want to swap between radio and navigation, for example.
We’re still curious and optimistic about the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, and now that we’ve seen it in person and climbed inside, we’ve got a few particular points we want to focus on when we get a chance to drive it. A specific U.S. release date has not yet been announced, but it won’t be until after Europe gets the Eclipse Cross first this coming fall. Early next year seems like a safe bet.