Mountain Wheels: Mitsubishi’s coupe-like Eclipse Cross repurposes an old name for new kicks

Cutline: Mitsubishi’s Eclipse Cross crossover SUV modifies the footprint of its full-size SUV, with an old Prius-styled split-level rear window as stylistic twist.
Courtesy photo

As perhaps a valid but unlucky testament to what a seemingly tiny turbo engine can do for a relatively large vehicle, let me recount my interaction between the 2019 version of Mitsubishi’s distinctive Eclipse Cross crossover SUV and the Denver Police Department.

I had a few days to cruise around in the Eclipse Cross earlier this year, it being the first Mitsubishi I had driven in a long time, so I was interested in seeing what the company had been doing and exactly why they’d donated the name of the once-popular compact street-racer car to a larger SUV.

The company’s sales, as you might have noticed, are not explosive in the U.S. market, though they sold more than 117,000 vehicles in 2018 — about the number of red crew-cab Limited Ford F-150s sold per month, I am guessing — though it was the best year for Mitsubishi since 2007. The company is also part of the enormous Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi automotive alliance, with gazillions of sales around the world. Just not here, mostly.

The Eclipse Cross, which also debuted in 2018, represents a different direction for Mitsubishi’s SUV offerings, with a chopped look in the rear that gives the vehicle a similar, high-belted stance as a vehicle such as the Range Rover Evoque.

From the rear (or seated in the driver’s seat, peering out the rear glass), the designers also decided that a horizontal split in the rear glass, reminiscent of a Toyota Prius or perhaps a Pontiac Aztec, would give the vehicle a particularly one-of-a-kind look.

I found it only somewhat distracting, bisecting your rear sightline as it does, and it does give the vehicle a different appeal than Mitsubishi’s Outlander or Outlander Sport SUVs with LED lights and a high-center brake light that form a solid bar of light from the rear.

Was that what caught the attention of the police? No, it turns out the Eclipse Cross can also travel at a remarkable pace, just enough on Speer Boulevard to turn into a triple-digit-dollar ticket. Sigh.

One might not believe that a 3,516-pound, all-wheel-drive, five-passenger vehicle might go fast at all with only a 1.5-liter engine, but that 152-horsepower, 184-foot-pounds, direct-injection turbo surprised me, as well.

The Eclipse Cross was able to hold steady and speedy on the highway, with a continuously variable transmission with eight virtual gears that did not get bogged down or feel slack at all. That small engine does produce good mileage, as high as 26 highway mpg for the vehicle’s all-wheel-drive variant.

That AWD system, called Super All-Wheel-Control, is about the last tangible connection to the company’s popular Evo rally cars and ought to make the Eclipse Cross a solid handler in the snow. You also have a three-mode drive selector system, with settings expressly for snow or gravel drives.

The 2020 model year Eclipse Cross pricing ranges from $22,845 for a basic, front-wheel-drive model — same engine, however — up to $30,695 for the top-of-the-line AWD model. Fully loaded, the car can optionally include spiffy bits ranging from roof rails and a panoramic sunroof to a heated wheel, heated rear seats or a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo system. Additional safety options can add the very long-winded forward collision mitigation with high-speed braking with pedestrian detection systems, plus adaptive cruise. The top-of-the-line SEL also gets paddle shifters.

Virtually every member of the lineup comes with a bright and useful 7-inch touchscreen for integrating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; the vehicles are also a platform for the comprehensive Mitsubishi Connect telematics system.

In the cockpit, a head-up display is a nice touch. In the rear, the deeply reclining and 8-inches of slide second-row seats mean the vehicle is not particularly crushing for rear passengers.

Proportions are still comfortable for a crossover, with a 105.1-inch wheelbase and 173.4 inches of overall length. The slightly coupe-like shape cuts a bit into overall cargo storage space but you’ll still get 48.9 cubic feet behind the first row and 22.6 cubic feet with the rear seats up.

Like its other products, Mitsubishi also dangles some pretty serious warranty coverage to sweeten the deal, not to mention five years of roadside assistance: a five-year, 60,000-mile new vehicle warranty; a seven-year, 100,000-mile anticorrosion warranty; and a 10-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.

Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Greeley. Contact him at

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