Style isn’t everything in a new automobile, but as bland crossovers launch their takeover of U.S. roadways it certainly counts for something. Things like a pleasant drive experience, spacious back seating, and the ability to fit into parking spaces also deserve more credit than they get in the average SUV review.
If these things matter to you, the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross ($23,595) will be worth a look as you survey the small crossover market. This all-new model landed in dealerships earlier this year, and we got a chance to drive one around New York in mid-October.
Here’s everything you need to know about Mitsubishi’s new crossover.
1. Smooth turbo powertrain
These days, you’ll find turbo engines in everything from the 2019 GMC Terrain to the new Jeep Wrangler. While that means a clear gain in torque, several automakers have struggled to deliver the added pull smoothly. (The redesigned Terrain is one example.)
In the Eclipse Cross, Mitsubishi can claim victory on this front. We found the 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbo engine very smooth in its delivery via the continuously variable transmission (CVT). While we didn’t top 45 mph in our city test, there was no evidence of turbo lag or the sort of jarring ride you find in other SUVs. That means pleasant riding for drivers who aren’t highway warriors.
The engine is not exactly a slouch, either. It offers 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. That’s more torque than you’ll find in the base Nissan Rogue or ’18 Toyota RAV4.
2. A heavy dose of style
Outside of the Mazda CX-5, we can’t think of a small crossover that boasts a combination of flattering proportions and solid design cues. The Eclipse Crossover is at least a contender in this department. Looking at it head-on, from the front to the rear, or following it in traffic, you’ll probably like what you see.
In fact, Mitsubishi sacrificed some rear visibility to pull off the brake-light and back window design, which we consider admirable on some level. It looks different without being forced or quirky.
If there’s one area where the Eclipse Cross suffers style-wise, it would be the profile view. That has to do with the short overhangs, which benefit drivers in another way (more on that later).
3. Affordable base model and AWD
Right now, competition is as stiff in the compact crossover segment as anywhere else on the auto market. Massive sellers like the RAV4 ($24,660), Rogue ($24,800), and Honda CR-V ($24,250) lead the charge while the Subaru Forester ($24,295) and CX-5 ($24,150) offer their own appealing packages for consumers.
With unimpressive fuel economy (25 mpg combined with all-wheel drive) and a few other weak spots, Eclipse Cross basically has to offer a lower entry price for the ES than all of the above — and it does. In fact, adding all-wheel drive to the base model only bumps the price by $600 ($24,195). That comes in below a 2019 Forester with its in-demand standard drivetrain.
4. Short enough for the city, but light on cargo space
The Eclipse Cross’s short overhangs give it a manageable footprint at 173.4 inches. That’s almost a foot shorter than a 2018 Rogue (184.5 inches) and well below the length of a CX-5 (179.2 inches) or RAV4 (181.1 inches). You’ll find both good and bad in this feature.
As for the good, you won’t have much trouble parking in the city in an Eclipse Cross. However, you will compromise on cargo space. This model has some of the lowest capacity in the segment.
5. An adequate (if average) interior
Getting into the Eclipse Cross, you’ll notice how easy it is to access the cabin. The driver’s seat offers a great position to take in the road, and the center console is clean enough that you can operate climate and audio controls (standard 7-inch touchscreen) without much hassle.
There is also spacious back seating in the Eclipse Cross. Adults won’t feel cramped riding along here. You’ll find comparable wheelbase specs in Mitsubishi’s entry compared to other models that are longer overall.
6. Tech and safety
Apple CarPlay and Android Audio come standard in every Eclipse Cross above the base ES. You also get keyless entry, power outlets, Bluetooth, steering-wheel controls, and automatic climate control in every model. As in every other new vehicle, you can run up the score considerably by adding tech features to your desire.
On the safety front, you won’t find advanced features available below the SE trim ($26,695 with standard AWD). That’s where blind-spot monitoring and other alerts become options.
7. A solid city crossover
If we were trying to come up with a driver profile for the Eclipse Cross, we’d say it’s a city driver that liked the convenience of a crossover and all-wheel drive for the occasional snow. A pair of couples would enjoy heading out to dinner or some other event in this vehicle, and you could find parking once you got there.
If you’re looking for something for regular camping and other outdoors activities, this isn’t the go-to ride. Keep it in town and you’ll likely find it an enjoyable vehicle that starts at a reasonable price without embarrassing you at the curb.
Disclosure: Mitsubishi provided The Cheat Sheet reporter with lunch and a short-term loan of the 2019 Eclipse Cross so we could bring this first-person report to our readers.