Mitsubishi has always been a bit of an outsider in the Canadian market. We first got to know it when its vehicles were rebadged for the Chrysler Corporation many decades ago, creating cars like the Plymouth Sapporo and Dodge Stealth. It came to Canada under its own name in 2002, but recently dropped all but one of its cars in favour of an almost-all-SUV lineup, including my tester, the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. There are five trim levels and my GT was the top of the heap, priced at US$35,998.
“Polarizing” is the perfect word for the Eclipse Cross’ looks, and I’m pretty much on the negative side of the term. Up front, everything starts out fine with the well-integrated headlamps and chrome bars, but then there’s that black hole of a grille (made worse with the sharp contrast to my vehicle’s $300 pearlescent white paint) and the cartoonishly oversized coves for the fog lamps. At the rear, a handsome arch over the rear wheels is mimicked by an unsightly bulge around the liftgate – and that panel is split into two panes, with a bar that cuts right across the scenery in your rear-view mirror.
There is some styling redemption by the interior designers, who gave the cabin a handsome, well-finished look, thanks to metallic accents that blend the dash with the centre console, and echo it with matching door pulls that are set far enough back to provide enough leverage when closing the door.
The Eclipse Cross has been named a Top Safety Pick by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but there’s a caveat: while all trim levels have the highest “Good” ratings for crash protection, only the top-trim GT has both the emergency front braking and the LED headlamps that put it over the edge into the Top Pick category.
The lower trim levels don’t share all of the GT’s higher-tech items. The base ES gets a back-up camera, but that’s mandatory on all new vehicles; a tire pressure monitoring system is also included. The next-level-up SE adds blind-spot monitoring, while the SE Tech Package slides in adaptive cruise control, emergency front braking, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlamps. The GT then adds a head-up display, the aforementioned LED lamps, and a multi-view camera.
Mitsubishi tends to be generous with its features list, and the Eclipse Cross carries through on that. American buyers can get a base model with front-wheel drive, but all Canadian trims have all-wheel drive.
The base model, which starts at US$27,998, includes 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, heated mirrors, heated front seats, automatic climate control, 7-inch infotainment system, driver’s knee airbag, tire pressure monitoring system, anti-theft alarm, and satellite radio. In addition to Bluetooth, all models include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – and you’ll want that to hook up your phone, because navigation isn’t available on any trim. The Eclipse Cross was introduced for 2018 and so there aren’t many changes for 2019, but one is the addition of roof rail mounting points on the lowest trim levels, so that all models can be equipped with rails and crossbars, available from the dealer.
Moving up the trim list adds such items as an electric parking brake, cargo cover, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding mirrors, wheel-mounted paddle shifters, proximity key, dual-zone climate control, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Unique to the top-line GT are a power panoramic sunroof, LED headlamps, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, power driver’s seat, leather upholstery, multi-view camera, and Rockford Fosgate premium stereo. It also includes a head-up display, a clear plastic screen that lifts up from above the instrument cluster. It’s not as good as those that project onto the windshield directly in your line of vision – you have to keep refocusing on this one, because it’s closer to you – but you don’t have to look down as far as the cluster to check your speed and other info.
So what’s the verdict? Just as with its styling, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross’ personality tends to go to one side or the other, rather than ride the middle of the road. Its engine is smooth, but its handling could be sharper; its interior is comfortable, but its cargo versatility has some rough points; and its controls are simple – except for some annoying exceptions. Still, when you’re cross-shopping the big names, its overall performance, its value, and its warranty should earn it some test-drive consideration.