By on December 1, 2017

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Let’s start this with a disclaimer – it’s always a gamble to rip on a car one has yet to drive. I could end up eating these words someday if I drive the Eclipse Cross and like it. Which, of course, is absolutely possible.

Still, I don’t feel it’s entirely unfair to judge a vehicle based on observations gleaned from an auto show display, as well as from the on-paper specs. Not so long as you disclose, as I did just now, that the assessment is subject to further examination. Hell, if it was unfair, auto journalists would have one less type of story to write after each show.

As I write this, it’s been only about a day since I was on the show floor in Los Angeles, and I am still trying to sort through my feelings about the most-important unveilings. The Subaru Ascent is bland but will sell like proverbial hotcakes, the three-row Lexus RX caused me a bit of eye-roll but the two-row LX is intriguing, the Mazda 6 hasn’t changed enough but turbo power sounds good, and I somehow never saw the new Corvette ZR1. Also, I really hope Toyota builds the FT-AC concept, and I am not sure how to feel about Nissan and its pumped-up Kicks.

Then there’s the Eclipse Cross. That name has been known for some time, and it makes me growly – I don’t like the Eclipse name being applied to another generic crossover. Yes, the last Eclipse sports car was bad (a harbinger of things to come, it turns out) and sure, from a business perspective it makes sense, but I don’t have to like it. I get that Mitsu owns the name and knows it has cachet with buyers over a certain age (not coincidentally, many of whom now have families and a need for a crossover), so it makes sense, but I still have the right to be grumpy about it.

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Complaints about the name aside, I was still curious. Maybe it wouldn’t suck! Maybe us auto critics were pre-judging unfairly based on the brand’s recent struggles and past history of cars that either underwhelm (Lancer) or do just one thing well (Evo). Maybe we’re too harsh on the Mirage, which isn’t great, but appeals to those who can’t afford much else, thus fulfilling its mission.

Mitsubishi’s recent track record isn’t good, but struggling companies can turn themselves around. Hyundai did it, so did Kia. So did Mazda. All of the Detroit automakers have had periods of dark days followed by eras of strength, save perhaps the perpetually troubled Chrysler (now FCA), which always seems to hang on through the strength of one or two brands propping up the rest of the company.

It takes time, sure, but it usually starts with one model. And while Mitsu’s current crossover offerings, the Outlander and Outlander Sport, are far from the best buys in the class, they are not without some decent qualities. So perhaps the Eclipse Cross could mark the start of a turnaround.

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

When I arrived at the Mitsubishi booth shortly after the unveiling (a few minutes late, thanks to the Jeep Wrangler madness happening nearby), I initially had a positive reaction – the exterior styling, while fitting the crossover mold to a T, was better-looking in the flesh than I anticipated. Not head-turning, but it looked like the designers understand what works in the crossover market in 2017.

Then the door opened. I didn’t get close for long – just a quick pop into the cabin to snap a few pics – but I could see a touchpad infotainment controller, a la the much-loathed unit that Lexus uses. Atop the center stack sits a tacked-on display screen of the type that’s common across the industry. While it’s personal preference and not all will agree, I am not a fan of these chintzy-looking displays. Integrated just looks better.

The rest of the cabin was marred with dull gray and black tones, and didn’t look particularly advanced over what Mitsubishi currently offers. The layout looks logical, at least, but on first glance that’s about the nicest thing I can say.

That’s a problem for a brand that’s recently been sort of the forgotten stepchild of the industry. A turnaround will take time and a clear strategy. Mitsubishi doesn’t seem to have the latter and it’s unclear how much of the former the parent company will allow it.

If Mitsubishi was going to follow in the steps of other brands who have gone from afterthoughts to part of the conversation, a strong effort on the Eclipse Cross would be a good start. So far, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Credit where credit is due – a quick scan of the press release indicates that at least the available features are class-competitive, and the Eclipse Cross does start at a reasonable $23,295 before D and D. So, as with the Outlander – which also starts at about the same price – the Eclipse Cross will have appeal to value shoppers.

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

The thing is, that’s not enough. Mitsubishi can continue to chase value buyers, and it won’t grow as a brand. At some point, the company is going to have to add other vehicles to the lineup that appeal on more than just being cheap. That’s how other brands have grown, even as those brands continue to offer affordable vehicles in classes where so doing makes sense.

Instead, we get this. A five-seat compact crossover that doesn’t move the needle and offers one less seating row than the Outlander for similar money, while also costing a little more than the five-seat Outlander Sport.

I don’t know what Mitsubishi is doing, but if the brand really wants to regain the market position it once held, this doesn’t appear to be the right way to do it.

[Images © 2017 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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37 Comments on “2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross – The Disappointment Continues...”

  • avatar

    I haven’t been following this one. Available AWD or not?

  • avatar

    Well, at least you didn’t come right out and call it a game-changer… :-)

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “Hey guys, look! We made another crossover too! See? It’s kinda tall and has big wheels and a hatchback. And look, a fake iPad and tri-spoke wheel and some piano black and fake aluminum all arranged in vaguely sporty shapes. That’s popular, right? C,mon, let’s do a foursquare on this, the payment is going to be out of sight! Hey, stop looking at that Hyundai! HEY! We’re the value play here! Pleeeaaassseee!”
    I would imagine that even the voracious CUV market appetite has a saturation point.

    On the plus side, this has some straight edges and angles. That’s nice in a world of rolling eggs.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep they made/did the same thing as everyone… and who could blame them because these CUV things sell like crazy. Thus I’m sure it will find buyers – provided enough people A) remember Mitsubishi is still a company in the US and B) have credit scores they are willing to risk a note on.

      As an ex- ’96 Eclipse GS-T owner I do not approve of the name being used on a slow, generic CUV.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        The name does indeed seem like a deliberate middle finger to those who fondly remember 1990s Eclipses and recently departed Lancer Evolution.

        Perhaps they will bring the insult to full fruition and make a puffy little too-cute Buick Encore competitor and name it the Evo Cross.

  • avatar

    The exterior looks okay and everything in this segment has all the character and excitement of dry toast so whatever.

  • avatar

    ” All of the Detroit automakers have had periods of dark days followed by eras of strength, save perhaps the perpetually troubled Chrysler (now FCA)”

    Excuse me ??? What about the mid-late 1990’s (LH, Neon, Viper, PT Cruser, 1 Gen Ram, Prowler, etc). They had money in the bank and were doing well till the Daimler bought them and drained the company like a vampire.

    As I recall, Chrysler had originally pushed to buy Daimler, but Eaton got talked into the “merger of equals” (a.k.a. buyout)

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      You have a point, but getting too into the minutiae of Chrysler’s stronger eras would’ve sidetracked the piece. Not to mention Chrysler was troubled in the ’80s…

      • 0 avatar

        No one suggested that you sidetrack the piece by discussing Chrysler’s history in detail. Instead, you should have avoided singling out the company altogether and let the broader statement about the Detroit Three stand. The implication that Chrysler, unlike GM and Ford, somehow didn’t follow periods of weakness with periods of strength is simply wrong.

    • 0 avatar

      Can we stop with this drain the money crap? Diamler spent $36 billion for Chrysler. They sold it for $8 billion. The billion they found in the couch cushions doesn’t really change how much of a bath they took. They also gave Chrysler the platform to use for the Grand Cherokee and Durango. It’s the equivalent of of buying a lemon, finding a hundred dollar bill in the center console, and having the junkyard give you crap for keeping the money while taking a bath on the thing.

  • avatar

    Mr Healey treats Mitsubishi Motors as a standalone company. One presumes he has heard Nissan is running the place these days; rehashing all the old memes seems a trifle outdated, since the takeover happened a year ago.

    Not only is the US not MM’s only market, there is plenty of info regarding the company’s integration into Nissan’s EV plans, and a retooling of the existing model lineup in both size and market position. Easily available online, so that the hand-wringing can continue if one disagrees with the direction Nissan is taking them. Here’s one digest:

  • avatar

    They need to make a halo, “evo” version. Good enough to incontrovertibly, and repeatably, over and over, beat the Raptor in a jumping, and landing, contest…

    More seriously: With all these unibody crossovers, you’d think at least one of them could be bothered to dominate dynamically in terrain between what a car is designed for, and what the Raptor is. Even the Macan just focuses on being as good on the road and track as possible; venues where it will always start, and ultimately end, at a disadvantage compared to more optimally COG’ed vehicles.

    But there’s got to be plenty of terrain between a pool table smooth racetrack, and the Baja 1000. Where Crossovers, if properly designed and built, would outshine vehicles built for either of those two extremes. Kind of like a 4 wheel version of a Supermoto. Instead of just a perennial excercse in suboptimality.

  • avatar

    *looks at Mitsubishi*

    Shut up, Meg.

  • avatar

    How’s the interior quality? Between the SUV coupe abomination design and the features they’re showing in the pre-production models (I keep fixating on the Audi-esque touchpad), I could see them going for a fast fashion (to borrow an old Derek Kreindler description) sort of thing, the BMW X4 for those making $30k a year (which I don’t doubt for a second is a demand waiting to be filled). So long as it’s slightly less dire inside than current Mitsubishis, and they resist the temptation to blow out too many $19,995 hubcap specials, it’ll probably be more popular than any of us care for.

    • 0 avatar

      For those making 30K a year with Subprime credit scores

    • 0 avatar

      How the hell would someone afford a $25-30k car on a 30k salary? Living in their mom’s basement? That’s the automotive equivalent of Friends: twentysomething kids with entry level jobs living in a New York City apartment they could not even remotely begin to afford in real life.

  • avatar

    That thing is ugly on the outside, and ugly on the inside, and likely meh under the hood.

    Hard pass.

  • avatar

    So is this replacing the Outlander Sport (almost exactly the same size), or…?

    • 0 avatar

      We have the ASX here which I think is the Outlander Sport.

      To be fair to Mitsubishi, I’m aware of their gameplan and its basically making MOR (‘middle of the road’) cars for MOR people.

      I’m not willing to get upset about that. I see nothing here exciting but nothing horrendous either.

      a turbo 1.5 that does 150hp 250Nm running a fwd cvt?


      automotive white bread

  • avatar

    Look on the bright side. They could’ve called it the Mitsubishi Zero.

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi’s sales in November rose by 24.8 percent. Stay mad, ttac.

  • avatar

    Why would you write such a negative “review” when, by your own admission, you spent so little time looking at the vehicle? The fact that you didn’t mention the rear of the vehicle, which is the most interesting/controversial part of it and (for better or worse) sets it apart from its competitors, suggests that you didn’t even have enough time to walk around it fully. I’m not saying this is a great vehicle, but this article doesn’t do much to help readers assess it properly.

    If anyone’s interested in learning about the vehicle, here’s some hands-on video:

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Oh this will sell. Think divorced mom with two kids who wants a CUV. She’ll do the four-square tango and have low, low monthly payments. For 84 months. She’ll buy for “AWD ruggedness”. Nevermind the AWD will only kick in for 2-3% of the life of the vehicle. The FWD will do the rest. On all-season tires.

    • 0 avatar

      Is Mitsubishi still part of any car buyer’s consciousness? Who is this woman that thinks about a Mitsubishi when she’s trying to blend in with a sea of Foresters and Equinoxes? How does she make it through the clutches of desperate Hyundai, Ford and Nissan salesmen to find herself looking at a new Mitsubishi? I had to Google Mitsubishi to determine that there is indeed a dealer in my hometown. In fact, it is a dealer that I’ve been to at least twice in the past four months. I didn’t forget they sold Mitsubishis. It isn’t apparent. They’ve got Nissans, Lincolns, Cadillacs, GMCs and Buicks on display. They’re also the go-to place for Ford parts, in spite of the City of Hate having a Ford dealer. I was not aware they had Mitsubishis, and I talk to their parts people daily.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Someday she’ll be rolling back from Wal-Mart on 29. Colonial will have a red one the front line with with “NEW!!!” and “18,995!!” on the windshield. Her salesman might suggest she look at a Nissan Rogue; it’s the only thing would compete price-wise. No Fords, Subarus, Chevys, or Hyundais at that dealership. She’s out to buy the least expensive CUV that she can.

    • 0 avatar

      I know that woman, and you are exactly right. She’s currently focused on the Rogue, but doesn’t have the cash or credit to visit the Nissan store. But I doubt she’s aware of the existence of this thing. Mitsubishi needs to spend some money on billboards to get this thing in front of her face, because she doesn’t have time to do a ton of research online with 2 kids and a job draining all her energy.

  • avatar

    Before buying into Mitsubish one should check on resale/trade in values of the cars. In my market the depreciation rate is staggering.

  • avatar
    Mike McCollum

    They definitely know how to ruin a car that’s all I got to say 2G DSM 4 Life

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