2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL S-AWC Review - It's Safe to Stare

Fast Facts

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL S-AWC

1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four (152 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 184 lb-ft. @ 2000 rpm)
Continuously variable transmission, all-wheel drive
25 city / 26 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
9.6 city / 8.9 highway / 9.3 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
24.2 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $29,190 US / $38,250 CAD
As Tested: $32,310 / $38,250 CAD
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $1,951 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2019 mitsubishi eclipse cross sel s awc review it s safe to stare

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That adage, from George Santayana, has a less well-known corollary that I just made up: “Those who do remember the past are doomed to watch idly while our memories are sold out to create something much, much worse.”

Take the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross seen here. When Mitsubishi dusted off a beloved sports car nameplate to slap on YET ANOTHER CROSSOVER, enthusiasts everywhere started screaming. Their memories of late-night cruising and loud exhausts were being trampled by another jacked-up hatchback with no sporting pretense.

Yes, I was one of those enthusiasts hating the name. But then I drove the car, and I recalled that the target Eclipse Cross buyer probably doesn’t remember that not-too-distant past where the stylish Diamond Star coupes ruled the streets, and they’ll simply buy on merit, not memories.

The styling is polarizing, to be certain. I don’t hate it, but it will never be ranked among the most beautiful of designs. Then again, what crossover will? The steep rake to the roofline makes the Eclipse Cross unique, which is usually a good thing in a crowded marketplace. For the first time in ages, Mitsubishi might be able to sell cars with styling.

I did get a flashback to the Honda CRX I nearly bought in college when looking through the rear view mirror — the rear glass is divided into two pieces, and the cross beam does obstruct vision a bit. Of course, millions of Prius owners haven’t had a problem with this split glass over the years (though they all seem oddly oblivious to any vehicles behind them while in the left lane…).

Mitsubishi offers a smartphone app for the Eclipse Cross called Mitsubishi Connect. With the touch of a phone screen, a user can remotely start the car to adjust climate settings, turn the headlamps on or off from a distance (great for finding your car in a dark parking garage), and remotely lock or unlock the doors. This last feature was unusually useful for me, as my daughter had left her backpack in the car in our driveway one day, and texted me frantically to come and retrieve it. I was down the street, and I didn’t need to walk back within range of the car — I could simply open the app and let her in.

The size of this crossover is a little odd when trying to compare it to the competition. Overall length is closer to subcompacts like Toyota’s C-HR and Honda’s HR-V, but the wheelbase is closer to the larger RAV4 and CR-V. Passenger volume similarly falls between the range. I felt that I had plenty of room up front, and legroom in the rear was excellent for the class — however, rear headroom is unsurprisingly cramped by the sloping roofline. Passengers south of six feet should be fine, but your author, six-fourish and long of torso, had to cant his head in the second row.

Mileage is a disappointment. Rated highway and city mileage is basically identical at 25 city, 26 highway; I was very close at 24.2. I’d like to think a smaller crossover should manage its thirst a bit better.

As for driving the Eclipse Cross, it’s pleasantly surprising. Other than some engine noise under hard acceleration, the cabin is quiet. Handling is composed, with lively steering making the drive fun (for a crossover). Longish highway drives were comfortable, with good stability in crosswinds, and minimal road noise.

Do take a gander at the side mirror switch, located on the interior door handle. I’m OK with the power mirror controls themselves, but the button to fold the mirrors should not be in such a prominent location. I found myself inadvertently bumping the button while driving, then realizing moments later that the mirrors had folded. This happened several times before I realized my mistake. I really shouldn’t drive before coffee, but some mornings are more hectic than others. Anyhow, beware of this rogue button.

Looking at the sticker price of this tester, it seems a bit high. However, recall that cars delivered to journalists tend to be loaded with nearly every possible option, and this Eclipse Cross SEL is no exception. This same powertrain combo, save all-wheel drive, is available at around $24k. Were I to sign a note for my own, I’d opt for the SE S-AWC trim, which loses the power driver’s seat, leather seats, dual-zone climate control, and a few other bits — but still includes the Mitsubishi Connect phone app — for $28,065 delivered. I’d pick the bronze metallic (yes, I see you waving your hand, Sajeev) and I’d be happy.

What bothers me is the original Eclipse, at least for the first two generations, was an inexpensive, reasonably reliable (as long as you don’t anger the thrust bearing) coupe that appealed both to enthusiasts and to those just looking for a bit of style. For the enthusiasts, turbo and AWD were the order of the day. For the everyday driver, the Eclipse was available with more efficient, less powerful engines that appealed to younger drivers (and their parents) who didn’t want or need all the boost.

[Get new and used Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross pricing here!]

I’m purposely ignoring the third generation of Eclipse here, which was only slightly more appealing than a secondhand toilet.

I’ve not been thrilled with the rest of the Mitsubishi lineup, and I’ve said so on these pages. I’m honestly surprised that I haven’t yet been cut off — but I’m glad that they haven’t. Because this Eclipse Cross does something surprising: it goes beyond the name and delivers a legitimately good car.

Mind you, I’m still pissed about the name.

But once you buy a car, how often do you look at the badge?

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn, screenshot of bronze metallic Eclipse Cross courtesy Mitsubishi]

Join the conversation
4 of 40 comments
  • APaGttH APaGttH on Feb 20, 2019

    And you guys bitch the Buick Encore is overpriced?

    • See 1 previous
    • FreedMike FreedMike on Feb 23, 2019

      All these cars are overpriced. The Encore is just ugly to boot. (Decent to drive, though.)

  • GenesisCoupe380GT GenesisCoupe380GT on Apr 07, 2020

    I see why now nobody respects Mitsubishi anymore. If they would do this to Eclipse Coupe I can't stand the thought of what they would do to the Montero if they ever bring it back

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?