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