CHATHAM, Mass. – The 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL 1.5T S-AWC has virtually all the bells and whistles one would expect in a modern small SUV but does nothing to stand out in a very crowded competitive group of vehicles.
For example: for the second consecutive year the Eclipse Cross attained a five-star rating (the highest possible score) in the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) or crash testing.
While this is admirable, it means this Mitsubishi SUV is simply meeting its competition head on – this rating becoming a virtual standard in the class.
Active safety systems
Safety is a major focal point for the 2020 Eclipse Cross which received additional available active safety features, primarily as optional equipment for SE and SEL trim levels, above last year’s model.
These versions, like the Octane Blue Metallic one we drove, now feature forward-collision mitigation (FCM) with pedestrian detection 2; lane-departure warning (LDW) 3, and automatic high beams (AHB) 4 as standard. These features join active driver assist systems already standard on the SE and SEL models like blind-spot warning (BSW( with lane-change assist (LCA), rear-cross-traffic alert (RCTA) and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Our Eclipse Cross SEL included all available Mitsubishi driver-assist and safety systems thanks to the addition of the optional Touring Package. In addition to the systems mentioned above, this four-door CUV had adaptive cruise control, anti-lock brakes (ABS), active-stability control, front and side airbags and side curtain airbags.
The first time I pressed the start-stop button on the keyless ignition I was excited to see a heads-up display (HUD) rise from the binnacle above the instrument cluster. The screen has adjustments for both brightness and information position; unfortunately, the dearth of information displayed was a disappointment.
Essentially, the HUD let me know my speed without taking my eyes off the road, but provided nothing about LCA, audio, navigation (not available on any Eclipse Cross versions) – information provided by units experienced during drives in Hyundai and Kia vehicles. It does show major warnings, though, like FCM and LDW, but the promise of possibilities outstrips the reality of the execution since you still have to move your eyes off the road for most information.
Interior Technology Features
Mitsubishi has a history of filling its cars and SUVs with technological features and the Eclipse Cross continues this tradition. Starting atop the center of the dash is a seven-inch color touch screen designed to interact with a smartphone via either Apple Car Play or Android Auto. In addition to using your fingers to manipulate the various apps presented on the screen, including the AM/FM/SiriusXM audio, you can use them on the Lexus-like touchpad in the center console (behind the transmission selector) or the steering-wheel-mounted controls.
These systems provide navigation through either an iPhone or Android phone tethered to the Eclipse Cross with a cable plugged into one of the two USB-A outlets at the front of the console (which can also charge them).
And all of the Sound in the Touring version is enhanced by a Rockford Fosgate premium audio system.
The eight-way power driver seat as well as the front and rear passenger ones are leather covered and heated. Also leather covered, which was very nice when a major cold spell hit Cape Cod last week, is the heated steering wheel.
Mitsubishi’s “super” AWD
Driving the Eclipse Cross was a pleasant experience – not amazing, but not objectionable in any way. The CUV was reasonably quiet, peppy and comfortable; very much competitive with other small SUVs like the Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, Toyota RAV4 and Kia Niro.
Getting caught in a blowing snowstorm, it was comforting having Mitsubishi’s S-AWC (Super All-Wheel Control) all-wheel-drive system. According to Mitsubishi: “The system enhances both straight-line stability and cornering performance by precisely controlling the torque supplied to each of the four wheels. The S-AWC system is an integration of the vehicle dynamics control system that monitors each component around the 4WD system, including Active Stability Control (ASC), Anti-lock Brakes (ABS), and Active Yaw Control (AYC).”
I felt comfortable and safe as I negotiated the poorly lit roads during the storm; no dramatics – which is the point of AWD, which Mitsubishi has offered in cars and trucks for decades (long before it was as commonplace as it is today).
The 1.5-liter direct-injection turbo engine produces 152 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque and delivers this through a continuously variable (CVT) transmission (which can be manually controlled by steering-column-mounted paddle shifters).
As I mentioned, performance was peppy, not neck-snapping brisk, but more than adequate for merging onto the highway in traffic as well as maneuvering around busy suburban roads.
Not so good for vehicles in its class was the distance we were able to travel on each gallon of regular gasoline. The Eclipse Cross SEL 1.5T S-AWC is rated by NHTSA at 25 miles per gallon (mpg) n the city, 26 on the highway and 25 mpg in overall driving. We were able to come close to those numbers, averaging just under 25 mpg, but others in this class like the Kona (29 mpg), the Rav4 (30 mpg) and the Soul (32-34 mpg) were significantly more fuel efficient in our hands.
Pricewise, the fully loaded the Eclipse Cross we drove totaled $28,745 putting it above the Soul ($27,715) and below the Kona ($30,005 and Rav4 ($33,690).
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a competent small CUV. If you want a pint-sized crossover with all the active-safety, driver-assist, technology features expected today which has its own unique look – thanks to the split-window in the rear hatch – it might just fit the bill.