This week's ride, the 2020
model year Eclipse Cross, represents the newest offering from an Asian-based
automaker whose U.S. fortunes shifted from down-and-nearly-out to an up-up and
away sales rebound.
In 2016, Mitsubishi joined up with two
automakers sporting large worldwide footprints, Renault and Nissan, creating
the newly titled Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. Earlier this year,
Mitsubishi received an invitation to relocate its U.S. corporate headquarters
from Southern California to Franklin Tennessee outside Nashville, where Nissan
ensconces its USHQ.
An injection of new blood in the form
of veteran auto executives Fred Diaz (now CEO and President of Mitsubishi
Motors North America) and Jeromy Barnes (Senior Director, Communications)
helped jump start a long-delayed resurgence.
For Diaz, the
move is somewhat familial. He helped launch Nissan's next-generation Titan
lineup of full-size pickups before side stepping and joining corporate
counterpart Mitsubishi in April 2018. Barnes marked prior time with Mazda, Ford
Prior to both gentlemen's arrival, Mitsubishi
began concentrating primarily on crossover-type vehicles here and abroad. The
U.S. represents a golden growth opportunity as sales reached an anemic low in
2017 of less than 104,000 units. In contrast through September of this year,
7,722 units have driven off Mitsubishi dealership lots with 15,859 of those
badged as Eclipse Cross.
The Eclipse Cross five-door
compact crossover made its U.S. debut in the 2018 model year. For 2020 content
changes remain minimal, but the vehicle does welcome an additional trim level
available for a limited time, the SP with a carbon-style grille and side
mirrors, larger roof spoiler and black hood badge. Remaining trims include ES,
LE and SEL.
Mitsubishi offers one of the industries longest
U.S. powertrain warranties; 10-years or 100,000 miles for original purchasers.
In addition Mitsubishi includes a five-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited
warranty covering many originally supplied parts. The majority of rival
automakers choose a three-year, 36,000-mile time horizon.
The new vehicle limited warranty is transferable to a second
owner receiving the remaining time/mileage balance. Add to this five-year
unlimited of roadside assistance with no mileage limitations and a
seven-year/100,000-mile anti-corrosion warranty and Mitsubishi coverage remains
In addition to superb warranty coverage, Eclipse
Cross also includes 24 months of complimentary Mitsubishi Connect subscription
coverage, operating through a downloadable Application working in conjunction
with Smartphones. Think of this as an on-call concierge service for service
notifications, emergency notifications, parental controls and stolen vehicle
All this coverage helps Eclipse Cross stand
tall in a very crowded category battling longer established nameplates (Honda
CR-V, Toyota RAV4).
The lowest-priced ES trim supporting
front-wheel drive starts at $22,845 and arrives decently equipped. Ordering
all-wheel drive to trims bumps up pricing by $1,600. Our tester, a top-trim SEL
with all-wheel drive started at $28,595. With $3,030 worth of options
(including a touring package), $595 red diamond paint and $190 sliding interior
hatch cover, the bottom line landed at $32,720, representing one of the most
opulent Eclipse Crosses available circa 2020.
SE trims offer
one factory option package (new for 2020) consisting of a power panoramic sun
roof. Top-flight SEL trims also offer a returning option package loaded with a
more extensive list of goodies. In addition to sun roof and roof rails, the SEL
'Touring' package ($2,100) adds heated steering wheel, heated rear seats,
upgraded sound system along with a second-level of radar-enhanced safety
nuances in the form of adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection built
into forward collision mitigation.
translates to 'three diamonds,' from Japanese. All Mitsubishi vehicles visually
display tri-diamond logo artwork centering the front grille. Eclipse Cross
circa 2020 boasts spirited exterior nuances with an elegantly draped interior
more in line with an up-market choice than a volume
Outside, chrome trim accenting the bottom of
narrow headlight housing jets towards the grille's middle before making a
U-turn and curving back to outside lower edges. The design hints at an
up-market Lexus Spindle Grille, with a truncated hourglass shape.
Eclipse Cross's chiseled exterior features an edgy back
end. A high-mounted neon light bar extends across the horizontal heart of the
hatchback window, creating a 45-degree upper section and vertical drop lower
portion. When periodically peering into the rear-view mirror, the horizontal
crossbar becomes evident. At night, end points remain constantly illuminated
with a center mostly darkish, glowing only when applying the brakes. Viewing
from profile, the lights form a boomerang-like shape.
Powering all trims, a turbocharged, 1.5-liter four-cylinder
generating a workable 152 horsepower and teamed with a continuously variable
transmission (CVT). The CVT utilizes an infinite number of gear ratios (in
place of five or six planetary forward gears) through belt-driven mechanics for
smoother operation. In general, CVT's deliver pleasant glides not
performance-inspired dynamics. Uninspiring fuel economy numbers reveal 25 mpg
city and 26 mpg highway; with front drive add one mile more city and three
highway with front drive.
A throaty, not overwhelming
engine purr emanates from under hood. Electric power steering greatly assists
tight parking lot maneuvers with a gentle, accurate feel. No gas-electric
hybrid or all-electric propulsion options for Eclipse Cross, but Mitsubishi's
mid-size Outlander crossover boasts a plug-in hybrid electric variant (PHEV) in
addition to a traditional internal combustion engine.
seatbacks fold down onto seat cushions with a 60/40 split, expanding cargo
carrying options. If three riders occupy row two, the center occupant's safety
belt stretches down from a left (driver's) side ceiling caddie. We traveled
with two adults and a pre-teen in row two; the trip was snug, but doable. When
compared to rival compacts, Eclipse Cross measures in at the shorter end of the
The sound system includes Apple Car Play
and Android Auto standard in all trims sans entry ES, two in-demand connection
platforms allowing smooth transfer of Smartphone apps and stored info to a
seven-inch flat screen jetting up from the center dash. No in-dash navigation
is offered, so Smartphones need to fill the bill (or old-school foldable paper
Interaction with the multi-function screen includes
a touch-operated flat pad between front buckets. A finger skates its way around
the square plate redirecting a screen curser. Press down on the plate to choose
an option. The flat screen's also touch sensitive and within reach of drivers.
Secondary steering wheel mounted controls provide the least hassle when
altering volume or cycling through pre-set station favorites.
The lower portion of the central dash includes the HVAC
system with a series of buttons and push plates controlling fan speed,
direction and temperature.
A simplistic, yet easily
interpreted instrument panel includes two circular analog gauges (left-side
tachometer, right-side speedometer) flanking a digital center
message/information window. Dual USB ports, assisting the smartphone/color
screen connection come standard in all trims except ES where a single port
In 2015, Mitsubishi's sole U.S. production facility
located in downstate Normal, about two-and-a-half hours south of Chicago was
decommissioned and sold. The facility's new occupant, Michigan-based upstart
Rivian Automotive, plans to assemble all-electric pickup trucks and
all-electric seven-passenger SUVs by the second half of the 2020 calendar year.
The plant first opened in 1988 building several generations of the original
Eclipse coupe but towards the end output fizzled to an unsustainable single
2020 Eclipse Cross
Engine: 1.5-liter four-cylinder
Length: 173.4 inches
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg city/ 26 mpg
Powertrain warranty: 10 years/100,000