Mitsubishi has revived the Eclipse name for an SUV that slots between the automaker's smaller Outlander Sport and larger Outlander. We found this newcomer underwhelming due to its lackluster driving experience and complex controls. To its credit, the rear seat is roomy, and getting in and out is easy.
The Eclipse Cross is infuriating even before it leaves the driveway because of one of the most convoluted infotainment systems we've ever tested. The interaction with the finicky system is maddening and distracting because of small text and the multistep processes required for even basic tasks, whether using the hard-to-reach touch screen or the center console touchpad.
The SUV’s extroverted styling hurts outward visibility, which makes backing out of a parking spot difficult. Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning come standard on the upper SE and SEL, but these helpful features aren’t available on the lower ES and LE trims.
Our experience didn't improve on the road. The 152-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbocharged engine moves the Eclipse Cross sufficiently around town, but it has to work hard when climbing hills or merging onto highways. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) tries to mimic a traditional automatic, but the faux "shifts" can be jolting, and the engine groans unpleasantly when drivers seek more power. Its fuel economy of 24 mpg overall isn't impressive for the class, either.
We didn't have much confidence taking corners because of pronounced body lean and overly light steering, which together make the Eclipse Cross feel ungainly. At least the suspension absorbed most bumps, but the ride can become unsettled on uneven roads, causing the body to rock back and forth. Road and wind noises were kept to a minimum, but the engine has a gritty, metallic sound under hard acceleration.
The cabin materials are basic, with just a few chrome elements to add flourish. Automatic climate control is standard--a nice upscale touch. The front seats are squishy and short on support, and adjustable lumbar isn't available at any trim level. The rear seat, which can slide forward or back, has plenty of room for adults, but the cargo space is small for the segment.
The driver sits high with a commanding view forward, but the car's rear styling causes compromises. The sloped rear hatch and thick roof pillars severely limit rear and side visibility when changing lanes or backing up.
Important advanced safety systems such as forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning are limited to the top SEL trim only--a disappointing oversight by Mitsubishi.
The Eclipse Cross offers wedge-shaped styling. However, this latest Mitsubishi model doesn't shine brightly enough to be a compelling choice in this competitive segment in terms of functionality, driving dynamics, user-friendliness, feature content, and price.