Eclipse Cross joins crowded seg­ment

Regina Leader-Post - - DRIVING - BRIAN HARPER Driving.ca

The small­est of the Ja­panese car com­pa­nies, Mit­subishi Mo­tors doesn’t of­ten gen­er­ate head­lines with its prod­uct lineup of cars and crossovers that are, to be char­i­ta­ble, “ma­ture.”

So, when a brand-new ve­hi­cle emerges from the com­pany’s Okazaki plant, it tweaks the in­ter­est of the cu­ri­ous, es­pe­cially when it’s the right prod­uct at the right time. Which, in this case, is a com­pact cross­over com­pet­ing against a very es­tab­lished list of com­peti­tors in one of the hottest au­to­mo­tive seg­ments.

The name might be awk­ward, trad­ing on the good­will of what was once, a cou­ple decades ago, a very sporty car, but the Eclipse Cross is not the au­to­mo­tive equiv­a­lent of some­one show­ing up to a gun­fight with a Swiss Army knife. It’s a well-planned and ex­e­cuted ef­fort, show­cas­ing bold ex­te­rior styling, com­pet­i­tive fea­tures and an in­ter­est­ing pow­er­train setup.

Get­ting to the heart of the mat­ter, the Eclipse Cross sees — like Honda’s CR-V — a 1.5-litre tur­bocharged (a first for Mit­subishi crossovers) four-cylin­der with di­rect in­jec­tion un­der its hood, mated to a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion. While Honda’s en­gine pushes out a solid 190 horse­power and 179 pound-feet of torque, the Mit­subishi en­gine is not quite as for­mi­da­ble, with 152 hp at 5,500 rpm, though a stronger 184 lb-ft at 3,500 rpm.

The morn­ing was spent cruis­ing the ever-in­spir­ing Pa­cific Coast High­way through Mal­ibu and just be­yond be­fore turning in­land and up­ward, tack­ling the canyon roads con­nect­ing to the Mull­hol­land High­way, which zigzags through the Santa Mon­ica Moun­tains from Ox­nard to Hol­ly­wood. The turbo four is a will­ing lit­tle unit, hap­pier on the flat­ter stretches, where it pro­vided mea­sured, if not scin­til­lat­ing, ac­cel­er­a­tion when re­quired. It worked much harder on the canyon roads, still de­liv­er­ing the needed power, though with a much gruffer tone. The CVT held up its end of the bar­gain with smooth op­er­a­tion, and it also comes with pad­dle shifters and an eight-speed sport mode man­ual over­ride for when the oc­ca­sion calls for higher revs.

While straight-line per­for­mance was de­cid­edly mid­dleof-the-road, the Eclipse Cross was well planted on the twistier sec­tions of tar­mac. Ku­dos to the Su­per All-Wheel Con­trol (S-AWC), Mit­subishi’s in­te­grated ve­hi­cle dy­nam­ics con­trol sys­tem, which in­cor­po­rates a brake-ac­ti­vated Ac­tive Yaw Con­trol sys­tem. (Tech-geek side­bar here: AYC man­ages the torque feed and brake force at in­di­vid­ual rear wheels to help the Eclipse Cross be­have as the driver in­tends, us­ing in­for­ma­tion on steer­ing an­gle, yaw rate, drive torque, brake force and wheel speed to de­ter­mine driver op­er­a­tion and ve­hi­cle be­hav­iour.) Fur­ther­more, the ad­di­tion of a three-point strut tower brace at the front and the use of struc­tural bond­ing at the rear help in­crease body rigid­ity.

The Eclipse Cross takes its twobox cross­over lay­out and gives it a sharp and ath­letic per­son­al­ity. Fea­tures in­clude a wedge pro­file with a sloped roofline (Mit­subishi in­sists on call­ing the four-door SUV a coupe), short over­hangs and well-de­fined belt and char­ac­ter lines.

One of the ve­hi­cle’s most dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics is its rear de­sign, high­lighted by the high-mounted rear lamps and by how they hor­i­zon­tally divide the raked rear win­dow in two. When il­lu­mi­nated, the tubu­lar LED brake lights and the cen­tral LED high-mount stop light form a sin­gle bar of light run­ning across the tail.

In­side, the cabin is far more con­ven­tional, with a lot of hard plas­tic, sil­ver metal frames and a black/sil­ver mono­tone colour scheme. The dash­board is ori­ented hor­i­zon­tally and fea­tures a colour multi-in­for­ma­tion dis­play atop the cen­tre stack.

The in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, with a smart­phone-link and seven-inch thin dis­play, comes with An­droid Auto sup­port and Ap­ple CarPlay com­pat­i­bil­ity. There’s also a touch­pad con­troller in the cen­tre con­sole.

Other stan­dard fea­tures across the model lineup in­clude heated power side-view mir­rors, steer­ing wheel au­dio/cruise/phone con­trols, rear-view cam­era, au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol, power win­dows and door locks and re­mote key­less en­try.

There’s plenty of head­room and legroom up front for those on the plus side of six feet and, once in­side, a good amount of room for back seat oc­cu­pants. How­ever, taller pas­sen­gers will have to duck when climb­ing into the rear seats.

To max­i­mize cargo space, the rear seat uses a 60/40 split with long slide-and-re­cline ad­just­ment (cargo ca­pac­ity num­bers were not avail­able.)

Ac­cord­ing to Mit­subishi Mo­tors Canada, mil­len­nial and Gen X-age con­sumers who want a stylish, tech-laden ve­hi­cle — but not nec­es­sar­ily one as­so­ci­ated with out­doorsy ad­ven­tures — will con­sti­tute the ma­jor­ity of Eclipse Cross buy­ers. And, to be fair, there’s enough to the new cross­over to at least sat­isfy their cu­rios­ity. The big­gest ob­sta­cle to its suc­cess in the mar­ket­place, how­ever, is the ex­is­tence of more than a dozen very es­tab­lished play­ers in the com­pact seg­ment, led by the Toy­ota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Es­cape and Nis­san Rogue. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see if the ‘gun’ Mit­subishi Mo­tors has brought to this fight is big enough.

The Eclipse Cross com­ple­ments Mit­subishi’s SUV lineup, which in­cludes the RVR, Out­lander and Out­lander PHEV (which will ap­pear in show­rooms this month). When it ar­rives at deal­er­ships in March next year, the new cross­over will be of­fered in ES,

SE, SE Tech and GT trim lev­els. S-AWC is stan­dard. Pric­ing starts at $27,798 for the base ES and tops out at $35,998 for the GT.

BRIAN HARPER, DRIVING

Mit­subishi sees its stylish, tech-laden 2018 Eclipse Cross be­ing at­trac­tive to mil­len­nial and Gen-X buy­ers.

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