The small SUV market is one of the most contested vehicle segments to master. For some buyers, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with choice and simply jump to a brand you know well – like Mitsubishi. But is the 2021 Eclipse Cross your best option?
In 2017, the Japanese brand added the Eclipse Cross to its SUV lineup. Late 2020 saw a mid-generation update, which has no doubt helped contribute to the increased sales it is experiencing. To the end of July the local arm has reported 3699 sales, up 55 per cent on the same period last year. It continues to slot between the smaller ASX and the bigger Outlander siblings.
One engine fits all in the Eclipse Cross; a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four that outputs 110kW and 250Nm, paired to a constantly variable (CVT) auto transmission only. It competes against the likes of the Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, and Toyota C-HR. You can buy the base ES, the LS, Aspire, or the Exceed at the top. All models come with front-wheel drive, but the LS and Exceed are additionally available with all-wheel drive.
Prices begin at $30,290, and rise to $40,790 for the top-spec Exceed AWD like what we are testing here (plus on-road costs).
2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed – THE SPECS
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder
Output: 110kW@5500rpm / 250Nm@2000-3500rpm
Transmission: CVT automatic
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 18×7.0, 225/55
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 1560kg
Power-to-weight: 14.18:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 7.7L/100km
Economy during test: 8.4L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 60L/91 RON
Power efficiency: 14.28kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.29 seconds*
0-100km/h: 9.29 seconds*
60-110km/h: 6.90 seconds*
1/8 mile: 10.92 seconds at 108.3km/h*
1/4 mile: 16.93 seconds at 130.9km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.631g
100-0km/h braking: 3.20 seconds at 41.25 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.197g
Decibel at idle: 43*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 75*
Priced from: $40,790
* Figures based on 2018 Exceed AWD, previously tested by PerformanceDrive. Factory claims may be different
2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed – THE PACKAGE
The design of the Eclipse Cross is now distinctively Mitsubishi. It shares the common design language with its siblings, with a prominent “Dynamic Shield” front end. A glossy black lower apron and large grille at the front are infused with highly-detailed vents and twin chrome bars. Some new split headlights are one of the giveaways of the facelift, with slanted daytime running lights just under the bonnet. It’s a dynamic and busy looking front end.
Heading towards the rear, the Exceed is rewarded with some subtle side skirts that add a sporty touch. The boot hatch has been heavily revised as well, with the lower split window removed, instead leaving a more conventional rear windscreen. There is also a funky glossy black lower apron that mirrors the front end. We think there are better-looking small SUVs on the market, but the Eclipse Cross does stand out as something unique.
The interior design is predictably Mitsubishi. Everything is quick and easy to grasp, but there is no mind-blowing excitement or game-changing design going on. Materials feel strong and decent in quality though, and there are lots of soft-touch areas to emanate a luxury feel. The 8.0-inch multimedia touch-screen has been brought closer to the driver for easier reach, but the menu is rather boring compared with current trends. This might be perfect for some who prefer simplicity.
In terms of space, there is a good amount of wriggle-room in the front row as the dash does not jump out into your space like some other SUV designs. There are plenty of areas for your belongings, as well as two USB ports in the lower dash. Neglectfully, there is no adjustable lumbar support in the front seats, given this is a top-spec model. And the seats need it too, in our opinion.
The second row is commendable for space considering this is a small SUV. Legroom has increased slightly thanks to a 140mm increase in the overall vehicle length. There are even heated seats (outer) in the back. This is not common in this market segment. Only, there are no rear air vents. The side windows are quite small at the rear, which may result in a “hemmed in” feeling for shorter passengers who like to see outside.
For the mid-generation update, boot space has increased to 405 litres (up from 341L). In comparison, the Subaru XV’s boot offers a measly 310L, but the Suzuki S-Cross fits 430L, the Honda HR-V offers 437L, and the Kia Seltos has a generous 498L. So, if boot space is high on your priorities list, there are bigger options out there. But it is a very easy boot to pack and unpack thanks to its load height.
No matter which Eclipse Cross you set foot in you’ll receive the same 8.0-inch multimedia touch-screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear-view camera, digital radio, 18-inch alloy wheels, gear paddle shifters, climate control, LED daytime running lights, seven airbags, cruise control, and forward collision mitigation.
Stepping up into the Exceed adds heated and power-folding door mirrors, illuminated front door trim, push-button start, lane-departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, auto rain-sensing wipers, auto dusk-sensing LED headlamps with auto high beam, blind-spot warning, lane-change assist, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, head-up display, and a surround-view parking camera system.
The Exceed also comes with leather seats, power driver and passenger seats, heated front and rear seats and steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, a “Mitsubishi Power” 510-Watt sound system with eight speakers and four tweeters, a double sunroof, and sat-nav. We would have liked to see a wireless phone charging pad, road sign detection, and those rear air vents given it’s a top-spec model.
2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed – THE DRIVE
Although it’s a small engine, it is more willing and livelier than you might expect for a run-of-the-mill small SUV. That’s thanks to a perky turbocharger which provides a good mid-range shove. It does sound a tad thrashy when pushed, though. We didn’t test this example across 0-100km/h, but we have tested the 2018 Exceed AWD model (same engine) and it clocked the sprint in 9.29 seconds.
That shrill and drone of the engine is not helped by the fact that it is paired to a CVT auto transmission. If you haven’t experienced one of these transmission types before, its operation can seem a bit strange; it never changes gear. Not in a traditional sense anyway. Instead, it constantly hunts around the rev range to provide the optimum in performance or fuel economy, depending on your demands. Most drivers won’t be concerned – just driving enthusiasts like us here at PerformanceDrive.
Speaking of fuel consumption, the Eclipse Cross does not produce any competitive averages. CVT autos are known for improving fuel economy, but that’s not necessarily the case here. The official average is listed at 7.7L/100km. This is nearly a whole litre more than the 148kW Hyundai Kona N-Line AWD (6.9L/100km). Our average came through even higher, at 8.4L/100km. At least it can run on the base 91-RON fuel, helping to reduce your bill at the fuel station.
It’s great to see the Eclipse Cross is offered with all-wheel drive – some rivals are not. This enables better traction during wet driving conditions and on dirt roads. It makes for a perfect SUV on camping trips and other light off-road adventures. Obviously, like any model in this class, it is not really suitable for more serious off-road situations.
In terms of driving dynamics, the Eclipse Cross tends more towards a soft ride, with some body roll evident around sweeping corners. But it does offer a comfortable and quiet journey. Except, we notice the ride and tracking are easily disturbed over bigger road imperfections compared with some other SUVs in this market.
Buyers that primarily enjoy and go for vehicles that are easy to drive will feel right at home in the Eclipse Cross. Thanks to light steering, user-friendly power, and decent visibility, it is ultra-easy to manage in tight spaces and negotiating through car parks, and in inner-city conditions.
2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed – THE VIDEO
2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed – THE VERDICT
If you are looking for a small SUV that you can jump into and become familiar with very quickly, with no fuss, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a commendable option. It’s the type of car that blends in with the crowd, but without much wow-factor. An A to B transporter. Although, the Exceed variant does feel premium inside, in some areas.
If you want something with a bit of pizzaz or a sporty drive, on the other hand, there are more attractive propositions in this class in our view. Some offer a lot more power and others just feel more fun to drive.
One aspect that no competitor can match is warranty. The Eclipse Cross is covered by an industry-leading 10-year/200,000km package. That alone makes this a very tempting option, as it gives buyers extensive peace of mind.
– High quality look and feel interior, lots of soft-touch materials
– Turbo engine easily and quickly gets up to speed
– Super easy to navigate and drive
– 10-year warranty
– Exceed skimpy on some features for a top-spec model
– Design lacks elegance/sportiness
– High fuel usage for a relatively low-power engine
– Comfy but somewhat sloppy ride
As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.