The Mitsubishi Eclipse has always had a troubled history. Born in the late ‘80s from a partnership with Chrysler (which was still its own company at the time), the Mitsubishi Eclipse was their first sport compact made entirely in the USA. Sure, it shared basically every working component with the Plymouth Laser and Eagle Talon, but that trio of diamonds represented a foreignness that made the Eclipse seem exotic and mysterious.
It shouldn’t have--the car was made in a place called Normal, Illinois. But that reputation as an import meant that the Eclipse was a popular choice for garage projects and street racers during the import tuner craze of the late ‘90s. Need for Speed: Underground fans will probably have fond memories of the Eclipse’s sloping roof and smooth lines.
But then Chrysler went bankrupt and left Mitsubishi to carry on the Eclipse without the help of Chrysler engineers. The fourth generation was the first to be made entirely by Mitsubishi USA (still in the Normal factory), but falling sales of sport compacts meant that the Eclipse’s days were numbered.
The last Eclipse rolled off the assembly line in August of 2011.
That was the last we thought we’d ever see of the Eclipse nameplate, but then Mitsubishi performed some dark necromancy and brought the Eclipse back from the dead. As a crossover. Because that’s all the young kids are buying these days.
Announced in 2017 at the Geneva Auto Show, the Eclipse Cross was a giant question mark to the world at large. Eclipse as a name had become synonymous with affordable and sporty, whereas the Eclipse Cross was anything but. Well, it was still affordable, but sporty it was most certainly not.
Powered by a 1.5-L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine, the Cross gets 152 hp and 184-lb-ft of torque. That torque helps to make it seem like the Cross has some oomph, but the numbers show that to be a lie. Zero to sixty takes 8.6 seconds, while you can boil an egg in the time it takes to get the Eclipse Cross up to 100 mph. Top speed is a drag-limited 118 mph.
At 3,500 lbs, the Eclipse Cross is a touch on the bulky side for a crossover, which also helps to explain its abysmal stopping distance of 174 ft to go from 70 mph to a standstill. Although the Eclipse has AWD on anything but the base-level trim, don’t think this is any sort of off-road car or you’ll shatter its suspension.
So the Eclipse has virtually none of the sporty character of its predecessor, and neither does it have anything in the looks department either. You could basically use the Eclipse Cross as a dictionary definition for a modern crossover, in all its boring glory.
The story remains the same as soon as you head inside as the Eclipse presents its passengers with as much plastic and fake metal trim as you’d expect to see from most non-luxury crossovers. Vents, buttons, dials, and touchscreen infotainment all provide zero excitement or surprises.
Just about the only thing that will surprise you on the base-model ES trim is automatic single-zone climate control. Everything else requires going up the trims, but all the good stuff is locked behind the top of the line SEL trim, with a $2,500 Touring Package on top of that. This means safety features like forward collision warning, lane departure, and adaptive cruise control are all behind a paywall that starts at $32,660.
Oh, and other premium features like a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic high beams, and sunroof are also starting at over 32 grand.
Just about the only thing the Eclipse has going for it is Mitsubishi’s bulletproof warranty. A 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty is still the best in the biz, as is a 5-year/60,000 mile fully transferable limited warranty and a 7-year/100,000 mile anti-corrosion limited warranty, along with 5-year unlimited roadside assistance.
So if you want a boring car that will never die, and if it does Mitsubishi will pay for it, then the Eclipse Cross is a fine choice. But literally almost any other crossover will defeat the Cross in some way or another. Both the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 will provide more power and better standard features at under $30,000, and if you want a cheap-as-possible new crossover, the Hyundai Kona has the Eclipse Cross beat there too.
The Ford Escape has better highway mileage, the Subaru Crosstrek has better all-wheel-drive, and the Kia Soul does a better job of standing out from the crowd by looking like a quirky box on wheels.
It was smart for Mitsubishi to make a crossover to better meet the demands of future car buyers. But calling it the Eclipse just dug up a name that a boring car will soon be buried with once again.