Mitsubishi has a stranglehold on the small SUV segment in Australia, enjoying almost 20 per cent market share in the hotly-contested class.
The heavy-lifting is done by the venerable and top-selling Mitsubishi ASX. But, the funkier and altogether less conventional looking Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross hasn’t exactly been dragging its wheels, contributing almost five per cent segment share with 4517 of the edgy SUV sold in 2020. For context, Mitsubishi sold 14,056 ASXs in the same period, bringing the Japanese brand’s market share in the segment to 19.1 per cent. Solid.
The Eclipse Cross has undergone a significant makeover for the 2021 model year, growing in size and scoring updated safety smarts as well as a new touchscreen and infotainment system. Those changes should make it more appealing to more people, although they come at a price, the entire range receiving a slight price increase.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross range consists of four trim levels, all available with front-wheel drive underpinnings while two models, the second up the rung Eclipse Cross LS and the top-of-the-range Eclipse Cross Exceed, are also available with all-wheel-drive.
That makes for a six-vehicle range with pricing starting at $30,290, plus on-road costs, for the Eclipse Cross ES and topping out with the car we have on test here, the top-spec 2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed AWD, priced at $40,790, plus on-road costs.
That circa-$40k pricing for the top-spec Eclipse Cross sees it face some pretty stiff competition in what is already a highly-competitive segment. Limiting main rivals to AWD variants at around $40k still sees some healthy competition for buyers’ hard-earned.
The Hyundai Kona Highlander AWD asks for $40,200 while Kia’s Seltos GT-Line in AWD trim is priced at $41,700, plus on-road costs. Mazda’s stylish CX-30 can be had in entry-level G25 Touring trim with AWD for a slightly lower $38,490 plus on-roads while a $40,790 will net you a Subaru XV Hybrid. And Volkswagen throws its hand into the ring with its new T-Roc 140TSI Sport for $40,990. Some decent competition then.
|2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed AWD|
|Engine||1.5-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol|
|Power and torque||110kW at 5500rpm, 250Nm at 2000-3500rpm|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||7.7L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||9.3L/100km|
|Boot volume (rear seats up / down)||405L / 1172L|
|ANCAP safety rating||5 stars (2017)|
|Warranty||10 years / 200,000km (conditional on servicing)|
|Main competitors||Mazda CX-30, Subaru XV, Volkswagen T-Roc|
|Price as tested (ex on-road costs)||$40,790|
The biggest visual change to the Eclipse Cross Range comes at the rear where the body has grown by 140mm, increasing boot capacity to 405 litres (and 1172L with the second row stowed away). That’s an increase of 64 litres and 50 litres respectively over the old model. Mitsubishi claims the Eclipse Cross’s growth spurt has also increased legroom in the second row.
The good news, that 140mm stretch hasn’t impacted on the kerbside appeal of the Eclipse Cross, which still looks nicely-proportioned and well-resolved, not always the case when a vehicle receives the ‘stretch’ treatment.
There’s a refreshing angularity to the Eclipse Cross, that defies the trend within the segment. Its sloping roofline lends it a coupe-like air, while a canvas of sharp lines and angles add some distinctive visual appeal.
Inside the Exceed benefits from a decent suite of semi-premium touches including leather seats, power adjustable and heated at front. There’s dual-zone climate control, push-button start, auto up/down windows on all four doors and an electric sunroof.
There’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen now running Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, along with Bluetooth connectivity and inbuilt satellite navigation. An eight-speaker audio system comes equipped with DAB+ radio and fair sound quality, not exceptional.
It’s a nicely-designed cabin, perhaps a little uninspiring, but it’s functional and practical – there’s a decent central storage bin complemented by large door pockets able to take bottles while the USB port count rests at two. There are also two 12V sockets to help keep devices topped up.
The driver benefits from a combination of traditional analogue dials and a small-ish colour digital driver info display. It’s enhanced by a head-up display on the windscreen, meaning there’s plenty of options for garnering driving information.
The second row does benefit from those extra millimetres Mitsubishi has thrown at the Eclipse. It is roomier than before, with plenty of legroom in particular standing out. The seats are comfortable, while a flip-down armrest houses two cupholders. There are no air vents back there, however.
The seatbacks recline a few degrees for added comfort while the whole ensemble stows away in 60:40 split fashion to liberate that 1172 litres of cargo space. There’s a space-saver spare under the floor.
One key visual change to this facelifted Eclipse Cross is right out back. The outgoing model featured a split rear window, designed to improve visibility, although its styling was polarising. It’s gone now, replace by a more traditional single pane of glass.
Like the broader Eclipse Cross range, the Exceed is powered by Mitsubishi’s workhorse 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Outputs of 110kW at 5500rpm and 250Nm between 2000-3500rpm aren’t exactly staggering but, it’s a decent enough dollop of motivation to ensure the Eclipse Cross doesn’t feel underdone.
Light and easy at take-off from standstill, the Exceed behaves well around town, feeling neither sluggish nor too zippy. It’s a decent motivation, uncomplicated and unflustered.
Bursts of acceleration – such as merging onto a motorway or overtaking – can feel leave the Mitsubishi feeling a little more stressed, although with that user-friendly low-rev torque band, there’s enough under the right foot for most needs.
The CVT works away intuitively and seamlessly, demonstrating again the technology has come a long way since its early days. There’s none of the droning and sluggishness associated with CVTs of old. Instead, the transmission makes a decent fist of providing the right revs at the right time for the situation at hand.
Like so many of its small SUV cohort, the Eclipse Cross is unashamedly an urban-based SUV. And to that end, it performs its duties in an unfussed and calm manner. The ride is supple and smooth, with only the worst of our scrappy roads offering any resistance to the serenity inside the cabin around town. Tyre noise and road roar is par for the course.
It’s an honest combination of drivetrain and suspension tune, perfectly adapted for its intended environment.
ANCAP awarded the Eclipse Cross range a five-star safety rating back in 2017. That remains in play with this facelift. Certainly the suite of safety and driver assistance technology is comprehensive – adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, auto high-beam headlights, and front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera are highlights. A complement of seven airbags protect occupants in both rows.
For those with little ones, there are ISOFIX mounts on the outboard seats while all three pews in the second row are equipped with top-tether anchor points.
Mitsubishi claims the Eclipse Cross drinks 7.7L/100km of 91RON unleaded on the combined cycle. Our week with the Exceed saw an indicated 9.3L, combining urban duties with some highway running. That's a bit more than claimed and a touch on the high side. Note, there is an Eclipse Cross plug-in hybrid imminent, slated to arrived mid-2021.
Mitsubishi owners can enjoy an industry-leading 10-year/200,000km warranty, but that comes with a caveat, your new Eclipse Cross needing to be serviced and maintained at Mitsubishi’s dealer network over that period. Otherwise, the five-year/100,000km warranty applies.
Mitsubishi’s capped-price servicing plan will set you back $299 per visit for the first five years/60,000km for a total of $1495, or, if pushed out to the full 10-year warranty period, a total of $3790.
There’s an inherent honesty to the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, a vehicle that now, thanks to its extra length, straddles the line between small and medium SUV. Its funky, slightly offbeat design married to a perfectly adept drivetrain combination makes for a decent conveyance in the urban jungle, well worth a look if you’re shopping in the segment.