The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is in fighting form in LS Black Edition guise, but even at its best, is it worth your cash over its many accomplished rivals?
For the good portion of the population that can’t tell the difference between a radiator and an intercooler, and don’t really give a stuff as long as it gets them to work on time, buying a car can be a very simple exercise.
Looks? Sure, that’s important, and safety too, but at the beginning and the end of the purchase process, the dominating factor is always value for money. As perhaps it should be.
Now in its final years fighting for its share of the pie in a cohort of newer and some would argue better SUV rivals, the Eclipse Cross wields the value tool to its advantage.
The Eclipse Cross first hit the road in 2017 and was later facelifted in 2020, so in a world where most Japanese cars are refreshed every five to six years or so, it has many of us in the motoring industry checking our watch and wondering when (and if) its successor is due.
But the Eclipse Cross is a small SUV that clearly has more to give. Despite the model’s vintage, Mitsubishi has sold 6597 units as of October this year – some 1300 more than it did at the same time last year.
Clearly then, something is working, and it’s something Mitsubishi seems to have capitalised on earlier this year but re-introducing the LS Black Edition back to the range. It’s essentially a spruced-up version of one of the Eclipse Cross’s most affordable grades with a few choice extras to add some extra appeal.
But even with its enticing $35,490 sticker price, the Eclipse Cross is getting rather old and that price tag is well within reach of accomplished rivals such as the Subaru Crosstrek ($34,990 before on-roads) and Skoda Kamiq ($32,990 driveaway).
It’s unclear if we will see a second generation of the Eclipse Cross but we do expect to see a new small SUV from Mitsubishi, though it’s unclear exactly when or where it will come from.
So given its vintage and long list of rivals, is the LS Black Edition worth the spend?
The Eclipse Cross range kicks off with the ES followed by the LS, Aspire and flagship Exceed. Mitsubishi’s all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid system is available on all bar the LS – though this grade, along with the Exceed, do offer traditional AWD options as well.
Mitsubishi’s LS Black Edition is based on the front-drive version and includes the following features:
For an additional $1250 over the regular LS FWD, the Black Edition builds on this list with a few choice extras; such as replacing the cloth upholstery with a synthetic micro-suede and synthetic leather combination, adding seat heating in the front row and power adjustment for the driver.
All other changes are simply down to appearance, with a shade of black applied to the mirrors and rims along with the front bumper, rear bumpers. The roof rails are also deleted to help finish off the more stealthy look.
The list of features here isn’t exhaustive but considering you could walk out the door for under $40,000 driveaway in NSW, the LS Black Edition does stand out as the absolute sweet spot of the range when it comes to value.
Some of you ’80s and ’90s kids may remember the Mitsubishi Eclipse as an uber-cool AWD, two-door coupe with enough power and agility to embarrass many far more expensive sports cars, but the Eclipse Cross we have today is designed with a very different mission in mind.
With its 4545mm length, the Eclipse Cross sits on the upper end of what counts as a small SUV, but surprisingly good visibility means you don’t struggle to weave through multi-storey car parks or back into tight spaces. It’s a good size for the Australian market, in many respects.
Having recently driven the Mitsubishi ASX and taken a quick dislike to its gutless and overly revvy 2.4L naturally-aspirated four-cylinder, I was also pleasantly surprised by the smooth and refined 1.5L turbocharged four‘ found in the Eclipse Cross.
Making 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque, it’s line-ball with a Skoda Kamiq 1.5L turbo, and feels similar in terms of refinement.
Because peak torque kicks in at just 2000rpm the engine is relatively quiet around town, so those who ordinarily curl an upper lip in disgust at the mention of a CVT transmission need not worry, this combination works well.
The LS Black Edition is FWD only, which may be a downside for some but I certainly never found myself searching for extra grip when circling suburbia.
Unfortunately, the good points do somewhat end here, the bones on which the Eclipse Cross is based are old and feel it. Corners don’t just feel uninspiring to drive around, they feel like more of a challenge to both car and driver than they should be.
The ride – while never all that uncomfortable – never really settles either, as it’s often bouncing unnecessarily and reacting to a road imperfection that should have been dealt with one or two car lengths ago.
There is nowhere the Eclipse Cross makes its age known more than inside, but is that entirely a bad thing? Not necessarily.
The layout you see here has been roughly the same since the model launched in 2017. It received a bit of a tidy-up and spruce-up in 2020, but the Eclipse Cross is still a vehicle designed for a different time.
Take the touchscreen for example; it sits high up in the dashboard out of easy reach, and the poor quality of its 8.0-inch touchscreen doesn’t help its usability either. It does, however, have wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is very welcome.
On the flip-side, unlike other rivals, the old-school Eclipse Cross retains no-nonsense full physical climate controls, which I personally appreciated, though others may prefer the cleaner interior look of rivals such as the Haval Jolion. I do suggest potential buyers use both systems for more than 10 minutes before making up their mind between the two.
Fundamentally, though, the LS Black Edition ticks most of the right boxes, and additions such as the front heated seats and the microsuede/synthetic leather combination material over cloth attempt to elevate the cabin above its budget price.
The front seats do feel a bit drab in terms of shape and could use more lumbar support – adjustable or otherwise – to fine-tune the seat to different body styles.
Mitsubishi would also do well to upgrade the base stereo on this car and it would also be nicer to see features like a wireless phone charger in a modern vehicle like this. Dual-zone climate control is available but only on higher grades.
A surprising misstep in the Eclipse Cross is the fact the small TFT display between the two analogue gauges isn’t capable of providing an exact speed figure – so you’ll have to rely on your precise reading of the needle when passing by speed cameras. Oddly enough, we’re told this issue doesn’t exist on the PHEV variant.
But moving to the backseat of the Eclipse Cross reveals its party piece: passenger space.
With a wheelbase of 2670mm it’s just 11mm shy of the midsize Volkswagen Tiguan and the benefit to passengers is welcome. At 180cm tall I found there was plenty of room behind my own driving position.
It’s a shame that the Eclipse Cross misses out on air vents in the second row, which despite being quite wide across all three seating positions limits its versatility thanks to the overly firm centre seat.
Being the resident family man of the Chasing Cars office, I also fit my own rearward-facing child seat during the testing period and spent considerable time ferrying my toddler to and from daycare.
It’s impressive how easy it is to fit the baby seat into the rear of the Eclipse Cross with minimal adjustment to the front passenger seat to accommodate my rearward-facing seat, or the larger Chasing Cars baby capsule.
The rear doors also open nice and wide, and the raised seat height means that you won’t have to arch your back too much to get little ones in and out.
It stands to reason that if living with a rearwards-facing seat was this easy, a front-facing version would be that much easier again, but it’s nice that the Eclipse Cross can accommodate both types, as not all small SUVs can.
At 405L, or over 1200L with the rear seats folded down, the boot is a good size for this class and easily accommodated my pram with room to spare. There is also a space-saver spare under the floor if you get into strife.
As of January 2024, the Eclipse Cross is no longer available with a five-star safety rating from ANCAP, as the score has now expired. It’s possible Mitsubishi could retest this small SUV and score five stars again but this seems unlikely. Examples built before 1st January 2024 are five-star rated.
Even so, an update earlier in 2023 bolstered the list of standard safety features which includes blind-spot monitoring, lane change assistance and rear cross-traffic alert.
Other safety features on this grade include:
I’ll note that the LS Black Edition misses out on some features available on the Aspire grade and up, including front parking sensors, a 360-degree camera and adaptive cruise control. It’s also notable that no grades are fitted with reversing AEB.
Mitsubishi quotes an average fuel consumption of 7.3L/100km for the front-drive Eclipse Cross variants though during our testing we saw around 8.2L/100km, which isn’t terrific for a small SUV but more respectable given its midsize SUV-esk interior space.
Now of course Mitsubishi does offer a plug-in hybrid option for the Eclipse Cross, which claims 54km of all-electric range and 1.9L/100km consumption, but the cheapest version of this starts at $47,290 before on-road costs and that’s in the more basic ES trim, so the trade-off may not be right for everyone.
Being a Mitsubishi, it’s also eligible for the brand’s industry-leading 10-year if 200,000km-capped warranty, but this does of course come with the caveat that you are required to take your Eclipse Cross to one of the brand’s official service centres.
The base coverage extends for just five-years/100,000km.
Buyers also gain 10 years of capped price servicing through this deal will see you pay $1895 over the first five years or 75,000km, with service intervals every 12 months of 15,000km.
That price is cheaper than what you’ll pay for a Subaru Crosstrek ($2374), over that same time and distance, but slightly more expensive than the Skoda Kamiq ($1800).
Often when we’re reviewing cars we find that the absolute best value of the range can be found one or two rungs off the bottom of the ladder and that’s definitely the case here with the LS Black Edition.
At just $1250 more expensive than the FWD LS grade, you’re scoring some nicer upgrades normally reserved for the more expensive trim levels that do make the Eclipse Cross a nicer place to spend your time.
But after recently spending six months behind the wheel of Mitsubishi’s much newer Outlander SUV I can’t help but feel how seriously dated this Eclipse Cross model has become, from its old cabin design that seemingly integrates technology as a bit of an afterthought to its lacklustre driving dynamics.
The City Life special edition of the T-Roc is now on sale, providing a lower-cost option for Australians, but is it the best small SUV?
Variant tested LS BLACK EDITION (2WD)
Key specs (as tested)
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