Up: Lots of tech, amazing touch pad
Down: Slightly blasphemous use of the model name
Neutral: A all-around good crossover that’s more interesting than the rest
I know, I know, typing the words “Mitsubishi Eclipse” and “Cross SEL” in the same sentence should make me close my laptop and walk away from reviewing cars for good, but I’m willing to give it a chance if you are. I mean, crossovers are the best selling vehicles in America, and Mitsubishi hasn’t really produced anything too interesting since the death of the Lancer Evolution in 2016, so why not revive an exciting and recognizable name for their all-new platform? Surely they’ll do the import legend justice, right?
I’ll start by saying that the 2nd generation Mitsubishi Eclipse is the most influential car of my generation. Think about it. You saw Paul Walker tear up a parking lot in a lime green Eclipse right away in The Fast and the Furious. The opening cinematic in Need for Speed: Underground is a silver Eclipse modding itself to the angelic “yeahs!” of Lil John. Then there’s the huge wing, the somehow sexy off-centered bump on the hood, and the tail lights that stretched across the entire rear end; a trend that many manufactures are adopting today (Looking at you 2020 Porsche 911 and 2019 Aston Martin Vantage!). Hell, the tagline from the 1999 commercial was “Postponed adulthood starting at under $17,500”.
So the bar is set pretty high, Mitsubishi. At first glance, the Eclipse Cross SEL is not going to jump start a new generation of car lovers, but it may have what it takes to set itself apart from other Crossovers, which is maybe what the original Eclipse set out to do in the first place? I may be reaching here, but c’mon, I need to write an entertaining and insightful article for Pete’s sake!
Now let’s see if there are any similarities that carry over from the iconic 1995-1999 Eclipse generation (I, like every other gearhead, tend to ignore the Eclipse from 2000 on). Both have turbo 4-cylinder engines, all-wheel-drive, a premium sound system, and, surprisingly, a tail light the stretches across the entire rear hatch. However other than those vague options, the two Eclipses share very little in common. Also, being a crossover SUV, the Eclipse Cross SEL gets a pass for not having a manual transmission or a huge wing…but a bump in the hood would have been a welcome Easter Egg.
What I’m discovering with all of the comparisons is that Mitsubishi has finally buried the old spirit of the Eclipse for good. Instead of dragging the namesake’s death out for another failed 5th or 6th generation, they put the nail in the coffin and moved on. This is a good thing. We just need to get it through our heads that the Eclipse will no longer be a symbol of affordable sportiness, but instead a symbol of an affordable, forward-thinking crossover.
And the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse SEL is exactly that. When I climbed in and fired it up I was genuinely surprised by the amount of cool, and functional, tech this car has at the driver’s disposal. Rest your elbow on the armrest and one of the smoothest and most intuitive track pads I’ve ever used is right at your fingertips. I’m serious, the pad works so well and there is no lag! To control the infotainment center, you swipe around similar to that of a laptop and click it down to make your selection. It’s such a familiar piece of technology that you can easily change settings while driving without taking your eyes too far from the road.
Speaking of eyes on the road, the Eclipse Cross SEL has a head up display! That’s something you won’t find in the Chevrolet Trax, Ford Escape, or Subaru Crosstrek; all of which are around the same size and price as the Mitsubishi. Plus, when the Eclipse Cross is fully spec’d out (SEL), it comes with Super All-Wheel-Control (S-AWC), a Rockford Fosgate audio system, blind spot warning and other traffic safety tech, full LED headlights, heated leather seats, and a Multi-View camera system that allows you to look around the car or straight down at the curb so you don’t scuff your 18″ alloy wheels. All for under $30,000.
What’s the Eclipse Cross like to drive? Well, as we established it’s no sports car. It handles well, makes you feel safe even when accelerating hard, and comes with a few drive modes for different weather/terrain. The drive modes include Auto, Snow, Gravel, and Eco. When I drove it there was a light spritz of rain so I kept it in Auto; which seemed to know what it was doing. I should also include that the 1.5 liter direct inject turbo engine paired with a CVT transmission is right on par with competitors.
So despite Mitsubishi stomping on a good portion of my childhood, I am excited to see how well the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross sells. It’s new, it’s innovative, it’s, dare I say, a bit fun. Everything inside and out seems to be designed for people who like their technology and like it to work well. Sure it may never get your heart pumping, but it will get your heart from point A to point B very efficiently, and very safely. Heck, I even hope this new platform trickles into other Mitsubishi models because honestly, who even likes the Outlander?
Thanks to Tom Borchard at Vern Eide Mitsubishi for letting me drive the Eclipse Cross! Head out to the lot he’ll tell you everything you need to know!