The 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is an affordable SUV, but lags behind competition

Confusing cabin controls hold back this value-focused compact crossover

The Eclipse Cross has sharp front-end styling.
The Eclipse Cross has sharp front-end styling. –George Kennedy

The Mitsubishi Eclipse was originally a sport compact sold between 1989 and 2011. It was immortalized as one of the key vehicles in “The Fast and Furious” and became a cornerstone of 90s/00s tuner culture. Which is all to say: It’s pretty brazen for Mitsubishi to put the Eclipse name on a lackluster crossover, but here we are. If you’re looking for an affordable small SUV, the Eclipse Cross checks that box. It’s what you give up that needs to be considered.

The Eclipse Cross is a sharp-looking car, especially from the front. The rear window is split by a rear spoiler deck and a long, thin brake light that spans the rear. It’s a neat design, especially at night, but it partially obstructs the driver’s rearview vision.

The Eclipse has a bold rear-end design, but the split window impedes rear visibility. —George Kennedy

Inside, the Eclipse Cross provides a handsome cabin design, and extremely comfortable seats, especially with the range-topping SEL trim from our test drive. Other trims of the Eclipse Cross include ES, LE, SP, and SE.

Standard features on the base ES include a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, remote keyless entry, and heated side-view mirrors. That’s a decent collection of standard features, but the controls for this infotainment system leave something to be desired. For one, there’s no volume knob. There is a volume control on the steering wheel and volume up/down haptic buttons on the right side of the infotainment panel. Automakers have taken a beating in the press when they try and leave out the volume knob, to the point where Honda brought them back on all their cars.

There is another way to control the volume, though you’d probably never know it. Located down by the cupholders is an infotainment control pad, flanked by Home, Apps, and Back buttons. You can drag two fingers up fore or back on the pad to raise and lower the volume.

Our range-topping SEL test model featured comfortable, plush leather seats, paddle shifters, dual-zone climate control, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also had a heads-up display, though its display adjustment doesn’t raise or lower enough to accommodate a taller driver’s field of vision.

The dash layout is sharp, but lacks basic controls like a volume knob. —George Kennedy

The Eclipse Cross comes with one engine option, a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit that makes an underwhelming 152 horsepower and a more respectable 184 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent through a continuously variable transmission to the front wheels, or available all-wheel-drive.

Acceleration is adequate and is able to get out of its own way, though it makes an incredible amount of engine whine in the process. This engine is better around town, while at highway speeds it tends to struggle (still making a lot of noise). The steering is responsive, and turn-in is direct, but there is a good amount of body roll. On the flip-side, it does a really solid job soaking up bumps in the road.

Mitsubishi’s fancy name for the AWD system is Super All-Wheel-Control. It provides Auto, Snow, and Gravel drive modes, toggled via a large circular button in the center console. When equipped with this system it returns fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon in the city, 26 miles per gallon on the highway, and 25 combined.

Our test model came equipped with a host of driver assistance technology, including forward-collision avoidance, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. But these are all options, while competitors like the Toyota RAV4 provide such features as standard equipment.

Base MSRP for the 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is $22,845, and that price undercuts a majority of compact SUV rivals by $2,000-3,000. This includes the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4. All of these competitors are worth paying the extra money for, but if you absolutely have to go for the most affordable compact crossover, the Eclipse Cross is perfectly acceptable. You’ll just have to drive it with the knowledge you could have paid more for several significantly better SUVs.

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