In this world, it is said that nothing can be certain, except death, taxes and more SUVs.

That latter addition to Ben Franklin’s quote just about sums up the sentiment of carmakers expecting to stay in the American automotive market. Ford certainly got the message when it announced it would cease all car production, except for the Mustang, in favor of SUVs, crossover SUVs and trucks.

The truck winds are blowing pretty hard, with industry buzz indicating the next generation Volt to appear as a crossover SUV. Just about every luxury make has either introduced an SUV or announced one or more are coming.

2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

 

With all this going on, it’s not a total surprise that Mitsubishi brought back its iconic Eclipse sports car as a crossover SUV. Mitsubishi is no stranger to playing musical chairs with names and body configurations. The Mitsubishi Outlander, for instance, started life as the Airtrek. And while many enthusiasts know Mitsubishi for it’s legendary Lancer Evolution sports sedan, last year, the company revealed the e-Evolution—a three-motor all-electric crossover concept that previews where the next-generation Evo will be going. Mitsubishi set up a website of its future and concept vehicles—and almost all are SUVs or truck-based.

We got a sneak peek at the Eclipse Cross design back in 2013 and again in 2015 when Mitsubishi showed us the XR-PHEV and XR-PHEV II concept vehicles. The production version made its debut at the Geneva Auto Show in 2017, retaining most of the design cues of the concept vehicles, which is a good thing. The production 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a handsome vehicle.

This front-quarter close-up shows the fine details of the Eclipse Cross.

Kim Wexler would approve of the new Eclipse Cross

So, would attorney Kim Wexler (Rhea Seahorn) of “Better Call Saul” approve of the new 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross? Fans of the show know Ms. Wexler drives a Mitsubishi Eclipse sports car, which she ran into the ditches at the end of the last season. The case can be made that the answer is “yes”.

Kim Wexler would have fared better in this Eclipse

Wexler would have fared better in the ditches with the Eclipse Cross.

Okay, this is up for debate, but the new Cross SEL we tested is fitted with a bushel full of standard safety features only dreamed of in the days of “Better Call Saul”: Blind Spot Warning (BSW), with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Lane Change Assist (LCA), Front seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag, Advanced dual-stage SRS front airbags, RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) body construction (said to absorb the impact of a collision). In addition, our model is fitted with Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, which comes with the Touring Package. Even if Wexler would have still gone into the ditches, she wouldn’t be wearing that arm cast you see in the current season.

The sharp wedge lines of the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross are clearly seen from this angle.

The Eclipse Cross can better handle boxes of legal briefs and other cargo.

Given the cargo capacity of the new 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, those reams of Mesa Verde papers that went floating away after the crash would still be the back of the new crossover SUV. Arguably, Wexler would have still made the meeting with her Mesa Verde clients. Of course, Season Three would not have had as dramatic an ending.

The Eclipse Cross is a looker.

The Eclipse sports car was always a handsome-looking car. The new Eclipse Cross doesn’t disappoint in this regard. It’s among the best-looking crossover SUVs in its class. Its chiselled wedge profile is reminiscent of the more expensive Range Rover Evoque. It even faintly looks like the new $200,000 Lamborghini Urus crossover SUV, albeit not as long, low and lean. You can thank Mitsubishi’s Global Design Chief Tsunehiro Kunimoto for the clean lines in the new Eclipse Cross, which spill into the interior of the vehicle. Fit and finish may not exactly match the European cars, but it’s among the best we’ve seen from Mitsubishi.

The 1.5 liter direct-injection turbocharged four-in-line in the 2019 Eclipse Cross

But is the Eclipse Cross sporty enough?

Yes and no. If you push the Eclipse Cross, the direct-injection turbocharged engine with work with the paddle shifters to make the new crossover SUV move about in a pretty sporty fashion. Moreover, the Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) will keep the car well-planted on the road. Alas, you’ll only realize this if you drive the car hard. In normal driving, the new Cross feels rather lethargic. Yes, it’s turbocharged, but the little 1.5 liter motor and CVT transmission don’t convey a sense of sportiness in normal driving. We long for the days when Mitsubishi offered cars with a decidedly more sporty flair. The old Lancer Ralliart, for instance, while no Evo, would still pin you back in the seats and chirp the tires when shifting its dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Eclipse Cross is not that car.

The view from within the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

The bottom line

The small motor-CVT transmission arrangement does come with dividends. According to the EPA, the Eclipse Cross will return 25 miles per gallon in city driving. That’s not bad for a near-3,500 pound SUV. Mitsubishi must be betting that, in the end, fuel economy will win over consumers more than sportiness.

Speaking of the bottom line, the price is certainly right. While the MSRP on the well-equipped Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL 1.5T S-AWC starts at $28,195, some dealers are offering significant discounts. S-AWC equipped SELs advertised in the low $20,000 range is not unheard of. That makes this car a real world bargain—a well-equipped compact crossover SUV for the price of a subcompact crossover.

In summary, the Eclipse Cross is more of a sheep in wolves clothing, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s got the look without the looker’s price tag. What it gives up in sportiness, it makes up in a pretty decent ride and decent fuel economy for an SUV.

Kim Wexler would approve.

For more information about Mitsubishi products, go to mitsubishicars.com.

S-AWC keeps the 2019 Eclipse Cross planted to the road.

 

Story by: Roy Nakano

THE MAIN INGREDIENTS

Name of vehicle:
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL 1.5T S-AWC

Prices:
$23,295 (2018 base ES)
$23,595 (2019 base ES)
$27,895 (2018 SEL)
$28,,195 (2019 SEL)

EPA fuel economy rating:
26 city/29 highway

Engine:
1.5 liter direct-injection, turbocharged four-in-line

Transmission:
Continuously variable transmission (CVT) with 8-step Sport Mode paddle shifters

Drive configuration:
Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC)

EPA size classification*:
Small SUV

  • Passenger car classes are designated by the EPA based on interior volume index or seating capacity, except the ones classified as special vehicle. A two-seater is classified as a car with no more than two designated seating positions.