Entry Price: $23,205
Price as Tested: $35,260

This week, we’re driving the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, delivered in SEL trim with all-wheel-control (AWC) underpinnings. This is our very first drive of this new Mitsubishi SUV, which sits in the middle of the Outlander Sport and larger Outlander. Prices start at $23,205 for the entry ES, which is the only front-drive Eclipse available. When you move up to ES AWC, SE and SEL, all come with standard 4x4 underpinnings.

The big difference between the three SUV models is vehicle length. Specifically, length dimensions are 171.9-inches for the Sport, 173.4-inches for the new Eclipse, and 184.8 for big brother Outlander. The Eclipse also features a new 1.5-liter four cylinder turbocharged engine with 152-horses and 184 lb. ft. of torque. All three Mitsubishis ride on a 105.1-inch wheelbase while the larger Outlander offers three-row, seven-passenger seating whereas the Sport and Eclipse models are five passenger designs.

Even with this new Eclipse Cross, situated in the middle price-wise between Sport and Outlander, it’s been a tough ride for Mitsubishi Motors the last five years. The company now badges its new entry as an Eclipse, the latter a huge success for Mitsubishi decades ago as a compact sports car. Overall, Mitsubishi is still trying to regain the form that found such great cars like the twin-turbo Mitsubishi 3000 GT VR4 and most recently Lancer Evolution EVO, both gone by the wayside.

Since the recession of 2007 to 2011 negatively affected all major auto manufacturers, Mitsubishi was especially hard hit. Their dealer showrooms experienced a major nosedive while their lineup of “many models to choose from” end up with today’s short list of just four offerings, which include the little Mirage three-cylinder sub-compact, this new Eclipse Cross, and the brothers Outlander.

Thankfully, the new Eclipse helps in showroom number display, but it’s hard figuring out other than expanded floor space where this “new” Eclipse fits. To make room for the new Eclipse Cross, the GT line is dropped for 2018 and although marketed as all-new, this Eclipse Cross is pretty much an Outlander a bit longer than Sport all jazzed up.

There are some things to cheer about, however. Eclipse Cross features a new eight-speed CVT automatic transmission in addition to aforementioned 1.5-liter turbo four, resulting in 25 city and 26 highway EPA numbers for the AWC models.

The Eclipse Cross additionally features steering wheel paddle shifters, the latter for those seeking more control over the engine RPM, torque delivery and fuel consumption management. The Super AWC (4x4) is an electronically-controlled active front differential unit with push-button activation that engages all wheels when needed. The ride is average to good, overall.

Eclipse Cross top line SEL standard features include high-density LED headlamps, fog lamps, rear LED taillights, 18-inch Bridgestone Ecopia tires on nice two-tone alloys, heated front leather seating, push button start, dual zone climate control, rear spoiler, power folding side heated mirrors, cruise, all the powers, high contrast instrumentation and a six-speaker 7-inch display high-definition stereo Sirius/XM/USB/HD radio with Bluetooth, Apple/Android compatibility, two 12-volt outlets and dual USB ports. There are numerous additional standard features your Mitsubishi dealer is waiting to explain.

Our tester arrived with a highly recommended $2,500 Touring Package that adds high-tech safety items like forward-collision braking, adaptive cruise, lane departure warning and automatic high beams. You also receive a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate Premium nine-speaker stereo system, heated rear seats, roof rails, auto dimming Homelink rear view mirror and a beautiful panoramic dual pane power panoramic sunroof. This option is worth every penny if safety and superior entertainment are priorities.

A cargo tonneau cover ($190), chrome package ($395), carpeted floormats ($135), interior enhancement ($290) premium exterior package ($1,395) rear park assist ($510) and diamond paint ($595) pushed the final tally to $35,260 with $995 delivery included. Although these options are not necessary, they are nice and really spruce up the new Eclipse Cross.

On the safety side, expect four- and five-star government safety ratings when tests are complete. Standard features include seven airbags, stability control, traction control, hill start assist, head-up display, ABS disc brakes, electronic brakeforce, enhanced rear multi-view safety camera and more.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.1-inches, 3,516 lb. curb weight, 8.5-inch ground clearance, from 22.6 to 48.9-cu. ft. of cargo space, and a 15.8-gallon fuel tank.

In summary, the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is an example of a manufacturer getting back in the game with a new model, albeit still a smaller SUV. Consumers can expect steep dealer discounts and/or financing incentives, so test driving the 10-year/100,000 mile warranty Mitsubishi family of SUVs should be a consideration if shopping this market.
As for near $36,000 Mitsubishi Eclipse SUVs, be prudent and remember that the lower priced models combined with dealer discounts make the best overall buys. Also look for great leftover deals, as the 2019 Eclipse Cross is unchanged.

Likes: Interior, sporty looks, lots of features, 1.5 turbo engine.
Dislikes: Not much horsepower, no radio tuning knob, options can push price out of “good buy” sphere.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media.