Auto123 meets up with the revised 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. The new edition arriving next February will cost Canadians $28,598 or more
Longueuil, QC - For several months now, the coronavirus has been playing havoc with car manufacturers’ best-laid plans. But automakers and their strategists soldier on; marketing needs wait for no one, after all. Earlier this fall, we learned the first details of the 2.0 version of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, that curious subcompact SUV that first came to our market for the 2018 model year.
Just a few months before the launch of the new Outlander, the Eclipse Cross, the newest vehicle in the lineup, is already receiving several revisions to its chassis, equipment and connectivity offerings and even its controversial design. I was able to spend a short hour or so with a pre-production model and speak with Mitsubishi representatives. Here’s what I retained.
There’s no point reopening the debate that surrounded the recycling of the Eclipse name on a high-sitting crossover. The iconic coupe of old is no longer part of the brand’s plans, and it hasn’t been for some time. Much more relevant to the present and future is that the 2022 version of the Eclipse Cross is being modified in several ways, of particular note to motorists here since the Canadian division has managed to gain a decent foothold with the angular crossover since its introduction.
Mitsubishi made a mistake!
This is what Mitsubishi Canada's senior management told us during this static presentation (which basically means, look and touch, but don't drive): they’d wrongly identified the target customers for the model! Where they had imagined they would be catering to former Mitsubishi Lancer drivers who’d evolved to wanting a slightly more comfortable and practical vehicle, the actual buyers of Mitsubishi's sportiest SUV consist of a predominantly female group with a higher income than the average Mitsubishi customer. The average age of Eclipse Cross buyers is 49, and mainly they’re looking for driving pleasure, stylish design and performance.
In terms of driving pleasure, well the crossover is not unpleasant to drive if you don't get too aggressive with the right pedal, with the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) the only culprit. As for the design, you can't say that the Eclipse Cross' shape is particularly unobtrusive. The manufacturer was bold in creating this angular utility vehicle.
A more-sober Eclipse Cross
Actually, for the 2022 model year, the Eclipse Cross is getting a lot more sober - at least if you look at its back end, which has been enlarged to offer more cargo space (18 percent per the Japanese method of calculation) in the trunk. Via the North American SAE method, the old trunk (640 L) is increased to 663 L for the 2022 model year. If you do the math, you see the gain is not huge.
The first thing I noticed is that the double rear window that reminded me of a certain Pontiac Aztek has been forsaken in favour of a single arched window between the two position lights, which, I should point out, remind me of those of the previous-generation Nissan Rogue, at least in their horizontal portion. A simple coincidence between the two Alliance partners? Without a doubt. Fortunately, designers reshaped the rear bumper to give it a little more muscle.
In profile, the crossover is now 140 mm longer (including 105 mm at the rear overhang), which noticeably changes the silhouette of the small vehicle. At the front end, the ambience seems similar to before, with the bumper occupied by those two chrome strips that in the previous Eclipse Cross connected the headlamps to the grille and the bottom of the bumper. The two strips are still there, but where the headlights were until this year, the designers have instead integrated daytime running lights into the LEDs, while the headlights have been repositioned in the place occupied by the fog lights. In fact, the fog lights are housed just below the headlights in this two-story arrangement.
A renewed chassis
To adjust for the vehicle's lengthening - the wheelbase, height and width are identical to those of the 2020 model - engineers have notably reinforced certain portions of the chassis, such as in front of the engine at the front or at the base of the doors and tailgate, simply to maintain the rigidity so essential to healthy driving behavior.
However, to improve this aspect of the vehicle, modifications to the suspension components were required: a rigid connection of the rear crossmember, oversized rear shock absorbers, and a different calibration of the suspension springs. It will be very interesting to see if these few details have changed the ride quality and sense of security. Only a test drive will tell us... over the winter!
What's new inside
I could list the many improvements made to the vehicle's interior, such as the new colours available and the integration of soft materials in the doors, but all this is secondary to the new infotainment system screen, no longer accessible via the touchpad found in the outgoing model. This "mouse" that seemed to have been added at the last minute has been abandoned in favour of a touchscreen that’s wider than the old screen, in addition to integrating two traditional scroll wheels at its base.
Even before being able to try it out over a period of a few days, I can already predict that this change of screen will certainly simplify its daily handling. While it's unfortunate to see the navigation system being limited to the most expensive GT model, the Eclipse Cross comes standard with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems, an alternative way to find your way around. The head-up display is only available on the SEL and GT models, as well as the electrochromic rearview mirror, front collision mitigation system, lane departure warning system, adaptive cruise control and multi-view camera, all reserved for these two more expensive models.
The same (and only) turbocharged powertrain
The engine under the hood of the Eclipse Cross hasn't changed, so welcome back to the small 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder unit that was new when Mitsubishi introduced the model just three years ago. Power and torque are identical to before (152 hp and 184 lb-ft, respectively), while the only transmission available is still that CVT linked to the S-AWC (Super All-Wheel Control) all-wheel drive system. In this respect, you can't blame the automaker for bringing back the same powertrain for a few more kicks at the can. What's annoying in the case of the Eclipse Cross is that it's available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain in other markets, but not here.
“But why not Canada?”, I asked Juyu Jeon, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Canada, who was present (virtually) during the presentation. Mitsubishi was already seen as a pioneer in the hybrid field with the Outlander PHEV; an electrified Eclipse Cross would have been a great opportunity to hammer home the brand's message: more than just a brand known for its reliability, it could be one that puts innovation at the heart of its business model.
Juyu Jeon replied that there are many factors to consider when it comes to adding a new model to a vehicle lineup - including what else might be coming in the short or medium term. We've heard this explanation on numerous occasions from senior management at Canadian manufacturers; that said, we'd wager that if Mitsubishi USA ever gives the green light for the Eclipse Cross PHEV, the model will make it to our market!
The good news, despite the absence of an electrified Eclipse Cross, is that Mitsubishi is already preparing for the arrival of a completely revised version of the Outlander PHEV, one based on the new generation of the SUV set to be unveiled in February 2021. In short, the best is yet to come when it comes to hybrid Mitsubishis.
Meanwhile, we'll have to wait for a real test drive of the Eclipse Cross SUV during the winter of 2021, when the first production models are made available to the automotive press.
The automaker also used the occasion to announce its pricing for Canada for the 2022 edition of the Eclipse Cross.
The base ES trim is priced at $28,598 before shipping; The SE edition starts at $31,218, while the more generously equipped SEL version gets a starting price of $34,218. Finally, the GT model is the most expensive of the range with a price of $36,998.