Mitsubishi’s compact crossover wants you to notice it

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has long been one of the most underrated compact crossovers in the market. It’s not going to win any "best-of" awards anytime soon, but the crossover can hold its own, as long as people notice it. Perhaps the arrival of the new Eclipse Cross will help the crossover earn more credibility than it has received.

This latest batch of spy photos of the model heavily wrapped in camouflage gives us an idea of what to expect visually from the Eclipse Cross. But that’s the extent of it, at least for now. More details should arrive as we get closer to the updated Eclipse Cross’ launch sometime at the end of the year. The new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross will be badged as a 2021 model.

2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exterior

2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exterior Spyshots
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The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross falls short in a lot of categories compared to a lot of its rivals, but when it comes to aesthetic design, the SUV holds its own.

Visually, the crossover wears Mitsubishi’s corporate look really well. The heavy camouflage on the test vehicle doesn’t reveal the extent of the redesign, but we can at least see that the headlights are slightly thinner compared to the ones on the current Eclipse Cross. We’ve seen other Mitsubishi models adopt this look — the new L200 pickup, for example — so it’s not surprising to see Mitsubishi give one of its breadwinners a similar treatment.

The new grille looks different, too. Instead of the two horizontal chrome bars connecting the two headlights, the test mule shows what appears to be three thin bars. It’s hard to make out all the chrome trim in the front, but the large ones that trace the area of the fog lamps seem to still be in place. Speaking of traces, the front bumper also looks similar to the one on the model that’s currently on sale. You’ll have to look closely at the spy photos to notice it, but you’ll see it in on how the front section’s camouflage is wrapped.

2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exterior Spyshots
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Speaking of camouflage, the test mule’s side skirts are covered in wraps, hinting that there could be some tweaks to them.

The overall side profile is also different, largely because of what looks to be a new roof spoiler that’s bigger than the one the current model wears. The spoiler’s design is different, too. It dips in the middle and the space in that area is occupied by a small LED strip. The long LED strip that cuts across the rear window is now gone, creating one large rear window that’s far more conventional in its appearance than the two-window layout in the current model. The rear taillights look more conventional, too. The old design served its aesthetic purpose, but the long LED strip connecting the two taillights looked weird and impractical. It’s nice to see that Mitsubishi opted for a more traditional look that should create more rear-view visibility for the driver.

Are these changes enough to make the new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross more appealing in the eyes of prospective customers? Only time will tell, but as far as first impressions go, the heavily wrapped Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross prototype looks like it’s carrying welcome changes to the crossover’s overall design.

2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Interior

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross High Resolution Interior
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The spy photos don’t reveal the interior of the updated Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. Not that we’re missing out on anything significant.

If form holds, the interior will likely feature a few minor updates. That’s about it. Most of what we’ve already seen from the interior of the current Eclipse Cross will likely remain in the new updated model. That includes the cloth upholstery, which should come standard in the lower-tier spec versions.

It’s tempting to call the Eclipse Cross’ interior cheap. But it also wouldn’t be fair, especially with the relatively impressive options that are available at added costs. Heated front and rear seats, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a heated steering wheel are all available as options. Choose any of these options for your Eclipse Cross and you immediately jazz up the place.

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross High Resolution Interior
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Cabin space shouldn’t be an issue either. The Eclipse Cross has ample headroom and legroom in both rows. They’re not class-leading by any means, but there’s enough space to get comfortable. There’s not much cargo space — 22.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats — but it’s not too tight, either. That space opens up to 48.9 cubic feet when you fold the rear seats. Again, the cargo area isn’t as big as what rivals offer, but the cargo room layout in the Eclipse Cross is clean enough that you can maximize all the available space inside.

Perhaps if there’s one upgrade that we can hope for, it’s a bigger infotainment screen. The current Eclipse Cross only comes with a seven-inch touchscreen.

That’s abysmally small for a crossover. If Mitsubishi offers somewhere in the vicinity of a 10-inch screen, that’s going to go a long way in improving the overall quality of the interior. Other standard features to expect include a USB port, Bluetooth, HD radio, and a four-speaker stereo that’s too bland for the segment. Fortunately, you can score a few upgrades in this department. A six-speaker sound system is a better option, though not by much. If you’re buying the new Eclipse Cross and the standard audio system is the same, just go out and spend on the optional — and far more premium — Rockford Fosgate stereo to go with the six-speaker sound system.

2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Drivetrain

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Drivetrain AutoShow
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While there are several engine options available to the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross in other markets, there’s only one engine that’s available in the U.S. market.

That engine — a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit — will likely still be used by the updated Eclipse Cross. The turbo-four produces 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It’s not going to set any roads on fire, but it’s still decent power for what amounts as an entry-level crossover. At the very least, the Eclipse Cross’ turbo-four engine packs more power than what some of its rivals have at their disposal.

A continuously variable automatic transmission also comes standard. That combination has been enough to get the Eclipse Cross from a standstill position to 60 mph in under nine seconds. Again, it’s decent. There’s nothing outwardly exciting about the performance time, but you’ll still be able to feel a little pep in the Eclipse Cross’ step.

We don’t expect Mitsubishi to offer a new engine for the Eclipse Cross. The same turbocharged four-cylinder unit should still be found under the crossover’s hood, and if there are improvements to be made, the best bet would be a tune of the engine that will coax more power out of it.

2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exterior Spyshots
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Our experience with the Eclipse Cross gave us a good idea of how it rides on the road. If the setup remains, we can at least expect a comfortable ride from the new model.

The crossover’s suspension, after all, has been tuned with comfort in mind. The setup is soft enough that the Eclipse Cross remains composed when driving on smooth roads. Power delivery is smooth, too, and steering is light. Just try to avoid less-than-stellar roads because the Eclipse Cross’s setup doesn’t translate well under these conditions. You’re going to feel all the bumps and bruises found on the road, something that you’re less likely to feel in rival models.

The current Mitsubishi Eclipse is good enough to drive even though there are better alternatives out there. That’s the challenge that Mitsubishi faces with the upcoming — and updated — model. “Good enough” works when you’re buying the Eclipse Cross regardless of what other options are available. But once you compare it to its rivals, “good enough” isn’t, well, good enough.

2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross specifications
Engine 1.5L L4 MIVEC + Direct Injection Turbo Charger
Engine Code 4B40 TC
  Materials Aluminum block/aluminum cylinder head
Bore x Stroke (mm) 75.0 x 84.8
Compression Ratio 10
Displacement (cc) 1,499
Horsepower 152 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque 184 lb.-ft. @ 2,000- 3,500 rpm
Redline RPM 6000
Emissions TIER 3-BIN 70 (50S) LEV III - ULEV70
Engine Oil Type 0W-20
Recommended Fuel Type Regular Unleaded
Radiator Core size 687.3x400x27
Transmission 8-speed CVT with Sport Mode

2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Prices

2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exterior Spyshots
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We still don’t know how much the new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is going to cost. That said, expect a bump from the current lineup of Eclipse Cross models. The base ES version, for example, starts at $22,845. Cloth seats come standard, as does the seven-inch touchscreen. It also comes with HD Radio, a four-speaker stereo, a USB port, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth. A starting price of around $23,500 to $24,000 for the new model isn’t out of reach.

Two other trim versions of the Eclipse Cross, the LE and the SE, are currently priced from $23,945 and $25,495, respectively. The LE carries most of the standard features from the ES base trim but also adds Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, heated front seats, a second USB port, and a touchpad controller. Meanwhile, the SE has all the features of the LE to go with a few relatively fancy digs, including upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-speaker stereo, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rear-seat center armrest with cup holders, and rain-sensing windshield wipers, to name a few. Following the possible price increase of the base ES trim, don’t be surprised if the Mitsubishi now asks around $24,500 to $25,000 for the Eclipse Cross LE and around $26,500 to $27,000 for the SE trim.

Then there’s the range-topping Eclipse Cross SEL. The current SEL trim starts at $26,995, and on top of what already comes standard at this point, the top-of-the-line Eclipse Cross also comes with a multiview camera, a head-up display, leather-appointed seats, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. Changes into account, the new Eclipse Cross SEL will probably start at $28,000.

2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Competition

Subaru Forester

2019 Subaru Forester Adds Size And Safety, Scraps Turbo And Manual Gearbox Exterior
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The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a decent compact SUV, and its biggest drawback is something that it has no control of. The Eclipse Cross belongs in a segment that includes a lot of market heavyweights, including the Subaru Forester and the Toyota RAV4. The Forester, in particular, is arguably one of the best compact SUVs in the market. It boasts one of the most spacious interiors of any crossover in its segment. Its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine produces an impressive 182 horsepower and with all-wheel-drive coming as standard, you’re assured that all four wheels of the Forester get equal amounts of power and torque.

Despite the advantage in power, the Forester matches the Eclipse Cross in gas mileage in the city, returning 26 mpg. As far as mileage on highways goes, the Forester returns an incredible 33 mpg, destroying the Eclipse Cross’ 29 mpg fuel economy rating on the highway. The Forester’s biggest strength, though, is its handling. Despite having one of the highest ground clearances — 8.7 inches — of any model in its class, the Forester remains quick, agile, and smooth on the road. Steering and braking are also responsive to the point that you’ll feel like you’re in control of the crossover at all times. The Forester also comes with a laundry list of standard and optional features, a lot of which you’ll be hard-pressed to find in the Eclipse Cross. Sure, the Subaru has a higher price tag than the Mitsubishi — the Forester starts at $24,495 and goes up to $31,095 for the top-of-the-line Limited trim — but with all the obvious and not-so-obvious advantages it posses relative to its rivals, the Subaru Forester offers more bang-for-your-buck than a lot of models in its segment.

Read our full review on the 2020 Subaru Forester

Toyota RAV4

2019 Toyota RAV4 Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Here’s the thing. If you’re going to buy a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, you either buy it because you like it, or you buy it because you can afford it. If taste and money are no issues, you’re going to have a hard time justifying the Eclipse Cross, especially if you line it up next to a RAV4.

The Toyota crossover is arguably one of the best crossovers in the market. It packs dashing good looks and a comfortable, more high-class interior than you probably expect. It has a long list of standard features to go with a longer list of options that will undoubtedly make your head spin. It also boasts a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. That’s understandably more powerful than the Eclipse Cross’ smaller 1.5-liter turbo-four unit, but even with the bigger engine, the RAV4 returns better fuel mileage at 28 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.

You can buy it in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive setups and its list of tech features is just as impressive as any crossover in the segment. The only possible drawback that could prevent you from buying a RAV4 is its price. The base LE trim starts at $25,850 while the top-of-the-line Limited trim will set you back at least $34,380. Toyota is also offering the RAV4 TRD Off-Road. That’s going to cost you $35,180, though.

Read our full review on the Toyota RAV4


2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exterior Spyshots
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The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a decent crossover. It’s far from the best one that you can choose in its segment, but it offers enough to get your interest, especially if you’re looking for a model that’s going to save you some money. You just have to accept that the Eclipse Cross will have a lot of shortcomings when you compare it to other models. That’s just how it is unless Mitsubishi has a few tricks up its sleeve with the new Eclipse Cross. The spy shots don’t reveal anything to suggest that we’re looking at a game-changing crossover so we’ll cross our fingers that there’s more to these spy photos of the Eclipse Cross test mule than meets the eye.

  • Leave it
    • Ride is hit or miss
    • Less power, less fun
    • A lot of better options
Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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