The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross was easily the most class-competitive SUV that Mitsubishi made towards the end of its time in the UK market. This mid-sized ‘C’-segment SUV features stand-out styling, a willing 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine and plush equipment levels. Plus there’s the option of a clever All-Wheel Drive system that’s ideally optimised for tarmac use. Might it all be enough to make broad-minded buyers look beyond the usual suspects in the ‘Qashqai class’ for compact family crossovers in the 2017-2021 period? Quite possibly.

The History

Once upon a time not too long ago, just having an SUV was enough to be distinctive. Not any more. In fact these days, the segment for family hatch-based models of this kind offers a seemingly endless range of choices. Few of them though, are as interestingly styled and potentially capable as this one, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, sold here between 2017 and 2021.

Mitsubishi models are known to be sophisticated and resilient - as is the company itself. It’s an engineering-led brand that prides itself on new technology and pioneering new market niches – like those for Japanese micro cars and Lancer Evo-style rally replicas for instance. That’s also helped it to legendary motorsport successes – five World Rally Championships and a whole string of Paris-Dakar Rally wins come to mind. But with the ups have also come plenty of downs. Throughout its hundred year history, Japan’s oldest car maker has been continually written off, with various sales slumps requiring a whole string of partnerships with and partial ownership by brands as diverse as Chrysler, Volvo, the PSA Peugeot Citroen Group, Volkswagen, Daimler, Pininfarina and Hyundai.

The most recent twist in this tale came in 2015 when the Nissan Renault Alliance stepped in to rescue the company as it was reeling from a particularly nasty emissions scandal. That Franco-Japanese conglomerate will jointly develop all future Mitsubishi models but didn’t have a hand in this one, which was the last car bearing the three-diamond bonnet badge produced without outside assistance. Or, to put it another way, this Eclipse Cross was the last properly ‘Mitsubishi’ Mitsubishi.

From launch, this model slotted into the brand’s SUV line-up between the compact ASX and the larger Outlander and featured a freshly developed 1.5-litre petrol powerplant, along with advanced tarmac-tamed 4WD technology that most rivals of the period couldn’t match. The Eclipse name referenced a sports coupe the company used to sell in other markets and the styling too had the kind of coupe-style orientation that crossover buyers of the period seemed to like. There was also plenty of equipment, lots of safety technology and a long warranty. The Eclipse Cross sold steadily until Mitsubishi pulled out of the UK market at the end of 2021.

What You Get

Concept cars are notoriously watered down in style and form for series production build. As you might guess from a glance at this Eclipse Cross, refreshingly, that wasn’t the case here. It’s an eye-catching thing.

At the wheel, you’ll find yourself in a cabin of much higher quality than you might expect. In the back, there’s about the level of room you’d expect from an affordable mid-sized SUV in this segment. The backrest can ease rearwards over a 16 to 32-degree range for greater comfort on longer journeys. Plus the base can slide back and forth over a range of 200mm and in its rearmost position, legroom should be very satisfactory, even if you’re quite tall. As for cargo space, well with the rear seat moved right back, the luggage bay will give you 341-litres of space.

What To Look For

Most owners seemed very happy with this Eclipse Cross, but there are things you need to look out for. The clip on the front wheel arch moulding has been known to come off during high-speed driving. An issue affected a few models with faulty software for the forward collision mitigation system, which saw camera images being processed incorrectly. In another issue, due to an improper soldering of an electrical connection, the electric terminal of the heated windscreen may overheat when activated on a few examples produced between 2018 and 2019. There was also a manufacturer recall for the brake hydraulic unit. And of course, insist on a fully stamped-up service history.

On The Road

Mitsubishi set out to play to its strengths here and one of the company’s strengths lies in its expertise when it comes to optimised performance on tarmac territory from 4WD systems. Hence the option in the Eclipse Cross range of a simpler version of the clever ‘S-AWC’ ‘Super-All Wheel Control’ system originally developed for the brand’s legendary Evo rally replica super saloon. This uses a clever ‘Active Yaw Control’ feature that uses data on steering input, drive torque, braking forces, wheel speeds and what’s called ‘yaw rate’ (the angle that the vehicle’s at to the road) to optimise torque transfer between the left and right wheels at speed through the bends. As a result, there’s a bit of confidence-inspiring extra tractional bite through the corners that other mid-sized 4WD SUVs simply don’t have. Plus the 4x4 set-up offers extra ‘Snow’ and ‘Gravel’ settings for when the road ahead gets challenging.

With the 1.5-litre petrol turbo unit this model was launched with – the one most customers choose - the ‘Super-All Wheel Control’ system has to be matched with an 8-speed CVT auto gearbox. That belt-driven transmission set-up can rather get in the way of the power delivery of the 163hp four cylinder engine if you’re a little heavy on the throttle. If you’re happy with 2WD in your Eclipse Cross, there’s the choice of manual or automatic transmission. A slightly unexpected but very welcome characteristic we discovered during our time with this car was its superb ride quality. Combining with impressive cruising refinement, that makes this Mitsubishi one of the first SUVs we’d choose in this class from this period if we had a long trip to undertake.


In summary, there's a lot to like here. In the ‘Qashqai-class’, not everyone wants a Qashqai. Widen your shopping brief and consider this contender if you’re prepared to look at something a little different from the 2019-2021 era. It’s that rarest of things: an affordable, yet truly distinctive family-sized SUV.