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Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross offers new compact CUV option

As today’s new car shoppers continue to favor functional and practical crossover utility vehicles over sedans, carmakers are expanding their offerings to attract this growing audience.

Mitsubishi joins the crossover utility frenzy with its brand-new 2018 Eclipse Cross. Promising to be a fusion of sharp coupe looks and dynamic SUV mobility with signature Mitsubishi styling, technology, and driving confidence, the Eclipse Cross is available in four models with a starting price of $23,295.

Last August, Mitsubishi took advantage of the spectacular solar eclipse to introduce its new Eclipse crossover to social media influencers from 10 different countries. The company filmed its new CUV under the fading light of the total solar eclipse in Oregon. I experienced my own personal test drive under winter skies dimmed by a thick blanket of the California firestorm smoke that blew all the way down to Santa Monica from the fires raging in Santa Barbara.

The 2018 Eclipse Cross comes standard with a 1.5-liter direct-injected turbocharged four-cylinder engine promising 152 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 184 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm. Mated to a CVT with eight simulated shiftpoints, the Eclipse Cross exhibited nimble performance with quick acceleration for around-town daily driving, with excellent body control.

Its well-honed suspension performed well as I drove the curves and undulations on Malibu’s mountain roads with relative ease. Stopping is via 11.6-inch ventilated discs up front, with 11.9-inch solid discs in the back.

With coupe-like styling in a CUV package, the Eclipse Cross is a sportier-looking, fun-to-drive alternative to its Outlander siblings thanks to its dramatic wedgy profile, distinctive beltline and strong character line, angular rear gate and short overhang, and beefy fenders projecting the image of a powerful athlete. Its forward-raked rear window is actually a liftgate with two separate glass parts, allowing a sporty sloped roofline without impinging on back-seat practicality or rear visibility. Faux carbon fiber trim adds an interesting exterior touch.

The cockpit-style interior wraps around the driver for a sporty feel; high-grade soft-touch materials and piano-black and luminous silver interior accents are an improvement over the less-than-luxurious interiors some might remember from past Mitsubishi models. The five-seater features a sliding rear bench that opens up more than 22 cubic feet of cargo space behind it or 48.9 cu.-ft. when folded down; there’s enough headroom for adults in the rear, but seating three adults across might be a bit snug.

Mitsubishi offers an all-wheel-drive system it calls Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC), standard on most trim levels except the base ES, but S-AWC (with driver-selectable Auto, Snow, and Gravel modes) can even be added there for $600. Fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined for the FWD SE, or 25/26/25 for the AWD SEL.

The Eclipse Cross debuts Mitsubishi Connect, which features automatic collision notification, emergency services, and alarm notification, among other things. The Remote Services package can remotely start the crossover, adjust the climate settings, lock the doors, honk the horn, turn on the lights, find your car in a parking lot, and also offers teen-driver monitoring. Standard on the SE and SEL trims, the service is free for two years and will cost $99 a year after that.

Mitsubishi recently joined the Renault-Nissan alliance, boosting the resulting group to the world’s number three producer in terms of cars sold. As the best model in its lineup, Mitsubishi is counting on the Eclipse Cross to lead the brand in sales.