Nedahl Stelio
Family reviewer

5 Mar 2018 • 10 min read

You’re after an SUV that's big enough for your family, but you don’t want it too small, either. Boot space is important, but you don’t want to be driving around in something as big as a Kluger. Small SUVs don’t cut it though - there’s just not enough space for your growing family. 

Enter the SUVs now coming out which are somewhere between small and mid-sized. They have bigger boot space, more interior space, but they aren’t quite a mid-sized SUV. And they sound like just what you need. 

This week I tested the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross which is exactly this: in between a small and mid-sized SUV. I was in the LS, which is the entry-level model in petrol. Was it big enough for my family? Let’s find out.

How does it drive?

Driving in an Eclipse Cross is good, as in, it gets the job done and you can drive safely from A to B without any concerns, but it’s not spectacular. I can feel the tug of the steering wheel when I’m doing three-point turns, it’s not as light as it should be. I can hear the engine loudly when I take off, so it’s not as quiet as it could be. I can feel a bit of heaviness on the drive.

Despite these minor things, the Eclipse Cross feels solid. I feel safe because of the size, and for some reason the heaviness also contributes to this. It’s got a 1.5-litre turbo engine so it gets me up big hills perfectly fine and has enough power to get me around on my usual suburban route. I would also feel confident enough to take this car on a long road trip.

  •  I can feel the tug of the steering wheel when I’m doing three-point turns, it’s not as light as it should be. I can feel the tug of the steering wheel when I’m doing three-point turns, it’s not as light as it should be.
  • It’s got a 1.5-litre turbo engine so it gets me up big hills perfectly fine. It’s got a 1.5-litre turbo engine so it gets me up big hills perfectly fine.

Parking is relatively easy, firstly because it’s not a huge car, so is easier to fit into small spaces than a bigger SUV (you can zip in and out of parks), and secondly because of the reverse parking camera. Whatever did we do before reverse parking cameras?

How spacious is it?

It’s not small. My family of four was perfectly comfortable in this car over the week, with plenty of room for the kids in the back (they’re four and six, so still quite little, but it also accommodated me easily at 161cm). There’s a good amount of leg space in the back seat.

The front, too, is bigger than a small SUV which tends to feel quite compact once you’re inside. Almost like you’re in a hatchback, and this has more room than that. Leg space and head space are both good enough for my 185cm husband.

  • The front, too, is bigger than a small SUV which tends to feel quite compact once you’re inside. The front, too, is bigger than a small SUV which tends to feel quite compact once you’re inside.
  • There’s a good amount of leg space in the back seat. There’s a good amount of leg space in the back seat.
  • There is more boot space than a typical small SUV. There is more boot space than a typical small SUV.
  • I could fit two kids bikes and two scooters into the boot. I could fit two kids bikes and two scooters into the boot.

What surprised me the most is that I could fit two kids bikes and two scooters into the boot (very tightly, with no extra room). That’s something the Kia Sportage does, which is a mid-sized SUV.

So there is more boot space than a typical small SUV, which I think is really the sticking point for families (if you're after a small SUV).

How easy is it to use everyday?

It’s low enough off the ground for small children to easily climb in, which is a definite bonus with kids at this age (four and six). The boot is also a good height off the ground so you’re not bending down to hoist groceries up off the ground, nor are you lifting them too high so you’re less likely to hurt a sensitive back.

There are two cupholders in the front and two in the back, with a small spot to throw your keys and phone, plus a good sized centre storage bin.

  • There are two cupholders in the front and two in the back, with a small spot to throw your keys and phone, plus a good sized centre storage bin. There are two cupholders in the front and two in the back, with a small spot to throw your keys and phone, plus a good sized centre storage bin.
  • There are also no air vents in the back, which is standard across small SUVs. There are also no air vents in the back, which is standard across small SUVs.

One thing I did notice was the manual adjustment on the driver’s seat can turn into a bit of an arm workout, so if you are swapping driver responsibilities between you and your tall husband, like I was, the change in driving positions can get super tedious.

There are also no air vents in the back, which is standard across small SUVs. But this isn’t a small SUV, so I would have thought they’d be added. However, I was easily able to cool the cabin down on a very hot day and my usually very blustery four-year-old didn’t complain about the heat one bit. She was actually cool. So there is enough breeze from the air con to go around the car.

What’s the tech like?

The Eclipse Cross comes equipped with Apple Carplay and Android Auto as standard across the range, so you’re able to plug in and be instantly connected to your phone’s main apps - things like maps and Spotify. Carplay will also read your texts aloud to you while you’re driving. Handy.

There’s also a digital radio and the multimedia system is Bluetooth equipped so you can connect your phone. Two USB outlets are also provided.

What does it look like?

For a car that’s not really big, it looks quite large. And that could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your preference. It’s got a sporty front and a rather butch behind. But it’s a decent looking car from the outside and I feel fine driving it.

Inside, the bubble finish dash makes things fairly basic, but it’s lifted with the shiny black centre console which really makes a big difference to these interiors. The whole effect is stylish and well designed because of the black shine.

  • For a car that’s not really big, it looks quite large. For a car that’s not really big, it looks quite large.
  • It’s got a sporty front and a rather butch behind. It’s got a sporty front and a rather butch behind.
  • It’s a decent looking car from the outside and I feel fine driving it. It’s a decent looking car from the outside and I feel fine driving it.

There is a leather-trimmed steering wheel, but it’s not the best quality leather, while the fabric seats are exactly that - fabric seats. It’s one of those cars you buy because it covers all the basics and is what you need while looking good enough, nothing more.

What’s the safety like?

The LS model comes equipped with airbags for driver and front passenger, plus knee airbag for the driver and side curtain airbags going to the back row. It also comes standard with newer safety technology like auto emergency braking, forward collision warning and lane departure alerts. For things like adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring, you’ll have to go up a model.

There are two ISOFIX points for child seats in the back, plus three top tether points, and it has a five star ANCAP rating.

What does it cost to run?


The Wrap

This is one of those cars that doesn’t have super snazzy bells and whistles, but it really gets the job done and ticks all the boxes like safety, practicality, and it drives well enough, too.

I like the size - it’s not huge but it’s not small either, and has just enough of that all important boot space for a small family. It looks good, plus is compact enough to park easily which makes a difference to everyday driving.

I gave it a family rating of seven out 10, and my children gave it their kids stamp of approval with seven out of 10.

Likes

Size
Boot space
Interior space

Dislikes

Basic exterior/interior styling
Unremarkable driving manner

Scores

Nedahl:

3.5

The Kids:

3.5

$30,500

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS