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Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2021 review: LS AWD family test

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross LS AWD looks nice and has upgraded tech, but is it a good family car?

Mitsubishi has taken the designer’s brush to its Eclipse Cross, making it longer, edgier and a more comfortable drive. As updates go, this one is more pulse-warming than pulse-racing, with the latter no doubt probably reserved for the promised hybrid version expected this year. 

Still, a city SUV is always a welcomed drive in our family as it usually means forays into the Big Smoke, so we were more than keen to put the Eclipse Cross to the test. We had the LS AWD for the week, a small step off the base model but with enough comforts to keep us satisfied.

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✅ What does it look like?

One glance at the updated Eclipse Cross and it is immediately clear that things have changed. The front end sports a decidedly more chiselled look with a funky mesh grille, seen recently on the Triton and Pajero Sport, now doing duty here, and sculpted LED running lights and elongated chrome surrounds enhancing the flirtation with new age design.

The front end sports a decidedly more chiselled look with a funky mesh grille. The front end sports a decidedly more chiselled look with a funky mesh grille.

It is around back, however, that the boldness really takes shape – the view-hindering split rear glass has made way for a more traditional window, thank goodness, with new tail lights that extend grandly to the roof. 

Things have been tidied up a touch on the inside too, but the juxtaposition of cheap and cheerful with refined quality remains. The cloth seats in the LS AWD are nicely proportioned and comfortable, while the new 8.0-inch touchscreen, now better positioned for the driver, is a further tick for a well-designed cabin. The touchpad control has made way for good old buttons and dials, not only eliminating frustration but also adding a handy storage space.

It is around back that the boldness of the Eclipse Cross really takes shape. It is around back that the boldness of the Eclipse Cross really takes shape.

✅ How does it drive?

All the cars in this range feature a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine and while the 100kW of power is little to get excited about, the 250Nm of torque gives it that punch needed for quick bursts of speed around the city and more comfortable highway driving. I had to remind myself that the Eclipse Cross is no hard-core power pretender – its super-power is urban runabout by day and eager weekend adventurer. 

All the cars in this range feature a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine. All the cars in this range feature a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine.

Tweaks to the suspension and steering mean that it is now much better on speedbumps and potholes and manoeuvrability through roundabouts and in parking garages is much improved too.

The Eclipse Cross feels planted and confident, it will carry out sensible instruction well and offers few surprises. It can sometimes struggle up hill or take a moment to accelerate, which can be frustrating. 

The CVT is probably the biggest bugbear, that high-pitched whining when pushed is annoying - yet it is no worse, and often much better, than its competitors.

✅ How spacious is it?

The new Eclipse Cross has gained 140mm in length, most of that given to extra rear legroom and boot space which climbs from 341 litres to 405 litres. That’s enough to easily fit two medium-sized suitcases, pram or the weekly grocery shop. The space-saver spare of course, helps to eke out extra room. 

Boot space in the new Eclipse Cross has climbed from 341 litres to 405 litres. Boot space in the new Eclipse Cross has climbed from 341 litres to 405 litres.

This is a roomy small-medium SUV, or it certainly feels like that upfront at least. For the driver and front passenger, headroom is agreeable and the wide dash gives long legs a place to stretch under.

For the driver and front passenger, headroom is agreeable and the wide dash gives long legs a place to stretch under. For the driver and front passenger, headroom is agreeable and the wide dash gives long legs a place to stretch under.

The sliding split rear seat has been replaced by one of the fixed variety. This means the back seat loses some flexibility in borrowing space from the boot to accommodate taller passengers. We had three kids in the back for most of the week and they had no complaints about elbow room although the higher windows and lack of rear air vents and USBs in the LS AWD did prompt their ire. 

The back seat loses some flexibility in borrowing space from the boot to accommodate taller passengers. The back seat loses some flexibility in borrowing space from the boot to accommodate taller passengers.

The sloping roof compromises head room a touch and you will need to take care not to hit your head if you are strapping little ones in their seats.

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

Small-medium SUVs like the Eclipse Cross often make a really useful second car for a family, especially one that tends to stick largely to urban confines. 

The Eclipse Cross makes for a really useful second car for a family, especially one that tends to stick largely to urban confines. The Eclipse Cross makes for a really useful second car for a family, especially one that tends to stick largely to urban confines.

We had the LS AWD in the crazy run-up to Christmas and found it super useful in ferrying children and grandparents around, as well as hauling hardware from Bunnings. 

Cabin storage upfront is useful with two cupholders, a place for keys and phones and a covered binnacle under the arm rest. In the back, the large door pockets will carry a water bottle, books and travel games and there are two cupholders in the pulldown centre rest. 

The cabin design itself has been considered, with clear, modern instrumentation and largish dials and buttons making it easier to make changes on the hop. 

Plastics are generally textured, although some of them feel hard and cheap, marking easily under the kids’ eager feet and sweaty hands.

✅ How safe is it?

✅ How much does it cost to own?

The updated Eclipse Cross LS AWD is priced from $35,090 (excl on roads), an increase of $300 on the previous model. It is, however, backed by Mitsubishi’s industry-leading 10-year unlimited kilometre warranty, provided you service it at an approved dealer. Capped-price servicing costs are $299 a year or every 15,000km for the first five years.

The Eclipse Cross is pretty reasonable on fuel given that most of our use was shorter, urban trips. We managed 8.1L/100km during our week behind the wheel, close enough to the official 7.7L/100km.

✅ What’s the tech like?

The new upgrades to the Eclipse Cross include an 8.0-inch touchscreen to front the infotainment system as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. The system itself is now easier to control with buttons replacing the touchpad but the graphics feel quite dated and screen surrounds show up every fingerprint.

The Eclipse Cross include an 8.0-inch touchscreen to front the infotainment system as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. The Eclipse Cross include an 8.0-inch touchscreen to front the infotainment system as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

Bluetooth connectivity is good, voice controls work well and sound through the six-speaker stereo is clear without enticing you to rock on. 


The Wrap

In this class, it is all about standing out and looking different – casual, capable and cultured – and the Eclipse Cross does that. 

It looks fun, stands proud on its 18-incl alloys and it is the kind of car you would be happy to be seen in. Yes, it’s not all power and grunt but it is an able urban warrior. 

It makes a good addition to the urban family garage, especially as a second car, although if you're more inclined to a hybrid, look out for the Eclipse Cross PHEV, expected on our shores in September this year (2021). 

Likes

Fun exterior
Comfortable drive
Larger boot

Dislikes

Mediocre graphics quality
Mixed interior design
Fixed rear seat

Scores

Vani:

3.5

The Kids:

3

$35,090

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

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