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Mazda CX-5


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Summary

Mazda CX-5

Mazda’s CX-5 has long reigned as Australia’s favourite mid-size SUV, but 2020 is likely the year it loses that title to the much-improved, new-generation Toyota RAV4.

To try and keep up with fresher competition though, Mazda has introduced rolling updates to the popular CX-5, including a new off-road mode for all-wheel drive (AWD) variants that better equips the stylish SUV for rough terrain.

Pairing its new capabilities with the same high-calibre interior fit and finish as before, as well as a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, means the new CX-5 is the arguably the most complete package it has ever been, but is it still good enough for your consideration in 2020?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.2L/100km
Seating5 seats

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross was facelifted and updated for 2021, with a revised look and new tech available across the model range. 

And for 2022 the brand has introduced a high-tech new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) electrified version, giving it an interesting selling point against some of its small SUV rivals.

The Eclipse Cross, however, is hardly the best-known small SUV nameplate for Mitsubishi – that honour clearly goes to the ASX, which still sells in huge numbers despite having been on sale in its current generation guise for more than a decade.

The Eclipse Cross, on the other hand, launched in Australia in 2018, and this facelifted model still retains its eye-catching looks, but tones things down a bit in terms of the design. It’s also grown to a length that almost makes it more of a Mazda CX-5 rival than before.

The prices have shot up, too, while the new PHEV model pushes it beyond the “cheap and cheerful” level. So, can the Eclipse Cross justify its positioning? And are there any catches? Let’s find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Mazda CX-58.1/10

The latest round of spec enhancements don’t add too much to the already-winning formula, but the Off-Road Traction Assist function is a nice box-ticker for buyers worried about the CX-5’s sure footedness.

Class leading safety and catwalk-worthy styling remain strong attributes, but buyers will have to forgo a little comfort and no electrified engine options.

We love that crucial safety systems are fitted to all grades of the CX-5, meaning even the base Maxx variant is a compelling buy.

If we had to pick though, we'd go for the AWD 2.5-litre Touring for $40,980, which is loaded with nice creature comforts such as a head-up display and keyless entry for a price that doesn't break the bank.

The mid-size SUV field is as strong as it has ever been however, with the battleground set to heat up even more thanks to new and refreshed entrants arriving in the near future, meaning the CX-5 might soon need a big leap forward instead of just iterating to remain ahead of the pack.

For now though, the Mazda CX-5 still has the substance to back up its style, even three years on from the market launch of its latest form, though only just.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross7.4/10

For some buyers the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross may have made more sense in pre-facelift guise, when it had its clever sliding second row seat. But since then there have been improvements, including better rearward visibility from the driver’s seat and the inclusion of a forward-thinking future-ready drivetrain.

The changes have helped keep the turbo-petrol Eclipse Cross competitive, though I’d struggle to suggest it’s a better SUV than a number of other really good competitors in this segment. The Kia Seltos, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30, Toyota C-HR, Skoda Karoq and VW T-Roc all come to mind.

With the addition of the PHEV versions of the Eclipse Cross there is a new level of appeal for a certain type of buyer, though we’re not sure how many customers there are out there looking for a small SUV from Mitsubishi that costs fifty grand or more. We'll see how the PHEV stacks up soon.

It’s an easy choice for which is the best version of the Eclipse Cross – it’s the turbo-petrol Aspire 2WD. If you can live without AWD, there’s no reason to consider any other grade, as the Aspire has the most important safety items, and a few luxury inclusions, too.

Design

Mazda CX-59/10

The first of Mazda’s models to adopt its latest design language, the second-generation Mazda CX-5 hit Australian showrooms in 2017 and has remained largely the same since.

That’s no bad thing mind you, as the CX-5’s smooth panels, sharp edges and subtle creases embrace a more timeless and classic design philosophy relative to the dated design elements of its rivals.

Even after three years, the CX-5 looks gorgeous and isn’t out of place alongside some of Mazda’s newer offerings such as the Mazda3 small car and new CX-30 small SUV.

Inside, Mazda’s CX-5 is a clear step above in quality compared to its mainstream rivals, and even nudges close to the fit and finish of luxury brands including BMW and Audi.

Every touch point inside the CX-5 feels top-notch, including the steering wheel, door trims and seats, while buyers can also personalise the interior with colours such as black, white and brown.

Our top-spec Akera test vehicle came fitted as standard with nappa leather, which feels ultra-luxe and premium.

The interior is laid out with a clean and crisp design, with all controls well placed, and large swathes of black surfaces broken up with textured materials.

We don’t have much to complain about in with the CX-5’s design, inside or out, but at the risk of nit-picking, we’d say the multimedia screen is starting to look dated, especially when stacked up against the well-designed unit of the Mazda3 and CX-30.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross7/10

It’s certainly a different look to its conventionally boxy small SUV counterparts, and stands as a nice counterpoint to the curvy brigade that also fills a few spots in this part of the market.

But does that design come with compromise? Of course, but not as much as it used to with the pre-facelift model.

That’s because the rear end has seen a major change – the blind-spot-inducing strip that ran across the rear glass has been removed, meaning Honda Insight fans will have to, er, buy a Honda Insight instead.

That makes it a better piece of automotive design, because it’s easier to see out of. Plus the new-look rear end is attractive, in a “I’m trying to look like a newer X-Trail” kind of way.

But there are some styling elements that remain questionable, like the choice of identical alloy wheels across all four grades. Surely if you’re an Exceed buyer, paying 25 per cent more than a base model customer, you’d like that to be seen by the Smiths next door? I know I’d prefer a different alloy wheel design, at least for the top spec.

And there are other things. Those headlights – they’re the clusters in the front bumper, not the bits at the top where the headlights usually are. That’s not a new phenomenon, and nor is the fact the brand has LED daytime running lights on all grades. But what’s not great is the fact there are halogen lights for three out of four grades, meaning you’re going to have to spend about $40,000 on the road to get LED front lighting. For context, some rival compact SUVs have LED lighting range wide, and at a lower price.

The ‘regular’ Eclipse Cross can’t really be differentiated from the PHEV model at a quick glance - only the eagle-eyed among us may pick the specific 18-inch wheels fitted to the PHEV versions, while the, ahem, large PHEV badges on the door and boot are also giveaways. The weird joystick gear selector is another giveaway.

Now, calling the Eclipse Cross a small SUV is starting to be a bit of a literal stretch, with this updated model measuring 4545mm long (+140mm) on its existing 2670mm wheelbase, and it’s 1805mm wide and 1685mm tall. For reference, a Mazda CX-5 is just 5mm longer, and it’s considered a benchmark midsize SUV

Not only did the small SUV just push the segment boundaries in terms of size, there’s also a questionable design change inside the cabin – the removal of the sliding second row seat.

I’ll get to that – and all the other interior considerations – in the next section. That’s where you’ll also find interior images.

Practicality

Mazda CX-58/10

Measuring 4550mm long, 1840mm wide and 1680mm tall, the CX-5 is slightly shorter than the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Tucson, but its generous 2700mm wheelbase is larger than most of its peers.

Which means interior room in the CX-5 is excellent, especially in the front seats, where there is plenty of head, shoulder and legroom.

The fantastic driving position in particular has to be called out, as our CX-5 test car serves up an electronically adjustable seat and steering column that let us get in just the right place for our hands and legs.

Mazda’s driver-focused philosophy applies to all its models, and the CX-5 family hauler is no exception.

Rear seat room, while adequate, will just about fit three adults sitting abreast, but a full row of children or even teenagers shouldn’t be a problem.

Keep in mind though that second-row legroom can be compromised for taller passengers, but there is plenty of headroom.

Amenities in the second-row also include air vents and, in our top-spec grade, heated pews and two USB sockets, the latter found in the fold-down armrest that also houses two cupholders.

As for the boot, the CX-5 will also swallow 442 litres of volume with all seats in place, extending to 1342L with the pews stowed.

In real world terms, that means the CX-5 will easily cart around a family of five with the weekly groceries and folded stroller in tow, but it is noticeably smaller than the 580L/1690L capacity.

We will also point out that we couldn’t find any bag hooks in the back of our test car, though there were handy seat-folding tabs that could stow just the centre seat or each of the outbound pews with just a simple pull.

Storage throughout the cabin is also just OK, with a shallow glovebox and small storage tray below the climate controls.

The centre storage cubby however, is sizeable, and comes with a tray to keep items like a phone or wallet close to the surface to prevent you having to reach in a fish them out.

Door pockets also offer decent storage up front, but rear passengers will only be able to fit a water bottle in their doors.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross8/10

The interior of the Eclipse Cross used to be more practical.

It’s not often you get to a mid-life update of a car and the brand decides to take away one of the best features – but that’s what happened with the Eclipse Cross. 

You see, the pre-facelift models had a clever sliding second row seat, which allowed you to apportion space effectively – either for passengers, if you didn’t need cargo space, or to the boot, if you had little or no passengers. There was 200mm of actuation to that slide. That’s no small amount in a car of this size.

But that’s now gone, and it means you miss out on a clever feature that made the Eclipse Cross impressive for its class.

It still maintains some impressive traits, including the fact it has better than average rear seat space, and better than average cargo capacity – even if there’s no sliding rear row.

The boot space is now 405 litres (VDA) for the non-hybrid models. That’s not too bad compared to some rivals, but in the pre-facelift car you were able to adjust between a big 448L cargo hold, and a 341L storage area if you needed more backseat occupant space.

And in the hybrid models, the boot is small because there is extra hardware under the floor, meaning a cargo hold of 359L (VDA) for PHEV models.

The rear seats still recline, and there’s still a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor as well - unless you choose the PHEV, which doesn’t have a spare wheel, instead making do with a repair kit. 

We managed to fit all three CarsGuide hard suitcases (124L, 95L and 36L) in the boot of the non-PHEV version with room to spare.

The back seat is fine for adults and kids alike. Because it shares the same wheelbase as the ASX and Outlander I had enough space for – I’m 182cm or 6’0” tall – to be sat comfortably behind my own driving position.

There’s good toe room, decent knee room and good head room – even in the Exceed model, with its double sunroof.

Back seat amenities are fine. The base model has a single map pocket where higher grades get two, and there are bottle holders in the doors, and in LS, Aspire and Exceed models you get cup holders in a flip-down armrest. One thing you might like if you’re a backseat regular in the Exceed is the inclusion of second-row outboard seat heating. Shame, though, there are no rear seat directional air vents in any grade.

The front seat area offers good storage for the most part as well, with bottle holders and trenches in the doors, a decent centre console bin, a pair of cupholders between the seats, and a reasonable glove box. There’s a small storage section in front of the gear selector, but it’s not quite spacious enough for a larger smartphone.

Another thing that makes the ES non-hybrid model feel strange is its manual handbrake, which is enormous and eats into more console space than it really ought to – the rest of the range have electronic park brake buttons. 

There are two USB ports in the front, one of which connects up to the 8.0-inch touchscreen media system. You can use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring, or Bluetooth. I had no issues with the connectivity, other than – always having to hit the “Always Enable” button when reconnecting my phone.

The design of the media screen is a good one – it sits up high and proud, but not so high as to intrude on your line of view when driving. There are knobs and buttons to control the screen, and some familiar – but looking old – buttons and controls for the climate system, too.

Another thing showing the age of the underpinnings of the Eclipse Cross is the instrument cluster, and the digital driver info screen too. It doesn’t have a digital speedometer readout – an issue in nanny states – so if you want that, you have to get the Exceed model with the head-up display. That screen – I swear it was in a mid-2000s Outlander, it looks that old.

And the overall cabin design, while hardly special, is nice. It’s more modern than the current ASX and Outlander, but not nearly as fun or functional as newer entrants in the segment like the Kia Seltos. And nor does it look anywhere near as exceptional as a Mazda CX-30’s cabin, no matter which spec you choose. 

But it does its space utilisation well, and that’s a good thing for an SUV of this size.

Price and features

Mazda CX-59/10

Though Mazda has slightly increased the pricing of its CX-5 for the 2020 model year, there's still a wide selection of grades available from $30,980, before on-road costs, to $51,330.

Our test car, the AWD Akera grade paired with a 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine, is priced at $50,830, making it the second-most expensive variant available.

Standard features across the range include an 8.0-inch multimedia display, 17-inch wheels and push-button start, but our test car was also kitted out with dual-zone climate control, satellite navigation, a powered tailgate, head-up display, leather interior and power-adjustable mirrors.

However, it’s the huge array of standard safety equipment that stands the CX-5 apart.

All CX-5s, including the entry-level Maxx, are fitted with features such as adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking, which are sometimes relegated to higher grades or options in competitor SUVs.

The Akera grade also gains 19-inch alloy wheels, ambient interior lighting, heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats, as well as a frameless rearview mirror, heated steering wheel and woodgrain interior panels, It’s these small details that elevate the CX-5 from its peers.

There’s equipment here that is rarely seen in anything outside models from the big three German brands, and though a Mazda badge doesn’t quite hold that level of cache, the CX-5 is also not priced quite as highly as a BMW, Mercedes or Audi, either.

Whether you agree with Mazda Australia’s decision to push some models upmarket with higher price points and more equipment, there's no denying the blend of luxe and value presented in the CX-5.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross7/10

This revised version of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross introduced in 2021 saw a price hike, with cost increases across the entire model range. 

Per the pre-facelift model, the ES 2WD opens the range priced at an MSRP of $30,290 plus on-road costs (+$300).

The LS 2WD ($32,590 MSRP, +$400) and LS AWD ($35,090 MSRP, +$300) remain the next steps up the range ladder.

There’s a new nameplate second-from-top-of-the-turbo-range, the Aspire 2WD which lists at $34,990.

And the flagship turbo-petrol Exceed is still available in 2WD ($38,290 MSRP, +$1300) and AWD ($40,790 MSRP, +$1300).

But that’s not where the pricing story stops. The 2022 Eclipse Cross takes a step into new territory with the brand’s new PHEV powertrain

The high-tech hybrid drivetrain is offered in the entry-level (read: fleet-focused) ES AWD at $46,490, while the mid-spec Aspire costs $49,990 and the top-end Exceed lists at $53,990. All the powertrain details can be found in the relevant sections below.

As we all know, Mitsubishi plays hardball in the transaction price stakes, so check out the Autotrader listings to see what driveaway prices are out there. Even with stock shortages, let’s just say there are deals to be had. 

Next, let’s take a look at what you get across the model range.

The ES grade opens things with 18-inch alloy wheels with a space-saver spare wheel, LED daytime running lights, halogen headlights, a rear spoiler, cloth interior trim, manual front seat adjustment, an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android auto, a reversing camera, four speaker stereo, digital radio, climate control air-conditioning, and a rear cargo blind.

Choose the LS and your extra expenditure will net you auto high-beam lights, LED front fog-lights, auto wipers, heated folding side mirrors, black roof rails, privacy glass at the rear, keyless entry and push-button start, a leather trimmed steering wheel, electronic parking brake, rear parking sensors and lane departure warning.

The next step up offers some impressive inclusions, with the Aspire gaining dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, micro-suede and synthetic leather interior trim, auto-dimming rearview mirror, adaptive cruise control and added safety items – blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and more. See below for full details.

Go for the range-topping Exceed and you get full LED headlights (yes, you’ve got to spend nearly $40k for those!), a double sunroof, head-up display (making the Exceed the only grade with a digital speedometer, even in the PHEV models!), built-in TomTom GPS satellite navigation, a heated steering wheel, power adjustment for the front passenger seat, and full leather interior trim. You also get rear seat heating in the turbo-petrol models, but not the PHEV, oddly.

The colour options for Eclipse Cross models are very limited unless you’re willing to pay extra for premium paint. Only White Solid comes at no cost, while the metallic and pearlescent choices add $740 – they include Black Pearl, Lightning Blue Pearl, Titanium Metallic (grey) and Sterling Silver Metallic. Those not special enough? There’s also Prestige paint options, by way of Red Diamond Premium and White Diamond Pearl Metallic, both of which cost $940. 

There’s no green, yellow, orange, brown or purple options available. And unlike lots of other small SUVs out there, there is no contrast or black roof option.

Engine & trans

Mazda CX-58/10

Our CX-5 test car is fitted with a 2.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine, producing 170kW and 420Nm, with drive sent to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

We’ve tested this engine before, and while nothing has changed on the powertrain front, we’re still big fans of this mill’s effortless oomph.

As one of the most potent petrol engines you can get in the mainstream mid-size SUV class, coming away from the line is expectedly brisk and the engine will enable a zero to 100km/h in an almost-hot-hatch-bothering 7.7 seconds.

Overtaking at freeway speeds is also easy, with the smart-shifting automatic transmission smoothly kicking down a cog for some extra shove.

Speaking of, peak torque is available from 2000rpm, making the CX-5 a delight to drive at slower speeds instead of a slow-moving bothersome chore.

However, we reckon the six-speed auto need another gear for freeway driving, just to keep revs and engine down a little more.

If the flagship 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine isn’t your speed, there are other powertrains available in the CX-5 range, including a base 115kW/200Nm 2.0-litre petrol unit that is paired to a six-speed manual gearbox and an automatic-transmission-only 140kW/252Nm 2.5-litre petrol.

Diesel is also offered in the CX-5 range, an increasingly rare occurrence as the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Subaru Forester are no long offered with oil-burning options, and in Mazda’s case is a 140kW/450Nm 2.2-litre twin-turbo unit.

However, unlike the three aforementioned mid-size SUV competitors, Mazda does not offer its CX-5 with any sort of electrified powertrain.

One could argue that in 2020, Australia is yet to fully embrace the electric vehicle future, but for those wanting the latest in hybrid or plug-in powertrain technology, the CX-5 does not yet have an answer (like most competitors).


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross8/10

All models in the Eclipse Cross get a turbocharged engine that really puts the ASX model below it to shame.

The 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder motor isn’t a horsepower hero, but it does offer class-competitive outputs on par with the likes of the Volkswagen T-Roc.

The power output for the 1.5L turbo is 110kW (at 5500rpm), while torque output is 250Nm (at 2000-3500rpm).

The Eclipse Cross is available with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic gearbox only. There is no manual gearbox option, but all variants come with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters so you can take matters in to your own hands.

It is available in front-wheel drive (FWD or 2WD), and there is the option of all-wheel drive (AWD) in the LS and Exceed variants. Note – this isn’t a proper 4WD / 4x4 – there is no low range, but the electronically adjustable drivetrain system has AWD Normal, Snow and Gravel modes to suit the conditions you’re driving on.

The plug-in hybrid version runs a larger, non-turbocharged 2.4-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine, with that four-cylinder unit producing just 94kW and 199Nm. Those are only the outputs for the petrol engine, and don't factor in the additional oomph offered by the electric motors front and rear, and this time around Mitsubishi doesn't offer a maximum combined power and torque output when everything is working together.

But it is backed by two electric motors - the front motor has outputs of 60kW/137Nm, while the rear motor produces 70kW/195Nm. There is a 13.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack good for an electric driving range of 55km based on ADR 81/02 testing. 

The engine can power the battery pack in series hybrid driving mode, too, so if you want to top up the batteries before you get to a city, you can. There is regenerative braking, too, of course. More on recharging in the next section.

Fuel consumption

Mazda CX-57/10

Official fuel consumption figures of the 2.5-litre turbo-petrol CX-5 peg it at 8.2 litres per 100km, but with our short stint in the car we managed 9.8L/100km.

To be fair, our driving consisted mainly of inner-city suburban streets and a brief stretch of highway driving, as well as some hard acceleration.

For those looking for a more frugal CX-5 though, the diesel engine is also available that will sip just 5.7L/100km, while the 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol units are also less thirsty at 6.9 and 7.4L/100km respectively.

Again, a petrol-hybrid option here would help lower fuel-consumption even more, so if stretching your dollar further at the bowser is a concern, you may want to look elsewhere.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross7/10

Some small SUVs with downsized turbocharged engines stay close to the official combined cycle fuel consumption figure, while others have sticker fuel economy that seems impossible to achieve.

The Eclipse Cross falls into the latter camp. The 2WD models have official fuel use figures of 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres, while the AWD models are said to use 7.7L/100km. 

I drove it in ES FWD guise for a return of 8.5L/100km at the pump, while in the Exceed AWD I tested, the real-world bowser return was 9.6L/100km.

The Eclipse Cross PHEV has an official combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 1.9L/100km. That’s astounding, really, but you need to realise that the test calculation is only for the first 100 kays - there’s a really good chance your real-world consumption will be a lot higher, as you can only deplete the battery charge once before calling on the engine (and your petrol tank) to juice it back up.

We will see what kind of real-world figure we can achieve when we get the PHEV through the CarsGuide garages. 

It offers AC charging with a Type 2 plug that can fully recharge the battery in as little as 3.5 hours, according to the brand. It is also capable of DC fast charging with a CHAdeMO plug, filling from zero to 80 per cent in 25 minutes. 

If you’re just wondering about recharging from a standard 10-amp household plug, Mitsubishi says it should take seven hours. Park it at night, plug it in, charge off-peak, and you could pay as little as $1.88 (based on a 13.6c/kWh offpeak electricity price). Compare that against my real-world average in the petrol-turbo AWD, and you could pay as much as $8.70 to cover 55km.

Of course that calculation is predicated on the notion that you will get the cheapest electricity rate and you will achieve that entire EV driving distance… but you need also consider the additional purchase cost to get into the PHEV model over the regular Eclipse Cross. 

Driving

Mazda CX-57/10

The big headlining change to the new CX-5 is the added off-road driving mode added to AWD variants.

Dubbed ‘Off-Road Traction Assist’, the system locks the rear differential at the push of a button, enabling torque to be sent to the wheels that have grip.

In theory, the system is designed to better allow the CX-5 to get out of a sticky situation, such as deep mud or some particularly tricky terrain, and in practice it does what’s advertised.

Don’t get us wrong, the CX-5 isn’t transformed into a Jeep Wrangler or Toyota LandCruiser because of the new feature, but it certainly helps that Mazda has added extra go-anywhere assurance to its popular model.

Also keep in mind that the CX-5 will still be limited by ground clearance and its approach angle.

On the occasion that the CX-5 ventures down an unsealed road or rough terrain in inclement weather when venturing to a remote Airbnb or holiday home, the Off-Road Traction Assist button will surely be a welcome addition.

Aside from the new off-road mode, the CX-5 drives largely the same as before – for good and bad.

Steering is sharp, direct and communicative, while also being light and pleasant enough to manoeuvre around town.

However, the trade-off for a nice steering SUV is that suspension is still a bit too firm, for our tastes at least, which is of particular note in a five-seat family hauler like the CX-5.

Don’t get us wrong, its not back-breaking by any stretch, and on smooth surfaces, the ride is perfectly liveable.

Unfortunately, Australia – and in this particular case, Melbourne – is full of more than just smooth roads, with the occasional large dip and bump (not to mention the juttering of travelling over tram tracks) transmitted right to occupants.

Mazda said it has also improved the NVH levels of the new CX-5 thanks to extra sound deadening, but without driving the old car and new one back-to-back, it is a little hard to tell the level of enhancement.

However, we are happy to report road and wind noise was kept to a minimum in our time with the car, even at freeway speeds.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross7/10

Don’t go thinking that because the Eclipse Cross has a thrusty little turbo engine that it’s going to be sporty to drive. It isn’t.

But that’s not to say it’s not rapid in its acceleration. It can get moving pretty quickly, provided you catch the CVT in its sweet spot.

That’s the thing with CVTs and turbo engines – sometimes you can have laggy moments that you’re not expecting, while at other times, you might be greeted with better response than you think you’ll get. 

I found the Exceed AWD to be particularly prone to confusion when it came to acceleration, with some noticeable hesitation and sluggishness compared to the ES 2WD I also drove. The ES felt comparatively rapid, while the (admittedly 150kg heavier) Exceed AWD was lazy.

And when it comes to other driving attributes, the Eclipse Cross is just fine.

The suspension doesn’t do anything untoward – the ride is good for the most part, though it can be a bit wobbly in corners and lumpy over bumps. But it’s comfortable and could make a great commuter car.

The steering is accurate enough, but it’s a bit slow when you’re changing direction, meaning you feel like you’d want more aggressive response. That could also come down to the Toyo Proxes tyres – they’re hardly sporty numbers.

But at city speeds, when you’re parking the car in tight spots, the steering does a good enough job.

And that’s actually a pretty apt ending for this segment of the review. Good enough. You can do better – like in a VW T-Roc, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, or Skoda Karoq.

But what about the PHEV? Well, we haven’t yet had the chance to drive the plug-in hybrid model, but we intend to see how it stacks up in the near future, with a real-world range test and full detailed driving and charging impressions in our EVGuide part of the site. Stay tuned.

Safety

Mazda CX-510/10

Safety is where the Mazda CX-5 stands heads and shoulders above the competition.

Lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, driver attention alert, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control, as well as auto high beams, wipers and headlights, are all included as standard across the entire Mazda CX-5 line-up.

But wait, there’s more as our Akera test car also has front parking sensors, traffic sign recognition and a surround-view monitor to make parking a breeze.

New in the 2020 model-year upgrade however, is night-time pedestrian detection for the AEB system.

The list of safety equipment included in the CX-5, even at its cheapest, is the yardstick from which all other cars – including models from premium brands – should be measured.

No surprises then that the Mazda CX-5 carries a full five-star ANCAP safety rating when it was first tested in 2017.

The Mazda mid-size SUV scored 95 per cent in the adult occupant test, while the child occupant protection examination yielded an 80 per cent score.

As for the vulnerable road user and safety assist categories, the CX-5 notched 78 and 59 per cent respectively.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross7/10

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross was awarded a five-star ANCAP crash test safety rating in 2017 for the pre-facelift model, but you can bet your backside that the brand isn’t anticipating a re-do – so that score still applies across the petrol-turbo and PHEV model range,

The brand does, however, take a different tact to the likes of Toyota, Mazda and other leaders in safety spec. It still has that old world mentality of “if you can afford to pay more, you deserve to be safer”. I don’t like that.

As such, the range has increasing levels of safety technology the more you spend, and that’s the case across the petrol-turbo and the PHEV models.

All versions come with forward autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, which operates between 5km/h and 80km/h. The AEB system includes pedestrian detection, too, which works between 15km/h and 140km/h.

All models also come with a reversing camera, seven airbags (dual front, driver’s knee, front side, side curtain for both rows), active Yaw control, stability control, and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with brake force distribution.

The base model car misses out on things like auto headlights and auto wipers, and you’ll have to get the LS if you want rear parking sensors, lane departure warning and auto high-beam lights.

The step from LS to Aspire is a worthy one, adding adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and front parking sensors.

And from Aspire to Exceed, there’s the addition of the brand’s Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System, which can dull throttle response to prevent potential low speed collisions in close quarters.

Where is the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross built? The answer is “made in Japan”.

Ownership

Mazda CX-57/10

The Mazda CX-5, like all new Mazda Australia vehicles, comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, along with a six-year anti-corrosion assurance and five years of roadside assist.

Service intervals are every 10,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.

Basic service costs will alternate between $347 and $378 up to 160,000km or 16 years, but additional scheduled maintenance items will cost extra.

For example, the cabin filter will need to be replaced ever 40,000km, costing an additional $80, while spark plugs will need to be refreshed every 60,000km interval at a cost of $327.

As such, the first five years of servicing, by our calculations for the 2.5-litre turbo-petrol CX-5 Akera, will cost buyers $2092.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross8/10

Here’s where Mitsubishi could win over plenty of buyers who aren’t sure what small SUV to get.

That’s because the brand offers a 10 year/200,000 kilometre warranty plan for its range… but there’s a catch.

The warranty is only that lengthy if you maintain your car with Mitsubishi’s dedicated dealer service network over the 10 years/200,000km timeline. Otherwise, you get a five-year/100,000km warranty plan. That’s still decent.

The PHEV model comes with a caveat - the traction battery is covered for eight years/160,000km, no matter where you have the car serviced, despite Mitsubishi’s website stating “it’s a good idea to get your Mitsubishi electric or hybrid vehicle serviced at an authorised PHEV dealer to that your vehicle performs at its best”.

But why wouldn’t you service with the dealer network, given the maintenance costs are pegged at $299 per visit, due every 12 months/15,000km? That’s good, and is applicable to the first five services. The maintenance costs vary from six years/75,000km, but even over a 10-year period, the average cost is $379 per service. That’s for the turbo-petrol job, anyway.

The PHEV’s service costs are slightly different: $299, $399, $299, $399, $299, $799, $299, $799, $399, $799 - making an average cost of $339 for the first five years, or $558.90 per visit over 10 years/150,000kn. That’s another reason the PHEV might not make sense for you.

Mitsubishi also gives owners four years of included roadside assist when they service their car with the brand. That’s not bad, either.

Worried about other potential reliability issues, concerns, recalls, automatic transmission quibbles, or anything else of that ilk? Check out our Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross problems page.