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2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross LS AWD review

The Japanese brand sells a lot of SUV, but does its newly updated stylish small SUV have what it takes to match it with the best? We find out.

Mitsubishi sells two small SUVs – the ASX and this slightly larger, newer and fancier Eclipse Cross, which was refreshed late last year.

The brand asks roughly $6000 more for the Eclipse Cross, so is it worth it? Our family tests the cheapest all-wheel-drive LS version, priced at $36,990 drive-away.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Jules: I remember this car. We tested one years ago and it had a silly split-glass rear screen so I could barely see out the back.

Iain: No longer. Designers gave us some visual flair, the market hated it and so we go back to boring old single rear glass. The Eclipse Cross now looks like every other small SUV.

Jules: No it doesn’t. It’s really striking, especially its face. It’s part SUV, part chrome and LED cyborg.

Iain: It certainly has presence. This revised model is 140mm longer for more rear and boot space, but safety equipment in this grade is below par.

Jules: Thumbs-up for the extra space, but surely safety should be range-wide, not least for family SUVs?

Iain: In an ideal world. Rivals include the $37,990 Skoda Kamiq Limited Edition and $36,000 Mazda CX-30 Evolve. If you need all-wheel-drive, the Kia Seltos Sport Plus is loaded at $38,790.

Jules: Strong rivals. And you can add the Hyundai Kona, MG ZS, Nissan Qashqai, Toyota C-HR, Subaru XV, VW T-Roc and more. Talk about a flooded market.

THE LIVING SPACE

Iain: For a small SUV it has decent cabin space.

Jules: It isn’t the last word in classiness or features, though.

Iain: It is a bit frill-free, but our LS grade is just one up from entry-level. An 8-inch screen, smart entry and start, leather steering wheel and electronic parking brake are included.

Jules: Nothing to make you feel special like leather heated seats, a digital dash or ambient lighting.

Iain: And no rear air vents or USBs for the kids. There’s reasonable space for adults in the back, but while these seats recline, they don’t slide back and forth like the old Eclipse Cross. I miss that versatility.

THE COMMUTE

Jules: Here’s why we love SUVs of this size. You sit high enough for decent visibility, but they’re not cumbersome big lumps to manoeuvre in town.

Iain: The Eclipse Cross has been set up for ride comfort. It feels soft and easy to drive on the urban run, while the four-cylinder turbo and gearless CVT auto transmission are a smooth pairing.

Jules: Pretty much what a buyer would want then?

Iain: Most likely. The 1.5-litre has a bit of kick, too, but once you get keen with the throttle the gearbox gets a dash whiny.

Jules: At this price, I’d expect radar cruise control and a digital speedometer.

Iain: Agreed. Many rivals have these and they make for a far better motorway commute.

Jules: The seats are firm but comfy enough for long trips and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is included.

THE SHOPPING

Iain: The boot’s a healthy size and really quite long.

Jules: The weekly shop fits in fine, but there are no front park sensors to go with the rears. The reversing camera is pretty grainy too.

Iain: Pricier Aspire and Exceed grades get 360-degree monitors, which are superb for tight parking spaces.

SUNDAY RUN

Jules: It’s got some beans!

Iain: Calm yourself. The engine’s no firecracker, but can respond when poked.

Jules: It may be a single-speed gearbox, but there are paddle shifters to add a few pretend gear-like steps.

Iain: And without doubt they’re the world’s largest paddle shifters. They should be called oars rather than paddles.

Jules: It handles okay for a small SUV don’t you reckon?

Iain: It still rolls a bit in corners. Four-wheel-drive means it feels safe and grippy but it’s $3500 more than the 2WD version. If I were sticking to the city, I’d save my money.

THE FAMILY

Jules: I like the auto emergency braking and lane-departure warning but other modern small SUVs seem better equipped.

Iain: It really depends on the grade. Our LS isn’t the best for family protection. A 2WD Eclipse Cross Aspire at $36,490 is cheaper than our LS AWD, and brings blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree camera, lane-change assist and radar cruise control.

Jules: I’d happily lose all-wheel-drive for that.

Iain: Plus the Aspire adds suede/leatherette heated seats, a power driver’s seat and a better sound system.

Jules: Sold. That’s the one for me.

Iain: The family budget would like Mitsubishi’s 10-year warranty, although you have to service it with one of their dealers to qualify.

THE VERDICT

Iain: If you really think you need all-wheel-drive this LS version is worth a look. Its minimal inclusions and not-good-enough active safety mark it down, making a 2WD Aspire grade a much smarter pick for most buyers.

Jules: I really like its exterior styling and overall ease to drive, but the small SUV segment is full of quality. This Mitsubishi is likeable, but hard to pick over a Kia Seltos or Skoda Kamiq for similar money.

MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS LS AWD VITALS

Price: From $36,990 drive-away

Warranty/servicing: 10 years/200,000km, $1495 for 5 years

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol, 110kW/250Nm

Safety: Seven airbags, auto emergency braking, lane-departure warning

Thirst: 7.7L/100km

Spare: Space saver

Cargo: 405L/1149L

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