Home » The Internet Doesn’t Like The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, But It’s Historic For One Key Reason

The Internet Doesn’t Like The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, But It’s Historic For One Key Reason

Eclipse Crossover Ts
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Eclipses seem to be in the news today, and there is an elephant in the room we need to address. No, I’m not talking about how the third-generation convertible in “2 Fast 2 Furious” couldn’t have possibly kept up with a Lancer Evolution, I’m talking about the most recent use of the Eclipse name. While the internet hates it, it’s the last Mitsubishi launched in America to be all Mitsubishi all the way through, and I’d argue that makes it historically important. The U.S. debut of the Eclipse Cross actually coincided with the 2017 solar eclipse, but this compact crossover emerged from the shadow of something else.

[Writer’s note: April 8, 2024 marks the date of a total solar eclipse visible in North America, so we thought it would be fun to riff on that with a special automotive theme day. Yep, it’s Mitsubishi Eclipse day at The Autopian, and I’m writing about the crossover. -TH]

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On April 20, 2016, Mitsubishi announced in a press release that Nissan found inconsistencies between fuel economy testing and fuel economy rating of its Japanese-market eK Wagon and eK Space kei cars, and their rebadged Nissan Dayz and Dayz Roox counterparts. As Mitsubishi stated:

MMC [Mitsubishi Motors Corporation] conducted testing improperly to present better fuel consumption rates than the actual rates; and that the testing method was also different from the one required by Japanese law. We express deep apologies to all of our customers and stakeholders for this issue.

Six days later, Mitsubishi came clean that the problem went a whole lot deeper than just a handful of then-current models, with the automaker having ‘fessed up to falsifying Japanese fuel economy tests for a quarter of a century. Less than a month later, Nissan acquired a controlling stake in the embattled automaker, leaving the future of Mitsubishi unclear. What would happen to product already in the pipeline? Would future Mitsubishi models just be rebranded Nissans? At the time, there were a lot of unknowns, but the first new Mitsubishi Americans got after that scandal broke was the Eclipse Cross.

2018 Eclipse Cross

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Right off the bat, this crossover was the internet’s punching bag. The name alone is blasphemy to anyone who can recite the line about Hector ordering two Spoon engines from memory. The first two generations of Eclipse coupe were darlings of the tuning community, with the options of all-wheel-drive and a similar 4G63 turbocharged four-cylinder engine to what you’d find in a Lancer Evolution. It was relatively cheap turbocharged speed, a formula abandoned with the third-generation Eclipse, so this crossover adopting the Eclipse nameplate was like a stake in the heart. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing interesting about this vehicle.

2018 Eclipse Cross

The Eclipse Cross is the only application of the 4B40 engine ever sold in America. This 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine isn’t a performance engine, but it’s still interesting to see Mitsubishi produce a small turbocharged motor with both direct fuel injection and port fuel injection, offering some of the efficiency benefits of direct injection while mitigating direct injection-only issues like intake valve carbon deposits. Both fuel systems are returnless with one low-pressure fuel pump feeding both rails, keeping things relatively simple. Sure, the end result of 152 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque isn’t spectacular, but it seems like an awful lot of development for an engine that’s only used in the Eclipse Cross and the Chinese-market Outlander.

2018 Eclipse Cross

Inside the Eclipse Cross, Mitsubishi was trying to find its footing. The general cabin design felt like someone tried describing a 2015 Lexus NX interior over the phone, right down to a now mercifully deleted trackpad for the infotainment system. The basic concept was there, but the execution definitely felt like a first shot, even if a pair of magnesium alloy paddle shifters remained as the last reminder that Mitsubishi used to build great stuff all on its own. Out on the road, the early Eclipse Cross wasn’t brilliant either. With dull CVT tuning, imprecise steering, and large body motions, it didn’t do much to conjure up sporting images of the past. However, it was a reasonably comfortable small crossover, and it’s important to not confuse middling product with a lack of progress. Compared to the Outlander Sport, the Eclipse Cross felt lightyears ahead in refinement, with better steering, better amenities, and a cabin that didn’t feel straight out of the Great Recession.

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2018 Eclipse Cross

Still, that sort of incremental progress isn’t what we’re used to from Mitsubishi. This might come as a shock to our younger readers, but there was more to this brand than just Lancer Evolutions followed by a series of cars seemingly designed to be rented. We’re talking about a company that made the first-ever production engine with five valves per cylinder, the first turbocharged gasoline direct injection engine, the first production car with adaptive cruise control, and the first car with an active exhaust system. Its innovation was vast enough that Porsche once licensed Mitsubishi tech. Astonishing stuff.

2018 Eclipse Cross

Of course, thanks to Nissan taking a controlling stake in Mitsubishi, every Mitsubishi product that’s come after the Eclipse Cross has featured at least some traces of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. The current Outlander rides on the same platform as the Nissan Rogue and uses Nissan’s PR25DD 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in gas-only trim, Nissan’s switchgear, and Nissan’s infotainment system. It’s a solid value proposition and a good compact crossover, but for better or worse, it doesn’t feel all Mitsubishi. Likewise, the incoming Mitsubishi Colt for Europe is just a rebadged Renault Clio hatchback, and the European-market Mitsubishi ASX is a rebadged Renault Captur crossover. Conglomeration makes sense from a business perspective, but it’s not always great for automotive diversity.

Mitsubishi Motors Captures The All New Eclipse Cross In The Shad

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The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross marks the end of a chapter, and for that reason alone, it’s more important than you’d think. Legions of balance shaft-equipped Galants, wildly quick turbocharged all-wheel-drive Lancers, Paris-Dakar-proven Pajeros, and gloriously odd kei cars all led up to this crossover turning the page on the story of an automaker that was once one of the industry’s greatest technological forces. It’s enough to make you a little bit sad, and yet the next act won’t make you miss all the also-ran models that affected Mitsubishi’s image in America. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end, and in this case, that end is an odd little CUV.

(Photo credits: Mitsubishi)

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Geoff Tuck
Geoff Tuck
2 months ago

Anyone else get Pontiac Aztec vibes with the rear 3/4 angle?

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
2 months ago

One potential benefit of the Nissan/Renault takeover would be a modern Starion based on the Nissan Z. It’ll never happen of course but would be so cool. Could make it a 4-passenger to avoid overlapping with the Z and go after BRZ/FRS sales.

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
2 months ago

There is one charitable thing I can say about the Eclipse Cross… it’s more interesting to look at than the homely ASX.

This car signifies more than the end of “non-Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi” Mitsubishis. It was as far as I know, the harbinger of Japanese car makers taking all their old name plates and just slapping “Cross” after them. First it was the Eclipse Cross. Then Toyota started – Corolla Cross, Yaris Cross. Why don’t they just exhume the Celica and release the fucking Celica Cross. Then Toyota can feel as dead to me as Mitsubishi do.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
2 months ago
Reply to  PajeroPilot

If the Celica Cross was an actual 3-door hatch available in GR form, they might be forgiven. Who wouldn’t want a modern Celica All Trac?

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
2 months ago

That would be awesome. We can dream.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago
Reply to  PajeroPilot

Yeah, I hate the “Cross” trend. Those are totally different cars! They deserve their own names.

Schrödinger's Catbox
Schrödinger's Catbox
2 months ago

When it comes to Mitsubishi my brain is still stuck in the 2000s. They have always seemed like the little car company that, despite all efforts to kill it by Chrysler and Renault/Nissan, keeps finding ways to build something interesting and even pretty darn good. The mileage overstatement bit wasn’t their finest moment, but they aren’t the only maker who has made this boo-boo.

For a while there it was quite sad seeing the local Mitsu showrooms that had way more used cars than new. But that’s changing now, and while I’m not crazy about the styling of the new models, they aren’t really bad to look at.

They still have some refining to do in terms of steering/handling/ride and some quirks to iron out with their current SUV lineup. But things seem to be looking up for them, particularly with their PHEV Outlander. A solid effort, that one.

Last edited 2 months ago by Schrödinger's Catbox
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago

I would say the alliance with Chrysler was something that worked out very well for both companies, and they were both sort of left wandering aimlessly when it ended, Mitsubishi eventually found Renault/Nissan, but, Stellantis North America is still kind of stumbling around and can’t even form a good partnership with other parts of their own parent company

Schrödinger's Catbox
Schrödinger's Catbox
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Well said. Particularly about Stellantis NA. Just thinking about mapping each brand and value is a tough exercise. They picked up some good tech acquiring the brands they have. Digesting it all (and improving quality) is the part that seems to trip them up.

The Nissan/Renault situation is complicated for different reasons – national politics (France), strong personalities, and a bad pipeline of products that Nissan had to fix before it was too late. Nissan seems to be in a better place now. Can’t speak for Renault since they don’t sell under that brand in the US. Seeing Mitsubishi make a comeback does kind of warm the heart.

If Renault/Nissan were to part with them as partners, perhaps Mazda takes a look at Mitsu to fill the lower-tier market while Mazda pushes upmarket? Pure “what-if” thinking, but perhaps it makes some sense?

Strangek
Strangek
2 months ago

I just don’t want anything with “Cross” in the name, I would feel dumb saying that when someone asks what kind of car I have.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago
Reply to  Strangek

If we’re going by grilles and headlights, nearly all of today’s cars and trucks should have “cross” in the name.

Der Foo
Der Foo
2 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Imagine this decision……Ford F-150 Cross…….a.k.a truck-like vehicle formally known as Ford Maverick.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
2 months ago
Reply to  Der Foo

I think it’d go the other way. Like “Escape Cross” (or Sport Trac, to borrow something Ford did previously) or “Escape Cross Sport Trac” as the vehicle formerly known as Maverick (which would be dumb, as that name has cachet now).

That said, I think both Ford and chevy are using Active/”Activ” on certain road-focused models that get some sort of package to make them seem slightly more off-roady. In the US though folks have the option of the Bronco Sport, which would be a better fit for that shopped than a slightly-toughened-up Escape.

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
2 months ago
Reply to  Strangek

And, if you’re like me, you’d have a hard time leaving off the “Cross” saying it was an Eclipse.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
2 months ago
Reply to  Strangek

Counterpoint: Volvo S60, V60, and V90 Cross Country (and their predecessors), which are different than the XC60 and XC90 (which is slightly confusing since “XC” is shorthand for “cross-country” and why Volvo started using that abbreviation). I believe the new Cross Country cars are abbreviated to CC by dealership staff and owners to reduce confusion.

Last edited 2 months ago by Box Rocket
Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
2 months ago

They should install that engine in the Mirage 😛

Too bad we never got the Eclipse Cross hybrid that other markets got.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
2 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

That engine with a stick in a Mirage… I’d buy one!

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

Mitsubishi: Sure… we can stick that engine in the Mirage… and sell it with a CVT with ‘manual shift’ as an option. That way it can be manual AND automatic!

Isn’t that great!

Brunsworks
Brunsworks
2 months ago

I got stuck with one of these things at a rental counter with almost no miles when driving from Tampa to Jacksonville, and remain fascinated by how they managed to make it feel like it had no suspension at all.

Silent But Deadly
Silent But Deadly
2 months ago

It’s really only an internet meme in North America since the Eclipse wasn’t a big deal anywhere else.

The article also sells Mitsubishi’s current engineering capacity quite a bit short. Even Nissan was surprised about their cost per unit capacity in manufacturing when they took over.

And Mitsubishi was/is lead on the new Triton/Navara/Alaskan pickup and it’s BOF wagon equivalent…

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago

I remember that the ad campaign for the 4th gen Eclipse (the car) really embraced the Japan of the whole thing, if a little late. Cool to see that the Cross actually did it for real.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
2 months ago

I’ve always thought that the 4B40 engine being there was quite intriguing, and I’ve wondered whether it as tunable as Mitsu engines of the past. A fun “rally” version of the Eclipse Cross (if not a true RalliArt) could do well for them — or at least bring that nameplate more attention than it receives currently.

For what its worth, the new Outlander is really nice, Nissan bones or not. At least the PHEV has a 100% Mitsubishi powertrain. I just wish the ICE version had been able to carry-over the MIVEC V6 — or really anything more powerful than Nissan’s 2.5 It’s a good engine, but the Outlander is probably the heaviest vehicle that engine has ever been used in.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Fusion

Mitsubishi always seems to have a pretty lackadaisical attitude to the U.S. market – even at the height of WRC mania in the 2000s, Lancer Evos were seemingly a jealously-guarded secret while everyone’s brother was running around in a blue WRX.

Keon R says it well below, but I also really wish Mitsubishi would try a little harder for distinctiveness here.

PresterJohn
PresterJohn
2 months ago

Nice article on a largely forgotten car. The Outlander Sport really is ancient at this point and given it’s now a Renault in other markets like you said, it’s probably not long for this world in the US. Other than the eclipse cross, the closest you can get to a genuine Mitsubishi product is the Outlander PHEV which is all Mitsubishi on the powertrain side. Still tons of Rogue on the interior and exterior though.

My hope is that a new pickup and maybe some other vehicles will revive the brand in the US.

Martin Dollinger
Martin Dollinger
2 months ago

Thank you for shining some light on cars that always seem to live in the shadows (and isn‘t an eclipse the biggest possible shadow on Earth?) 🙂

Keon R
Keon R
2 months ago

I wish Mitsubishi would lean way harder into its rally roots. Toyota is TRD-Pro’ing all of its 4WDs, every Merc can be had in an AMG trim, same with BMW and M. Even Honda has their HPV brand or whatever. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi is making no proper use of Ralliart. Their L200/Triton rallycar looks staggeringly good, if they came up with Ralliart trim levels for their crossovers with tarted-up suspension, red/black/orange color themes, and some rallycar-derived gimmicks like an intercooler water sprayer, they could fix their poor reputation and sell a few cars for once. Such a waste to miss out on this. Even this Eclipse Cross could be cool with those bright red mud flaps, some Sparco wheels (Toyota managed to get BBS to make its wheels), and a big skid plate up front.

I know Mitsubishi has Ralliart “special editions” of their cars in the US, which is really just a sticker package and weird fender flares for the Mirage, but still. Do something!

Last edited 2 months ago by Keon R
Data
Data
2 months ago
Reply to  Keon R

Remind me to stay away from those Hondas.

HPV infection is a viral infection that commonly causes skin or mucous membrane growths (warts). There are more than 100 varieties of human papillomavirus (HPV). Some types of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection cause warts, and some can cause different types of cancer.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago
Reply to  Data

Be careful who you kiss…

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
2 months ago
Reply to  Data

Just like Subaru with their Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). HPV is a major cause of cervical cancer – thankfully the HPV vaccine can now prevent a good chunk of that particular cancer! And seemingly, keep us safe from sporty Hondas.

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