2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL S-AWC

Mitsubishi Motors was, for the past several years, at least in the U.S., rapidly rolling toward irrelevance in the market, producing cars and crossovers that had a tough time of even evoking a “meh” from those who were actually able to find them.

Mitsubishi Motors was, for the past several years, at least in the U.S., rapidly rolling toward irrelevance in the market, producing cars and crossovers that had a tough time of even evoking a “meh” from those who were actually able to find them. And in 2016, on a global basis, Mitsubishi Motors was in a fix, having had a fuel-mileage reporting scandal that reduced trust in the brand among those who had been supportive of it.

Before there was Alan Mullaly and still after there was Sergio Marchionne, there was and is Carlos Ghosn, who will undoubtedly go down in the annals of the auto industry as a man who did the seeming impossible, having arguably not only saved Nissan but transforming it into a global power to be reckoned with. In 1999 Ghosn helped engineer the Renault-Nissan Alliance, a partnership that has worked to the benefit of the sum and of the parts.

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2018 Eclipse Cross

And in 2016 Ghosn reached out to Mitsubishi Motors and offered the opportunity for it to join the Alliance, which it did. Of the creation of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance Ghosn wrote, “We will focus on realizing synergies thought joint purchasing, deeper localization, joint plant utilization, common vehicle platforms, technology-sharing and an expansion of our combined presence in both mature and emerging markets. And those synergies—which we define as actions that reduce costs and investments, avoid costs and investments, or increase revenue—are significant”

When you are saving money in some parts of the business, this allows you to invest more in others. And in the case of Mitsubishi Motors, at least as regards the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL S-AWC, it seems as though they’ve really upped their game in terms of both design and manufacturing, because here is a company that had been putting out models with sheet metal that seemed to merely have hints of form to one that has creases and sections that make it a impressively striking vehicle, something that is absolutely required in the continually crowded crossover category. The Eclipse Cross strikes a position in the market, possibly in order to call attention to its very existence, something that might otherwise have gone unnoticed due to Mitsubishi’s heretofore near-invisibility.

2018 Eclipse Cross

(If there is anything unfortunate about the overall design it’s the rear end, which has hints of the Pontiac Aztek, which was never known as a vehicle with a compelling design.)

Under the hood there is a 1.5-liter, direct-injected turbocharged four that produces 152 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to an “eight-speed” continuously variable transmission (CVT), the scare quotes being there because “continuous” doesn’t mean step-gear.

On the inside of the car the materials and layout are certainly the sort of thing that is required in this category, something far better than one may have been familiar with from Mitsubishi’s of late. The Eclipse Cross provides 94.6-cu. ft. of passenger volume and 22.6-cu. ft. of cargo volume behind the second row. Should one fold down the second row seats and get something that approximates a flatish floor, then there is 48.9 cu. ft. of cargo capacity.

2018 Eclipse Cross

Overall I was pleased with the ride and handling of the vehicle. Except for one thing. One troubling thing. There’s a 7-inch screen that is the center point of the infotainment system. It is controlled by a touch pad in the center console. At least it is supposed to be controlled that way: I found it to be more than slightly difficult to make selections and the layout of the screen, with multiple boxes that one had to work their way through to get to, say, a SiriusXM station. This just isn’t a case of someone who wants to use knobs rather than something that is conceivably more advanced; I am writing this on a computer and using a touchpad to move the mouse; it works quite well. Somethings are just more appropriate to fulfill their purposes.

Presumably the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL S-AWC is the first of what we’ll see from the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance. And it is a good start.