As aging celebrities can attest, sometimes a facelift makes all the difference.
That’s true of the 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross compact SUV, which bypassed the 2021 model year and returned with changes that include much better styling. It’s a refresh, not an all-new model, and it starts at $28,598 before freight and taxes for the ES. It then goes through the SE and SEL trims to my tester, the GT, at $36,998. All come standard with all-wheel drive. The only no-charge colour is silver, and all other shades start at an extra $150 and go to the $450 asked for my car’s Red Diamond, bringing my ride to $37,448 before freight and taxes.
Let’s be frank: the outgoing Eclipse Cross was definitely not pretty. This new model has slightly longer front and rear overhangs, which improve the proportions and also give it a bit more cargo space.
Up front, the general shape of the grille remains, but the new lights look better and the chrome is toned down nicely. The butt gets the bulk of the styling boost, and that rear three-quarter view is now the Eclipse Cross’s best. The old version had two huge bulges, like a balloon tied in the middle, and its two-window hatch cut into rear visibility. [It also looked like the Pontiac Aztek back there. – Ed.] The new model has a flatter tailgate with one piece of glass. It now looks more like most other SUVs, but compared to how it looked before that’s a compliment.
Cabin revisions are mostly limited to the centre stack, where a larger screen with a new volume dial takes care of the infotainment duties. The touchscreen system also loses the last model’s annoying console touchpad, that space repurposed with buttons for the electric parking brake and the auto-hold function that allows the vehicle to be brought to a halt (say, at a red light) and kept that way with the pedal released, giving your right foot a rest.
The 2022 Eclipse Cross is too new to have full ratings from the two United States-based crash-testers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) carries over the previous model’s top five stars for side crash; that one also earned five for frontal crash, but that new, longer front end needs to be re-smashed to be sure. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2020 model its top rating of “Good” for crashworthiness, but took away the Top Safety Pick designation it had for 2019, apparently as a result of more stringent headlight standards. We’ll have to see how the new model does.
New for 2022, emergency front braking is standard on all trim levels. Also new are lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control on the SEL, one step below the GT, which previously was the only trim level to offer it. Automatic high-beam headlights are also included on the SE and SEL, whereas only the GT had that feature before. All trim levels include a tire pressure monitoring system, plus the rearview camera that’s mandatory on all new vehicles; and everything but the base ES trim has blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
Each trim level comes all-in, with no available options (other than the aforementioned pricey paint). Every trim level includes such features as 18-inch wheels, automatic climate control, satellite radio, colour multi-function instrument cluster display, and rain-sensing wipers.
A few features make their way from the GT to the next-step-down SEL, including a power driver’s seat, auto-dimming mirror, garage door opener, multi-view rear camera system, and head-up display. That last one is a plastic screen that lifts itself up out of the dash panel, rather than a windshield projection. I really like that the display height can be adjusted with a toggle, whereas many of these require you to page through menus in the infotainment screen – and that’s a pain when two differently-sized drivers are regularly swapping the driver’s seat.
The new eight-inch touchscreen is shared across all trim levels. As before, the system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but for the first time, navigation is included in the GT. It found my destinations easily enough, but while all other screens such as media or phone display the time in the upper corner, the map annoyingly wipes out the clock.
User Friendliness: 8/10
The new infotainment system is a vast improvement over the old one, which was one of the few minuses on the outgoing model’s ease of use. Still, I’d like the mirror switches moved off the door handle, where they can be awkward to use. And while the climate control is straightforward, the temperature is handled by big, round toggle switches. Dials would fit right in there, and you’d just quickly spin them, rather than tap-tap-tapping away.
Head- and legroom haven’t changed, and taller passengers have to be careful not to bop their noggins when getting into the rear seat. A moulding has been moved on the bottom of the rear doors to reduce the width of the sill, which Mitsubishi says will make it less likely that you’ll dirty your pant leg on it.
The Eclipse Cross’ new extra rear length is given over to cargo capacity, which rises to 663 L (up from 640 L) with the rear seats upright, and 1,419 L (up from 1,385 L) when they’re lowered, where they fall almost – but not quite – flat. Models with a panoramic sunroof and subwoofer have a bit less cargo space, at 657 L and 1,407 L with seats up and down, respectively. A cargo cover is standard in the SE and up.
More space is always good, but the Eclipse Cross is still near the bottom for cargo volume against most of its competitors. Against the Eclipse Cross’ 663 L, the Honda CR-V offers 1,110 L; the Toyota RAV4 has 1,059 L; and the Nissan Rogue gives you 1,033 L of cargo capacity, and they all do it with slightly more rear-seat legroom than the Mitsubishi.
The GT always came with a six-way power driver’s seat – now included in the SEL as well – but new for 2022, my top trim gets a four-way power passenger seat. Heated front seats are standard in all trims, and the rear chairs are warmed as well in the SEL and GT. A heated steering wheel, previously found only in the SEL and GT, is now included in the SE trim.