Mitsubishi revives popular model name with Eclipse Cross SUV

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Mitsubishi is known for making fun, sporty cars. (KABC)

Mitsubishi is known for making fun, sporty cars. Like the rally-inspired Lancer Evolution and a sporty two-door called the Eclipse. Both those vehicles were discontinued in recent years.

But times have changed, and there's now a new vehicle wearing an older name, the 2018 Eclipse Cross.

"What we've done here with Eclipse Cross is we brought a lot of the strengths of Eclipse, like design, technology and fun-to-drive, from that vehicle, and brought them into a CUV or a new type of vehicle that people are really buying right now," said Nate Berg, a senior product planner with Mitsubishi Motors North America.

Yes, this is very much what people are buying these days. Coupes have fallen out of favor with many buyers, who prefer car-like crossover SUVs. So Mitsubishi has now increased its offerings in that segment by 50 percent, adding to the Outlander and Outlander Sport with a useful vehicle that honors the name Eclipse, plus offers a dose of style.

"It starts with the design. It's got a very dramatic, very unique design to the vehicle, from the front to the rear. A really 'coupe-like' CUV that really stands out," noted Berg.

And as small SUVs go, it does drive pretty well. The turbocharged 1.5-liter four cylinder engine isn't the smoothest or quietest, but it has decent power (152 horsepower) and torque (184 lbs-ft), and should provide good fuel economy thanks to a standard continuously-variable automatic transmission.

Mitsubishi has not released official fuel economy ratings, as their EPA testing procedure is still ongoing at this early stage.

Buyers in this class are looking for more than just practicality and sportiness: They're also looking for the latest safety technology, and here the Eclipse Cross delivers, from convenience features to safety electronics. Trim level will dictate how much each Eclipse Cross offers, and prices range from $23,295 to $30,995 for the most fully loaded example.

There's also a new app service called Mitsubishi Connect which lets you monitor and control things in the vehicle via your phone. Other cars have similar systems, but this one integrates with the other technology in your life.

"You can now talk to your car through the Amazon Alexa or through Google Home. As an example, you just ask your car to start up while you're brushing your teeth, and when you go outside it's nice and warm when you get there," said Bryan Arnett, a product planner who helped with the integration of Mitsubishi Connect.

Mitsubishi struggled a lot some years ago, but has been on the rebound in recent years with steadily increasing sales. A partnership with Nissan-Renault will further help the brand, as will new products.
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