Well it is work travel time again and you know that that means! Corporate policy rentals!!! This time around Budget served up a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross as my “compact” rental. Given this is vehicle that generates a lot of scorn based on its name, rightly so, I was interested to see how it is as an car.

Lets get a few things out of the way:

The Name

Just to get it out of the way, yes.... they should not have named this car the “Eclipse”. This is not an Eclipse. No idea why they chose to revive the name of a relatively mediocre sports car, but they did.

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Styling

It looks like a redesigned Pontiac Aztek. The problem with that is the Aztek is know as being one of the ugliest vehicles ever made, even though compared to modern vehicles its styling is conservative... bordering on modern.

ANYWAY, I say that to say I think this vehicle is pointlessly ugly. Though, to its credit, it is different.

The Good

Aside from those two notes, I am shocked to say I liked the Eclipse Cross. The 1.5L turbo-4 engine felt peppy and eager, if not fast, and the 6-speed automatic* was fairly willing and unobtrusive overall, with kickdowns happening when you expect and power delivered efficiently.

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*Looking at the Mitsubishi website it might be a CVT?

I have some nitpicks about the interior, but overall it was pretty OK for an economy car (though with the MSRP starting at $23k it isn’t that cheap). On my rental spec model, the radio is a basic double DIN unit that is functional, easy to use, and doesn’t look like a touchscreen glued to the dashboard. The climate control is a simple automatic unit, no dual, and works well. The gearshift is traditional and functional and the parking brake is manual. The side mirrors are big and have built in convex mirrors. Cruise control worked well and never made me a problem. Everything basically just works as it should and I appreciate that.

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Rear cargo space was on-par with your average hatchback, and that is fine. Rear passenger space looked fine, but I didn’t bother testing it.

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Headlights and wipers worked well, though I did miss having automatic wipers as the intermittent setting was a bit willful. Due to the split rear glass, the rear wiper only operates on the top half, which is hilariously unhelpful.

The trip computer and I had an interesting time together. When I picked up the car it said I had 400 miles of range. When I filled up before dropping the car off it said I had 380 miles of range. I had traveled 140 miles. I assume this is because the guy before me thrashed it, but it was a fun game to play.

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Speaking of gas and miles, I traveled about 140 miles, with about 110 of that highway and the remainder slow, stop and go, city driving. Overall trip average was 27 MPG, which is respectable, if not remarkable.

The Nitpicks

I said I liked the car. I didn’t say I liked everything about the car. So lets begin!

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The climate controls are recessed into the dash and hard to get to.

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The handbrake was clearly designed never to be used, with a long throw and awkward operating angle.

The reversing camera was basically useless. Low feature, low resolution, and low clarity. I guess that is what you get when you mandate something but don’t specific a minimum acceptable quality.

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The headlights and dash dimming were not automatic. As such, if you turned on your headlights on an overcast day you couldn’t read the dash at all unless you adjusted the brightness. Dash brightness was a button that cycled through the options.

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The seats were OK, but didn’t look or feel like they’d wear well.

The gas mileage was fine, but being a relatively small car with a relatively small engine, it wasn’t as good as I expected.

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I don’t like the look of it.

The double din radio didn’t appear to have Android Auto or Carplay. (Though it looked easy to replace so there is that.)

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The handle to close the rear hatch is on the passenger side.

I guess it would have cost more to put one on the drivers side too?
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Overall, not a bad showing.

Would I buy one?

No. Of course not.

What if you were in the market for a budget crossover?

Probably not? It isn’t that cheap, and with so many competitors I can’t imagine I’d settle on the ugly Mitsubishi.

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What if you were in the market for a budget crossover made by Mitsubishi?

Probably not. The Outlander Sport comes with more engine options for the same price and without the controversial name or styling.

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Overall?

I wouldn’t say no to one at the rental desk and might even pay a bit extra for it. It is a good car betrayed by bad styling and marketing, but ultimately is still a compact crossover and therefore will never excite me.

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