Mitsubishi’s clever urban SUV eclipses expectations

Peter Atkinson |

The new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV boasts a fuel efficiency of just 1.9L/ 100km.
The new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV boasts a fuel efficiency of just 1.9L/ 100km.

Mitsubishi has long been something of an early adopter when it comes to powering its  vehicles.

With turbo-charged rockets like the Cordia way back in the 80s and the Lancer Evo more recently, it has continued to push the technology envelope.

That’s never been more evident than the way the Japanese marque has embraced the plug-in-electric vehicle (PHEV) platform – sooner and more warmly than most of its rival brands. 

So while other car makers are playing catch-up by offering hybrids as a stepping off point en route from fossil fuel to the full EV mode, hybrids appear to be picking up steam while the emissions-free train coughs and splutters along.

Enter Mitsubishi’s second petrol-electric hybrid model, the clever urban SUV Eclipse Cross.

Of course, Mitsubishi’s fleet is now comprised almost exclusively of off-roaders or soft-roaders, where the plug-in hybrid system is not ideally suited – or so you might think.

But experience has shown these plug-in-hybrids, which rely on an electric battery, are good for about 50km of range and a more conventional four-cylinder when the journey is longer – making these perfect for those families addicted to weekend getaways. 

Unlike Toyota, whose petrol engines and recuperative braking systems keep their batteries well charged, the Mitsubishi system requires a small recharge, usually a couple of times per week and which is as easy as plugging it into your wall socket at home.  

Mitsubishi’s eponymous Outlander, one of the brand’s best-selling models, was among the first in Australia to include a PHEV system to complement its trusty four-cylinders.

When first introduced, the plug-in hybrid was more outlier than Outlander – compared to the wide and growing range of Japanese, and now Korean and Chinese – small and medium SUVs now in the category.

The Outlander has been around since 2001 and has offered the PHEV platform for a decade. 

Given that background, it’s a little surprising that this Eclipse Cross PHEV has been so long in the making. 

Perhaps it’s because of the growing sales of the PHEV Outlander and partly because the market is leaning towards the two-cars-in-one capability of the PHEV.

Tested is the Eclipse Cross Exceed – flagship of that particular model and one from the top of the SUV ladder – a size smaller than the Outlander.

Not surprisingly, it has adopted many of the traits enjoyed in the Outlander – quality finishes, strong drive dynamics and a sturdy, well-built feel about it.

It brings together a 2.4-litre, normally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine (producing a modest 94kW and 199Nm) coupled with a 60kW electric motor on the front axle and a 70kW electric motor on the rear.

That means surprisingly zippy performance, particularly when both forms of power are in action.

The Eclipse squeezes between two of the Japanese marque’s most popular models – the Outlander and the urban-styled ASX. The arrival last month of an all-new Triton 4X4 gives Mitsubishi another buyer magnet and plenty of nice, new metal in the showrooms which generally tends to lift even those models longest in the tooth.

The Exceed pushes dangerously close to the $60,000 mark. That puts it into direct competition with high-end Korean (Kia Sportage) and other Japanese (like the Nissan Qashqai and Toyota RAV).

That said, the styling and finish of the Eclipse Cross is of the highest quality, including lashings of leather trim and plenty of electronics, including a head-up display for cruise control adjustments and monitoring your speed.

Outside the big, chrome PHEV badge just behind the front wheel arch is demonstration of how excited the maker is about this versatile model, as they should be.

While the output numbers are modest for the petrol engine running solo, it’s still a quiet, smooth and well-evolved powerplant.

Mitsubishi’s 10-year warranty is a handy piece of insurance for loyal buyers as well as making a big statement about the company’s faith in the vehicle.

On the highway the Eclipse can get a little bit confused if its battery is about to expire – seeming to juggle a bit between the battery assistance coming on and off in quick succession. It’s not as linear as, for instance Audi’s new Q5 Plug-In Hybrid which (not surprisingly) offers a smoother system all round.

That’s not to say the Mitsubishi is off the pace. It’s impressively quiet to ride in and has plenty of poke when you call on the petrol and battery systems to operate in tandem, as they were meant to do.

Standard features include 8-inch touchscreen, rear-view camera and forward collision mitigation across the range, which starts with the entry-level ES model ($31,990) up to the top-spec Exceed ($56,490) – both representing strong value at either end of the showroom range.

The test vehicle was fitted out with black carpet, contrasting to the soft white leather inside the nicely-resolved cockpit. Very BMW – copying the style of the high-end versions of the Outlander which has flourished in one of the most competitive segments of the market.



It slots in between the Outlander and the ASX in Mitsubishi’s line-up. Five people will fit happily.


Surprisingly so when the petrol engine and electric motors are all pulling in the same direction.


Its official consumption is a measly 1.9L/100km, making it one of the most frugal machines that isn’t a full EV.


Prices start from low $30,000s  for the entry-level right up to the high $50,000s for the flagship variant. You won’t get much change from $60,000, which is steep for a Japanese mid-sizer.