These are tough times for Mitsubishi, the Japanese brand that once was one of the rising stars in the U.S. market. So, expect it to work hard to build momentum for the Eclipse Cross SUV that will get a major makeover for the 2022 model year.
We’ve been seeing teasers and spy shots for several months now and the release Mitsubishi sent our way overnight confirms what we’ve been expecting: a somewhat more conventional crossover design that does away with some of the weirder of the original Eclipse Cross design cues that had some folks comparing it to the ungainly and unloved Pontiac Aztek.
“From the day we started to rethink the new Eclipse Cross, we wanted to address an attitude of boosted road performance and eco-friendliness, all with a standout style that will take this SUV to the next level,” said Mitsubishi Product Specialist Minoru Uehara.
The Eclipse badge is a revered one for Mitsubishi fans, though it originally graced a once-popular sports coupe that has been transformed into a sport-utility shape.
In reality, the 2022 Eclipse Cross doesn’t stray far from the look of the original CUV – except where it really needed to, notably abandoning the split rear window for a single pane. The taillights, meanwhile, no longer are linked across the tailgate.
Overall, there’s a bit less of a squatness to the 2022 makeover, with a bit more sculpting to the body, especially along the doors. A look at the front end reveals new, slimmer headlamps, a modestly updated grille and bumper, and revisions to the daytime running lights.
There appear to be surprisingly few updates to the cabin, with Mitsubishi focusing mostly on improvements to its infotainment system. The touchscreen, for one thing, grows from 7 to 8 inches, adds real volume and tuning knobs and displays a new user interface. The touchpad that had taken space on the center console has been abandoned. The display also has been repositioned, a smart move with the switch to a touchscreen, making it easier for driver and passenger to reach it.
While Mitsubishi might be talking about “boosted road performance,” it isn’t getting that from under the hood. The 2022 Eclipse Cross retains the prior model’s 1.5-liter turbo-four which makes an acceptable, but decidedly not segment-leading, 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Both front and all-wheel drive versions are available, both pairing the turbo-four to a CVT gearbox.
Mitsubishi is trying to position itself as the center of excellence for small electrified vehicles as its role in the global Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. The 2022 SUV will, fittingly, be offered with a new plug-in hybrid option. Unfortunately, the PHEV won’t be offered in the U.S. market, at least not for now.
The reality is that the Japanese automaker’s previous battery-based models haven’t fared well here. Sales of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV have been weak and the company dropped its all-electric i-MiEV from the U.S. line-up fully three years before killing off that short-range battery-electric vehicle entirely.
We may eventually get the PHEV, however, some analysts are betting, as Mitsubishi will face the same, increasingly tough California emissions mandates as the rest of the industry.
Look for the 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross to arrive in U.S. showrooms during the first quarter of next year. Pricing hasn’t been revealed but in the current competitive environment, and with a lack of any major changes to the updated model, it’s likely to come in close to the current base price of $24,190.