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Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Fresh metal from Mitsubishi has been a bit thin on the ground in recent years, so when the new Eclipse Cross surfaced recently it was a good opportunity to see if they had been occupying their time constructively.

Of course the Eclipse Cross is an SUV, like just about everything else new on sale these days. According to Mitsubishi it slots right in between their ASX and Outlander SUVs. On this basis you could describe it as a small-mid-sized vehicle. At launch in Hobart on the scorching Australia Day weekend there were two equipment grades, LS and Exceed, both fitted with a new 1.5L turbo petrol engine delivering a respectable 110kW and 250Nm from 2000rpm. A stepped 8-speed CVT auto is standard across both models, as is 2WD. Exceed can also be specified with switchable-mode AWD. It's likely we will see a cheaper ES entry-level model later in the year if your budget is a little lower.

Externally the Eclipse Cross flags a new design direction from Mitsubishi. It's unmistakably different from the crowd. The side profile is a wedge shape, with deep contours up the sides and a double window tailgate with a full width reflector/LED brakelight splitting the rear glass. Inside, the Exceed has leather trim, colour heads-up display (HUD), and the driver's seat has full electric adjustment (LS is manual), but lacks a memory setting. Exceed front seats are also heated.

All models get 7" touchscreen functionality. Audio and apps can also be accessed via a touchpad controller, which I've never been a huge fan of, but I'll reserve my view until I have some more time in the vehicle. Full bluetooth, Apple/Android phone integration and two USB ports round out connectivity. Keyless entry and start and an electric park brake are also standard in both models. The second row has two ISOFIX mountings and 60/40 split fold with slide and recline function, allowing you to strike the right balance between rear passenger legroom and luggage space. 18" alloys are also standard on both models.

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Safety in both models is well looked after and ANCAP has awarded the Eclipse Cross 5 stars. Each grade gets seven airbags, forward collision mitigation (AEB), lane departure warning, auto high-beam assist, reversing camera, auto wipers and headlights. Exceed adds adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, around view monitor and a system called Ultrasonic Mis-acceleration Mitigation System (UMS), which prevents or mitigates crashes when pressing the accelerator rather than the brake when stopped or at low speed. I'm not sure how I can test that one!

LS is an extremely well specified model that only misses out on a handful of features available in the Exceed. Omissions are LED headlights, HUD, dual-zone climate control, sunroof, around-view monitor, heated leather trim seats and the previously mentioned additional safety features.

Warranty is five years/100,000km, and the first three years' scheduled servicing will cost $1100. LS kicks off at $30,500, Exceed 2WD is $36,000 with AWD adding a further $2500 (plus on-road costs).

I'm keeping this one a little longer than usual so will get a feel for living with an Eclipse Cross for a while. Look out for part two of Darren's review in the June/July edition of Journeys.