In times of flood and tempest, it’s a fair call to have an all-wheel drive vehicle, perhaps a Sports Utility Vehicle.
So it came to pass that through that last decent patch of rains and high tides, we were out and about in Mitsubishi’s Eclipse Cross LS with Super All Wheel Control, a coupe-styled SUV which first appeared in late 2017 to slot in between the ASX and the Outlander wagon.
It has been given a touch-up here and there since then, plus Mitsubishi’s uber-confident 10-year warranty has been added to make this a more attractive proposition among the swollen ranks of small to medium SUVs.
And while there are some who still scoff at SUVs, there are times when a higher-riding, all-wheel drive machine with practical interior makes a deal of sense – especially when highways are cut, potholes are deep and back road culverts are running.
(It has to be said, at the risk of sounding like a cowboy, that authorities are over-cautious these days when it comes to closing a wet road; then again, there are many among us who couldn’t drive a vehicle through a spilt ice-cream without getting into strife.)
Anyway, the Mitsubishi was a confident and quite comfortable machine for conditions from long freeway hauls to wet farm roads; from forever-and-a-day queues at roadworks to tip-toeing through floodways.
The Eclipse was never that sporting in its performance but always willing in ordinary road conditions and weather.
It runs a 110kW, turbocharged 1.5 litre engine, mated up to a Constantly Variable Transmission with eight “steps” which can be run through with paddle shifters on the steering column. Shifting manually can be useful for more punch in some circumstances but for most folk the Eclipse Cross is quick and smooth enough left to its own devices.
Likewise, the S-AWC system with different drive modes available – Normal, Snow or Gravel which change some engine and drive characteristics to suit surface conditions – works pretty well when left alone.
So, sit back and drive. It’s a pretty roomy cabin with good visibility, plus rear view camera, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, and forward crash mitigation to aid driver awareness.
The interior has tidy ergonomics with good room for four adults and a decent driver’s set-up. The 8-inch touch screen for infotainment works fine, though over a long trip burger juice-stained fingers can be problematic for changing apps, radio stations or phone calls.
It’s a comfortable enough interior with plush pretences.
Steering feel is light and general handling good and benign, while the five-door suspension, with light load aboard, coped well with all road conditions and speeds.
It’s a relaxed sort of machine all round with the factory’s estimated 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres about right.
The Eclipse Cross sits on 18-inch wheels with a reasonable amount of individuality to its style. The rear hatch and profile are stylish enough; the Mitsubishi front end perhaps a little too try-hard.
Prices start at $30,490 drive away with the all-wheel drive LS version – the one you’d want when there’s a raging tempest – $36,990.