Two Mitsubishi Models Pushing the Brand Forward in 2020?

2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL 

The Mitsubishi Eclipse has been around since the late 80’s. A 1993 non-turbo version was my very first car. Well, it was an Eagle Talon, but same difference. It looked great, drove great and came with a 2.0L turbo engine called the 4G63 that was nearly indestructible. A two-door sports car with limitless potential for performance and cosmetic upgrading. So popular in the aftermarket arena that the first Fast and Furious movie put Paul Walker in one painted lime green. Then made him lose to Vin Diesels beautiful Veilside FD3S.

Today, the Mitsubishi Eclipse is barely recognizable as an Eclipse at all. Having distanced itself from its roots to appeal to a wider range of practical consumers. Now, we have a 4-door crossover SUV. A semi-sporty design remains, along with other hints at its performance focused past. The engine is still turbocharged, but with only 1.5L of displacement and lots of added heft, acceleration is sluggish. Despite multiple stabilizer bars and a multi-link suspension, handling is soft and unprecise, with plenty of body-roll. 

On the inside, you’ll find legroom in the back to be on the tight side for adults. A Touring package will add a panoramic sunroof and heated rear seats and steering wheel to go with the heated front seats. A few driving and safety aides come with the Touring package as well. Though it would be nice to see things like adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection as standard features. This unrecognizable Eclipse may be a nice addition to the Mitsubishi line-up, but I can’t help but wish it didn’t wear the Eclipse nameplate at all, and was simply called something else. It really is nothing like the original. It’s a crossover now. And as a crossover, it’s trailing most of the competition.

Image via: Mitsubishi

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 

In print, the new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV can’t help but impress. With plenty of standard features and an mpg rating that would leave most dreaming of new and imaginative ways to spend all the money they’re going to save at the pump. It has a sophisticated hybrid gas/electric engine and a pair of electric motors. This is good for 75 mpg combined or 25 when running on gas only. 

It would seem that the PHEV is set for success. Not many feature packed, spacious plug-in hybrids exist yet. So, the market is primed for a really good one. Yet, when driving the PHEV, I couldn’t feel the excitement of a boundary-breaking new vehicle. It doesn’t even feel as solid as an SUV should. The gas tank is small, making road-trips a tedious task when only getting 25 mpg and needing to stop every few hours. Definitely a car designed to be used around town the majority of the time. Everything felt ok, but not great. It looks ok. Interior layout and design is just ok. Seats are an ok amount of comfortable. In general, a somewhat forgettable experience. 

I know Mitsubishi has been an underdog lately. Struggling to regain buyer confidence in the U.S. market. The 2020 Outlander PHEV is its most ambitious move as of late. The bones to be great are there, and the hybrid technology is impressive, on paper. But in real life, the PHEV feels plain and unremarkable. Mitsubishi will have to wow us with stronger exterior designs and more compelling interiors if it wants to regain a reputation as a serious auto manufacturer worthy of our consideration.

Image via: Mitsubishi

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