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Owner review - 2018 Eclipse Cross 4 - First impressions June 2018

5111 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  ribuck
I picked up my car today, and drove it for five hours. Fifty percent on country roads, forty percent on motorway, and ten percent in towns. Generally I'm pleased with it.

The steering is precise and responsive. It has a lovely feel to it.

The engine is lively and willing. The fake "gears" change smoothly, and there is plenty of power for overtaking, with one exception. If I have been cruising at motorway speed (70 mph in the UK) and I want to speed up, there is a momentary hesitation while it decides to shift down. Of course there is the option of using the paddle shifters to shift down myself. These are comfortable to use, and interact smoothly and reliably with the engine. Alternatively, if you briefly floor the accelerator (past the detent), the transmission changes down immediately.

This is with "Eco" mode switched off. With "Eco" mode switched on, it feels a bit like you're driving through molasses. Amusingly, the S-AWC was set to "Snow" when I collected the vehicle, but I noticed that in the car yard and changed it to "Auto".

The front of the cabin is spacious and generally well laid out, although it's quite a reach from the driver's seat to the climate controls. The air conditioning works well, cooling the vehicle quickly without blowing a gale. As it was a warm sunny day, I shut down the air conditioning and opened the sunroof. Very nice at slower speeds. On the motorway there was no unpleasant buffeting of the air, but I could feel that the open sunroof was increasing the drag of the vehicle. On this drive I didn't have vehicles approaching my blind spot from behind on the left-hand-side, but I assume it will work as well as it does on the right.

The back seat is spacious enough, and the roof is just high enough for a six footer. But the headroom is obtained by reclining the back seat just a little more than normal for a rear seat. You can adjust the seatback angle, but if you make it more upright it may not suit a six footer anymore.

The luggage area is not very long but it's pretty high and wide so it feels spacious. If you lift the floor, there are some storage bins there (because there's just an inflation kit with this vehicle, so no spare tire under the luggage area floor). If you fold the rear seats forward, you increase the luggage space considerably, but the seats don't fold fully flat. There's hardly any lip at the bottom of the hatchback, so it's easy to load.

The external mirrors are huge and give a great view. So does the rear view mirror. The split rear windscreen is absolutely not a problem. With the driver's seat set how I like it, the main traffic view is out of the top rear window, and the bottom rear window provides extra visibility when reversing. I love the shape of the rear of the vehicle. The front of the vehicle is a little more angular than I would ideally like, but I think I'll quickly get used to it. The "blind spot traffic indicator" in the external mirrors works really well on the right-hand-side. It seems brighter in real life than it does on the videos that I've seen. It's just right, and the restrained chime if you indicate a lane change while there's traffic in the blind spot is just enough warning without overdoing it.

The keyless entry works well, but the little black button on the door handle feels cheap-and-nasty. I have driven a nine-year-old Toyota IQ which has a really nice touch sensor on the door handle. The little black button is not a problem; it's just not quite as classy as it could be.

The speed limiter works well. If you don't want to get speeding tickets, you set it to the speed limit (plus a bit more if you like). When you reach the set speed, the engine eases off. The brakes are not applied, so if you're going downhill and you exceed the set speed by more than a few mph it gives an audible warning. Driver override is intuitive: to go above the set speed you briefly press the accelerator to the floor (past the detent) then drive as normal until you eventually drop back down to the set speed again at which point the limiter takes over again. I haven't experimented much with the adaptive cruise control yet. Lane departure warning works as expected, and is reliable when the road markings are clear. It's smart enough to not bother you when you're driving deliberately, only if you absent-mindedly drift out of your lane.

The automatic stop-and-start works quite well, better than I was expecting. The engine re-starts faster than I can get my foot from the brake to the accelerator. But the engine hasn't quite settled enough to respond with maximum smoothness, and I'll probably end up turning off the stop-and-start feature. When I'm waiting at a roundabout and want to pull out into a small gap, I don't want to have to deal with possible hesitation from the engine as I pull out. For stop-start driving in a traffic queue, it works fine.

I was using Android Auto on my phone. When I start up the car, it gives me the message "Could not connect to USB device", but when I touch "OK", Android Auto is up-and-running. I have had this behaviour with every Android Auto car that I've used my phone with, so it's not an issue specific to the Eclipse Cross.

The touch pad doesn't work with Android Auto, but when I was going through all of the settings on the entertainment system I found that the touch pad was the fastest and most convenient way to do it. Unlike a computer trackpad, it distinguishes between a quick finger-flick and a slower finger-slide. The finger-flick always moves the pointer or the highlight exactly one item on the screen, which makes it very intuitive.

I love the head-up-display. It's crisp and bright (the brightness and height are adjustable), and the digital speed reading is very quick to read compared to glancing down at the speedometer. It's a pity the information is laid out differently from on the dashboard display, I would prefer the layout to be identical. Similarly, the buttons below the trackpad are laid out differently from the same buttons on either side of the touchscreen. Consistency would improve ease of use.

While I was driving along the motorway, another Eclipse Cross pulled up to wave hello. I guess the rear is so distinctive that people will easily recognize this model from far away.

The only add-on I bought was a set of Mitsi rubber floor and boot mats, since I will also be using this vehicle to take stuff to the tip, and to bring DIY supplies back from B&Q. They seem to be high quality mats, and they lock in place so they won't slide around.

That's all I have to report from my first day driving it.
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Great review and feedback of the EC which I think is far more valuable than what journalists typically put out.
Did you drive any other vehicles in the segment before getting in the Eclipse Cross? Curious how its get up and go compares to rival products. Living in a busy city I need all the overtaking power I can get.
Hi wasabi, it's difficult to give a good answer because I don't know how extreme your expectation of overtaking power is.

On the one hand, I've never before owned a car with such a lively, responsive engine as the Eclipse Cross. If you put your foot down, it's always willing to give whatever it can. The combination of engine and transmission feels better than any automatic I've driven before.

On the other hand, I'm never sure exactly how much the engine is going to be able to give me. There's a little bit of unpredictability: when will the transmission change down, and how long will it take for the torque to pick up (normally it's virtually instant, but not always, depending on the combination of road speed and "gear"). It's possible to mitigate this by using the left-hand paddle at the start of an overtaking manoeuver to (a) change down one "gear", and (b) stay in that gear for the duration of the manoeuver unless I tell it otherwise. But there's still a little bit of unpredictability: when will the turbo kick in, will it be after a tenth of a second or a quarter of a second? It doesn't sound like much to worry about, and it isn't for normal driving and normal overtaking, but it does mean you don't know your exact power availability in advance.

I also took a long test drive in a Toyota RAV4, which illustrates this difference perfectly. It had a 2.2 litre diesel with a six-speed manual transmission. It had loads of grunt to spare, even at low revs. It never felt like it was reaching its limits no matter how hard I drove it. But it didn't give up its power willingly. I had to work hard with the accelerator and the gearstick to coax the power out. Nevertheless, I always felt like I could get as much power as I needed, and I felt that I knew in advance exactly how the engine was going to respond for any combination of gear and accelerator.

Obviously the RAV4 is a bigger and more expensive vehicle, and not directly comparable in other ways (diesel vs petrol, manual vs CVT), but the difference in driving feel could hardly be greater. The Eclipse Cross is always willing to give its best, and often surprises me with just how good it is, whereas the RAV4 engine is powerful, solid, and reliable, but didn't feel so enthusiastic.

My driving situation doesn't involve a lot of overtaking. If it did, I'd give serious consideration to something like a Tesla with its ludicrous rapid acceleration. For my driving, so far the Eclipse Cross is not disappointing.
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Congrats on your purchase! I enjoyed reading your real world review. Most of what I have read by auto journalists have always complained about the performance being lackluster, MotorTrend especially. I find it to be very good for the vehicle and I as well have NO problems passing anyone. I very rarely have to rev the engine past 4k on the tach. The sweet spot in my opinion is between 2-4k rpm. Thanks for the review and enjoy your Eclipse!
Thanks for your kind comments.

Regarding the auto journalists, it's almost as if they're afraid they will lose their credibility if they say anything too nice about the engine of a car that has CVT.
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