Hyundai, Ford and Mitsubishi’s New Crossovers
Take a closer look at each model.
By Cherise Threewitt, Contributor, Car-ED.com | June 2018
The crossover market is currently booming, which means that there are a lot of new entries to the segment. The Hyundai Kona and Ford EcoSport have generated a lot of interest, and the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross may have the opportunity to generate new buzz for the brand. We had the opportunity to test these three new crossovers at the Midwest Automotive Media Association annual Spring Rally, which took place in May at Road America. These vehicles were approved only for street use, so our driving impressions better reflect real-world driving conditions than if we had tested them on the track, though we were only able to spend a short time with each vehicle.
2018 Ford EcoSport
According to Ford, the “Eco” in the all-new “EcoSport” is actually pronounced “echo.” Knowing that, this vehicle makes a bit more sense, since it isn’t actually as efficient as the word “eco” would imply. That said, we made our most of our chance with the EcoSport to see how it fared against other crossovers making their debut. Ford brought us an EcoSport in top-of-the-line Titanium trim, which has a ton of features. The interior was a mixed bag. We thought the seating was comfortable and easy to adjust, and the Titanium model’s standard leather upholstery is nice. The steering wheel is padded and comfortable, but the door and dash materials are hard. The infotainment system is okay, but we’re not crazy about the placement of the display, which sticks straight up out of the dash. Front visibility is good, although the weird windows on the doors near the front pillars give the vehicle a dated look.
The EcoSport is competent, but it definitely does not feel sporty. Acceleration is okay, but steering and handling could be a little sharper. There’s a lot of play in the steering wheel, which means that it doesn’t respond quickly to the course you want. This isn’t a bad crossover, but it would be better if the name was more accurate.
The 2018 Ford EcoSport starts at $19,995. Titanium models start at $25,880.
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is all new for the 2018 model year, and this was our first look at the compact SUV. It’s certainly modest in aspirations, offering up just 152 horsepower from its turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. This is just barely acceptable for a compact car, never mind a much larger and heavier crossover. The interior is functional and fine. The exterior styling is polarizing, but whether you like or dislike it, there are functional considerations. The spoiler across the window actually impedes visibility, which got increasingly annoying over the course of the drive.
That said, the Eclipse Cross provides a smooth enough driving experience, and maybe some customers won’t mind the mediocre acceleration. It’s easy enough to hit or exceed the speed limit. The steering is the larger issue. It’s one of those vehicles where you can turn the wheel a considerable amount while the front wheels pull you off into the distance in a more or less straight path. In other words, if you actually want to turn, pass, or dodge an obstacle, you’ll have to crank the steering wheel considerably more than you expect, and the steering effort doesn’t feel at all proportionate to the result.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross starts at $23,295.
2018 Hyundai Kona
The Hyundai Kona, a subcompact crossover that is new to market for 2018, appeared at the rally decked out in top-tier Ultimate trim with all-wheel drive. We immediately loved its sporty looks and styling. The cabin of our test vehicle featured metallic lime green accents around the dashboard and controls, which could be kind of polarizing but actually seemed to suit the vehicle quite well. The interior is super comfortable with great front visibility and for the most part, the tech functions were easy to reach and use. The Kona Ultimate does come with a head-up display, and our main gripe is that the traffic sign recognition feature does not work all that well, tending to either misinterpret signs or miss them entirely. That is typical of our experience with this emerging technology across the board and is not unique to Hyundai or the Kona.
Handling is fantastic, particularly for a crossover, and feels like a good match for the responsive engine; together, handling and acceleration just work well. We drove the Kona after the EcoSport, and it feels lower to the ground and overall a bit more athletic than the EcoSport, making it one of our favorite vehicles of the day.
The 2018 Hyundai Kona starts at $19,500, but the Ultimate trim checks in at around $27,400.
Of these three vehicles, the Hyundai Kona was our favorite in most key areas: styling, comfort, and overall driving experience. We believe the Kona, for most shoppers, is the best choice of these newcomers to the segment and that it holds its own against more established crossover models. Keep an eye out for a longer and more thorough review of the Hyundai Kona in the coming months.
The well-rounded Ford EcoSport is a viable alternative to the Kona. As for the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, we believe this vehicle represents a solid effort. Time will tell if the Eclipse Cross can help salvage Mitsubishi’s reputation for poor reliability.