Two Quirky Newcomers Measured Against Each Other
It’s crossover fest at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, and this year, every size and need is represented. Two newcomers join the growing small crossover segment in the North America, the 2018 Hyundai Kona and the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. The Hyundai rides on a new platform derived from the Elantra compact car, and the Mitsubishi is the Japanese automaker’s first all-new product in a long time.
Segment comparison tests won’t happen for some time, but the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show gave us some time to take a look at the 2018 Kona and 2018 Eclipse Cross up close and personal.
Neither the 2018 Hyundai Kona or the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross look conventional, and they have design cues that some might find a little bit cringe-worthy. Regardless of which one you’re driving, you’re guaranteed to get some kind of reaction as you drive by.
Slotting in below the Tucson as the new entry-level crossover in Hyundai’s lineup, the Kona looks nothing like its larger siblings. Perhaps the most distinctive part of the Kona is its front fascia, which is aggressive. Flanking Hyundai’s new cascading grille are headlight clusters positioned in the middle with LED strips above it. Foglights are positioned lower and in the center just below the grille, giving the Kona its distinctive mug. Another feature that gives the Kona its identity is its body cladding, which wraps around the headlights up front, and the reversing lights in the rear, which add another layer of oddness to the mix.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, on the other hand, splits the difference between the Outlander and Outlander Sport, so it is slightly larger than the Kona. Its exterior, however, is no wallflower, thanks to its new dynamic shield grille and massive foglight housings. Out back is where things get really funky because its rear window is split, thanks to its taillight that bisects the two glass panels. Its greenhouse, on the other hand, is more upright, giving it a more utilitarian appearance.
Interior and Tech
Inside the 2018 Hyundai Kona’s cabin, you’ll find a minimalist interior featuring a freestanding touchscreen like in the Elantra GT hatchback. Where the Kona distinguishes itself is in the way it spices things up with splashes of color—provided you get the lime green exterior. That gets you contrasting lime green accent stitching and piping on the seats, dashboard, and center console. In the case you get another exterior, you lose the cool lime green inserts, which makes the Kona’s interior a little more conservative.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross tries to go upscale with its interior layout that also features a freestanding screen. However, you’re only way of interacting with it is via the Lexus-style touchpad controls, which can be more distracting than it appears to be when you’re driving. Like the Kona, the rest of the Eclipse Cross’ interior leans more toward the conservative side, and there’s no way to spice things up with bright colors like in the Hyundai, save for some metallic accents.
More similarities can be found under the hood where both the 2018 Hyundai Kona and 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross feature a downsized turbocharged engine and offer all-wheel drive. The Kona differs in that it also offers a base 147-hp 2.0-liter I-4 paired to a six-speed automatic, which should offer good fuel economy. Should you need more grunt, a version of Hyundai’s ubiquitous 1.6-liter turbo-four will be available rated at 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque in this application, and it’s paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The 2018 Eclipse Cross, on the other hand, is only offered with a 1.5-liter turbo-four rated at 152 hp and 184 lb-ft and coupled to a CVT. This is the first all-new Mitsubishi engine in many years, and it incorporates many fuel saving technologies such as direct fuel injection and sodium-filled exhaust valves to improve performance and efficiency. Like most modern turbocharged engines, the 1.5-liter unit in the Eclipse Cross is tuned to make a lot of low- to midrange torque.
We’ve yet to test the 2018 Kona and 2018 Eclipse Cross, but we expect the Kona with the base 147-hp 2.0-liter I-4 to be the least performance-oriented of the two, especially in front-drive guise because Hyundai has made the fully independent suspension setup to the all-wheel-drive variant. The turbocharged Kona, on the other hand, could be the quicker one because it has more horsepower and torque than the Eclipse Cross, and it’s the smaller of the two, which could also mean it’s lighter.
The 2018 Hyundai Kona and 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross go on sale around the same time in March 2018.