First of all, this review is for the ES model. It has some very important differences from all the other models. It's the basic model with a manual hand brake and 16" wheels. All other models have the electric emergency brake and 18" wheels. This is important to remember because all of the "expert" reviews I have watched or read always test the more expensive models. Having 18" rims with tires that equal rubber bands negatively effects ride quality and all off-road capability.
If you're going to use this little crossover for anything other than maintained gravel roads or just getting to work in deep snow, you should most likely get the ES. My Eclipse Cross with 215/75/16 Yokohama Geolandar A/T tires have enough sidewall to actually conform to rough terrain and soften out the bumps.
Being a devoted Subaru fanboy, I really had my doubts about the AWD in this Mitsubishi. But I am truly impressed with it's capability. My wife and I have taken this thing where, in all honesty, we should have had a true 4WD with a rear locker. Even up on 3 wheels it still keeps going. Remember, I have all terrain tires that I can air down for more traction. An Eclipse Cross with 18" wheels and all weather radials would never dream of following us.
You CANNOT get an Eclipse Cross with the electric E-brake and put anything smaller than 17" wheels on it! Smaller diameter wheels won't clear the E-brake mechanism.
Fuel mileage: Highway mileage is not all that impressive. In Eco mode, barely touching the accelerator, I can squeeze 29.8 mpg out of it. What's nice though is back rough roads and trails where were always in a low gear ratio I still get over 26.
I find the motor to be zippy and the power more than enough. It's very comparable to our 07 2.5 Automatic Impreza. You won't blow anybody's mind with speed, but it will pass the people in the slow lane safely, even up hill
So, why only 4 stars? It's because of the cvt transmission. It's the same brand used in Nissan and other cars. They're definitely not known for longevity. That being said, for some reason Mitsubishi hasn't had the problems with them others have. There are many Outlanders out there approaching 200k on an original cvt which is the same one used in the Eclipse Cross. Fingers crossed! Hopefully this transmission won't turn out to be a pile of crap.
I would definitely recommend this car to someone who understands what is is. It's NOT a sports car, a rock crawler, or something you want to tow with. If you want something with unique styling, more power than other compact cuvs that you can take camping and have some fun doing some mild off-roading (better known as soft roading) then get one. Just keep in mind what I mentioned about what makes the ES model unique.