Eclipse Cross

Mitsubishi hasn’t introduced a new vehicle in years. That is about to change with their sporty new crossover; and when your new SUV is named Eclipse Cross, you have to do something for the total solar eclipse.

So Mitsubishi is making plans to live-stream the eclipse from a prime viewing spot, and its new Eclipse Cross will be on hand, of course. The total solar eclipse will be the first to be seen from coast to coast in 99 years, but will only be visible in a narrow band of the country. If you’re not in that narrow band, and are willing to view the eclipse through a filter of marketing, Mitsubishi’s live-stream might be an option worth checking out.

The automaker secured a spot in Salem, Oregon, within the “Path of Totality,” the band of sky where the eclipse is expected to be visible. Mitsubishi will have three cameras on hand to capture the eclipse for the live-stream. It will also photograph the Eclipse Cross with the eclipse in the background, which should just about peg the pun meter. Mitsubishi’s live-stream begins at 9 a.m. Pacific on August 21, and can be viewed on the automaker’s Eclipse Cross webpage. The social media hashtag is #totaleclipsecross.

While Mitsubishi is using the natural phenomenon to promote it, the Eclipse Cross is named after a different kind of eclipse. The name is actually a reference to the old Mitsubishi Eclipse, a sporty car built from 1989 to 2011 that became a staple of the 1990s and early 2000s tuner culture, including some prominent appearances in the Fast and Furious franchise.

The Eclipse Cross shares nothing but a name with the Eclipse, which was sold as a coupe and convertible over its lifespan. Instead of emphasizing performance, Mitsubishi is trying to cash in on the booming SUV craze. It’s admittedly a smart move for an automaker that seems to have lost its way lately. Unveiled earlier this year at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the Eclipse Cross won’t hit U.S. showrooms for a few more months at least.

One big selling point for the Eclipse Cross is its standard all-wheel drive. Mitsubishi describes this as Super All-Wheel Control, the same name given to the clever torque-tweaking system it offered on the Lancer Evolution X. But the two systems are entirely unrelated: The Eclipse Cross’s is part-time with a clutch on the rear axle, and it can divert up to 45 percent of available torque rearward when slip is detected at the primary drive axle, which is the front one.

There will only be one engine and one transmission available. A turbocharged 1.5-liter gasoline inline-four, and a CVT with 8 gears that can be manually shifted. Other markets will have a diesel option, but that won’t make it to the States.

The novel element is a liftgate with two separate glass parts, allowing a raked roofline without encroaching on rear-seat practicality. This makes for a rear aspect reminiscent of the Toyota Prius or­—less flatteringly—the Pontiac Aztek. Although it looks as if visibility should be compromised, actual vision through the rearview mirror is barely diminished from what you’d find with a one-piece rear window.