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2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross vs. 2021 Mazda CX-5: Which Is Better?

The distinctive-looking 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross takes on the sharp-handling 2021 Mazda CX-5, with both offering optional all-wheel drive. But which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Mazda’s optional turbo makes 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque.
  • Both offer front-wheel or all-wheel drive
  • Eclipse Cross will be redesigned for the 2022 model year.

2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Base price: $24,335 /  Read our 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross review

What we like: Great warranty; optional all-wheel drive; smooth engine

What we would change: Rear visibility is poor; there’s only one engine/transmission choice; rear legroom is tight

Overview: The compact Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross comes into the 2020 model year unchanged, with a full redesign on the horizon for the 2022 model year. The single engine choice is a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder, but its low-end torque provides enough oomph to get the Eclipse Cross around. Combine that with confident steering and a short wheelbase and the Eclipse Cross makes for a nice city vehicle. One demerit, however, is that its sloped roof and high beltline make for somewhat limited visibility, although the SEL trim offers an optional rear camera. That sloped roof also cuts into cargo space. Inside the Eclipse Cross is comfortable, with plenty of options that include a panoramic sunroof, heated rear seats, and an optional upgraded infotainment system. Standard features include a 7-inch audio screen and a front USB port, although Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available until you reach a higher trim. Some driver aids that are fairly standard nowadays are also not available until you reach the higher trim levels. Resale values have not typically been strong for the Eclipse Cross, but it comes with an outstanding 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

What’s new for 2021: With the Eclipse Cross facing a redesign for the 2022 model year, Mitsubishi skipped the 2021 model year entirely, simply continuing to offer the 2020 version. We’re hoping for better rear visibility and more driver-assist and safety features across all trims.

Features and technology: Every 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which sends power to the front wheels via a CVT. All-wheel drive is optional on all four trim levels, however. The base ES trim comes with automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 7-inch audio screen, power windows, 16-inch wheels, and a front USB port. The next step up LE adds 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto as well as Sirius/XM satellite radio.

The SE brings in safety features such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and a blind-spot warning system. It also includes chrome grille accents, nicer seat fabric, push-button start, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The top level SEL gets paddle shifters, LED headlights, leather seats, an 8-way power-adjustable driver seat, and a head-up display. A Touring package can also be added to the SEL which includes a power panoramic sunroof, an upgrade Rockford Fosgate audio system, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and roof rails.

What does the future hold: Mitsubishi is introducing a redesigned Eclipse Cross for the 2022 model year. Find a 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross for sale 

2021 Mazda CX-5

2021 Mazda CX-5

Base price: $26,370 / Read our 2021 Mazda CX-5 review

What we like: Sharp styling; lots of standard equipment; fun to drive; available turbocharged engine

What we would change: Simplify the infotainment system; ride quality can be bumpy; rear quarters can be tight

Overview: From the same company that brought you the Miata, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 is one of the sportiest compact crossovers around, with great steering and good balance that make it a blast to drive. Well built and reliable, the CX-5 has enough premium touches to make it feel like a luxurious model, and it’s well equipped right out of the gate. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder has plenty of power to keep it moving, and the steering is precise, aided by a sophisticated torque-vectoring system. With the optional 2.5-liter turbo, the CX-5 can feel seriously quick. The interior of the CX-5 is comfortable, with lots of soft-touch surfaces and a 10.25-inch screen that can be operated either by touch or via a rotary controller, although it requires a bit of a learning curve. Standard features include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, two USB ports, and push-button start as well as a number of safety features. All models are also eligible for all-wheel drive. Cargo space is respectable, with 30.9 cubic feet behind the second row that expands to 59.6 with all the seats folded. Resale values are expected to be strong.

What’s new for 2021: The most significant change to the CX-5 for 2021 is that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto become standard on all trims, and the infotainment system uses a 10.25-inch center display. Off-road braking assist becomes standard, as does Mazda Connected Services (such things as remote start or remote locking). The Signature trim now includes a 360-degree monitor and smart rear braking, and there is a new Carbon Edition trim based on the Touring Preferred.

Features and technology: With two engine choices and front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 comes in seven trim levels. The base Sport is well equipped, however, with the new 10.25-inch center display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, two USB ports, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a push-button starter. If ordered with all-wheel drive, it also gets Off-Road Traction Assist, which automatically brakes individual wheels to keep the CX-5 steady in slippery conditions. Safety features also include smart cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.

The next trim up, Touring, adds dual-zone automatic climate control, a 6-speaker stereo, rear air-conditioning vents, and a pair of rear USB ports. The Touring Preferred adds leather upholstery, a power moonroof, power front seats, and a 10-speaker Bose audio system. Based on the Touring Preferred is the new Carbon Edition, similarly equipped but with Polymetal Gray paint, black 19-inch alloy wheels, and an interior with red leather seats and black trim. The Carbon Edition also gets the option of the 2.5-liter turbo engine.

Next up is the Grand Touring model, which includes a 10-speaker Bose audio system, paddle shifters, leather all around, satellite radio, and 7-inch digital gauges. It’s powered by the base engine, while the Grand Touring Reserve is the same but with the 2.5-liter turbo. The top trim, Signature, has Nappa leather seats, wood trim, smart rear braking, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a 360-degree surround-view camera.

What does the future hold: There is much to like about the CX-5, but we would like to see a more intuitive infotainment system and a somewhat smoother ride. Find a 2021 Mazda CX-5 for sale near you

Eclipse Cross vs. CX-5: Strengths comparison

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Benefits: Lower starting price; ride quality; much better warranty.

Mazda CX-5 Benefits: Choice of engines; cargo space; power; more standard safety tech; higher resale value.

2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross vs. 2021 Mazda CX-5: Which is better?

There are things to like about both the 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and the 2021 Mazda CX-5. However, there is no question that the Mazda CX-5 is the better vehicle. It has more cargo space, more power, and a choice of  engines. It’s much more fun to drive, and it has a more luxurious and comfortable interior. It’s the clear winner. Find a 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross for sale near you or Find a 2021 Mazda CX-5 for sale near you

2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2021 Mazda CX-5
Popular Powertrains
Engine 1.5-liter turbo I4 2.5-liter I4
Horsepower 152 hp @ 5,500 rpm 187 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 184 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm 186 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Transmission CVT 6-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 27 mpg (26 city/29 highway) 28 mpg (25 city/31 highway)
Also Available n/a 2.5-liter I4, turbocharged
Basic warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 10 years/100,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 Stars 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 105.1 inches 106.2 inches
Overall Length 173.4 inches 179.1 inches
Width 71.1 inches 72.5/83.3 inches
Height 66.3 inches 65.4 inches
Turning Diameter 35.0 feet 36.0 feet
Headroom, Front 39.5 inches 39.7 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.3 inches 39.0 inches
Legroom, Front 40.9 inches 41.0 inches
Legroom, Rear 35.3 inches 39.6 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.2 inches 57.1 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.1 inches 54.8 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 94.6 cubic feet 103.6 cubic feet
EPA Cargo Volume 48.9 cubic feet 59.6 cubic feet

Doug Lloyd
Doug Lloyd
Doug Lloyd is an author specializing in comparison tests. A veteran of the automotive press world, Doug started at Sports Car International and Vintage Motorsport magazines and has worked at both Porsche Panorama magazine and Doug is also a jazz piano player and a composer for television.

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