What’s one of the first things you think of when you’re shopping for a car? We don’t know about you, but style, the way the car looks, is a major factor in our car buying decision making. This has made us notice something interesting: car brands with a history of safe, sometimes drab styling are reinventing their popular models with a dash of flair, while makers with a tendency towards the eccentric are starting to play it safe. Case in point: the 2022 Chevrolet Equinox vs 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.
Yes, it’s hard to believe that Mitsubishi is still a relevant brand in the American market, but there is a segment of buyers seeking a compact SUV with quirky looks and an affordable price tag. Only that’s not the case with Mitsubishi anymore. The Eclipse Cross is certainly among the more affordable smaller SUVs, but its design has done a 180. What was a quirky-looking crossover has become a rather standard-looking modern SUV.
The opposite has happened with the Equinox. What was a rather bland-looking crossover has transformed into a sporty, aggressive vehicle that really stands out from the crowd. Why is that? We won’t venture into hypotheticals, but we have a feeling it has to do with sales figures. The Equinox sits quite comfortably in the “Bestseller” category, with 165,000 units sold in 2021. By contrast, Mitsubishi only sold 9,000 of the Eclipse Cross. So Mitsubishi has decided to play it safe on the styling, and Chevrolet has decided to add some flair. We’ll examine the elements of the designs and how they differ from previous generations. We’ll also take a quick look at interior design and see what various trim levels have to offer in terms of comfort and looks.
Past Equinox Design
The previous iteration of the Chevrolet Equinox that came before the present model was sold between 2010 and 2018. It was far boxier, with cylindrical headlights, a massive V-shaped front grille, and an uninspiring rear end. The third generation brought about a redesign that captured a more angular stance, with squinted headlamps and a wider grille.
2022 has seen what industry insiders call a “mid-cycle refresh.” That means the generation isn’t finished, but it was determined that a slight makeover would do the model some good. 2022 sees the most aggressive Equinox to date, with narrow headlamps and a wider grille. Quad exhaust outlets in the back complete this sportier, more handsome aesthetic. And while it retains hints of generations past, it’s certainly not as suburban in feel as the second generation.
Past Eclipse Cross Design
Meanwhile, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has gone from unique and individual to standard and conforming. We honestly mistook the new, facelifted model for a Nissan. Launched in 2017, the Eclipse Cross was a unique blend of quirk and substance with long headlamps, a wide chrome grille, aerodynamic lines along the side, and a unique rear end that was composed of a long bar tail light that split the rear window in half. It honestly looked kind of cool.
Now, for 2022, the remodel looks like a standard SUV. The headlamps have been flattened to make way for a wider hood and blacked-out grille. Stare at it long enough, and it looks like the car is holding back a sneeze. The rear of the car, instead of the unique split rear window, is now a standard SUV. Visibility has improved dramatically, but it’s lost a lot of its charm. Mitsubishi calls this design “Dynamic Shield.” We’ll take their word for it.
Trim Level Exterior Design for Equinox
The 2022 Equinox comes in four trim levels: the LS, LT, RS, and Premier. The LS, the base model, comes with LED headlamps and a chrome strip across the grille. 17″ Bright Silver painted aluminum wheels complement the all-weather tires, brightening the dark wheel wells. Heading up to the LT gives you body-colored mirror caps, tinted rear glass, bright silver window trim, and your choice of the 17″ wheels found on the LS or the 18″ machined aluminum wheels available on the LT model. Roof rails are also available on the LT.
A new trim level for the 2022 Equinox is the RS. A sport-themed model, the RS comes with a blacked-out grille and surround, red RS badging, a black bowtie emblem, and a black Equinox label. Dark window trim and running boards are present, as are available black roof rails. Standard wheels on the RS are 19″ aluminum wheels painted in Dark Android.
Finally, the Premier trim sees the addition of fog lamps, body-colored power-folding mirrors, Bright Silver window trim, standard roof rails, and either 18″ machined aluminum wheels or 19″ wheels painted in Charcoal.
Trim Level Exterior Design for Eclipse Cross
The Eclipse Cross comes in six different trim levels: the ES, LE, SE, SE Package, SEL, and SEL Touring. The ES is the base model and comes pretty well stocked with Mitsubishi’s new styling elements. It has two-tone 16″ alloy wheels, body-colored front and rear bumpers, LED exterior lighting, and a rear spoiler. The LE sees an upgrade to 18″ alloy wheels and black side mirrors.
The SE gets you 18″ two-tone wheels, body-colored side mirrors, automatic headlights, and body-colored front and rear bumpers. Finally, the SE Package, SEL, and SEL Touring have absolutely no exterior difference from the SE trim, save for the availability of different paint colors. The changes on these models are all to do with the interior.
Inside the Equinox
The interior on the Equinox is a blend of sport and refinement, with a three-spoke steering wheel anchoring a very sensible dashboard. Audio, phone, and cruise control settings can all be operated via the steering wheel buttons, while a standard 7″ full-color touch screen dominates the center console and runs the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system.
Starting with interior features on the LS, you get Medium Ash Gray premium cloth front bucket seats, a 60/40 folding bench seat in the rear, single-zone air conditioning, and cruise control. The LT adds a Jet Black cloth seating option, along with an 8-way power-adjustable driver seat with 2-way lumbar support.
The interior in the RS is by far the most intense, with the availability of Jet Black cloth or leather seating with red stitching and RS logos embossed into the front headrests. Dual-zone climate control is standard, as is the 8-way power-adjustable driver seat with power lumbar support. The Premier is the top trim in terms of interior comfort, with Jet Black or Jet Black/Maple Sugar leather seats, an 8″ HD digital infotainment touch screen, and a 120-volt power outlet on the rear of the center console. Overall, it’s a nice place to be.
Inside the Eclipse Cross
Mitsubishi does not show its lower price point when it comes to the base ES interior. The standard interior comes with a three-spoke steering wheel integrated with audio controls, fabric seating, a silver trimmed dashboard, a 60/40 rear folding seat, a center console information display, and a silver instrument panel. The LE trim sees no difference in interior comfort beyond slightly increasing the size of the infotainment display.
The SE and SE Package, however, see upgrades to the driver’s seat with 8-way power adjustments, a leather-wrapped gear shifter, chrome door handles, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and synthetic suede seating. The top-of-the-line SEL and SEL Touring trims see both the driver and passengers seats heated with 8-way power adjustments, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, chrome door handles, door panel illumination, leather seating, and a black headliner and pillars.
With the Eclipse Cross being as affordable as it is, the amount of comfort you get for your money is really quite impressive.
Styling Is Always Important
We see that exterior styling is a matter of time and can be affected by sales figures. The tried and true styling of the Equinox has set it apart from the formerly quirky nature of the Eclipse Cross. While we don’t see the Equinox dropping off the top of the sales chart anytime soon, hopefully, Mitsubishi’s attempt at conformity will pay off, and consumers will remember the brand exists. Not to get down on the Eclipse Cross, but Mitsubishi is going to need to do a lot more than a mild redesign and selective interior offerings in order to stay competitive. They could take a note from Chevy on creative styling and comfortable interiors with excellent comfort options and onboard tech. That’s our take, anyway.