The Mitsubishi Galant brings value, styling and competence to the mid-size sedan market. That's no small feat when competing against superb sedans such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Altima. The Galant is enjoyable to drive and offers all the benefits of the other cars in this class. There's a lot to like about it and including it in your shopping list makes good sense.
In the past, Mitsubishi has played around the edges of the mainstream market, offering products best known for their quirks and eccentricities. But that changed with the introduction of this all-new, larger, and greatly improved Galant.
The Galant does everything well. It rides comfortably and quietly and offers responsive handling. Its optional V6 provides ample power for passing, and its automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Its cabin is roomy and comfortable. We'll let you decide on the styling. It is distinctive.
This newest generation of the Galant was launched as a 2004 model. Safety is enhanced in the 2005 Mitsubishi Galant with seat-mounted, side-impact airbags now standard on all models.
The Mitsubishi Galant is no compact, it's a mid-size car. Entirely new for 2004, this Galant is significantly larger than the previous-generation model. Nearly 5 inches was added to the wheelbase, 3 inches to the overall length and 4 inches to the width.
The Galant makes a strong styling statement. Not everyone agrees on the success of the design, but there's no disputing it's fresh and different. Head on, the Galant brings to mind the Mitsubishi Endeavor and Outlook SUVs. A dominating, vertical bar splits the grille, the outboard ends of which bend upward as if it's grinning. Sculpted headlight housings cover the forward edges of the front fenders. A strong, fully integrated, one-piece bumper and lower fascia with inset fog lights complete the presentation.
The profile of the Galant avoids the traditional box-on-box look commonly associated with conservative mid-size sedans. The roofline picks up from the graceful sweep of the hood and arcs cleanly over perfectly proportioned side windows. Door handles are perfect matches of each other with easy-to-grasp, full-round pulls. Wheel arches are mildly blistered and circular, wrapping concentrically around the tires. The deck lid seems truncated, as if it were abruptly chopped off when somebody realized it was getting too long to stay in balance with the front overhang. The aerodynamicists argue this works well in a wind tunnel, but on the street, it's a bit of a visual hiccup.
The view from the rear is something else, almost as if different people designed the two ends of the car. Where the front is soft and molded, the back is angular and carved, tending much more toward the vertical. Adding to the awkward, not-quite-finished look, the license plate hangs off the lower edge of the rear bumper, almost as if it were an afterthought. The GTS presents a more finished rear departure than the other models, with its nicely tailored, understated spoiler lip along the trailing edge of the trunk lid; and its modular-style taillight assemblies.
The Galant has a roomy, comfortable interior. The seats are supportive without being overly firm. The GTS seats seem to offer a bit more support because of the leather upholstery. Also, the LS and GTS offer more adjustments. A dead pedal is positioned on the same plane as the accelerator, giving the driver a place to brace the left leg when cornering or for reduced strain on long trips.
Galant matches the generous front legroom in the Honda Accord, but Accord offers about a half-inch more headroom with a sunroof, and nearly an inch more without. Taller people should think twice about ordering the sunroof, as it reduces front headroom by 2 inches. Otherwise, interior roominess is comparable to that of the Chevrolet Malibu and Nissan Altima, placing it among the roomiest sedans in the class. Visibility is good all around, notably to the rear quarters, thanks to slim C-pillars. The high beltline gives passengers a secure feeling.
Controls are right-sized and easy to use, with knobs and buttons and rocker switches galore. The HVAC (heater) knobs are big and easy to operate even with gloves on. The A/C indicator is hard to see in bright sunlight, however. At night the instruments are cobalt blue on black.
Quality of materials is hit and miss, with the climate control and audio panel a big hit, making the rest more of a miss than it'd otherwise be. The dash has a clinical look, friendly to the eyes but cold and austere in presence. Geometric shapes and angles in the steering wheel spokes don't mesh well with the slopes, arcs and arches of the gauge cluster. The interior of the basic DE model is quite plain, of course, while the GTS features new Blackwood trim for a richer look. The standard steering wheel doesn't feel like a high-quality piece; a nicer leather-wrapped wheel comes with the Diamond Package and GTS. Each door has a storage pocket. Two medium-size cup holders are molded into the front center console rearward of the shift gate; where dust, dirt and spilled liquids are likely to require regular wipe-ups.
The rear seat is reasonably roomy and adequate, though the seating position is a bit low and the bottom cushions could offer a bit more thigh support. Rear-seat passengers enjoy decent headroom in spite of the Galant's dramatically sloping roofline.
The Galant's trunk is slightly smaller than Accord's, and its trunk opening is a bit restricted. Galant's rear seats cannot be folded down to extend the cargo space, a significant omission in this segment.
The Mitsubishi Galant delivers a smooth, quiet ride, thanks largely to its stiff platform, wide stance and long wheelbase. Minimal noise leaks into the cabin, just a slight rumble from the tires and a discernible whistle from the exterior mirrors at highway speeds.
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine in the DE and ES features Mitsubishi's Innovative Valve timing and lift Electronic Control (MIVEC), which switches between two different cam profiles for optimum power, response, and efficiency at high and low engine speeds. The Galant four-cylinder develops 160 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 157 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm, competitive figures for the class.
The V6 makes freeway merging easy. Passes on two-lane roads are completed without drama. The V6 is rated 230 horsepower and, more important, 250 pound-feet of torque, a substantial figure; torque is that force that propels the car from intersections and up hills.
The four-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, although it does hunt a bit in hilly territory. With the Sportronic feature, it shifts automatically in normal mode, but can be switched into a semi-manual mode for more control; it will not shift up or down automatically when in the manual mode, giving the driver full control over shifting.
For its size and heft, the Galant feels decently planted on all but the most twisting roads. The GTS model's suspension feels firm. The DE/ES/LS suspension is softer, allowing the car to move around a little more when driven hard.
V6 models come standard with electronic traction control, which can selectively apply the brakes at one or more wheels and/or reduce engine power to control wheel spin on uncertain surfaces.
Brake feel is solid and reassuring, but the Galant is no lightweight. Anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution is standard on the V6-powered LS and GTS, optional on ES. EBD proportions braking pressure between the front and rear wheels depending on how the car is loaded, and changes pressure dynamically as weight shifts forward under hard braking. The idea is to send the brake pressure to the wheels with the most weight on them, which is where it can do the most good. This gives the Galant stable braking performance.
The Mitsubishi Galant represents a viable alternative among mid-size sedans. It does everything reasonably well and is enjoyable to drive. Compare prices to the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and other cars in its class.
New Car Test Drive correspondent Tom Lankard filed this report from San Francisco; editor Mitch McCullough contributed to this report.
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2012 Mitsubishi Galant$11,500 | 59,539 mi
2012 Mitsubishi Galant$12,501 | 56,443 mi
2012 Mitsubishi Galant$12,888 | 61,325 mi
2012 MITSUBISHI GALANT$13,987 | 45,673 mi
2012 Mitsubishi Galant$14,451 | 35,652 mi
2012 Mitsubishi Galant$14,999 | 42,643 mi
2012 Mitsubishi Galant$14,999 | 33,746 mi
2012 Mitsubishi Galant$14,999 | 39,427 mi
2012 Mitsubishi Galant$15,499 | 28,958 mi
2012 Mitsubishi Galant$15,999 | 49,183 mi
2011 Mitsubishi Galant$12,000 | 71,582 mi
2011 Mitsubishi Galant$13,915 | 42,259 mi
2011 Mitsubishi Galant$17,999 | 31,984 mi
2010 Mitsubishi Galant$10,490 | 84,206 mi
2010 Mitsubishi Galant$11,325 | 63,220 mi
2010 Mitsubishi Galant$11,999 | 66,104 mi
2009 Mitsubishi Galant$11,000 | 64,036 mi
2009 Mitsubishi Galant$11,887 | 95,511 mi
2003 Mitsubishi Galant$5,991 | 94,602 mi
2003 Mitsubishi Galant$7,999 | 77,661 mi
2002 Mitsubishi Galant$4,500 | 84,576 mi
2000 Mitsubishi Galant$3,777 | 130,753 mi