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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.
Mitsubishi Galant comes in four models: DE ($18,999) and ES ($19,899) are powered by a 160-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and come standard with a four-speed automatic transmission.
LS ($22,499) and GTS ($26,499) feature a 230-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6. They also come with a four-speed automatic transmission, but with a Sportronic mode for semi-manual shifting.
Standard features on all Galants include air conditioning; front and side-impact airbags; height-adjustable driver's seat; power windows, door locks and exterior mirrors; AM/FM/CD stereo; four-wheel disc brakes; carpeted floor mats; and electronic lock-out protection. DE, ES and LS come with steel wheels and 215/60R16 all-season tires. Rear-seat heater ducts have been added as standard equipment on 2005 Galants.
ES and LS get premium cloth-trimmed seating surfaces plus titanium interior trim, cruise control, six instead of four audio speakers, an audio information display, and some minor trim items. In addition to the V6 engine, the LS also comes with larger front disc brakes with ABS and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD); traction control; and a power-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support. A power driver's seat is now standard on 2005 Galant LS models.
ABS with EBD is available on the ES as a stand-alone option ($500). ES also offers optional 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels ($300); while ES and LS offer the power glass sunroof ($800), and a Sport Package ($363) consisting of a chromed exhaust tip and rear spoiler. Leather is available on LS ($1,185) and ES ($1,485) and adds the power driver's seat to the latter. The ultimate Diamond Package ($1,262) for ES and LS adds 16-inch aluminum wheels; titanium center panel with blue LED display; AM/FM/6-disc CD changer with 8-speakers, diversity antenna and steering wheel controls; leather-wrapped steering wheel; and other items.
The GTS adds automatic climate control; power glass sunroof; leather upholstery with Blackwood interior trim (new for 2005); a titanium-finished center panel; leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant audio controls; heated front seats and side mirrors; Mitsubishi/Infinity 270-watt stereo with six-disc CD changer and eight speakers; color dot-matrix audio display with outside temperature, calendar and compass; white-on-black gauges; color-keyed rear spoiler; special tail lamps; sporty-sounding muffler; a panic alarm button on the keyless remote; 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels with lower profile tires; and a front suspension strut tower brace. The Cold Zone Package is now standard on 2005 Galant GTS models. No options are available for the GTS.
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.