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The Mitsubishi Galant does everything well. It rides comfortably and quietly and offers competent, responsive handling. Its optional V6 provides ample power for passing, and its automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Its cabin is roomy and comfortable. It's a good family car, and a good value in the midsize market.
Then again, it has to be. Mitsubishi launched this bigger, more mainstream Galant just two years ago and it goes up against established nameplates such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Altima. That the Galant offers all the benefits of these other cars, at a reasonable price, is no small accomplishment. If you are shopping for a midsize sedan, it makes sense to visit your Mitsubishi dealer.
The one area where Galant breaks from the pack is in styling. The Galant is no wallflower. It's distinctive enough to turn heads in traffic, and not everyone will like what they see. Conversely, some of the Galant's competitors seem calculated to make no statement at all.
Galant was launched as an all-new model for 2004. For 2005, Mitsubishi enhanced Galant's safety by making seat-mounted side-impact airbags standard on all models. For 2006, Mitsubishi has subtly massaged Galant's styling inside and out, upgraded its sound systems and added MP3 capability on all but the base model; and added some standard equipment to nearly every trim level.
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 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 in the LS and GTS 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. In the normal mode, it shifts automatically. With the Sportronic feature, it can be switched into a semi-manual mode for more control; it will not shift up or down automatically when in the manual mode, so the driver has full control over shifting.
For its size and heft, the Galant feels decently planted on all but the most twisting roads. The GTS suspension feels firm. The suspension used in the DE/ES/LS models is softer, so the car moves around a little more when driven hard through corners.
The 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. It's especially useful in the rain, but even in dry weather can eliminate annoying screeches from the light when you take off.
Brake feel is solid and reassuring, but the Galant is not a light car. Anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) come standard on all but the base model. EBD proportions braking pressure between the front and rear wheels depending on how the car is loaded, and adjusts stopping 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.