Pros: Surprisingly nice interior, accommodating back seat, pleasant to drive.

Cons: Poor fuel economy, outdated four-speed automatic transmission, only one engine, steering wheel doesn't telescope.

Introduction

Take our word for it: the 2012 Mitsubishi Galant is better in person than on your screen. Because we know you're scanning the Galant's offerings right now and wondering why Mitsubishi even builds this thing anymore. Indeed, the once-proud Galant is down to a single engine (a mediocre inline-4) and transmission (an archaic four-speed automatic). It gets the same fuel economy as a Toyota Camry V6, which packs about 100 more horsepower. And judging by MSRPs, the Galant isn't a very good deal, either.

But in person, you'll find the Galant sitting at a Mitsubishi dealership, where the salespeople will likely be strongly interested in making a deal. The Galant's real-world transaction prices are thousands less than its sticker prices, so this could be an opportunity to get a midsize sedan at a compact cost. And you won't necessarily feel like you're downgrading if you buy a Galant. Its interior materials are unexpectedly nice, for example, and the silver center stack looks like a premium home stereo system. Plus, the Galant is more engaging to drive than some of its milquetoast peers.

We're not saying that the Galant is a solid alternative to top family sedans like the Camry or Sonata. Dollar for dollar, that's not the case. But grabbing a Galant for considerably less cash may actually make some sense. If you like the sound of a midsize sedan for a less-than-midsize price, head over to the dealership and check this Mitsubishi out.

Comfort & Utility

The 2012 Mitsubishi Galant is offered in ES and SE trim levels.

The ES comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlamps, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a tilt-only steering wheel, power accessories, air-conditioning and a six-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input.

The SE steps up to 18-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, a sunroof, Bluetooth connectivity, a DVD-based touchscreen navigation system, a rearview camera, automatic climate control, a power driver's seat, heated front seats, woodgrain interior trim and a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system.

Optional on SE is a Leather package that contributes leather upholstery and a rear lip spoiler. An iPod adapter is optional across the lineup.

The Galant's front seats are wide and flat, but they should offer enough support for pain-free road trips. The tilt-only steering wheel could use a telescope function, but it's actually tolerable unless you're exceptionally tall. The Galant's gauges are strictly old-fashioned, featuring overlapping circles instead of Mitsubishi's newer deep-hooded gauge design. Ergonomics are very good, however, with clearly marked controls all around.

Materials quality in the Galant is a real surprise, highlighted by the soft-touch material that covers most of the dashboard. We like the silver center stack-silver interior trim is almost a cliché at this point, but the Galant manages to make it work, reminding us of a compact hi-fi home stereo system. The optional navigation screen adds to the visual appeal in its position above that silver panel.

The Galant's back seat is satisfactory by midsize standards, compensating for a somewhat low bottom cushion with ample headroom and legroom. But the trunk is smaller than average at 13.3 cubic feet.

Technology

The Galant shows its age-and Mitsubishi's neglect-on the technology front. The company's new FUSE voice-command system is nowhere to be found, and a USB port is also among the missing. Moreover, while the navigation screen might look nice on the dashboard, a closer inspection reveals crude graphics and sometimes ponderous response times. That's because, unlike Mitsubishi's latest hard-drive-based navigation systems, this one is DVD-based. We do give Mitsubishi credit for offering Bluetooth connectivity and Rockford Fosgate sound.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The Galant is powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4 rated at 160 horsepower and 157 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission is an unrefined four-speed automatic. We tried to think of nice things to say about this powertrain, but the cold hard truth is that it's about a decade behind the times. Most competitive family sedans offer six-speed transmissions these days, and they give you considerably more power, too.

Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway. That's basically the bottom of the barrel among four-cylinder midsize sedans; newer models are in the mid-30s for highway mpg.

Safety

The 2012 Mitsubishi Galant comes with standard stability control, antilock brakes and six airbags (front, front-side, full-length side-curtain).

The government has not crash-tested the Galant using its latest methodology. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Galant its highest rating of "Good" for frontal-offset and side impacts, but roof strength was deemed just "Acceptable" (second highest), and rear crash protection "Marginal" (second worst).

Driving Impressions

The Galant is actually fairly capable in the corners, if that's of interest to you. Mitsubishi historians will recall that this Galant used to offer a robust 3.8-liter V6 engine, and it's always had a sporting character that many family sedans lack. Nonetheless, the ride is agreeable, and road noise is rarely intrusive. The Galant's got a decent foundation. It just needed more attention, not less, as the years went by.

Other Cars to Consider

Hyundai Sonata - The dashing Sonata offers a strong base inline-4, a killer turbocharged four, and even a Hybrid version. Plus, its fuel economy is through the roof. See also the similar Kia Optima.

Toyota Camry - The reinvented Camry is suddenly kind of fun to drive, and it's got a great new 2.5-liter inline-4 with excellent fuel economy to complement its class-leading V6. The Camry Hybrid is arguably class-leading as well.

Volkswagen Passat - The new, American-style Passat offers up gobs of comfort and space, and it's got engines to please both enthusiasts (the V6) and fuel-misers (the turbodiesel TDI). Even the base inline-5 has got character, and Passats so equipped are definitely available for Galant money.

AutoTrader Recommends

We'd go for the Galant SE, but we'd do our darndest to find one for under $20,000. Otherwise, the Galant's value proposition is questionable.

author photo

Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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