A tastefully styled sedan that drives as good as it looks.
by Mitch McCullough
Base Price (MSRP) $17,557
As Tested (MSRP) $23,227
Mitsubishi Galant offers a good-looking body wrapped around well-built components that provide a smooth, quiet and refined driving experience. Galant offers a high value by including lots of standard equipment in even its base model, making it an attractive alternative to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
The Galant model lineup is extensive. Five models are available: DE ($17,557); ES ($18,407); ES-V6 ($20,307); LS-V6 ($23,907); GTZ ($24,007).
DE comes with a 140-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, 15-inch tires, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, and a100-watt AM/FM/CD stereo.
The better-equipped ES is the volume model. ES adds premium cloth upholstery, wood grain interior accents, fog lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote keyless entry system, cruise control, dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors and a cargo net. The ES model can be ordered with the $2,600 ES Premium Package, which includes side airbags, antilock brakes (ABS), security system, alloy wheels, power glass sunroof, HomeLink system, 210-watt Mitsubishi/Infinity CD stereo with seven speakers, rear seat heater ducts, adjustable lumbar support for the driver's seat, and heated door mirrors.
ES V6 adds a 195-hp V6 engine, ABS, four-wheel disc brakes (DE and ES come with drum brakes on the rear), and 16-inch tires. A $2,400 ES V6 Premium Package includes side airbags, alloy wheels, power glass sunroof, HomeLink, the Infinity CD stereo, and lumbar support.
LS V6 is loaded with leather seating surfaces, an eight-way power driver's seat, Infinity stereo, alloy wheels, and side airbags; it is distinguished by its sculpted body side molding.
GTZ comes with LS trim, but adds a sport-tuned suspension and is distinguished by its rear spoiler and color-keyed grille.
All Galants come equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission (a manual is not offered). DE and ES models come with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 140 horsepower. ES V6, LS V6 and GTZ models come with a 3.0-liter V6 engine rated at 195 horsepower.
Traction control is a new-for-2001 standard feature for V6 models.
Galant is similar in size to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Like virtually all sedans in this class, the Galant's appearance isn't over the top, but instead is very pleasant. A wide waterfall grille and sculpted sides give the Galant a bolder appearance than the Accord and Camry, however. The Galant's graceful, sweeping roofline and smartly tailored lines reflect a sense of style that stands out from other mid-size sedans.
A wild rear spoiler sets the GTZ apart from the other models.
Like its exterior, the Galant's inner regions are smooth, contemporary, and nicely designed. The instrument cluster is readily visible through the full range of steering wheel adjustment. Secondary controls are generally easy to locate and operate.
Sporty front bucket seats in the ES V6 offer a good range of adjustment with above average side bolsters and thigh support. More important, there's enough rear seat legroom for three adults as well as enough rear headroom for six-footers, even with the steep rake of the rear window. Driver sight lines are average for a car in this class; there's good visibility over the sloping hood with no significant blind spots.
We liked the feel of the thick, padded steering wheel. However, the controls for the audio system are too small. In addition, the rear cupholders mounted on the rear of the center console reside below an armrest, which means flipping the armrest back if you want to use it. However, these are minor demerits in an otherwise thoughtful design.
Safety features include a three-point seat belt in the rear-center seating position; this rear-center belt is absent from some passenger cars and many sport-utility vehicles. Mitsubishi has also added child restraint anchors. Side airbags are a standard safety feature in LS and GTZ models and optional DE and ES Galants. Mitsubishi's side-impact airbags are mounted in the sides of the front seat frames.
Galant's V6 engine is strong, quiet, and eager. Passing performance is brisk, even at elevations of 5000 feet. Mitsubishi's V6 is comparable to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord V6 engines, which are leaders in this class. Mitsubishi's 3.0-liter twin-cam 24-valve V6 is rated at 195 horsepower and 205 foot-pounds of torque.
The base engine is Mitsubishi's big 2.4-liter twin-cam 16-valve inline-4 rated at 140 horsepower and 155 foot-pounds of torque. Like the V6, the 2.4-liter engine was tuned to deliver power for good passing performance and good acceleration from a standstill. Mitsubishi's dual engine stabilizers (patented and used by other automakers) virtually eliminate the harmonic vibration typical of large-displacement four-cylinder engines.
All Galants come equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission that delivers excellent responsiveness in all types of driving situations. Mitsubishi's fuzzy logic computer programming allows the engine and transmission to better anticipate the driver's wishes and eliminate the irritating up- and down-shifting that's still a characteristic of some automatics. All of this electronic gadgetry works well.
Ride quality is first rate, effectively damping out nasty stretches of pavement. We were impressed by the noise suppression measures taken in this car. Mitsubishi has done a very good job of isolating the cabin from the suspension, thereby minimizing highway and tire noise. At the same time, Mitsubishi's attention to aerodynamic detail has helped reduce wind noise to a level that's comparable with the best in the class. The Galant may not be quite as quiet as a Camry, but you'd need a sound meter to measure the difference.
The Galant's handling traits, including the sporty GTZ, seem to be balanced in favor of comfort over aggressive response. In hard cornering, there's a little more body roll (lean) than you'd encounter in an Accord. Pushed past the limit of tire grip, the Galant goes toward progressive understeer - the faster the car enters a corner, the less it wants to turn. It's predictable and safe, just not as much fun as a high-performance sports sedan. While Mitsubishi would like us to perceive the Galant as a sports sedan (especially with the GTZ model), its suspension tuning feels more like family fare to us. However, there's nothing wrong with that. The Galant is very forgiving to driver errors, such as braking hard in the middle of a turn; while some cars would spin out under these circumstances, we had no trouble controlling the Galant. Steering response is reasonably accurate; it delivers acceptable road feel once the steering wheel had moved a degree or two off dead center.
Galant is available with antilock brakes, which allow the driver to maintain steering control during an emergency-stopping situation in dry as well as slippery conditions. ABS is standard equipment on ES V6, LS and GTZ models, optional on the ES, and not offered on the DE.
Braking is provided by discs up front and drums at the rear on four-cylinder models, with discs all around on V6 models. Braking performance seemed to be about average for this class. Though more expensive, disc brakes generally offer superior fade resistance to drum brakes. (Brake performance often begins to fade when brakes are used repeatedly until they overheat, such as going downhill on a steep mountain pass.) On the other hand, we didn't encounter any fade problems during our driving, despite repeated hard stops in the Galant.
The Mitsubishi Galant compares very well with the best mid-size sedans. The Galant offers a pleasant blend of quiet operation, plentiful power, lots of standard equipment, excellent assembly quality, room for five, and standout good looks at a competitive price.
© New Car Test Drive, Inc.