Like other manufacturers, Mitsubishi faces a formidable task in the midsize car class. The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are among the country’s most popular vehicles, so how can others find a niche? Mitsubishi’s approach for 2004 was to increase the dimensions, offer new styling and add more horsepower to the Galant.
The manufacturer’s simple hope is to provide a competitive alternative to the mainstream same-class offerings. Considering the strong resale value of Honda and Toyota and the less-than-stellar resale history of Mitsubishi, however, any buying-pattern shift would be a lofty goal.
But the Galant does well, with three quirky disappointments.
For a variety of reasons, I’ve had an increasing number of weekly test drives that included round-trip, 400-mile treks to the Monterey Peninsula. The route is primarily state highways and Interstate 5, the high-speed, multiple-lane north-south freeway that traverses California, Oregon and Washington.
My passenger for this journey has been an Accord owner for more than a decade. Her first comment shortly into our outbound journey was, “This car has a lot of room.”
That’s exactly what Mitsubishi is hoping to hear.
In addition to adding 35 horsepower to the 3.8-liter, V6 engine, the Galant includes several size increases: 4.6 inches in the wheelbase, 2.6 inches in overall length, 3.6 inches in width and 2.2 inches in height.
As such, the Galant is spacious overall for its class. The doors have wide openings and there is plenty of legroom and a roomy feel in the cabin.
The Galant’s performance is a mixture of reliability, solid acceleration and easy maneuverability. Its increase of horsepower, for example, won’t make anyone mistake it for a hot rod. But passing a slower vehicle in freeway traffic or changing lanes in city driving conditions is confidently handled without hesitation.
Considering its midrange pricing, the Galant is also surprisingly quiet, even when compared to higher-priced vehicles I’ve tested on the same trip.
Many manufacturers seem obsessed with red as an exterior plus. My vehicle’s exterior color was called “ultra red pearl.” And despite its name, the shade wasn’t as overt as other “reds” on the road, and the beige interior color complemented the exterior color nicely.
The Galant LS also has an extensive standard equipment list, including power door locks, windows and sideview mirrors, a six-way adjustable driver seat, 12-volt outlets and a backseat trunk pass through. Its offerings also feature nearly identical options to other vehicles in its class — remote keyless entry and trunk release, air conditioning and cruise control. A four-speed automatic transmission is the only transmission offered.
My test vehicle also included two options, the sunroof ($800) and diamond ($1,262) packages. The additional $2,000 gets buyers an AM/FM and six-CD changer and eight speakers, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, steering wheel audio controls, 16-inch alloy wheels and a power sunroof, among other niceties.
The Galant’s disappointments are small. The lettering on the console too closely matches the metallic silver color of the instrumentation. As such, the controls are hard to read at certain times of the day and in varying daylight or lack of daylight situations.
The vehicle’s cruise control system works to satisfaction, but the controls are situated behind a small open section of the steering wheel. At best, the configuration is awkward but workable. But for drivers with large or small hands, the controls and not easy to use, while reaching inside steering wheel or reaching around it.
The V6 Galant also requires premium-grade fuel, which further increases the vehicle’s yearly estimated fuel costs to $1,142.
With a $595 destination and handling charge, the cost of my Galant was $23,654. That places it in the same category as some models of the Accord and Camry and it also places the Galant in a good position for its competition against the midsize stalwarts of its class.
Safety Features — Driver and front passenger dual stage front air bogs, front and rear crumple zones, side impact door beams
Fuel Mileage (estimates) — 19 mpg (city), 27 mpg (highway).
Warranty — Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years, 100,000 miles. Roadside assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.
Base Price — $20,995.00.