In response, Mitsubishi did what any
self-respecting sports team would do when they can't catch a break - they hired a new
manager, often poaching someone from a winning team. That's just what Mitsubishi did, well
maybe not poaching, but they went and hired the former boss of Hyundai, Finbarr O'Neill to
run their US operations.
Things might look up for Mitsubishi with the addition of the 2004
Galant. Mitsubishi hopes the Galant will go from an also ran in the Accord and Camry war
to a major player. At least that's what Mitsu is wishing for. I think they have a good
chance of succeeding.
The '04 Galant is the first Galant to be built specifically for the
North American market. The new Galant is truly a mid-size sedan, truly the equal of the
Camry in interior room. Not only is there more room inside but also it looks more
substantial on the outside.
There are four models available, the DE, ES, LS, and GTS. There are
two engines and two transmissions available and both transmissions are four-speed
automatics. The base engine, available in the DE and ES, is a 2.4-liter, SOHC, 16-valve,
four-cylinder that makes 160 hp. It is only available with the base four-speed automatic.
The LS and GTS are equipped with a 3.8-liter, SOHC, 24 valve, V6
that produces 230 hp. It is mated to a four-speed SportronicTM automatic transmission that
allows manual shifting. The gear ratios are slightly different in the Sportronic to
capitalize on the V6's better power and torque. Fuel economy for the 4-cylinder Galant is
rated at 23-mpg city and 30-mpy highway, the LS is 19/27, and the GTS 18/26.
I drove a Galant LS and found it to be a very nice car. Past Galants
have felt just a notch or two below the Accord and Camry duo. The new Galant felt every
bit their equal. The power train was very smooth and powerful. The suspension was supple
and well controlled. There's nothing earth-shaking in the suspension design - the front is
a MacPherson strut, the rear is a multi-link, fully independent design. The goodness is in
Some rather pedestrian suspensions work extremely well because
engineers now sweat the details. Most of the extraneous movements we used to suffer -
stutters, shakes, shimmies, and vibrations - now are but memories. Of course this does
lead to a problem, when a stray vibration does show up, it seems so out of place that we
think there must be a major problem. There were no such stray vibrations in the Galant.
Connecting the suspension to the road are 215/60R16 tires mounted on
handsome alloy wheels (steel wheels with wheel covers are standard for all except the
GTS). Can you believe that 16" wheels are now standard on family sedans? Think about
it - when I was born, 15" wheels were the norm. Then in the mid-50s, 14" wheels
were a breakthrough. When the compact boom broke in the early '60s, 13" wheels became
common. Then sometime in the '70s, wheel sizes started going up again.
OK, now let's take a look at the exterior. I don't think it will be
too likely that a Galant will get lost in a crowd. I am not a design expert I just know
what I like. I like cars that are easily distinguished yet they should not draw undo
attention to themselves. I also like cars that will age gracefully.
Inside, the Galant's dash is well laid out. The center stack, the
center of the dash where the sound system, climate control, and navigation system if
equipped, is well laid out. The gauges are neatly housed in a pod in front of the driver -
three almost round gauges with the center speedo overlapping the two slightly smaller ones
(tach on the left, fuel level, coolant temp, and the transmission gear indicator on the
The front seats were comfy, even on the long haul. The rear seats
were roomy. I did not sit back there for too long (it is kind of hard to drive when I'm in
the back seat) but I was impressed with the legroom.
The '04 Galant LS is a well-equipped family sedan. There's ABS with
4-wheel disc brakes, a/c, cruise control, AM/FM/CD sound system with 6 speakers, remote
keyless entry, power locks/windows, 2-speed variable intermittent wipers, rear seat heater
ducts, and auto-off headlights. The options were a sunroof package, and the Diamond
Package that includes allow wheels, integrated blue LED illuminated titanium audio control
panel, Mitsubishi/Infinity AM/FM/w-6 CD Changer with 8 speakers, steering wheel audio
controls, leather wrapped steering wheel, titanium interior door handle, front door
reflectors, and a panic alarm.
The base price for the '04 Galant LS is $20,997. The options add
$2,062. Add in destination and handling and the Galant LS I drove goes for $23,654, a
pretty decent price for such a nice car. Maybe this time Mitsubishi will get the respect
the '04 Galant is due.