Midsized family sedans are the best-selling cars in this country. Although the category is dominated by only a few different cars, there are many others in the class with smaller sales volumes. One such car is the Mitsubishi Galant. Previous versions of the Galant have been enjoyable cars with sporty character. But, perhaps the old Galant's sportiness worked against it for mass-market appeal. And, while its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine made good power with a frugal appetite for fuel, it still was a 4-cylinder in competition with cars with available vee-sixes. Something more was needed.
Something more has been done. There is a new Galant for 1999, with a much-expanded range of available models designed with the American car buyer in mind. The new Galant is a slightly larger, crisper-looking car, with much of the style of Mitsubishi's premium Diamante sedan. For the first time, a V-6 engine is offered in the Galant as well as the 4-cylinder. Seven trim levels are offered -- DE, ES and ES V6, ES Premium and ES Premium V6, LS, and GTZ -- up from the previous three. That completely covers the midsized market, from the high-value end with the DE to the luxury-oriented V6 segment with the LS. The GTZ sports sedan has no competitors among the most popular midsized makes, and few in the class at all.
I spent a week with a 4-cylinder 1999 Galant ES Premium recently and found it to be a much quieter and more refined car than its 1998 equivalent. A V6-powered ES Premium model now sits in my driveway. It has the same degree of quiet comfort as the 4-cylinder, and serious power as well. In finish quality and refinement it is the equal of any of its competitors. If there was a "most improved family sedan" award, the 1999 Mitsubishi Galant would be the hands-down winner.
APPEARANCE: The old Galant suddenly looks rather nondescript. The new one is a very handsome car that borrows many styling cues from Mitsubishi's top-of-the-line Diamante luxury/performance sedan, and stands out with a very well-defined look. Its basic shape, gently rounded with crisply-defined edges and a high belt line, is very graceful and much like that of the Diamante. Body-colored mirrors and door handles, and discreet chrome trim around the side windows show a touch of elegance. The slight but well-defined hood bulge and large fender flares hint at performance. At the front, the wide, low chromed waterfall grille and flanking headlights are integrated into one visual unit, separated from the lower intake and foglamps by a protruding bumper. The large passenger cabin has a highly-raked windshield for clean aerodynamics and plenty of glass for visibility. Five-spoke alloy wheels are part of the Premium trim package.
COMFORT: The interior of the new Galant was developed at Mitsubishi's design center in Southern California, and has all of the features that make for American success. The dashboard is lower than in previous Galants, for better visibility. The ES trim level has comfortable cloth-covered front bucket and rear bench seats, with very good room all around. The driver's seat is manually-adjustable 8 ways, and the thick-rimmed, leather-covered, tilt-adjustable steering wheel adds to driver comfort and control. Instrument and control placement is good, with the standard AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo and large rotary climate controls positioned in the center of the dash, easily reached by the driver or front passenger. The equipment level is high, with power windows, mirrors, and door locks, excellent air-filtration air conditioning, and rear heater ducts all included in the ES level. The Premium option package adds remote keyless entry and a power moonroof. There are plenty of storage spaces and cupholders and a good-sized trunk.
SAFETY: The 1999 Mitsubishi Galant has standard front and rear crumple zones, side-impact door beams, antilock brakes, and dual front airbags. Side airbags are included in the Premium option package.
ROADABILITY: The new Galant is as smooth, quiet, and refined as any car in its class. In ES trim, its fully-independent suspension is tuned for ride comfort but still provides good handling characteristics. The V6-powered Galant has larger wheels and lower-profile tires than the 4-cylinder for slightly crisper steering response. It also has four- wheel disc brakes instead of the disc/drum combination of the 4- cylinder, for better stopping. While not the sports sedan of the line - that's the GTZ - the ES V6 is a driver's car.
PERFORMANCE: "Wake up and drive" is the Mitsubishi slogan for 1999. That's quite appropriate for the Galant V6. It is not a boring car. The 3.0-liter V6 makes 195 horsepower (190 in low-emission states) and 205 lb-ft of torque. It's at its best from a standstill to highway cruising speeds, for instant acceleration when most needed. It is quiet and smooth, and goes nearly as far on a gallon of gas as the 4-cylinder engine. The 4-speed automatic transmission uses a sophisticated fuzzy logic-based "optimum shift control" that considers a wide range of parameters to select the appropriate gear, and will even downshift when decelerating down hills.
CONCLUSIONS: The 1999 Galant is the first Mitsubishi to take aim at the heart of the American sedan marketplace.
SPECIFICATIONS Base Price $ 19,990 Price As Tested $ 23,002 Engine Type single overhead cam, 24-valve V6 Engine Size 3.0 liters / 181 cu. in. Horsepower 190 @ 5500 rpm Torque (lb-ft) 205 @ 4000 rpm Transmission 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic Wheelbase / Length 103.7 in. / 187.8 in. Curb Weight 3140 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 16.5 Fuel Capacity 16.3 gal. Fuel Requirement unleaded regular, 87 octane Tires P205/55 HR16 Goodyear Eagle LS Brakes, front/rear vented disc / disc, antilock standard with Premium Package Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut / independent multilink with coil springs Drivetrain front engine, front-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 20 / 27 / 23 0 to 60 mph est. 8.0 sec 1/4 mile (E.T.) est. 16.0 sec Coefficient of Drag (cd) 0.29 OPTIONS AND CHARGES Premium Package includes: Alloy wheels, antilock brakes, front side airbags, power glass sunroof, security system with remote panic feature, HomeLink universal transmitter $ 2,000 Trunk mat $ 75 CD player $ 399 Wheel locks $ 33 CA/NY/MA etc emissions $ 70 Destination charge $ 435