2003 Mitsubishi Galant ES
Click image to enlarge (Photo: Paul Williams)


by Greg Wilson

Not a class leader, but good value in four cylinder Galant


New to the Canadian market, the Mitsubishi Galant is a mid-sized family sedan in the same class as such notables as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Mazda6, Chevy Malibu, Ford Taurus, and Chrysler Sebring. The Galant has been on sale in the U.S. for a number of years, but this is the first opportunity Canadians have had to consider this Japanese brand.

The Galant’s styling is handsome, if not exciting, and the car is a little smaller than other mid-sized Japanese cars. Notably, it is lower in height, unlike the current crop of ‘tall’ car designs typified by the new Toyota Camry.

The Galant is offered in four trim levels with four and six cylinder engines: DE ($23,097), ES ($23,997), ES V6 ($26,987), LS V6 ($30,927), and GTZ ($33,287). DE and ES models have a 140 horsepower 2.4 litre SOHC 16 valve four cylinder engine which is mated to a standard four-speed automatic transmission with adaptive control that ‘learns’ your driving habits – a manual transmission is not offered. ES V6, LS V6 and GTZ models have a 195 horsepower 3.0 litre V6 engine and a standard four-speed automatic transmission.

2003 Mitsubishi Galant ES
Click image to enlarge (photo: Grant Yoxon)

This week’s test car is a four cylinder Galant ES which comes well-equipped for a base price of $23,997. Standard are a four-speed automatic transmission, 140 watt AM/FM/CD stereo, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, fog lights, keyless remote, 15 inch tires, and front disc/rear drum brakes. The Galant also includes 3-point safety belts for all five seating positions, height-adjustable front shoulder belt anchors, rear child safety locks, lower and upper tether anchors for child seats, and an illuminated emergency release handle inside the trunk. Side airbags and traction control are not available on ES 4 cylinder, but they are offered on the LS-V6 and GTZ models.

The only factory-installed options offered are anti lock brakes ($890) and a sunroof ($1240). Dealer-installed options include a 6-disc in-dash CD player, roof rack and a block heater.


Interior is comfortable if dated

The Galant’s interior is simple and attractive, if a little dated. My test car had an attractive combination of beige-coloured dash materials and seats, metallic-look trim on the console and doors, and a black instrument housing and blue-green gauges including a tachometer. The standard AM/FM/CD player offers clear, distortion-free sound, and the heater warms up the interior quickly on cold mornings. Storage space is limited: at the bottom of the centre console is a small open storage area of limited use with two 12 volt powerpoints for charging accessories, and between the front seats is a storage bin that’s also rather small.

The driver’s seat includes a height-adjustable cushion and while I felt comfortable during the week I drove this car, I thought the front seats could use more seat padding and side bolstering. I liked the wide footwells, and the footrest to the left of the brake pedal for resting the left foot.

At the rear, two or three adult rear passengers have adequate headroom and generous legroom and footroom under the raised front seats, but height-adjustable rear head restraints aren’t offered. Storage space at the rear is limited – there are no door pockets, map pockets, or a rear folding armrest. Cupholders for rear passengers can be found in the lid of the front centre armrest – it folds over backwards for use by the rear passengers.

The Galant has a unique folding rear seatback on the passenger side – only one side of the rear seat folds down for access from the trunk. It can be lowered via a lever on top of the seat or by pulling on a strap in the trunk, and can be locked from inside the trunk.

The roomy 413 litre trunk, which is fully carpeted and includes four tie-down clips, can be opened remotely with a push of a button on the key fob.


Easy, comfortable to drive

As the Galant is lower in height than competitors like the Camry and Accord, the driving position feels closer to the ground – which makes other cars and trucks look tall when you pull up behind them. Visibility is not quite as good when you’re surrounded by other cars.

2003 Mitsubishi Galant ES
Click image to enlarge (photo: Grant Yoxon)

However, being lower to the ground has its advantages, such as a greater feeling of stability when cornering and a more stable ride. In fact, the Galant’s best feature, in my opinion, is its comfortable highway ride and quiet cabin. Though the fully independent suspension (front MacPherson struts/rear multi-link and coil springs) is a little softly sprung, it absorbs bumps, dips and pavement breaks very well. There’s more body lean that I would have preferred during fast cornering, but for day to day driving, it’s a very comfortable car. My test car was equipped with Goodyear Eagle LS 195/65R-15 inch tires which proved quiet and comfortable, but seemed a bit skittish at the limit when cornering on wet pavement.

With 140 horsepower, the Galant’s 2.4 litre four cylinder engine is not as powerful as its major competitors, such as the 160 horsepower Accord and 175 horsepower Altima – but I didn’t feel the Galant was underpowered for typical city and highway use. That’s partly because the Galant’s engine develops its maximum torque of 155 lb-ft at 4000 rpm, about the same as its competitors’ engines. The Galant’s engine has a nice even power curve and feels confident off the line. On the freeway, the engine turns over 2400 rpm at 100 km/h, and about 2800 rpm at 120 km/h, and is very quiet.

Fuel consumption is not quite as good as it competitors, particularly on the highway. For example, while the Galant ES offers 11.3 l/100 km (25 mpg) in the city and 8.8 l/100 km (32 mpg) on the highway, the 2003 Honda Accord with a 2.4 litre four cylinder engine offers 9.8 l/100 km (29 mpg) in the city and 7.1 l/100 km (40 mpg) on the highway.

2003 Mitsubishi Galant ES
Click image to enlarge (Photo: Paul Williams)

At speed, the Galant tracks well and is easy to drive over long distances. A smooth-changing four-speed automatic transmission, easy-to-steer power steering (engine-speed-sensitive variable-assist rack-and-pinion), and its relatively soft, independent suspension add to the overall comfort factor.

I have previously driven the 195 horsepower V6-powered Galant, and though it has more horsepower and better acceleration, I think the four cylinder is as quiet and smooth in many instances – the Galant’s 2.4 litre four cylinder engine includes dual rotating balance shafts to smooth out engine vibrations.

Four cylinder Galants have standard front disc/rear drum brakes (V6 models have four wheel discs), but anti-lock brakes are optional – I would highly recommend getting them.


Competitor overview

There’s no doubt that the four cylinder versions of the 2003 Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry are roomier, more powerful, more economical and better finished than the Mitsubishi Galant, but the Galant is less expensive, in part because it comes with a standard automatic transmission which is optional on its competitors. As well, the Galant has a fantastic ride, and a quiet and smooth four cylinder engine. If you don’t like the ‘tall’ styling of its more contemporary competitors, the Galant is a more traditional styling alternative.


Verdict

A comfortable, quiet mid-sized Japanese sedan with a soft ride, adequate horsepower, and a reasonable price.


Technical Data: 2003 Mitsubishi Galant ES

Base price $23,097
Options $2,130 (ABS, sunroof)
Freight $895
Price as tested $26,122
Type 4-door, 5-passenger mid-size sedan
Layout transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive
Engine 2.4 litre 4 cylinder, SOHC, 16 valves
Horsepower 140 @ 5500 rpm
Torque 155 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Transmission 4 speed automatic, adaptive
Tires Goodyear Eagle LS 195/65R-15
Curb weight
Wheelbase 2635 mm (103.7 in.)
Length 4780 mm (188.1 in.)
Width 1740 mm (68.5 in.)
Height 1415 mm (55.7 in.)
Trunk volume 413 litres (14.6 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 11.3 l/100 km (25 mpg)
  Hwy: 8.8 l/100 km (32 mpg)
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km
Website www.mitsubishicars.ca

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