Galant ES model shown. Photos: Mitsubishi. Click image to enlarge
by Laurance Yap
The drive to Detroit from Toronto isn’t one that I look forward to. The four-hour shot down the 401 is about as boring a drive as you can imagine, and it’s frequently enhanced by bad weather as well. So picking a car for the drive down is hard: you want a decent turn of speed to compress the distances between clumps of cars, you want good ride comfort to take the sting out of the pockmarked pavement, and you want a bunch of features to keep you entertained as you watch the road slowly (or quickly, as the case may be) unfold ahead of you.
Turned out, the Galant was almost perfect, but not for the reasons I’d originally planned.
For one thing, I ended up playing taxi driver for a couple of colleagues on the way down. Turns out this car has lots of interior space. Enough so a guy that’s six-five and three hundred pounds had more than enough room behind the two of us riding up front to recline in relative comfort. Enough trunk room to swallow all of our gear with room to spare. And sufficient oddments storage that whoever had cleaned the car before giving it to me had managed to miss not only an empty pop can, but also a little Mini Cooper model (finders keepers, say I). Up front, the driver’s seat was comfortable and supportive hour after hour, and were it not for a non-telescoping steering wheel which put itself a bit too close to me for comfort, the driving position was almost perfect.
With the music turned down, the conversation flowing, and McDonald’s grease coursing through our veins, the miles just melted away. Despite the meagre horsepower rating, torque is abundant, and the Galant is one smooth operator; its engine spins silently away, even when extended to the upper reaches of its rev range. Shift quality from the four-speed automatic (true, a gear down when compared to some more “sophisticated” competitors like the Honda Accord) was always buttery-smooth, and when the inevitable slow mover pulled out in front of us, brake feel was equally easy – though the slowing power itself wasn’t that impressive. Best of all was the ride – no matter how rough the pavement got, or the speeds involved, it was like gliding on a carpet of air, except that there was still decent feel through the steering and seat. Mitsubishi’s suspension people have really got this part right.
There are things that are less right about the Galant, of course. The interior trim quality is one of them. While everything’s where you would expect it, none of the controls – from the window switches to the radio knobs and with the sole exception of the ultra-slick column stalks – has a particularly refined feel in the same way as a Toyota Camry’s, say, or a Honda Accord’s. My tester was afflicted by a rattle somewhere in the dashboard as well as a couple of loose trim pieces and a headliner that would easily work its way loose. There was a wind whistle from one of the door seals, and the sunglass holder built into the roof flopped cheaply down on a moulded hinge. The Galant’s interior is functional enough, but its rough-textured plastics and slightly cheap finishes aren’t good enough these days when the competition has silicone-damped this, metal-finished that, and fonts that match on the instruments, centre stack, and minor controls. Think of a toned-down Pontiac interior, executed with more restraint and better build quality, and you wouldn’t be far off.
Still, I can’t say I regretted taking the Galant. On the drive home, traveling solo, it was a real pleasure being wafted along by that smooth six, the trunk stuffed with stuff (which evened out the car’s stance so its butt didn’t look quite so high in the air), the gigantic cupholders loaded with caffeine-laced drinks, the Infinity stereo cranking out my favourite tunes. In a class dominated by cars that are almost clinically perfect – to the point where they have little personality – this car stands out because it works so well playing the long-distance traveler. It has enough style to stand out, more than enough power to really move, and in many ways fuses the best things about Japanese cars (the feeling of precision and high tech) with the gregarious, big-hearted feel of domestic offerings.
For some people, that’ll be more than enough reason to choose a Galant over anything else.
Technical Data: 2004 Mitsubishi Galant LS V6
|Base price||(LS V6) $27,248|
|Options||$2,634 Sunroof ($1,024), Diamond Package ($1,610) 270-Watt Mitsubishi/Infinity AM/FM/6-CD Premium Audio System with 8 Speakers, titanium-finish dash w/blue LED illumination, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, panic alarm.|
|Price as tested||$30,907|
|Type||4-door, 5 passenger mid-size sedan|
|Layout||transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive|
|Engine||3.8 litre V6, SOHC, 24 valves|
|Horsepower||230 @ 5250 rpm|
|Torque||250 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm|
|Transmission||4 speed automatic|
|Curb weight||1615 kg (3560 lb.)|
|Wheelbase||2750 mm (108.3 in.)|
|Length||4835 mm (190.4 in.)|
|Width||1840 mm (72.4 in.)|
|Height||1475 mm (58.1 in.)|
|Cargo area<||377 litres (13.3 cu. ft.)|
|Fuel consumption||City: 12.9 l/100 km (22 mpg)|
|8.2 l/100 km (34 mpg)|
|Warranty||3 yrs/60,000 km|
|Powertrain Warranty||5 yrs/100,000 km|