2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS
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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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Japanese automaker Mitsubishi has had a tough time getting established in Canada despite the fact that Mitsubishi vehicles were sold here as Chryslers in the 1980s and ’90s. Remember the Dodge Stealth (Mitsubishi 3000 GT), Dodge Colt (Mitsubishi Colt), Dodge Colt Wagon/Eagle Summit (Mitsubishi Colt Wagon), Dodge Avenger/Chrysler Sebring coupe (Mitsubishi Galant platform), and Eagle Talon/Plymouth Laser (Mitsubishi Eclipse)?

Unfortunately for Mitsubishi, most Canadians weren’t aware those Chryslers were actually Mitsubishis. When Mitsubishi finally set up its own dealerships in Canada in 2002, they had to begin with very little name recognition. Contrast that with the United States where Mitsubishis were sold as Mitsubishis at Mitsubishi dealerships at the same time as they were being sold as Chryslers at Chrysler dealerships. Americans were, and are, very familiar with the Mitsubishi name.

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS
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All of this is a rather long-winded way of explaining why the 2006 Mitsubishi Galant is virtually unknown in the mid-size family sedan class in Canada. Hindered by a lack of advertising support and a relatively small Canadian dealer network, the Galant (and other Mitsubishis) must still compete with better-known mid-sizers, including the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Mazda6, Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Chrysler 300 – and others.

But history and marketing strategy aside, the Galant itself actually has a lot to recommend it when compared to its popular competitors.

What’s New

The Galant was last redesigned for 2004, and will get a styling makeover in 2007, but for 2006 there are only minor changes. The most important change is that anti-lock brakes are now standard equipment on all but the base model. There are also a tire pressure monitoring system on models equipped with alloy wheels, new wheel designs, and new interior metal-look trim. An anti-theft alarm system is now standard on the top-of-the-line GTS, and optional on the mid-level ES and LS.

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS
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Like most mid-size sedans in its class, the Galant is available with four and six cylinder engines. Base Galant DE and ES models have a 160 horsepower 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine while LS and GTS models have a 230 horsepower 3.8-litre V6. Both have a four-speed automatic transmission, but V6 models add a Sportronic manual mode. All Galants have a fully independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes, but ABS is not offered on the base four-cylinder model.

In 2007, Mitsubishi will add a Gallant Ralliart model with 258 horsepower, a five-speed manumatic transmission, 18-inch tires, sport suspension and special styling features.

For under $25,000, the base 2006 Galant DE model ($23,998) is well equipped. Standard equipment includes cloth seats, air conditioning, power windows, power mirrors, power locks with keyless entry and CD player with four speakers, variable intermittent wipers, 16-inch steel wheels, dual stage front airbags, and seat-mounted side airbags.

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS
Click image to enlarge

The Galant ES ($25,698) adds anti-lock brakes, premium cloth seats, CD/MP3 player with six speakers, interior trim, and cruise control. The V6-powered LS ($28,898) adds 16-inch alloy wheels, eight-way power driver’s seat and traction control.

The top-of-the-line Galant GTS ($33,798) adds 17-inch tires and alloy wheels, heated leather-trimmed seats, automatic climate control, premium six-CD/MP3 player with eight speakers, wood interior trim, vinyl-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, power sunroof, alarm system, projector headlamps, fog lamps, heated mirrors, rear spoiler, and front strut tower bar.

Two safety features are not available on the 2006 Galant: head curtain airbags and stability control. However, Mitsubishi plans to add curtain airbags for 2007.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Mitsubishi’s warranty: 5 years or 100,000 km, whichever comes first, on the whole car; and 10 years/160,000 km on the powertrain. This is the best new vehicle warranty coverage of any non-luxury automaker.

My test car was a Galant GTS with no options – because there are none. Including $995 Freight charge and $100 A/C tax, the as-tested price of my test car came to $34,893.


Interior impressions

My test car was a top-of-the-line V6 Galant GTS, but if I was to choose a Galant for myself, I would select a base or mid-level trim simply because they’re a better value. Let’s face it: most family buyers in this class don’t need leather seats, automatic climate control, 270-watt stereo, manual shifting automatic transmission, or low-profile 17-inch radials. For under $30,000, Galant buyers can have a well-equipped four-cylinder ES or a V6-powered Galant LS with everything they need.

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS
Click image to enlarge

The first thing you need to know about the Galant is that it is a big mid-size car. The Galant is longer and wider than a 2006 Toyota Camry which is itself a big, mid-size sedan. As a result, the Galant’s interior is one of the roomiest in its class, particularly in the rear seat area where there is plenty of legroom.

The cabin is also very wide, and there is a sense of ‘bigness’ that’s almost, well, American. The Galant is built in Normal, Illinois, so perhaps that explains it. The power driver’s seat is wide and comfortable with seat heaters, and the driving position is good thanks to a low cowl and a tilt steering wheel and a big dead pedal to rest your left foot. Even the rear deck is not too high to see over when backing up.

The dark interior of my test car had nicely fitting panels, silver-coloured accents, sporty white-faced gauges and dark wood trim. One problem: the silver metal trim that wraps over the top of the dashboard reflects in the windshield and can be distracting.

A small screen in the upper centre console displays the time, outside temperature, compass, audio and heater readouts. It’s okay, but I kept wishing it was bigger.

My Galant GTS featured a sound-pumping 270-watt Infinity audio system with eight speakers, 6-disc CD changer in the dash with MP3 capability, and steering wheel controls Seek and band selection behind the wheel spokes: the latter are easier to operate than buttons on the front of the spokes. All other Galants come with a standard 140-watt AM/FM/CD stereo with 4 or 6 speakers depending on the trim level – which is still pretty decent. The radio buttons are large, but have black letters on a silver background which are hard to read if the Sun is shining on them.

Below that are three large dials for the heater and A/C system. When the fan speed dial is turned, the letters ‘A/C’ turn sideways so that they’re on an angle – which bugs the hec out of me! (I also straighten crooked paintings on walls).

There’s a handy open storage bin and a 12-volt powerpoint at the bottom of the centre console for charging electric devices, and the seat heaters have a choice of two temperatures. Two big cupholders behind the shift lever are deep enough to swallow up any coffee spills, and behind that a big bi-level storage and armrest provides space for items you want kept out of sight.

In the rear seat, you can really get comfortable, but headroom is just adequate for taller adults and there is a large centre drivetrain tunnel and only two rear head restraints that are not height adjustable. There is a centre armrest, and an opening to the trunk for skis and poles. Surprisingly, the rear seatbacks do not fold down.

The trunk seems bigger than its 377-litre (13.3 cu. ft.) size would suggest, and it’s fully lined with a flat floor and a low liftover height.


Driving impressions

Though the Galant has rather long front and rear overhangs, and its styling is angular by today’s standards, its unique rectangular halogen headlights under clear plastic covers and interesting stepped taillights under clear covers add a sporty edge to its otherwise conservative appearance – a subtle hint of this car’s potential.

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS
Click image to enlarge

Though I’d seen the specs and knew how sporty other Mitsubishis are, I was not prepared for how sporty the Galant GTS is on the road. Power, handling, braking, steering – the V6 Galant has it all. Only the lack of a real manual transmission and a wide turning circle limit its performance potential. 230 horsepower and 250 foot pounds of torque at 4000 rpm is impressive in a mid-size family sedan, and power comes on strong on take-off. You’ll need the standard traction control on wet or slippery roads. The traction control doesn’t activate right away – you will experience some wheelspin if you floor it. Best thing is to practice restraint.

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS
Click image to enlarge

Mid-range passing power is very good, and the four-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. The manual shift mode can ratchet up the sporty driving experience significantly, but it’s not something you’re going to use on your daily commute. On the freeway, the engine is very quiet, revving at only 2000 rpm at a steady 100 km/h in top gear.

Considering the size of the car and its larger-than-average 3.8 litre V6 engine, the Galant’s official fuel consumption of City: 12.8 L/100 km (22 mpg) and Highway: 8.1 L/100 km (35 mpg) is good, but not class leading. However, the engine requires Premium gasoline.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the Galant’s stable, neutral handling. Its wide track and fully independent suspension (front MacPherson strut/rear multi-link) with front strut tower bar delivers a firm but comfortable ride and excellent stability when cornering with minimal lean.

2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS
Click image to enlarge

The speed-sensitive variable-assist rack and pinion steering provides accurate steering response at slower speeds and firms up at higher speeds for stable straight-line tracking. My major concern was the Galant GTS’s wide turning circle of 12.2 metres (40 feet). Curiously, all other Galant models have a tighter turning diameter of 10.4 metres (34 feet), presumably because they have smaller 16-inch tires.

Though a big front-wheel drive sedan, the Galant is fun to drive, but not as refined as a Camry or Accord. For someone who needs a roomy sedan with great performance and a very good warranty, the Galant is a dark horse in the crowded mid-size class.


Verdict

A roomy mid-size sedan with better-than-average performance and a class-leading warranty, the 2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS V6 has a wide turning circle and rear seatbacks that don’t fold down. Future resale value may be poor.


Technical Data: 2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS

Base price $33,798
Options none
Freight $995
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $34,893 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives
Type 4-door, 5-passenger midsize sedan
Layout transverse front engine/front-wheel drive
Engine 3.8-litre V6, SOHC, 24 valves
Horsepower 230 @ 5250 rpm
Torque 250 @ 4000 rpm
Transmission 4-speed automatic w/manual mode
Tires P215/55R17
Curb weight 1655 kg (3649 lbs)
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 capacity 377 litres (13.3 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 12.8 L/100 km (22 mpg Imperial))
  Hwy: 8.0 L/100 km (35 mpg Imperial)
Fuel type Premium
Warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km
Powertrain Warranty 10 yrs/160,000 km
Assembly location Normal, Illinois

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