What's New for 2001
This Mitsubishi model doesn't change much from last year, but product planners add tether anchors for child seats, foglights on the LS and new seat fabric and wheel cover for the ES. Greenies can rest easy knowing that it meets LEV standards for all states.
Three years ago, Mitsubishi changed the Diamante, stepping up their offering in the near-luxury market and producing another choice for the upper-middle-class shopper. For 2001, both the ES and LS trim designations are equipped with more standard options, but otherwise, no grand changes have occured.
A 3.5-liter V6 drives the front wheels, making 210 horsepower and competing adequately with other sedans in its class. While it makes a strong showing on the skidpad and in 60-to-zero braking, the Diamante goes from zero to 60 in a less-than-spectacular 8.3 seconds. The electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission will learn if you're a lead foot and adjust itself accordingly. Unfortunately, it will also not shift as well as other transmissions - the "adaptive control management" often manages to do neither, and renders impotent an otherwise competent powertrain. Exterior styling features a chiseled, BMW-like appearance - emphasis on "like" - and features chrome on the window moldings, grille trim, license plate surround and the alloy wheels. Overall, the interior appears adequate but leaves something to be desired - most specifically, a fold-down rear seat or cargo-area pass-through and better-quality materials. For a car of this price point, we'd expect that engineers would make at least a half-hearted attempt to imitate real wood - but noooo.
Not so important, but possibly an issue, are the pictogram choices on the automatic climate controls. They seem logical to some drivers and ridiculous to others, suggesting that Mitsubishi designers might want to take another look at them. It's indicative of the not-quite-effective execution that seems to plague the car.
The 2001 ES is a cloth-trimmed base model with new wheel covers, an AM/FM stereo with CD player and an anti-theft engine immobilizer. The high-end LS adds a host of features, including leather seats, steering wheel and shift knob, a power-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support, wood grain accents, power sunroof, a HomeLink transmitter, separate amplifier for the stereo with steering wheel audio controls, fog lights and color-keyed body-side molding. Upgrade the in-dash CD player to a six-disc version in either ES or LS, but the all-weather package - heated mirrors and front seats, and the traction-control system -- is available only for LS customers.
While the 2001 Diamante gets points for its roominess and excellent sound system, those features are outweighed by a poorly functioning transmission, build-quality issues and uncomfortable seats. At this price point, competitors like the Acura 3.2 TL, Chrysler 300M, the Lexus IS300 and Infiniti I30 seem to overwhelm the Diamante in terms of getting the most for your hard-earned money. We recommend considering all your options when shopping for your next near-luxury vehicle.