For decades, the Mitsubishi Galant assumed the role of fringe player in the family-sedan game. While representing a good value for the budget-conscious consumer, it was no match for the class leaders due to its small backseat, mostly mediocre powertrains and uninspiring interior design and execution.
Having watched other automakers successfully supersize their sedans with premium features and larger V6s under the hood, Mitsubishi knew not to fight the tide when it came time to redesign the Galant. Consequently, the latest, fifth-generation model was engineered exclusively for the North American market. Its dimensions grew considerably, as did the power of its top engines.
While the Mitsubishi Galant is certainly a bargain in SE trim, most four-cylinder-powered midsize competitors would ultimately be a better, more rewarding choice. Folks who don't necessarily follow the crowd or demand the latest glitz and glamour from their midsize sedan may be tempted, but in general, you can do better.
Current Mitsubishi Galant
The Mitsubishi Galant midsize sedan comes in two trim levels -- base ES and SE. The ES has the basics, including air-conditioning, full power features and a CD player. The SE adds alloy wheels, a sunroof, some stylized trim, a rearview camera, automatic climate control, a power driver seat, heated front seats, Bluetooth, a navigation system and an upgraded sound system. Options include leather upholstery and port-installed accessories like an iPod interface, remote ignition and for ES models, a rearview camera.
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is the only choice and is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Power output is weak, at only 160 horsepower, and trails almost all competitors. Fuel economy is merely average.
With unique styling inside and out, the Galant features one of the more distinctive cabin designs in its class, with a cascading center console and bright blue backlighting at night. It's distinctive, but it also looks a bit like a boom box and it's constructed of some low-grade plastics. The front seats are agreeable and roomy, while rear-seat comfort is adequate but not up to class leaders in terms of support. Unfortunately, the seatback doesn't fold down, but there is a ski/cargo pass-through to increase utility.
Though underpowered, we've found the Mitsubishi Galant to be one of the more fun-to-drive family sedans. When cornering, the Galant remains flat and predictable and feels smaller than it is. The ride is smooth and composed, yet a surprising amount of feedback from the road is transmitted through the steering wheel. In terms of overall refinement and feature content, however, the Galant has been surpassed by newer competing models.
Used Mitsubishi Galant Models
The most recent generation of the Mitsubishi Galant debuted for the 2004 model year. The trim levels initially offered were the four-cylinder DE and ES, alongside the V6-powered LS and GTS. That V6 was a 3.8-liter mill that produced 230 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. While initially competitive, this output was quickly eclipsed by most competitors and its fuel economy was comparatively poor. Its standard four-speed automatic was always behind the times until it was replaced by a five-speed for '07. A four-cylinder SE model, featuring leather upholstery and automatic climate control, was added for '06.
For '07, the LS was dropped and the high-performance Ralliart debuted, which featured a higher-output 3.8-liter V6 with 258 horses and 258 lb-ft of torque. The next year, the GTS model disappeared, leaving just the DE, ES and Ralliart. For 2009 a new grille and taillights debuted, while trim levels were shuffled -- the base DE trim was dropped and the Sport Edition (SE) and Sport V6 appeared.
For 2010, the Galant lineup was pared down to only two trim levels -- the ES and SE. The V6 engine was also cut, leaving only the weak four-cylinder under the hood. Not all was lost, though, as premium audio, navigation and a rearview camera were added to the SE.
Safety features such as antilock disc brakes, traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags were variously (depending on year and trim level) have been available on the Galant. Stability control was not offered until 2010.
If you're looking for a used current-generation Galant, you should be able to score a good deal on one, as resale value is not a strong point. As such, a well-maintained specimen qualifies as a genuine used-car bargain though reliability may be a notch or two below Japan's best.
The previous-generation Mitsubishi Galant was available from 1999-2003. It was the first Galant to come with a V6 engine, and its exterior styling drew favorable comparisons to BMW sedans. In 2002, its design was again freshened inside and out, with trim and content changes like Infinity sound systems, a sunroof and 16-inch wheels sprucing things up through the following year. For shoppers on a budget who can overlook the small backseat, average powertrains and uninspiring materials and refinement, a Galant of this vintage can offer true low-cost value as an entry-level ride or possibly a second car.
The only other Galant one will likely encounter with any frequency will be the generation offered in the U.S. from 1994-'98. It soldiered on through those years, juggling content and trim levels, but was destined to remain a second-tier value player due to its relatively compact dimensions, cramped interior, four-cylinder power and lack of overall refinement. Don't expect great things from this generation, but if you manage to find one, it's likely to be bargain-priced.