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Galant wears a new face for 2004

August 29, 2003|by MALCOLM GUNN/Wheelbase Communications

Mitsubishi is spicing up its automotive lineup and the new mid-size Galant appears to be one of the tastier items on the menu.

No longer in the business of producing mere niche-market vehicles, the company's designers and engineers are striving to be considered in the same breath as the big-volume sellers - Toyota, Honda, Mazda and Nissan - and they're doing it by applying distinctive Mitsubishi-specific styling to the entire fleet. They're also making sure that performance lovers won't be disappointed.

The 2004 Galant was designed in California, an almost mandatory mecca these days for just about every auto manufacturer. It must be that the salt air, warm breezes and laid-back lifestyle is conducive to unleashing waves of creativity among the industry artistes. Whatever it is, it's working just fine for Mitsubishi.

The attractive sheet metal is a blend of both new and been-there-done-that shapes that instantly outdate the previous Galant. The mildly protruding nose is a cue taken from the Outlander and Endeavor sport-utility vehicles, while the beveled fenders can be found on the sporty Eclipse as well as the Montero off-roader. From the side, there are cues that appear lifted from a page of the Nissan Altima text book.

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No matter the influence, the new Galant is dimensionally superior to the outgoing model in terms of overall length, width, wheelbase and passenger volume. The only area that has suffered in the transition is trunk space, which is slightly less than before. The larger platform has also been made significantly stiffer in a move to aid overall ride and handling.

The Galant's reworked interior is also a recent Outlander/Endeavor knock-off, with a central metallic-colored control stack and chunky spoked steering wheel protruding from the dash. Coupled with the easy-to-read overlapping circular gauges, the effect is somewhat macho, but in a sturdy and inviting sort of way.

Also inviting is what's available in the powertrain department. Base DE and ES sedans are equipped with a 2.4-liter SOHC four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower, 20 more than the outgoing car's output. A switch to variable valve timing is the major reason for the added thrust.

More enticing still is the 3.8-liter SOHC V-6 stuffed into the Galant LS and top-dog GTS. Delivering an impressive 230 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft. of torque, the optional motor is one of the largest in its class in terms of displacement but just shy of the 240-horse rating posted by the Honda Accord V-6 or the 245 horsepower cranked out by the 3.5-liter, V-6 Nissan Altima.

As was the case with the previous Galant, a four-speed automatic remains the only transmission choice.

As for content, even the base DE version includes air conditioning, keyless remote entry, tilt steering, six-way adjustable driver's seat, four-speaker CD-equipped audio system, four-wheel disc brakes and power windows, locks and outside mirrors.

At the other end of the scale, the V-6 GTS arrives loaded with climate control, 270-watt sound system, 17-inch alloy wheels, stiffer suspension, rear spoiler, leather and maple wood-trimmed interior and power driver's seat, to name just a few premium ingredients.

Since the new Galant is arriving in early fall, final pricing has yet to be announced, however, count on it being close to the 2003 model's $18,000 starting point. That will come as good news for mid-size sedan shoppers looking for a quick, comfortable and feature-laden package that will stand out against the landscape instead of blending into it.

© 2003, Wheelbase Communications

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