Mitsubishi expands product line for 2004

October 31, 2003|by Motor News Media Corporation

The Mitsubishi car line has undergone a major change, with an all-new midsize Galant sedan, while the compact Lancer is adding two Ralliart performance models - a sedan and sportback wagon.

The company also has expanded its SUV line, adding the all-new, Illinois-built Endeavor to the Montero, Montero Sport and compact Outlander.

Lancer Ralliart - After the big splash last year of the oh-so-fast Lancer Evolution sedan, a star of movies, video games, and street-racers everywhere with its turbocharged 2.0-liter, 271-horsepower engine, all-wheel drive, police-escort tail spoiler and bright colors, Mitsubishi rolls out affordable performance this year with the Ralliart sedan and sportback wagon.

The Lancer Ralliart is equipped with a torquey, high-tech version of the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine which generates 162 horsepower and 162 lbs-ft of torque. This powerplant is bolted to a robust five-speed manual gearbox, which was also strengthened to handle the additional output from the high-performance motor. A triple synchro was added to second gear while shifter feel was improved with 12 percent shorter throws - by borrowing the shift assembly from the Lancer Evolution sedan.


Ralliart models receive an extensive list of modifications over the standard Lancer models. Starting with the exterior, the Lancer Ralliart models are enhanced with front and side air dams, fog lights and a sporty rear spoiler. Four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, electronic brake force distribution, a sport-tuned suspension, free-flowing exhaust and 16-inch alloy wheels round out the hardware upgrades.

Inside the cabin, front sport bucket seats sourced from the Japanese-market Evolution GT-A hold driver and front passenger in place during spirited driving.

Galant sedan - All new for 2004, the Mitsubishi Galant debuts with an entirely different look, featuring a wide vertical beam splitting its grille down the middle, and lines that sweep upward from new clear-lens headlight covers along both sides to meet a tapering roofline at the rear. The DE model starts at $18,000 for a solid-performing midsize car with 160 horsepower from its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The engine uses a single overhead cam to operate 16 valves. A four-speed automatic,

air conditioning and a CD player are standard. The ES features more equipment and adds cruise control.

An upgraded LS model adds more options, and a 3.8-liter V-6 with 230 horsepower, while the top-of-the-line GTS has aggressive-looking alloy wheels and a firmer suspension as well, for under $25,000. At 187.8 inches, the Galant is about an inch shorter than the Honda Accord and an inch longer than the Mazda6.

Endeavor SUV - Mitsubishi continues to flex its new-found muscle with the introduction of the 2004 Endeavor, conceived as a "no compromise" crossover SUV. It's the automaker's first vehicle completely designed and manufactured in North America.

As part of the manufacturer's $1.6 billion "Project America" initiative, the Endeavor offers consumers a compelling mix of safe, dynamic performance, superior versatility, sporty driving manners, smart design and bold exterior good looks.

Built at the automaker's Normal, Ill., assembly complex, the SUV went into production earlier this year. The Endeavor is available in LS, XLS and Limited models with a choice of front- or all-wheel-drive configurations.

A new 3.8-liter cast-iron V-6 derived from the automaker's 3.5-liter V-6 in the Montero Sport powers the Endeavor. A next-generation electronic four-speed automatic transmission transfers torque to the road. The automatic gearbox is equipped with the latest version of the INVECS II processor that helps the transmission match its shifting actions both to the road conditions and the operator's driving style and inputs.

A Sportronic mode offers dynamic manual shifting by simply moving the shift lever into the "sports" mode gate for more fun-to-drive control - without a clutch.

All-wheel-drive models utilize a center differential equipped with a spider gear and viscous coupling arrangement to realize a full-time, 50/50 torque split, sharing power to all four wheels. The transfer differential case can be equipped with a Towing Prep package that includes a hypoid gear oil cooler.

The vehicle's goodness starts with a rigid foundation. Unibody steel construction incorporates longitudinal frame rails - straight and strong with an octagonal shape for maximum strength. Eight cross members that include hydroformed rear components make up the chassis. The Endeavor was engineered with a passenger car-style suspension system to deliver excellent driving manners on the broken urban pavement where crossover SUVs spend most of their time.

Inside the cabin, the Mitsubishi design makes a bold statement about modern interiors. The layout is clean and functional. Displays and controls are easy to read and this rendition of a user-friendly cabin is intuitive to use. The outward view is excellent, with plenty of room for five adults.

The second-row seat is a 60/40 folding setup, providing increased flexibility for cargo and passengers. There is no third-seat option.

© 2003, Motor News Media Corporation

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