Mitsubishi’s Galant has always been a capable mid-size sedan, but it lacked the refined character and performance to seriously challenge class leaders Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Well, there’s a new 2004 Galant, and it’s a very different animal. It bares lines that are more cutting edge sports car than family 4-door and promises performance to fuel your driving fire. So, can a new, more aggressive Galant finally give the rivals the heave ho?
It won’t be easy, but the all-new 2004 Mitsubishi Galant has been tweaked and tightened, like never before. It rides on an American designed and built platform with twice the rigidity of its predecessor. But it’s not stiffness that will catch the public’s eye, it’s styling. The twin-nostril grille flanked by multi-reflector headlights leads the recognizably Mitsubishi wide-stance look, followed by tall, flat flanks, with a crisp belt line character line, and a long greenhouse with a high, short trunk deck, and large multi-reflector taillights. And on our GTS test car, a spoiler which blends into the light clusters.
That hi-style carries over to a more luxurious interior. Our GTS-model’s 98.5 cubic-feet of passenger volume edges out the Accord, but comes up a little short against the Camry. It matches both for efficiency, and leads in fashion, with an angular center stack look borrowed from its SUV kin, the Endeavor. On our GTS a large center display resides above the integrated automatic climate controls and a 270-watt Infinity 6-disc CD stereo. The overlapping gauges are also from the Endeavor, though the GTS cluster gets sporty white faces. For progressive safety, the Galant’s dual-stage front airbags have passenger seat occupant sensors. Side airbags are standard in the GTS, optional in the ES and LS. Missing are the Accord and Camry’s available head curtain airbags. Seating easily meets mid-size requirements. Our car’s roomy, supportive buckets provide both leather and power for the driver. Height adjustment is standard on all Galants. Rear seat room splits the difference between Accord and Camry, but does lead in shoulder room. However, the seat backs do not fold. There is only a small trunk pass-through. A serious omission in cargo flexibility, since the trunk Galant delivers 13.3 cubic-feet of space while not bad, is smaller than its main rivals. Fortunately the lid opens high and the load lip is low for easy loading.
At the other end, the Galant’s powertrains are well matched to its opponents. The base unit is a 2.4-liter single-cam four with variable valve timing and electronic lift control. It delivers 160 horsepower and 157 pound-feet of torque. Our GTS is powered by a new 3.8-liter single-overhead-cam V6 that pumps out 230 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. Both are fitted to a front drive 4-speed automatic transmission. The V6 adds Sportronic manual shift mode. Which helped us run a best 0 to 60 time of 6.7 seconds. Our quickest quarter mile was 15.3 seconds, at 93 miles-per-hour. Low end throttle response was abrupt, resulting in significant torque steer. But once off the line, the V6 pulled smoothly from idle to redline. The gearbox produced quick, firm shifts, its ratios well matched to the engine’s power band.
With almost 5-inches added wheelbase, and 400 pounds more weight than last year’s GTZ model, slow speed handling response seemed a bit sluggish. Front plow, however, is moderate and safe. Steering weight increases nicely as speeds rise, as does overall stability. The advanced front-strut, rear multi-link suspension firms up in faster corners, and carries the car cleanly through our high speed lane change with grace. In this vital area the Galant feels superior to Accord and Camry.
As it does in braking. Our GTS, with 4-wheel discs and standard ABS and Electronic Brake Force Distribution, stopped from 60 in an average distance of 126 feet. Feel, response and stability were all top notch. With low profile 17-inch V-rated tires, the GTS’s ride quality is a bit choppier over rough roads than other Galants with 16-inch rims and its top competitors. But the GTS delivers better road feel for the enthusiast driver. It also delivers EPA fuel mileage numbers of 18 city/26 highway. Our car returned a fine 23 miles-per-gallon in mixed driving.
As for the numbers on the window sticker, the base Galant DE goes for $18,592. ES grade, the 4-cylinder volume model, begins at a very competitive $19,592, while the more luxurious LS V-6 starts at $21,592. And if you want our sporty GTS, $26,292 reads its fine print.
For family buyers, the new Mitsubishi Galant presents a clear alternative to class leaders. While not the largest or the most versatile, it’s certainly within the ballpark. And it packs both fresh, head-turning style, and more than a little sporty performance. That makes the 2004 Mitsubishi Galant a viable competitor in our book. And while Galant will likely never rule the mid-size family sedan kingdom, it should remind the class rulers that their crowns are not a birthright.
Engine: 3.8-Liter Single-overhead-cam V6
Torque: 250 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 6.7 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.3 Seconds @ 93 MPH
60-0 MPH: 126 Feet
EPA Mileage: 18 MPG City 26 MPG Highway
Motorweek's Mileage Loop: 23 MPG Mixed City/highway