2003 Mitsubishi Galant
    MSRP
    $17,857 - $24,637
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    2003 Mitsubishi Galant Expert Review:New Car Test Drive

    A comfortable mid-size sedan.

    Introduction

    Mitsubishi's Galant is smooth, responsive, and extremely stable. It's comfortable the minute you climb in, and immediately pleasant and easy to drive, requiring no ramp-up time to adjust to its operation. It instantly feels familiar. It handles well and it's fun to hustle around corners. Galant offers a good value when measured against other mid-size sedans, particularly the V6 models. 

    Last year, Mitsubishi revised Galant's styling with a new grille, front fascia, and taillamps. Redesigned instruments gave it a cleaner look inside. Changes for 2003 are minor, and include new color combinations, new option packages, and more power for the standard stereo. 

    Lineup

    The Galant model lineup is extensive. Six models are available: DE ($17,767); ES ($18,627); LS ($21,227); ES V6 ($20,047); LS V6 ($23,257); and GTZ ($24,547). 

    DE, ES, and LS are powered by a 140-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. ES V6, LS V6, and GTZ models come with a 3.0-liter V6 engine rated 195 horsepower. All Galants come equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission. 

    Four-cylinder models have drum brakes in the rear, while V6 Galants get four-wheel discs. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard on LS and GTZ. V6 models also come with 16-inch speed-rated P205/55HR tires, while four-cylinder Galants get 15-inch P195/65 tires. 

    DE comes standard with air conditioning, power windows and door locks, a 140-watt, four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, and 15-inch tires. 

    ES is trimmed better and is more popular. ES adds premium cloth upholstery, titanium- or bronze-look interior accents, integrated fog lamps, remote keyless entry, cruise control, partial folding rear seat trunk pass-through, a cargo net, rear-window antenna, and power side mirrors. 

    LS trim adds dual front side-impact airbags, antilock brakes (ABS), a nice leather-wrapped steering wheel, alloy wheels (instead of steel), a one-touch power glass sunroof, and a 210-watt Mitsubishi/Infinity CD stereo with seven speakers. The LS V6 also comes with heated mirrors and traction control. 

    Both LS models offer leather seating surfaces as part of an option package ($1120) which also includes a nice leather-covered shifter, and an eight-way power driver's seat with manually adjustable headrest and lumbar support. 

    GTZ comes standard with the leather interior and is tuned more like a sports sedan. Distinguished by its color-keyed grille and rear deck-lid spoiler, the GTZ rides about a half-inch lower on a sport-tuned suspension. GTZ also comes standard with traction control. 

    New for 2003 is the Sun & Sound Package ($1700) for ES, which combines a power sunroof with alloy wheels and the seven-speaker Mitsubishi/Infinity stereo. An All-Weather Package ($920) for the ES V6 adds traction control, heated mirrors, and ABS. Alone, ABS adds $610 to the price of an ES; it is not available on the DS. 

    Walkaround

    Mitsubishi Galant is similar in size to Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, though it's just a tad smaller. Galant is a bit sportier in appearance than most mid-size sedans, though it looks a bit dated when compared with more recently redesigned models. 

    Galant features a graceful, sweeping roofline, smartly tailored lines, and sculpted sides. Its dual-nostril grille flaunts its Mitsubishi identity. Lever-style door handles require flipping your hand upside down and are hard to hang onto. 

    Interior

    Mitsubishi Galant is a little smaller inside than the Toyota Camry, although it does offer more front-seat legroom. 

    Galant's well-designed interior is attractive and highly functional. Everything is located where expected; we never had to search for a control. Like its exterior, the Galant's inner regions are smooth, contemporary, and nicely designed. We liked the feel of the thick, padded steering wheel. The instrument cluster is readily visible through the full range of steering wheel adjustment. The instrument cluster was redesigned last year for a cleaner look. The gauges are straightforward and easy to read. 

    Likewise, switchgear is straightforward and easy to operate, although the HVAC controls are rudimentary and would look more at home in a compact car. A compartment under the HVAC controls is handy for wallets or sunglasses. There's a nice, big glovebox. The small center console is lined with rubber at the bottom to keep things from sliding around and making noise. A pair of cup holders in front of it are fairly easy to access. 

    The optional Infinity stereo is nicely designed. The buttons are on the small side, but are laid out in a straightforward way that makes them easy to operate. The optional glass sunroof has a nice inside sliding opaque cover. 

    Sporty front bucket seats offer a good range of adjustment with above-average side bolsters and thigh support. Optional leather-covered seats are comfortable and supportive and the leather is attractive. The leather package includes a nice leather-covered shifter, but the handbrake lever is on the spindly side. Driver sight lines are average for a car in this class; but there's good visibility over the sloping hood with no significant blind spots. 

    The rear seats are comfortable as well, with lots of head room, hip room, and shoulder room. Leg room is a little limited, but you can slide your feet comfortably under the front seats. That makes it fine for a fairly lengthy drive. This car is comfortable for four people, but not for five. There are no adjustable headrests for the rear seats and there's no center armrest. The rear cupholders are mounted on the rear of the center console below an armrest, which means flipping the armrest back if you want to use it. However, these are minor demerits in an otherwise thoughtful design. 

    The trunk features a nice, flat interior. The trunk lid uses the type of hinges that intrude into the trunk space, but offer the advantage of popping the trunk lid open when the button on the remote is hit. Galant's trunk is slightly larger than the trunk in the all-new 2003 Honda Accord, but not quite as big as the trunk in the new Toyota Camry. 

    Safety features include dual front airbags. Height-adjustable seat belts are used in front. Three-point seat belts are used in the rear, including in the center seating position; this rear-center belt is absent from some passenger cars and many sport-utility vehicles. Child restraint anchors are provided. Side airbags are a standard safety feature in LS, LS V6, and GTZ models, but are not available in the other models; Mitsubishi's side-impact airbags are mounted in the sides of the front seat frames. 

    GTZ comes standard with traction control, which helps the driver maintain control under acceleration, particularly in slippery conditions. ABS is standard on LS and GTZ, optional on ES, and helps the driver to maintain steering control under hard braking. 

    Driving Impression

    Some cars require adjustment, while others quickly become an extension of yourself. The Galant falls into this latter category. We jumped in and took off and immediately felt comfortable. If we'd been at a race track we would have felt comfortable taking the first lap flat out. Handling is precise. The Galant feels very stable. It responds exactly as you expect. 

    The available V6 engine is very responsive. It's strong and eager, yet fairly quiet. Passing performance is brisk, even at elevations of 5000 feet. Mitsubishi's V6 is comparable to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord V6 engines, which are leaders in this class, though it doesn't have quite their levels of refinement. It's a little noisier and not quite as smooth, but we wouldn't call it rough or noisy. With single overhead cams and 24 valves, the 3.0-liter V6 is rated 195 horsepower and 205 foot-pounds of torque. 

    The standard four-cylinder engine is tuned to deliver power for good passing performance and good acceleration from a standstill. In other words, it offers good low-end torque. This 2.4-liter single-cam 16-valve inline-4 is rated 140 horsepower and 155 foot-pounds of torque. Mitsubishi's patented dual engine stabilizers virtually eliminate the harmonic vibration typical of a large-displacement four-cylinder engine. Mitsubishi invented this technology, and licenses it to other automakers. 

    All Galants come equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission that delivers excellent response in all types of driving situations. We were rarely aware of the transmission at all, which means it does a very good job. Mitsubishi's fuzzy logic computer programming allows the engine and transmission to better anticipate the driver's wishes and eliminate the irritating up- and down-shifting that's still a characteristic of some automatics. All of this electronic gadgetry is transparent and works well. 

    Ride quality is first-rate, effectively damping out nasty stretches of pavement. We were impressed by the noise suppression measures taken in this car. Mitsubishi has done a very good job of isolating the cabin from the suspension, thereby minimizing highway and tire noise. At the same time, Mitsubishi's attention to aerodynamic detail has helped reduce wind noise to a level that's comparable with the best in the class. The Galant may not be quite as quiet as a Camry, but it's quite pleasant. 

    Handling is balanced in favor of comfort over aggressive response. In hard cornering, there's a little more body lean than you'd encounter in an Accord. Like all front-drive cars, the Galant tends toward progressive understeer when pushed past the limit of tire grip; the faster the car enters a corner, the less it wants to turn. It's quite predictable. While Mitsubishi would like us to perceive the Galant as a sports sedan (especially the GTZ model), its suspension tuning feels more like family fare to us. However, there's nothing wrong with that. The Galant is very forgiving to driver errors, such as braking hard in the middle of a turn; while some cars would spin out under these circumstances, we had no trouble controlling the Galant. The GTZ's suspension uses a smaller front anti-roll bar and a larger rear anti-roll bar, which we assume are designed to help reduce understeer. Steering response in the Galant is accurate; it delivers acceptable road feel once the steering wheel is moved a degree or two off dead center. It does lack a little of what car magazines call on-center feel, meaning there is a small amount of play in the steering. 

    The brakes feel sure and are easy to modulate. Braking is provided by discs up front and drums at the rear on four-cylinder models, with discs all around on V6 models. Braking performance seemed to be about average for this class. More expensive disc brakes generally offer superior fade resistance over drum brakes. (Brake performance often begins to fade when brakes. 

    Summary

    Mitsubishi Galant measures up against the best mid-size sedans. The Galant offers a pleasant blend of quiet operation, plentiful power, lots of standard equipment, excellent assembly quality, comfort for four, and good looks at a competitive price. 

    Model Lineup

    DE ($17,767); ES ($18,627); LS ($21,227); ES V6 ($20,047); LS V6 ($23,257); GTZ ($24,547). 

    Assembled In

    Normal, Illinois. 

    Options As Tested

    Premium Leather Package ($1120) includes leather seating surfaces, leather-trimmed shifter, 8-way power driver's seat with manual-adjust headrest and lumbar. 

    Model Tested

    Mitsubishi Galant LS V6 ($23,257). 

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    Read 2003 Mitsubishi Galant reviews from auto industry experts to gain insight on the Mitsubishi Galant's drivability, comfort, power and performance.
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