Mitsubishi cars and trucks are probably the most under-rated vehicles in North America. They’ve been with us since the 70’s either as a Mitsubishi, or some form of re-badged Chrysler product. I owned a couple of Dodge (Mitsubishi) Colts back in the early ‘90’s and they were great cars – unbreakable and extremely reliable. They needed only 3 things to keep them going: gas, oil and a key. They were reasonably priced, great on gas, and never once went back to the dealership for anything other than an oil change.
Over the years Mitsubishi, in my opinion, have made things difficult for themselves. A wise man once said: “It takes just as much money to design an ugly car as a gorgeous car.” Mitsubishi put that expression to the test on a regular basis. Their designers can’t seem to find a middle ground between a fantastic looking car and a butt-ugly car. For example look at the new Eclipse – gorgeous. Now look at the Montero – bluuh. The Colts of the late ‘80’s and through to the 90’s were nice – good-looking even. Compare them to the Colts of the early to mid 80’s– bluuh. The Colts of the 80’ – 90’s were drawn with a sweeping pencil while the earlier models were drawn with a set-square.
This week’s road test vehicle is a very nice car. The front is a little unattractive to my eyes. Not ugly – just unattractive in the way Katie Holmes and Jennifer Aniston look – only one of them will make your heart skip a beat.
Otherwise, this car is a serious competitor to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Inside it’s plush, sporty and extremely comfortable while outside it’s very attractive other than the grill/headlight area. It’s probably just me, because everyone I talked to liked the car and no one made a rude comment about its nose.
Climbing behind the wheel, I found the seat easy to adjust and get comfortable with. The driver’s seat is power-adjustable in many configurations except in height. I was quite surprised it wasn’t height adjustable but it didn’t need to be because it was perfectly placed. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped, but on the thin side compared to the vast majority of vehicles I’ve driven over the past few years. There’s nothing wrong with the thickness – it just felt different. Looking at the stereo system I could see the buttons, but there was no way of telling what station you were listening to. Turns out the radio and heating system read-out are displayed in a screen on the top of the dashboard that looks like a small SatNav screen. Once I figured that out everything was fine. The little screen gives you information such as outside temperature, a compass, the stereo info, heating/AC info as well as other things like the clock, door ajar, fuel economy, average speed and a stopwatch. You can even control the different buzzers (on/off) – very ingenious. On the negative side, it sometimes got washed out in very bright days when I was wearing my sunglasses. There’s a bright and brighter button, but it still didn’t help on some occasions, although at night it was perfect.
The steering is very sharp – almost go-kart like, and mated to the fantastic throttle response this is a very fast and agile 4-door. The throttle responds instantly to your foot, it’s like having a turbo-charger spooled up and ready all the time – instant go when you need it and want it. The suspension is perfectly matched too, giving the driver terrific feedback when darting around slower traffic. Road imperfections are not transferred through to the cabin and don’t upset the balance of the car either. It’s firm without being teeth shattering. It’s the type of set up that makes you want to drive and drive – even when you’ve got no place to go.
The top of the dashboard is covered in a squishy rubber-type material that helps against reflections being thrown up onto the window. It continues along the top of the door. There’s a band of black ash fake wood (Mitsubishi call it Blackwood) running around the center of the console and along the doors. I’m not a big fan of fake wood, but I liked the tasteful choice Mitsubishi made in this case. My wife commented it would have been better if there were a little more of it in the car.
The sound system in the test vehicle was a Mitsubishi/Infinity 270-watt, 8-speaker system with a 6-in dash CD/MP3 player. Wow – it was crystal-clear and very loud! Volume and tuning are accomplished using nice big round buttons – just the way all stereo systems should be. Surprisingly there weren’t any audio controls on the steering wheel – hmmmm. After checking the manual I found that there are audio controls – they’re located on the back-side of the steering wheel! So instead of taking your hand off the wheel or using your thumbs, you use your fingertips – very unique and very easy to get used to.
Just below the stereo system is the central climate control and wouldn’t you know it – it’s perfect!!! Three round dials clearly marked and easy to use. When you leave it in the automatic feature the fan speed doesn’t come on and blast you right away, it waits until the vehicle has reached the proper temperature and then it comes on. Why can’t everyone do this well??
Surprisingly for a car of its size, the back seat area is very large and accommodating. The doors open wide and entry and exit is superb. Once back there it’s very comfortable with tons of leg, knee and foot space. Hip, shoulder and headroom are also very generous. The seats don’t fold, but there is a pass-through for long items like skis.
The GTS only comes on one variation – fully loaded. The easiest way to tell the difference between it and the lesser variety are the clear taillights. Standard features include: leather seating, heated front seats with 8-way power adjustment and lumbar support, automatic climate control, 17” aluminum rims and tires, power moon-roof, the aforementioned audio system with color display and an anti-theft alarm. I can’t think of anything that could have been added to the car other than telescopic steering.
The Galant GTS comes with a 230 hp 3.8-liter V-6 with 250 lb.-ft torque driving the front wheels using a Sportronic™ 4-speed automatic transmission. The Sportronic transmission allows the driver the option of clutchless shifting (no need to lift the throttle when changing gears). A manual transmission is not an option in any level of Galant. The transmission uses Adaptive Shift Control, which helps to tailor shifts to each driver, by “learning” his or her driving habits. It will even downshift for engine braking if its computer senses the driver braking frequently while descending a hill, and it will hold a lower gear while climbing hills for more power. The system works very well in the real world driving. We’ve got a couple of steep hills where we live and although I put the transmission into the sport mode and downshifted a couple of times, it wasn’t really necessary because the car did it by itself whenever I left it in Drive. Going up a hill, this car just keeps going and going. The power is right there all the way to the top. Unlike other manufacturers similar transmissions, Mitsubishi’s Sportronic transmission is programmed to override the driver’s command in only one circumstance – if the gearbox is not downshifted to first gear upon stopping the vehicle, the transmission will automatically select first gear. If the driver doesn’t manually up shift and the transmission reaches the rpm redline, fuel cutoff will intervene, but the transmission will still remain in the selected gear. The Galant’s transmission/engine combination is perfectly matched – so well done that, dare I say it – a manual transmission isn’t needed or desired.
On the safety side, the Galant GTS comes with dual-stage airbags, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, pre-tensioner and force limiting seat belts, Traction Control, ABS with EBD, tire pressure monitoring system and an engine immobilizer.
The Mitsubishi warranty has to be mentioned: 10-year power train, 5-year bumper to bumper and 7-year rust protection, and the longest 24/7 roadside assistance program I’ve seen yet – 5 years – Impressive!
I loved every minute I spent with the Galant GTS. It’s powerful and responsive just when you need it. It’s fuel economy is quite good, although it should be noted that it takes premium fuel. That’s not a problem in the U.S. but up here in Canada, we get hosed by the petroleum industry to the tune of 40-45 cents per gallon more than regular gas. Although I wasn’t enamored with the face, it did grow on me over the week that I had it, and it certainly looks a lot more unique than all the other boring cars out there. One gripe is the super Big Gulp sized cup holders – anything smaller and it flops about.
Pricing for the 2006 Mitsubishi Galant GTS
As tested: $ 26,999 [$33,798 Cdn]
Base price for the 4-cylinder starts at: $19,399 [$23,998 Cdn]
Fuel Consumption: [Premium – 91 Octane]
The 3.8L, 230 HP V-6 is rated at 18 mpg City [12.8 L/100 kms] and 29.5 mpg Highway [8.0 L/100 kms]
I averaged 20 mpg [11.7/100km] combined in very lead-footed driving.
Goes like stink with a perfectly matched engine/transmission and suspension
Excellent fit and finish with a gorgeous paint color – metallic blue
A sports car with 4 doors
Fantastic stereo system
Thou$and$ less than similar cars
Perfect climate control system!
Fantastic seats – you can drive all day with no fatigue
Ummmm. Gimme a minute…..
Would I Spend My Money On It?:
Yes. Mitsubishi’s are by-and-large bulletproof so you can’t go wrong with purchasing/leasing one. Fantastic warranty too. The price is great for any vehicle with this much “stuff” jammed into it.
Back Seat Driver Test: 9 out of 10
Very comfortable with plenty of space for feet, legs, hips and shoulders. The rear seats are slightly higher than the fronts giving you a feeling of theater-seating. Very comfortable for two, and a third wouldn’t complain too loudly if they got stuck in the middle.
Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Chevy Malibu, Pontiac G6, Chrysler Sebring, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Magentis, Mazda6, Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy, Suzuki Verona, VW Jetta/Passat
By The Numbers…
10 – Quality
10 – Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
10 – Cargo Area/Trunk Space
10 – Special Features (Sat Nav/Heated Seats/ Sunroof, etc)
10 – Ease of Entry/Exit
10 – Front Roominess
9 – Rear Roominess
10 – Driving Position/Controls
9 – Drool Factor
10 – Fit & Finish
10 – Engine
10 – Transmission
10 – Ride & Handling
10 – Bang for the $$
9 – Fuel Economy
147 Total / 150
Copyright © 2006 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text / Images: Iain Shankland
Also Published at: PaddockTalk