A few short years ago, most of the news coming from the halls of Mitsubishi Motors wasnt good. Fast forward to late 2006, and a string of impressive product rollouts have helped the company get back on its feet. With the release of the new 2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart, the sporty version of the Galant sedan, the company proves that it can field a viable vehicle in the sporty mid-size segment, the most competitive vehicle category in North America.
The 2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart has a base price of $27,624. EPA estimates: 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway.
First Glance: Value-priced performance
The best-selling midsized sedans arent known for being revolutionaries on the styling front most people would be hard-pressed to tell the Camry, Accord and Fusion apart. Mitsubishi took that message to heart, as the new Galant features conservative styling that makes it stands out a bit from the crowd -- but not too much. One styling feature of note: the sloping beltline (the line that runs the length of the body at a level just below the side windows) gives the car an athletic stance, making it a bit more visually interesting than some of its competitors.
That styling philosophy gets tweaked a bit with the Ralliart version I tested, which comes equipped with a host of sporty styling upgrades. Seven-spoke 18 wheels (link goes to photo) are wrapped in larger tires, while side body moldings, an integrated decklid rear spoiler, black mesh grill and fog lights give the Ralliart a sportier look than the DE, ES and GTS versions. The color on my test vehicle was an attractive off-white with a pearlescent finish (officially dubbed sunset pearlescent) that stood out from the ubiquitous white and silver found on many midsize sedans.
All of these exterior bits combine to give the Galant Ralliart a slightly more aggressive look than the Honda Accord or Camry, but not enough to attract attention from law enforcement or teenaged drivers of be-winged Honda Civics.
In the Driver's Seat: Elbow room
The Ralliart trim level includes leather seats (heated in front), power glass sunroof, automatic climate control, and auto-dimming rearview mirror. A premium Rockford Acoustic Design audio system with 6-disc CD/MP3 changer was also included, but it lacked an iPod/MP3 player connector. Fit and finish throughout was generally good, with only one or two interior pieces not in perfect alignment.
I found the seats to be comfortable and supportive, with the drivers seat positioned well to view the instrument cluster. The gauges are painted white with black numbers, making them easy to see in variable light conditions. The optional DVD-based navigation system on my tester worked well, but the spoken directions had an annoying habit of ending with an audible click, almost as if they were coming in via CB radio: "Turn next left, click." Ten-four, good buddy.
The Ralliart comes loaded with standard safety features: front seat torso and two-row side-curtain airbags, stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, and tire pressure monitoring. Electronic stability control, however, isn't available.
The back seat has plenty of space, offering comfortable seating for three average-sized adults. Child-seat LATCH anchors were very easy to access, and hooking up child safety and booster seats was a snap. My oldest son enjoyed the additional rear seat room over similarly-sized vehicles, comparing it favorably to the voluminous expanse of space he experienced during a ride-along of a full-size Dodge Charger I test drove a few months ago.
On the Road: Sports-car engine gives impressive performance
This Galant Ralliart comes equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual Sportronic shifting feature. Shifting was generally smooth, with only a minor disruption in power indicating the gear change. A manual transmission isnt available, so youll have to make do with the manual shifting function. I have to admit that Ive never been a big fan of manumatic manual shifting in automatic transmissions, but the Galant does seem to shift more smoothly in this mode than most other vehicles in its class.
Even when loaded down with a few passengers and a trunk full of groceries, the Ralliart had an abundance of power for passing lumbering SUVs and merging into traffic. Like many powerful front-wheel-drive vehicles, theres a hint of torque steer, which manifests itself as the car pulling to one side while accelerating briskly.
Journey's End: A solid value
The midsized sport sedan segment is an extremely competitive one, filled with the likes of the Honda Accord EX-L V6, Nissan Altima SE, Toyota Camry SE, Chevrolet Malibu SS and the Mazdaspeed 6. I feel the Galant Ralliart lands squarely in the middle of the pack, but its impressive value may push it into the lead for some buyers. It may not be able to match the fit, finish and refinement of the Camry or the Accord, nor the all-wheel-drive prowess and turbocharged thrills of the Mazdaspeed 6, but the Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart is one heck of a good deal.
What is also clear is that Mitsubishi is a company that is back on track, producing vehicles that are competitive and in some cases, superior to others in their price range. The new Mitsubishi Eclipse is by all accounts a winner, and the Galant is also an impressive effort. It may not offer enough to vault to the top of the mid-size sports sedan heap, but the Galant Ralliart is rolling proof that Mitsubishi is back with a vengeance.