Preview Drive: 2009 Mitsubishi Galant

Ralliart edition again tops the Galant lineup as Mitsubishi's midsize sedan gets a modest reworking and revised lineup

by James M. Flammang

2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart

Reworked two seasons ago, Mitsubishi's midsize front-drive family sedan displays a freshened appearance for 2009, including new front and rear sheetmetal. Mitsubishi has dropped its base-level DE sedan, but added two new models: a four-cylinder Sport Edition, plus a Sport V6. The Galant lineup also includes a base-level ES edition, plus a sportier Ralliart that contains special suspension tuning, promising tighter road feel.

Headlights, fascias, and the hood are new for 2009. So are the taillights and back glass. The ES version gains color-keyed outside mirrors and door handles. Side air dams are now installed on the Ralliart, along with a color-keyed rear spoiler (also included on the Sport V6 model).

Two-tone leather now is standard in Sport V6 and Ralliart sedans, and this year's instrument panels are orange-lit. All models may be equipped with foglamps. As before, Galants contain six airbags, including curtain-type airbags and seat-mounted side-impact airbags. Antilock braking also is standard, too. All Galants are manufactured in the U.S.

ES and Sport Edition sedans hold a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower. Only a four-speed automatic transmission is offered. The EPA gives it a fuel-economy estimate of 20 mpg in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway.

Rather than the 230-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine that goes into the Sport model, the Ralliart gets a 258-hp rendition of that powerplant. Both models work with a five-speed automatic transmission. The EPA's fuel-economy estimate is a non-frugal 16 mpg for city driving and a better 25 mpg on the highway.

In Ralliart trim, the 2009 Galant is easy to drive with moderately light steering - and just a touch of welcome heaviness. Acceleration from a standstill suffers a slight delay after pushing on the pedal, but from 40 mph or so you're likely to experience a slight sensation of having your head pushed backward - well more response than most drivers ever need.

Where the Galant Ralliart lags is ride quality. This sedan hits just about every bump in a noticeable manner, and some of them react harshly. Yes, this translates to better control; but that may not be enough to offset the discomfort. Overall control on the road is good, but not that good.

On the whole, this Galant does not quite match the midsize leaders in terms of solid construction or detail work. Climate-control operation is inconsisent, for one thing. White-faced gauges are basic but very legible, and the big glovebox is easier to reach and more roomy than most.

Front-seat space is ample, though the driver's head might be fairly close to the sunroof. Rear-seat occupants enjoy plenty of leg space, but heads are likely to come very close to the roof and the back seat is not as cushiony or comfortable as the front.

Mitsubishi's high-mounted navigation screen (if installed) sits in a separate pod atop the dashboard, but it's not always easy to read.

Galant prices start at $21,724 (including destination charge) for an ES sedan. A Ralliart can be driven home for $27,924. Ralliart sedans can have the optional Navigation Package with a 7-inch touch screen. Later in the 2009 model year, a rearview camera is expected to join the options list.

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© All contents copyright 2008 by Tirekicking Today
Text and photos by James M. Flammang
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