Its easy to get the publics
attention when you build a powerful sports car, a demon truck or even a
dirt-devouring sport-utility vehicle.
a mostly utilitarian, mid-size family sedan how can a manufacturer stand out
in that crowded field? How does it create a vehicle that serves the same purpose
as every other family sedan, yet has that something extra to catch the eye and
the heart of a prospective buyer?
In the case of Mitsubishi, the Japanese manufacturer that has been an habitual
tag-along in this part of the market, the hopeful answer is the Galant Ralliart,
top-of-the-line version of its family sedan lineup.
For its early-release 2009 models, Mitsubishi is hoping to spark some new
interest in the aging Galant lineup with a revised grille, taillights and rear
fenders. Most will probably find the changes agreeable, but they arent
significant enough to make what is old appear to be new.
Still, the Ralliart is a competent entry in a segment of the market that
generally does not put sportiness on its list of must-have features.
Ralliart, for those of you who might still be mystified by the odd moniker, was
Mitsubishis name for its worldwide rally effort. With the Japanese manufacturer
out of that competition, it signifies the sportiest models in the production car
front-wheel-drive Ralliart gets its point across with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine
bulked up to 258 horsepower, a tightened suspension, bigger brakes and wheels,
and trim that distinguishes it from its less athletic Galant siblings.
The result is a sedan that is surprisingly engaging. It wont push anybodys
Porsche out of the garage, but it can add a little zest to the every-day driving
experience. The engine, teamed with a shiftable five-speed automatic
transmission, can rush the Galant Ralliart from a stop to 60 mph in a little
more than six seconds. More importantly, the 258 pound-feet of torque help make
short work of those two-lane passing situations.
On the downside, there is noticeable torque-tug on the steering wheel under
heavy acceleration, and fuel efficiency is not this Galants strongest suit. The
EPA predicts between 16 and 25 miles for every gallon of the recommended premium
fuel. My average over a week and several hundred miles was about 20 mpg.
The Galant Ralliarts tauter independent suspension improves the cars handling
noticeably, without requiring much of a sacrifice in ride comfort. There
shouldnt be any complaints from the passengers unless the road is unusually
The four-wheel antilock brakes stand ready to rein in the over-enthusiastic
driver, and they come with electronic force distribution to maximize stopping
cues that announce the Ralliart include a mesh grille, 18-inch wheels, a lower
front air dam and projector-type headlights. Adults need not worry. The changes
wont make everyone think theyve borrowed their kids car.
Inside, the storys
more of a mixed bag. The overall ambience is pleasant enough and the standard
leather seats are comfortable for up to four adults. However, a close look at
some of the trim pieces tells you this is where the cost-cutters were doing
their work. In addition, the optional navigation system looks as if it was stuck
on the dashboard as an afterthought, and it is essentially invisible to anyone
wearing sunglasses. Oddly, it is available only on the Ralliart model.
list of safety features includes front and side-mounted airbags for front-seat
passengers, side curtain airbags, front and rear crumple zones, side-impact
beams and tire pressure monitors.
The base price of
,924, including the 5 delivery fee, will buy a car with a full complement
of luxury features. Add ,500 for the navigation system and the Ralliarts tab
comes to ,424.
The hottest Galant
wont shout for anyones attention, but its ready to offer a rewarding driving
experience for the buyer who wants to have a little fun with his transportation
258 horsepower 3.8 liter
MIVEC V-6 engine
5 speed Sportronic
18-inch alloy wheels
P235/45R18 all-season tires
Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with
electronic brake-force distribution (EBD)
Dual-stage front airbags
Front and rear curtain
Auto delay off headlamps
Tire pressure monitoring
8-way power driver's seat
Remote power door locks
Heated side view mirrors
Auto-dimming rear view
Steering wheel audio
360-watt Rockford Acoustic
Design premium audio system (AM/FM/Satellite in-dash 6 CD MP3 player) with 8
Sirius Satellite Radio
Major Available Options (Partial List, depends on model, some options are only available
as part of a package, see your Mitsubishi dealer for details)
Includes: DVD-based Navigation System with 7-inch LCD touch screen panel and
Diamond Lane Guidance (a system that allows drivers to navigate a route
exclusively using carpool / HOV lanes), Mitsubishi Multi-Communication
System (providing vehicle information, climate control, and audio settings),
and a rear view camera.