It’s easy to get the publics’ attention when you build a powerful sports car, a demon truck or even a dirt-devouring sport-utility vehicle.
But 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 a 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 aren’t significant enough to make what is old appears 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 Mitsubishi’s name for its worldwide rally effort. With the Japanese manufacturer out of that competition, it signifies the sportiest models in the production car lineup.
The 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.
|Category:||,000 to, 000 sedan|
|Who should buy this car:||A person looking for a competent family sedan providing a touch of fun.|
|Comparable models in this class:||Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac G8, Saturn Aura, Toyota Camry|
The result is a sedan that is surprisingly engaging. It won’t push anybody’s 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 Ralliart’s tauter independent suspension improves the cars handling noticeably, without requiring much of a sacrifice in ride comfort. There shouldn’t be any complaints from the passengers unless the road is unusually rough.
The four-wheel antilock brakes stand ready to rein in the over-enthusiastic driver, and they come with electronic force distribution to maximize stopping power.
Exterior 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 won’t make everyone think they’ve borrowed their kids’ cars.
Inside, the story’s more of a mixed bag. The overall ambiance 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.
The comprehensive 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 Ralliart’s tab comes to 424.
The hottest Galant won’t shout for anyone’s attention, but it’s ready to offer a rewarding driving experience for the buyer who wants to have a little fun with his transportation appliance.
Standard Equipment (Partial list)
- 258 horsepower 3.8-liter MIVEC V-6 engine
- 5-speed Sportronic automatic transmission
- Front-wheel drive
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- P235/45R18 all-season tires
- Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD)
- Dual-stage front airbags
- Front seat-mounted side-impact airbags
- Front and rear curtain airbags
- Auto delay off headlamps
- Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
- Perforated leather-trimmed seating surfaces
- 8-way power driver’s seat
- Remote power door locks
- Power windows
- Heated side-view mirrors
- Auto-dimming rearview mirror
- Cruise control
- Speed-proportional power steering
- Tilt-adjustable steering wheel
- Climate control
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Steering wheel audio controls
- 360-watt Rockford Acoustic Design premium audio system (AM/FM/Satellite in-dash 6 CD MP3 player) with 8 speakers
- 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)
- Navigation Package Includes a DVD-based Navigation System with a 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 rearview camera.