Classic CARmentary: 1999 Mitsubishi Galant ES

Another in a series of my reviews that appeared in the online version of African Americans On Wheels, a now defunct automotive magazine that was included as an insert in the Sunday newspapers of major cities.

I like to think of this generation of Galant as the end of Mitsubishi’s awesome American decade that started with the 1989 Galant (and its lust-worthy VR-4 variant), Mirage, Eclipse, and 3000GT.  Like its Chrysler partner, the nineties were the decade where it could do virtually no wrong.  All of these cars were then either discontinued or replaced with “meh” models.  The 2000 Eclipse lost both the hot turbo four, all-wheel drive, and any desire to actually own one.  The tidy Mirage was replaced with the Lancer and its awkwardly tall greenhouse.  Finally, this impressively styled Galant became a bloated, stylistically-challenged mess.  They even botched the mid-sized crossover market with the ironically-named Endeavor, which was a license to print money for virtually every other automaker.  Now a shadow of its former self, the fallout from Covid-19 may push Mitsubishi out of the U.S. for good.

For now, enjoy this review from peak Mitsubishi.  I’ll also post a review of its Eclipse brother and a GTZ V6 in a few weeks.

There’s one thing that’s noticeably absent from the mid-size market: Style. After being lost in the bland crowd with last year’s Galant, Mitsubishi is betting that car buyers are ready for a little style again.

Mitsubishi pulled out all of the stops on this newest Galant, which mimics the styling of its flagship Diamante. The smooth curves of last year’s model have been replaced by hard, chiseled edges highlighted by forward-tilting head lamps and grill. The side is probably its best view, with slightly flared fenders and doors and a C-pillar that widens at the base. Even the wheel covers look cool. The overall effect is upscale European rather than a midrange Japanese.

More treats are found inside. The grey interior with woodgrain accents and velour seats resemble that of an upscale Chrysler. Aside from the usual amenities, the Galant also features such niceties as angled power window switches and a console lid that opens 180 degrees to become cupholders for rear passengers. Our mid-level ES model also includes air conditioning, a remote entry system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and fog lights.

With its quick takeoff and smoothness, the standard 2.4-liter four more than holds its own against the newly optional 3.0 liter V6. The engineers tuned it for American driving tastes, which means lots of low-down torque for quick takeoffs. Although it’s smooth on the open road, passing power at highway speeds is limited. The four-speed automatic, standard on the ES, LS, and GLX, shifts smoothly; a five-speed manual is standard on the base DE. Handling and ride are both excellent. Antilock brakes are a glaring omission and only available as part of a $2510 “Premium Package” that includes such frivolities as a glass sunroof and alloy wheels. Mitsubishi should either make them standard or a stand-alone option.

Rear-seat passengers will find themselves quite comfortable, and the roomy 14 cubic foot trunk includes a cargo net that separates the front third of the trunk so small packages don’t roll all over the place. A fold-down rear seat allows for even more cargo room.

At $18,969, our nicely loaded Galant is a rare mixture of style, practicality and affordability.

For more information contact 1-800-55MITSU


Type:Four-door Sedan
Engine:145-horsepower, 2.4 liter inline 4
Transmission:Four-speed Automatic
EPA Mileage:21 city/28 highway
Tested Price:$18,969