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2004 Sedan Buyer's Guide
by Martha Hindes

Mitsubishi Galant
Mitsubishi Galant sedan

Remember those TV ads? People keep waving at Mitsubishi's new Galant as it cruises the city, past busy corners, shoppers, a biker with a broad smile. At the end, it's obvious why. A charming preschooler, in his rear child seat, waves at everyone outside like a little prince.

Isn't that just like Mitsubishi buyers? When you thought the trendiest people with smooth moves would stay forever tuned to soft rock on their full-decibel sound systems, they sneak up on you and start growing a family. That's where Galant fits in.

According to the Mitsu folks, this next generation, new-from-the-ground-up version of its staple midsize sedan was designed with tantalizing sports car lines sweeping back to a powerful rear deck, kick-in-the-throttle oomph, and the implication it possesses more interior room than a Boeing 747. Real world, its the largest Galant sedan ever ($18,000 to $26,000 range), whose strong, trendy styling avoids shouting "practical," but whispers it just the same.

The new, all-steel base is lighter, stronger and more rigid for safety. We found it added crispness to the vehicle's performance (especially the 230-horsepower, 3.8 liter V6) when cutting through tight road curves in the rolling Virginia countryside. Among driving features: Four-wheel, independent suspension, five-mile bumpers, plus traction control and ABS with electronic braking on the upscale LS and GTS.

There's no need to scrunch-in shoulders with five people inside. There's space throughout to relax on long trips. An easier-loading trunk has non-intrusive hinges. The fun stuff includes Sportronic semi-manual shift for the two "up" models, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels for the premium GTS, and sunroof, leather and cold weather option packages. In incomparable Mitsubishi style, gauges glow ice-blue for added zing. Call it a "family sedan for the spirited family" in a segment where boring can often outweigh bold.