By on August 28, 2012

|Reader Josh Howard relates the story of why he recommended a Mitsubishi to a co-worker…he’s a brave soul

After reading Derek’s excellent piece on Mitsubishi and their irrelevance in the American marketplace, I began thinking about the brand, and their history in the United States. A few months ago, I went against my better instincts and actually recommended one to a coworker despite knowing what Mitsubishi turned into in the early 2000’s…not to mention a turbocharged DSM car some years prior.


But, before you condemn me, consider the situation.  The person in question is an early twenties receptionist/sales assistant whom I work with  She’s kind and smart and most certainly capable of deciding on a car for herself.  The woman’s done well for herself, but money has been tight as she prepares to get married.  Her previous vehicle, a 1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport (and my current beater) gave her more problems than she could endure.

As most people know, these Jeeps are prone to chronic overheating as they age and the radiators get stopped up. Eventually, she came to work so frustrated one day that I told her I’d take it off her hands just so she wouldn’t have to worry about it.

In the following weeks, she drove her fiance’s older Chevy pickup truck to work and commenced her search for a car. Being a very long time Nissan owner, I recommended a used Altima or two. Our location in the Detroit area meant that domestic cars fresh off lease would be an appealing alternative

Fusions and Sebrings were looked at, but reject. My Altima recommendation ended up being out of her range with too many miles.  Then, the ’09 Mitsubishi Galant showed up.  It was metallic white, always looked clean, was newer than the other cars she looked at, had very low miles, and was ‘Japanese’ with a small engine.  She almost immediately wanted a test drive.

In comparison to anything she had been driving, the Mitsubishi seemed luxurious, sporty, and everything worked!  The price was thousands less than the competition and she felt comfortable driving it.  It excited her and the thought of having a newer car that was reliable, got better mileage, and was fun for her to drive was enough to convince her to chat with me about it.

When she came back to work the next day, I knew what she was going to get.  After questioning her, there was no doubt in my mind where her money was going.  She was visibly excited to have driven what she felt was a ‘sporty sedan’ that was also economical.  And, she immediately could see herself taking it home.  That… right there… THAT is what sells any car as others on this site will attest.

Why did I write this?  Because, I feel like most of the comments to the article leave one thing out…perception.  Her view was not like us car buffs.  She looked for different traits than we look for.  Even when sitting in and driving cars side by side, she experienced things differently.  We tend to forget that prior vehicle history easily convinces people to buy brands that they wouldn’t normally think of.  In her mind, Mitsubishi was a Japanese car brand that made sporty and relatively reliable cars.  How could I say “no, don’t buy that” to her?  In the day and age where most every car is reliable, isn’t happiness enough?  Why buy a Mitsubishi? Because, it fits into your budget and you enjoy driving it regardless of the emblem on the grill…  that’s what’s really important.

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48 Comments on “Ur-Turn: Why Buy A Mitsubishi? One Reader’s Experience...”


  • avatar
    200k-min

    “Because, it fits into your budget and you enjoy driving it regardless of the emblem on the grill… that’s what’s really important.”

    I don’t disagree with part of your thesis. In this day and age we really are splitting hairs to find differences between the Altimas, Camrys, Accords, Fusions, Sonatas and….Galants. But if these vehicles sold on price alone the sales figures would look vastly different.

    If more people didn’t care about the emblem on the grill the Galant would potentially be outselling the Camry, but it clearly does not because most people do care about the emblem on the grill.

    Truck buyers are the worst breed I know of brand loyalty, Bimmer drivers not far behind, but don’t underestimate the brand loyalty in the Camcord world, it’s there and it’s big.

    • 0 avatar
      roverv8i

      I think there are two kinds of brand loyalty. The first is true loyalty were you by a certain brand regardless. Does not matter how the brand treats you. I have a relative that buys ford trucks like no tomorrow and when he got a dud his answer was to trade on another one.
      The other type of loyalty is more about trust of a brand or fear of anything else. This is usually the type of person who had bad experiences, say with GM cars and then around 1986 bought their first Toyota and the experience was so eye opening they because loyal. Thing is they would probably be fine with say a Nissan but have an irrational fear at this point of having a bad experience if they try another brand. They are not so much loyal as afraid to switch.

    • 0 avatar
      roverv8i

      I think there are two kinds of brand loyalty. The first is true loyalty were you by a certain brand regardless. Does not matter how the brand treats you. I have a relative that buys ford trucks like no tomorrow and when he got a dud his answer was to trade on another one.
      The other type of loyalty is more about trust of a brand or fear of anything else. This is usually the type of person who had bad experiences, say with GM cars and then around 1986 bought their first Toyota and the experience was so eye opening they because loyal. Thing is they would probably be fine with say a Nissan but have an irrational fear at this point of having a bad experience if they try another brand.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        The latter “fear” describes me and Hondas to a “T!”

        I’ve had nothing but good luck with three Hondas since 1994. But even though the rest of the competition has improved (and the new Accord has gone to struts, after the last-generation was clearly a step back in quality and execution), I’m afraid to go to anything else. (I’ve learned about various idiosyncracies of Hondas in general, which also helps–little things like the need for a crush-washer on the oil pan.)

        Of course, the Mazda 6, the only other “driver’s choice” of the midsize segment, has gone to struts again. (And I didn’t know they had wishbones in the last gen.) It also doesn’t have a V6–I still have visions of blown turbochargers, and IMHO, there is still no replacement for displacement! So it basically comes down to the Camry or Accord, or stepping up to a larger Impala or Taurus. The Camry is still too soft, even the SE, and the interior quality was beneath that of the previous-generation Accord across the aisle at the last auto show I attended.

        I’m even going to be nuts enough to get an early-build car–I’ll wait a couple months until they’ve built enough to squash the earliest bugs, and actual transaction prices have stabilized. (The CR-V and Civic seemed to be free of serious issues per se, aside from the general “un-Honda-ness” of the Civic interior, so that eases my concerns a bit.)

    • 0 avatar
      dartman

      One question….what bimmers, beemers or just plain old BMWs have you owned to base your opinion?

  • avatar
    Ted Grant

    Glad to hear she’s happy and now has a stress free drive to work. When I worked as a service writer I constantly met people that were unsure of their vehicle make and plate number but could tell you the color of their vehicle. There’s a large percentage of the population that only consider a car as a tool to get them around…

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Not a terrible looking car but it would look better with a slight redesign on those headlamps, make them closer to the same height as the grill and have the hood fill in the missing gap. Mid 2000s Nissans, along with several other vehicles that had potential to look good all had the same issue, terrible headlamp design.

    Examples of doing it right: 2005 gto, 2007 mazda 6.

    • 0 avatar
      Lynchenstein

      I’ve always thought the Mitsubishi designs to be not quite “right”. They lack consistency, or something. I’m no designer, but I’m sure Mitsubishi could afford to hire some good ones. The cars I’ve driven are all quite nice, but they just look kinda off to me. One exception is the Outlander Sport – I think it looks pretty good.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Almost any sedan would feel sporty when compared to a Jeep Cherokee. Whatever makes her happy, I guess.

  • avatar
    EEGeek

    I took the original article to be talking about new vehicles. And as we saw in the comments of that article, there ain’t much reason to buy a new Misubishi over a competitor.

    Buying used brings a whole new dynamic into things, as the marketplace is completely different and prices are nowhere near uniform. You have to work with what’s available in the area you’re willing to cover. In this instance it sounds like your friend did great, in large part because the Mitsu brand is so tarnished these days. She got more car for the money as a result of it.

    To me the most interesting thing in this article is her perception of the brand. “In her mind, Mitsubishi was a Japanese car brand that made sporty and relatively reliable cars.” She’s ignorant and behind the times in that perception, IMO, but in this case she benefited from her ignorance.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    I think the co- worker in this story represents one end of the “Giving a “F” About Cars” spectrum and most of us who regularly read and comment on sites like TTAC represent the other. I give a “F” about cars, a really big “F.” On the other hand, there are lots of people, like the woman in the story, who don’t appear to give much of a “F” at all.

    The vast majority of people are in the middle. They care a little bit, and that’s how they become loyal to one make or another. They perceive, based upon their own personal experiences and the experiences of people that they know, that one brand or another is “better” than the others. People in the middle are willing to pay a bit more for a more “premium” Honda or Toyota instead of a Kia or Mitsubishi. People who don’t care as much and who are shopping mainly on price look to get as much “car” as they can afford, which means they’d rather have a “lesser” brand with more options than a higher level brand with fewer bells and whistles.

    If you don’t give a “F” about cars and view them as appliances that get you from home to work to the grocery store to back home again, then a Mitsubishi is a perfectly valid choice.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert

      Let me guess…your co-worker is black. Here in NJ 90% of Galants are driven by black chicks.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      You’re forgetting that the woman who bought the Galant did NOT view it as an appliance. She called it a ‘sporty sedan’, weighed her other options, and picked the Galant, and not just because it was the cheapest, but because she LIKED it.

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    Good buy. I’ve been recommending the Galant for trouble-free, price premium-free ownership for a few years now. They’ve been building the 9G long enough (since 2004!) to have most of the kinks worked out. We rent quite a few of these, which works well as a vetting procedure. 30k rental miles is ~80k owner miles. If you can find one of these without a rental past (I know…), I’d say it would be a good bet. Not much to go wrong, crashworthy, plenty of basic features (PW, PL, cruise, etc.), reliable (I believe JD Power rated this in the top 3 midsize for reliability 3 years out, this year).

    Make sure she knows to always have the trans serviced ON TIME and ONLY with Mitsu’s exotic Unicorn Sperm fluid (seriously… only use stuff from the Mits dealer and NEVER let more than about 2k miles accrue after the trans service is due: every 30-60k depending on driving conditions) and the thing should last forever.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    “Sporty sedan”? (scratches head)

    My brother-in-law thought the same way. He had driven nothing but new Ford SUV’s his whole life. When he test drove a Lincoln LS, I could almost hear “A Whole New World” (from The Little Mermaid)in my head as he raved about it’s handling. It’s called A Car. We used to drive these back in the day.

    MG Midgets should be mandatory for all driving schools.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      To be fair, the Lincoln LS was RWD, intended to compete with BMW and built on the same platform as a jag.

      • 0 avatar
        supremebrougham

        I took an LS for a ride yesterday. It is indeed quite a car. I’m giving a lot of thought to purchasing it…

      • 0 avatar
        mikedt

        Too bad Ford didn’t stick with the idea of a BMW beater. It seems like they gave up after one year of lackluster sales.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Maybe this will help. AUTOWEEK: Ford debuts another Australian hot rod

        ‘http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120827/CARNEWS/120829852?utm_source=DailyDrive20120828&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=missedarticle1&utm_content=20120827-Ford-debuts-another-Australian-hot-rod&utm_campaign=awdailydrive’

        Dammit! To be livin’ in, a land down under! Where women glow and men chunder!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Think what you want about me, but I’m fairly sure A Whole New World was from Aladdin.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    I have a coworker that was in the same position last year. I wouldn’t call him a ‘car-guy’, even though he owned a BMW 325i that he raved about for its smoothness and quality. But then the maintenance costs caught up and he had to dump it, leasing a Toyota Venza (which he hated) and then seeking my advice on what to replace that with. He wasn’t looking for frills, just a dependable, efficient sedan to drive to work while his Expedition sat at home for his work-from-home wife to use occasionally. Surprise, he ended up with a brand new Galant. I found it puzzling at first but again, he wasn’t looking for frills or nameplates and the Galant hit all his marks for price, ride, comfort, features and handling. He says it’s not as smooth as his late Bimmer, but for the price it was smooth and comfortable enough.

    I agree with this post. Most people don’t really care about a brand, as long as the actual car lives up to what they’re looking for in it.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “In her mind, Mitsubishi was a Japanese car brand that made sporty and relatively reliable cars. How could I say “no, don’t buy that” to her?”

    You could say no because Mitsubishi does not make a particularly reliable car.

    And in the US, Mitsubishi may very well become an orphaned brand in the next several years, with zilch for resale value and not much more aftermarket support.

    You were in a position to educate her, but you didn’t. Presumably, she consulted with you because she expected to get an informed, straight answer, yet you didn’t give her one.

    Telling people what they want to hear is not the same as giving them advice. Sometimes, advice can be unpleasant, but it beats the alternative.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      “You were in a position to educate her, but you didn’t. Presumably, she consulted with you because she expected to get an informed, straight answer, yet you didn’t give her one.

      “Telling people what they want to hear is not the same as giving them advice. Sometimes, advice can be unpleasant, but it beats the alternative.”

      Sometimes people asking for advice don’t really want to be educated. They only want you to affirm what they have already decided on. In those cases, you are wasting your time trying; it is easiest to just tell them what they want to hear while offering what sage advice you can in the process.

      It sounds like he tried — apparently, she looked at the choices others would recommend already, and settled on the Galant. I doubt there was any use talking her off the cliff at that point.

      • 0 avatar
        Georgewilliamherbert

        Some people prefer different things.

        Car enthusiasts value system for assessing cars differs from normal peoples. Normal people aren’t wrong. Just having less fun in cars than they could with a lot lot of work…

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Car enthusiasts value system for assessing cars differs from normal peoples.”

        In this case, she is probably expecting Toyota-level reliability.

        She probably isn’t going to get it.

        That isn’t a matter of enthusiasm, so much as it is of someone who is missing the practicalities. She may think that she’s getting a bargain Honda, even though it’s probably closer to being similar to an overpriced Chrysler. Penny wise, pound foolish.

    • 0 avatar
      mcc.pj

      CR doesn’t have reliability data for many models/years of recent Mitsubishis, but the ones they do have are all better than average. Don’t think there’s any unusual risk there.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Her attitude is exactly why Japanese cars got a foothold in this country. When they first came here Toyota et al had a reputation as crap and it was deserved. Younger folks, look at the Hyundai history and think Datsun and Toyota. Then they became reliable and frankly when I remove the rose colored glasses,the American brands were not. When I want to dismiss the nostalgia with a bit of reality I go outside and play with the 57 Chev in my driveway.

    Nothing at all wrong with what she did. It’s a step up. Above commenter was right. Not everybody lives and breathes this stuff. Just because we do is no call to indoctrinate everyone else. Hope she gets to work without trouble for a long time.

  • avatar
    stars9texashockey

    Hope she keeps it long enough that she doesn’t have to worry about abysmal resale value.

    • 0 avatar

      She already gets it cheaper than competition, so she gets out ahead money-wise. The guy or company that bought it new took the depreciation for her.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Probably not. Nobody has paid anywhere NEAR retail for one of these things in YEARS.

        It’s like my ’08 Saab 9-3SC – I sold it when it was 25 months old for $17.5K. Now, if you consider that the MSRP was $35K, that is some EPIC depreciation. But I only paid $23K for it brand new…

        If you don’t care THAT much about the difference between a Camry, an Accord, a Fusion, or a Galant, you might as well buy the one with the huge discount on it. I’ve had all of these beige mid-sizers as rentals, and there is absolutely nothing that would make me pick one over another other than price. As was pointed out, the Galant was newer and had fewer miles for less money – sounds like a smart buy to me.

  • avatar
    Georgewilliamherbert

    Current baseline cars only suck in comparison to modern sports cars.

    Everything on the market today is amazing if you look back 10-20 years.

    In computers, this led to a die-off; PCs got fast enough for 99% of people by 1995 and prices dropped from $5k per computer to below $1000 and have never come back up.

    Cars seem to be more stable. So far…

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I remember buying a Gateway desktop in 1997. Cost a tad over $2000 and had a 19″ crt monitor which dominated the desktop. It came with a 20 gig hard drive and 64 gigs or RAM (expandable to 328ish).

      A couple of years ago, we got our kids an HP Walmart special for $350 (including a 21″ LED monitor) which, as you can imagine, totally and completely blows the Gateway out of the water.

      And we purchased the Gateway from a Gateway store. Remember those??

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I do remember those and I remember being extremely disappointed in them for not allowing me to get [the awesome for its time] Windows 2000 on one of their systems and pushing the Win ME turd instead. We opted for the ‘downgrade’ to then stable 98SE. I later got Win 2000 on there when I got to the tail end of my associate’s two years later and my family road that beast well into 2005.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I tell people to look for a used car with a superior price-value ratio, a decent car buyers are shunning for no good reason putting its resale value in the toilet. Condition is more important than cachet. Well cared for second and third tier brands are as good as the favorites without the steep price premium. If you find a good, reliable, affordable car the brand really doesn’t matter.

    • 0 avatar
      JREwing

      That’s certainly been the case with my most recent purchase. Finding a worthy vehicle in the $6000-$8000 range is pretty difficult; there’s a few nice vehicles in that range, and a ton of junk.

      Even though there are better compacts with better reliability ratings than a Cobalt, it also was several years newer and only had 25,000 miles. All the “good” choices were several years older and/or had far more miles on them. It was also obvious said Cobalt was well taken care of.

      Other than wear-and-tear items, I haven’t been to the shop very frequently, and it’s held up well after triple the mileage. Better yet, I could probably flip it for what I paid for it yet. Not that I would; I doubt I’d get lucky twice.

  • avatar
    cheapthrills

    Recently, in a not-so-nice part of town, I saw mid-90s Galant that was modified to fit its surroundings: slammed, gaudy chrome wheels, loud muffler, HIDs in reflector housings, stupid wing, etc. What really caught my eye and made me think, however, was that the rocker panels were adorned with large stickers that read in a graffiti-inspired font, ‘SPORT LUXURY.’ I chuckled to myself, “That’s funny, a Galant is neither sporty nor luxurious.” Admittedly, I am a snobby owner and fan of BMWs, which tend to be the “sport luxury” yardstick.

    I really appreciate your focus of this article: perception is important. All judgements are relative to what one is accustomed to. To someone used to driving a unibody truck chassis designed in 1984, a Galant is going to feel very sporty. The owner of the Galant mentioned above probably went through a string of late ’80s Hyundais and baseline Civics, making the sunroof, power windows and fake wood grain interior of the Galant seem quite luxurious.

    I need to echo what other people have said in the comments. People who don’t really care about cars are rather unpredictable in the “X” factor that makes them ready to purchase a particular model. None of the cars in this segment are empirically better than one another. Therefore, the cars are dependent on people’s feelings. At that point, none of the facts matter.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I think you made a good call on the Mitsubishi. Even if the company abandons the US, it should be fairly easy to get whatever parts it needs to make to 200K miles.

    I don’t quite get the problem with the Cherokee. After 14 years, it needs a new radiator? Big deal. Although for a commuter, that would be pretty near the end of my list. Great beater though.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    I don’t know how the Mitsubishi dealerships are in the Detroit area, but the ones where I live have excellent service departments. This could be another advantage for your friend. I owned an Evo for five years and took it to the dealer for all my service. It was refreshing, particularly after fighting the crowds and constant attempts at up-sells at Honda Dealers to be able to make an appointment for when I wanted to, sit in a clean and practically empty waiting room, bring my own synthetic oil (at their urging since it would be cheaper to me), all with very reasonable prices. No $500 “30k services” that include nothing but a bunch of inspections. They did exactly what was recommended in the service manual and nothing more. I’ve missed that unhurried and un-hassled experience since selling the Evo and wish that other higher volume dealers would learn a thing or two from what the Mitsubishi dealers did for me.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    And in the US, Mitsubishi may very well become an orphaned brand in the next several years, with zilch for resale value and not much more aftermarket support.

    As an Isuzu and Saab owner, it’ll be fine. It’s rare I can’t find a needed part for either of my vehciles.

    Also, she may want to drive this ‘appliance’ until it drops in 150K+ miles or so…like most drivers are aiming for these days. In that case resale doesn’t matter.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I wouldn’t touch a Mitsubishi for exactly that reason – because it’s about to become an orphaned brand.

      I owned a Fiat when they left this country in 1983, and it was tough going. Yes, things are different now, but eventually orphaned brands aren’t worth the trouble to keep.

      I don’t blame you for keeping a car you like, but I wouldn’t purposely go and buy a time bomb.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Sadly this is irrelevant for the Mitsubishi company itself. Problem with Mitsubishi (brand new) is that there’s almost always a better alternative around, for roughly the same price. Now used cars have a more flexible price adjustment, which of course makes used Mitsubishis compelling, if priced substantially lower than the available alternative.

    BTW that’s how I once end up with a used Mitsubishi Galant. It was a reasonably good car too, baring some less than ideal ownership experience, such as seriously undersized front disc brakes that keep warping, even after being replaced, A/C compressors that went out, and engine that keep losing oil until eventually rebuilt under warranty.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Mitsu gets uninformed buyers thinking, “It’s Japanese, so it MUST BE reliable!”

    When the Galant starts to fall apart, and parts are more expensive since its an ‘uncommon’ Mitsu [or dealers are harder to find], she will blame the ‘car experts who told her to buy one’.

    And all the talk about how the Galant is a better value since it costs less. Same reason, save $$ for repairs, parts, and the huge hit when trying to trade in. Low resale still costs in long run even if bought used.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    When I was looking to buy a car here I had a look at the 380, which is basically the same car as the Galant. Nice car inside and seemed quite comfortable. Same goes for the Magna, which are dirt cheap nowadays. Even the V6 on the three diamond things sounds good.

    But I wanted to give RWD a go… and Commodore it was.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    I realized weeks after this was posted that the Galant is dropped for 2013. So, it is an orphan car, meaning, even worse resale and parts availabilty.

    Mitsu has pulled the plug, and the lady who thought the car was a ‘good deal’ will get a ‘good life lesson’ in car ownership when she tries to sell or fix it. Should tell anyone the truth about a car being discontinued. If they still buy, then good luck to them.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    Six months ago I bought a new Lancer Ralliart, the following are my thoughts:
    1- Looks boy-racer enough to be fun, but not over the top.
    2- Only 3000 miles on it, but no problems at all.
    3- Ride can be jarring over bad roads, but it pays off in taking corners like a slot-car. I would never push this car to its limits as a commuter.
    4- Interior is hard plastic, black, drab. I do not care about this, the fun more than makes up for it.
    5- People may or may not be impressed with the badge, again, it does not matter to me as I live my own life and pay my own bills.
    6- Paid 25K for it and got .9% interest with a bumper to bumper 5 year warranty, unlimited miles. For a fun car, AWD, warranty good enough for me, it seemed and still is a much better deal than a drab 2WD model.


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