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By Rick Popely
December 1, 1999
Vehicle Overview Diamante, a front-wheel-drive near-luxury sedan, was available in a single price level last year, but for 2000 it comes in two flavors. The base ES model, priced at $24,997, is about $2,200 less than last year's Diamante, while the upscale 2000 LS model starts at $27,897.
While Mitsubishi's other U.S. models are built either in Japan or Illinois, the Diamante comes from Australia. The current model arrived for 1997 as a rival for the Lexus ES300, Infiniti I30 and other near-luxury models.
Exterior At 194 inches bumper to bumper, the Diamante is 6 inches longer than Mitsubishi's compact Galant sedan. The two show a family resemblance in profile and roof styling, but the Diamante has a larger grille and four enclosed headlights for a unique front appearance.
Interior A CD player, optional last year, is now standard, and an in-dash six-disc changer is new to the options list. An engine-immobilizing system that requires the proper coded key to start the car also is a new standard feature. The base ES comes with cloth upholstery and the more-expensive LS has leather, plus a standard power sunroof.
Under the Hood Both models come with a 3.5-liter V-6 with 210 horsepower and a four-speed automatic transmission, a combination that provides brisk acceleration and refined highway cruising.
Anti-lock brakes are standard on both models, and traction control is optional on the LS.
Safety A sweet engine, capable handling and a long list of comfort and convenience features make the Diamante an attractively priced alternative to rivals from Lexus and Infiniti. However, the Mitsubishi brand name is more closely associated with cars such as the Eclipse sports coupe, which frequently is pitched to first-time buyers through discounted leases. That may make a near-luxury sedan like the Diamante a hard sell to image-conscious shoppers.