With a full tank of gas, a half pack of cigarettes and the threat offreezing rain, sleet and snow for the 300 miles back to Chicago after theDetroit Auto Show, there was but one thing to do: Go for it!

The trip along Interstate Highway 94 would be a challenge considering the weather forecasters` dire predictions. But we felt assured that travel wouldbe made easier by the fact that we`d be behind the wheel of the MitsubishiGalant VR4 sedan.

Four-wheel drive and antilock brakes are standard. If you have to venture out in 300 miles of slime and slop, those features would help set the driver`smind at ease.

Luckily we were about two hours ahead of the weather and made it homewithout even a snowflake hitting the windshield. The next morning, however,there was snow and ice on the car and a few slick spots on the roads where theplows had yet to spread salt. The VR4 handled it well. Total control and noslipping or sliding. The nose went in the direction it was pointed and stoppedeven with the light at the intersections.

The VR4, which looks like a Pontiac Grand Am, is a multipurpose machine.It`s a four-wheel drive utility vehicle in the winter when the pavement issloppy and a peppy sports sedan when the roads are dry. The 2-liter, 195-horsepower, 16-valve, turbocharged 4-cylinder has a chance to display thatpower. It`s the same engine offered in the Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX sport coupe. The VR4 comes only with a 5-speed manual transmission. With each gearchange, you feel the 195-h.p. 4 nudge you a little farther back into yourseat. A lively machine.

The EPA rating is 19 miles per gallon city/25 m.p.g. highway with the 5-speed.

The standard antilock brakes not only help bring all that power undercontrol on dry pavement, they also ensure stopping in a straight line when thesame roads are wet and slippery.

The VR4 also features four-wheel steering as standard. The system isdesigned to give the driver quicker response when pulling into or out of thepassing lane and increased stability in corners and turns because the rearwheels turn in the same direction as the front based on vehicle speed and how quickly the driver turns the wheel.

It operates only at speeds faster than 31 miles per hour and not inreverse and isn`t designed to aid parking.

Despite all the advertised claims, we noticed no unusual traits-pro orcon-with the steering system in a week`s driving. The four-wheel steeringseemed on a par with the regular power steering in a Honda Prelude. In otherwords, it took only fingertip pressure to control direction. If we were movinginto or out of the passing lane more quickly or taking the corners better the effect wasn`t noticeably unusual.

Base price is a hefty $21,000.

Standard equipment includes power brakes and steering, power windows/door locks/mirrors, intermittent wipers, trip odometer, digital clock, AM/FM stereowith cassette, cruise con trol, tilt steering, rear-window defroster, remotetrunk and fuel filler release, tinted glass, floor mats, automatic front-seat shoulder belts, 15-inch performance radial tires, leather seats and dualcupholders in the center console armrest.

Options included air conditioning for $799 and a power sunroof for $685,bringing the sticker to $22,484 plus $343 for freight.