It really can be considered the gallant thing to do to consider the varied features of the new 1999 Mitsubishi Galant. Its exterior styling is striking, not surprisingly since it was designed in Southern California.

It is slightly longer, wider and taller than the model it replaces.

There is a choice of two engines that are not available outside the United States.

And the cabin area, also developed at Mitsubishi's California design center, is an extension of the mid-sized sedan's highly styled exterior.

All in all, the '99 Galant comes to market with the U.S. consumer specifically in mind, a combination of true driver's car, sports orientation, and an automobile meant to provide dependable transportation at affordable prices.

The auto manufacturer's MRDA (Mitsubishi R&D of America) design center began with the proverbial clean computer screen and created a distinctive design that stands out in a crowd of generic sedans.

The car's grille, chiseled fenders, roof line and tailored silhouette are reminiscent of Mitsubishi's Diamante luxury sedan. But the defining look is all Galant.

The co-efficient of drag is a low 0.29, with the aerodynamics reducing wind noise and contributing to the four-door's excellent fuel mileage. In 2.4-liter (143-cubic-inch) form, the DE or ES model Galant, with a five-speed manual transmission on board, registers 23 miles per gallon city and 31 highway.

A new four-speed automatic with adaptive programming drops this slightly to 21/28.

If you want to go upstream a bit to an ES or LS/GTZ with Mitsubishi's 3.0-liter (181-cubic-inch) V-6, mileage is 20/27. The V-6 calls for the automatic transmission, the manual five-speed not being offered.

This is the first time the Galant is being offered with a V-6, and the automatic tailors its shift points to road conditions and a driver's habits. It takes the so-called fuzzy logic a step further and institutes optimum shift control.

The system factors in throttle position, vehicle speed, brake application and road conditions to select the appropriate gear. This also functions in downshifting when the car is going downhill.

Driving this system are motors that are four valves per cylinder single overhead cam powerplants, with the inline 4 producing 145 horsepower and the V-6 putting out 195-horsepower.

These engines may use a single cam with rocker-arm valve-train technology, but they still are highly efficient as demonstrated by their power output being above the one-horsepower-per-cubic-inch performance benchmark.

What's up front is, of course, important, but equally important in the minds of most drivers is what is behind relative to creature comforts and taste.

The Galant's interior styling takes its cues from expensive luxury performance cars. High-quality fabric or leather trim in the LS or GTZ is used.

In the ES upward, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and wood-grain accents highlight the models.

The four-gauge instrumentation includes a 120-miles- per-hour speedometer, tachometer, temperature and fuel gauges.

On the high-performance GTZ model, the gauge faces are white a la race car style.

The cockpit layout is the standard two individual front seats separated by a center console. The console with its short arm rest contains two cup holders, positioned so as not to block the standard air conditioning or AM/FM/cassette controls.

The arm rest is a neat little trick, being able to fold backward and serve as a cup holder for rear-seat passengers.

Mitsubishi's engineers have coddled these front- and rear-seat occupants in a steel cage-like structure around the interior.

High-rigidity side members, roof reinforcement, side sills, door frames and side-door guard beams protect driver and passengers in event of a hard collision.

Special padding and energy-absorbing materials provide protection against head injuries, and the ste ering column is designed to collapse at both ends to keep from contacting the driver.

With the 19 99 Galant being based on a 103.7 inches of wheelbase and 187.8 inches of overall length, the car possesses a pretty broad price spectrum. It ranges from $16,990 for a DE to $24,350 for the GTZ. And add to that 420 bucks for freight.

The middle of the line ES stickers at $17,990 for a four-cylinder. The V-6 adds another $2,000, but includes anti-lock brakes, four-wheel discs, and 16-inch tires and wheels with full covers.