The 2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart is a confused car. The Greek sages tell us to ‘know thyself.” That’s good advice; you know, like ‘know that you can’t feasibly be everything to everyone or even everything to one person over the age of 9 months.” Like people, cars also need to know what they are, with a cohesive identity and a clear purpose. Sadly, the Galant seems to be a schizophrenic amalgam of other cars, which left me with a major sense of ‘huh?”

The Galant is intended to be a midsize sedan that handles the family with the feel of a sports car. Unfortunately, this sedan misses on both counts. Mitsubishi touts the Galant as a family car, but I didn’t see any evidence of it, aside from its two Latch connectors and the ability to carry five people. The Latch connectors are buried in the seats and not easy to use. There are only four cupholders in the car; two are in the rear armrest, so they disappear if a third passenger is in the backseat. There’s only one seatback pocket and it’s made of netting, guaranteed not to contain anything smaller than a book (Read: no toy cars, Polly Pockets or crayons). The door bins are small and awkwardly shaped, which makes them not particularly useful. There are no hooks or other organizational items in the trunk to contain all the equipage of parenthood, but with the armrest down in the backseat, the trunk pass-thru is irresistible to curious fingers. My kids thought of it as a secret compartment, but it became more of a black hole. They put toys and juice boxes through the pass-thru, never to see them again.

The Ralliart is the super sporty version of the Galant with a boost in horsepower, racier rims and two-tone leather seats, but those add-ons feel like costuming, not integral pieces of the Galant. The Galant isn’t a quiet car to drive, and it’s not particularly smooth on the road. Speed bumps hurt at any speed more than a crawl; potholes are to be avoided at all costs. There’s a rear stabilizer bar in the Ralliart to help in the turns, but it doesn’t affect the ride, so I can’t imagine that the other trim levels are any smoother. Keep your chiropractor on speed dial, that’s all I’m sayin’.

The Ralliart’s interior suffers from major identity issues as well: There’s the aluminum pedals and perforated leather seats that say racecar; pearly, swirly, marbly finish around the shift knob that says luxury car; and cheap, plasticky pieces that look like an economy car. None of it seems to go together. Now, I’m not the kind of girl who has to match her handbag to her shoes, but I think that the color of the leather seats should have some relationship to the rest of the interior’s color. In my silver test car with a gray interior, the two-tone leather seats were black and cream. Oh, and Mitsubishi threw in some brushed aluminum and chrome just to cover all the bases in the interior. Yuck.

There are some nice technology features in the Ralliart, including Sirius Satellite Radio and an optional navigation system, but they aren’t well integrated. The navigation screen looks like it was stuck into the dashboard after someone with a knife slashed a couple of seams into it; I could have done that myself! It looks like a pop-up screen that’s permanently stuck in the up position. The navigation system’s combination of a touch-screen and surrounding buttons is confusing. Also confusing is the lack of audio controls on the steering wheel or any hands-free technology. I mean really, what’s up with that? There’s no Bluetooth link or auxiliary port for an iPod or other MP3 devices, which is just ridiculous for an ’09 car.

The Galant Ralliart is a sedan in dire need of therapy and its own identity. It needs to learn that trying to be all things to all people just leads to disappointment.

*For more information on the 2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart and its safety features, visit Cars.com. With questions or comments regarding this review, write to editor@motherproof.com.

LET’S TALK NUMBERS

Latch Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair

Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Good Times

Specs

2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart

Base price:

$27,299

Price as tested:

$29,424

Engine: 258-hp, 3.8-liter V-6

Fuel: 16/25 mpg

Length: 191.1″

Width: 72.4″

Ground Clearance: n/a

Turning Radius: 20.8′

Cargo space: 13.3 cu. ft.

NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings

Frontal Impact

Driver’s side: n/a

Passenger’s side: n/a

Side Impact

Front occupant: n/a

Rear occupant: n/a

Rollover resistance: 4 stars