A good do-everything car for its time, if well looked after
Soon after purchase: Gearbox issue (slipping in/missing reverse), repaired under dealer warranty (well, I made them do it).
Condensation issue in one of the front headlights. In the end, I just left the rubber boot off. Has not seemed to affect bulb life or performance. I also had to replace a bulb holder. Local dealer didn't have any, but got one at a wreckers yard for $1.
Recently: Loose connection to digital clock, and I have worn a hole in the carpet next to the driver's footrest. Air conditioning probably needs a redo (but still works). Driver's door speaker doesn't like too much bass. Rear hatch gas struts have lost a bit of oomph.
I did catch the underbody plastic moulding behind the front bumper on a tree root once. Because of its angle, it slipped over easily when going forward, but caught and tore when coming back. This was an obvious design error, as I have seen many other Legnums/Galants with similar (cosmetic) damage.
Everything else that I have replaced or fixed I would regard as usual wear and tear and servicing - brake pads, cam belt, etc. I think like all cars, servicing and care during ownership make a difference. I did note that when buying this car, most of the manual/turbo models looked like they had been thrashed. Also, as the Legnums are all second hand imports to NZ, some looked like they had all their original fluids (Japanese licencing/registration rules ensure most owners know they will get rid of their car after about 6 years).
Compared to other similar Japanese (and any non luxury German) car from 1997, this was ahead of its time. Maybe it is a sign that Mitsubishi were struggling with R+D, but basically the same model was for sale in NZ up to 2006, showing how well it lasted. And comparing to other cars from 1997, I think visually it has aged very well, and still looks good, inside and out.
I also find myself comparing it to new cars when I think of things that I wish were better, which is not really fair on a car that is 14 years old. I'm hoping it will last me another couple of years, when I will be able to buy a current car minus a bit of depreciation.
Performance: Reasonable. You can feel the automatic transmission sucking up power on takeoff, and raw acceleration times are very average. But there is lots of mid-range torque, and passing at highway speed can be done quickly (and the V6 engine note makes you smile when you do). NZ roads and road rules don't let you explore the top end, but it has felt very stable at the highest speed I have reached. Cornering, while not the sharpest, is predictable. The Tiptronic auto works well and at least lets you have some control.
Economy: OK, remembering this is a 2.5L 4WD automatic heavy station wagon. I get 450km per 55L tank for my usual mixed daily driving (some of which is on motorways), and up to 600km with long distance trips if not loaded too heavily. I do envy new cars in this respect. I seem to do a lot of weekend road trips that are ~650-700km, which I could do in my previous car (2L, 2WD) on one tank, but not in this. Petrol prices have more than doubled since I bought this car.
Comfort: Pretty good. The seats are not quite as supportive as they could be (or once were). Knee room is good for me and others my average size, and head room is very good. Compared to other wagons from the 90s, the interior is very quiet.
Practicality: The reason I bought it. It is a bit narrow between the rear wheel arches, but otherwise the load area is good. I love the false floor with all the hidden storage. I have a towbar and roof racks, and have moved everything with this car, including a 280L fridge, and 1200x1800mm pieces of plywood. I can transport mountain bikes upright with front wheels off (sometimes you want them in the car), and can fit 4 sets of golf clubs without removing the longest clubs at the back, meaning trundlers and other equipment can also fit. The floor is flat and you can comfortably sleep on it (those days are long gone). I have also easily towed a 17 foot motorboat, although it would have exceeded the recommended tow limit for the car. Ground clearance is marginal for some of the things I do. The rear seat is OK for 3, but only for short trips if at least one is not a small person.
Safety: Another reason I bought the car (at the time 2 airbags and ABS sounded good). New cars obviously far exceed this. Having said that, the ABS/4WD has kept me on the road when others have slid off in front of me, more than once. I do wish it had a 3 point centre rear belt rather than just a lap belt.
Reliability: Good. Reading the forums and talking to the mechanic, my gearbox issue is obviously common. But once that was sorted, the car has been bulletproof. My only "breakdowns" have been due to flat batteries - I am on my 3rd in 11 years, which I think is OK.
Overall: This car has met my need for something that will do it all, and in general I have been happy with it. I am looking to upgrade to basically the modern version of the same thing, but sadly, there is not as much choice now as there was before, and in some respects, it has been disappointing to see how little progress there has been (contrast that with the huge difference between cars from 1980 and this 1997 car). I wish more manufacturers still made desirable medium-sized wagons (I have reasons, some practical, and some principle, for trying to avoid an 'SUV').
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 16th May, 2014