Home » Why Buy New? 1995 Nissan 200SX vs 1999 Mitsubishi Galant

Why Buy New? 1995 Nissan 200SX vs 1999 Mitsubishi Galant

Sbsd 12 11 2023
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Good morning, Autopians! It’s time to look at some more used cars. This time, though, they’re not really what you’d call “shitboxes.” Today’s choices are actually nice cars that you – or any non-car-person you know in need of a car – could legitimately drive every day without much worry, and buy for a measly five grand.

Friday’s choices weren’t so robust. Sure, you could probably make a daily driver out of either of them, but you’d constantly be waiting for the other shoe to drop. Smog-era Slant Sixes were prone to vapor-lock, early GM HEI ignition modules often died suddenly and without warning, and both cars have approximately the same build quality as a dollar-store toy.

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I knew going in that the Pontiac was by far the superior car, but I was curious to see if the Plymouth’s significantly cheaper price would win it some support. Apparently not; the wannabe Duster got absolutely creamed.

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All right, so let’s move on to something you might actually be willing to own and drive. If you look at the prices of new cars, the numbers get really scary really quickly. The average new car is about forty-five grand – more than seven hundred bucks a month on average. For a car. I was 30 before I paid more than seven hundred bucks a month on rent. And you’ll be paying that amount for six years before you actually own the thing outright.

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Or, you could sock away that amount for seven months, and buy something outright. But you don’t want something with a bazillion miles on it? No problem. It has to be reliable? Got you covered. Oh, and it can’t look like some crappy old beater? Sure thing. Thanks to the Underappreciated Survivors group on Facebook for bringing these two to my attention.

1995 Nissan 200SX SE – $5,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.6 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, four-speed automatic, FWD

Location: Folsom, CA

Odometer reading: 59,000 miles

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Runs/drives? Yep

First up, we have this sporty little economy number. Nissan revised the Sentra for 1995, and for the first time didn’t offer a two-door version. Instead, the role of both the two-door Sentra sedan and the NX fastback was filled by this car, called the 200SX. It’s no one’s idea of a sports car, with the same little 1.6 liter engine as the Sentra, but that also means it pulls in the same fuel economy numbers, just with a bit more style.

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This 200SX is equipped with an overdrive automatic transmission, as so many small cars in the US were, even when this one was built. You can complain all you want about whether such a transmission “belongs” in a small car like this, but the decision was made twenty-eight years ago, and not by me. And the fact is that most cars like this equipped with manual transmissions were driven into the ground or modified to death ages ago. Automatics were far more likely to get babied like this one.

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And from the looks of it, this car really has been babied. It doesn’t even have 60,000 miles on the clock yet, and it looks practically like new, both inside and out. The only cosmetic flaw noted by the seller (who is also the one and only owner) is some peeling clearcoat on the rear spoiler.

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“But,” you might object, “this thing only has 115 horsepower. With that slushy automatic, it’ll barely keep up with traffic!” Balderdash, I say. Yes, plenty of cars can get to 60 mph twice as quickly as this one – but the fact is, most of them don’t. Even in a car like this, you’ll spend lots of time muttering “come on, move” at the back bumper of a slow-moving RAV4 trying to merge onto the freeway at 45.

1999 Mitsubishi Galant ES – $4,900

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Engine/drivetrain: 3.0 liter overhead cam V6, four-speed automatic, FWD

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Location: University Place, WA

Odometer reading: 62,000 miles

Runs/drives? Indeed

If the 200SX simply isn’t enough car for you, and you’re willing to sacrifice a little fuel economy for some comfort, might I interest you in an eighth-generation Mitsubishi Galant? This one is an ES model, with a 195 horsepower 3.0 liter V6 engine – only available with a four-speed automatic.

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Like the Nissan, this car is in splendid condition, and has very low miles, only 62,000. It’s also a one-owner car. How do these cars end up owned by the same person for decades, and acquire so few miles? Your guess is as good as mine. And what suddenly makes them decide to sell? No clue on that either. But at least they should be able to provide all the service history.

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The ad does say that it runs and drives well, everything works, and the engine doesn’t burn oil like so many of these Mitsubishi V6s do after a while. The low mileage can sometimes be off-putting, I know; if those 62,000 miles were all acquired early on, and then it sat for years, you would want to replace a bunch of rubber parts. But if it has been used regularly, but only occasionally, it should be able to be put into regular service.

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Here again I’ll invoke the voice of the naysayer: “But what about safety? I mean, sure, it’s got airbags and stuff, but isn’t it a deathtrap compared to a new car?” Well, no. I mean, it’s not a rolling fortress like some newer cars are, but relying on crash survivability for your “safety” is a bit like relying on antivenom to protect you from a snakebite. It’s a lot more important to focus on not being bitten by the damn thing in the first place. Drive defensively, and it’s fine.

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I know a lot of people see a car payment as a necessary evil, but personally, I haven’t made one since 2007. Yeah, I’m a lot more willing to turn wrenches than most folks are. But if you choose the right car, you shouldn’t have to do much to it. I mean, if you really want a new car, go right ahead. But don’t feel like you need to. Either of these should be perfectly reliable cars, for at least as long as a typical new-car loan term. Which one are you choosing?

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Stephen Walter Gossin
Stephen Walter Gossin
2 months ago

Fun fact(s) on that Galant: It has the same engine as my ’94 LeBaron and the same platform as the Chrysler Sebring Coupe and Dodge Avenger Coupe.

Great Showdown as always, Mark!

V8 Fairmont Longroof
V8 Fairmont Longroof
2 months ago

No brainer today – Galant all the way! Had a boss in Scotland years ago who had a new one when he worked in Kuwait in 1990. He got out, but had to stash the car with a local in a secure garage. About 2 years later he finally got it back to Scotland. He loved that car.

Kyle Soler
Kyle Soler
2 months ago

Give me the blue Galant. it’s basically a more modern V3000, not the V6 Diamante one that replaced the first gen in 1992. the 88-91 V3000’s were quick for what they were considering they were built on a platform designed for 4 cylinders under 2 litres.
You talk to any New Zealand boomer-aged person about the Mitsubishi V3000 and the first thing they talk about is how quick they were. There’s a good reason they were a popular choice for the New Zealand traffic police department in the late 80’s.

My dad had a white 88 V3000 Super Saloon, he says it’s one of the best cars he’s ever owned.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
2 months ago

Galant- it’s beautiful, blue and a good deal

Zelda Bumperthumper
Zelda Bumperthumper
2 months ago

This round represents what budget used car shopping actually looked like before the world went insane: cars that were mundane when new, still have plenty of life left, and don’t cost too much. They’re both in amazing condition for the price, but the Galant is the obvious choice. It’s from that brief period when Mitsubishi actually tried, and that 3.0 is decently fun to drive. A friend of mine bought two of these back to back when they were new, and both of them always did all the car things that cars were supposed to do, which is as good as it gets for 5 grand.

Marc Fuhrman
Marc Fuhrman
2 months ago

Gotta go for the Galant, it’s an incredibly handsome sedan.

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
2 months ago

Galant. I love your quote: “Plenty of cars get to 60 mph twice as quickly as this one-but the fact is, most of them don’t.” Well said.

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
2 months ago

Either of them is a splendid choice for those not willing (or able) to spend stupid money on a reasonable car.
But the Galant enjoyes a truly elegant and subtle design, and must be quite comfortable on the road. Mitsu it is.

JDE
JDE
2 months ago

This is from the years that the Galant Looked sort of Beemerish from a ways off and squinting, I kind of dug the styling then. they were basic family sedans, but I would take this one over the frumpy 200 SX for the money. It will not last as long, I know, but still.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
2 months ago

That Galant is from back in the day when Mitsubishi made attractive, engaging cars. I’d drive it.

Loudsx .
Loudsx .
2 months ago

I was so excited to see a 200sx thinking more SR20DET RWD Silvia….

this was not what I expected to see..

Dangerous_Daveo
Dangerous_Daveo
2 months ago
Reply to  Loudsx .

I saw the picture, looks a bit like a pulsar, so I was at least thinking it was a SR20DE to match the naming of the thing… It is not a SSS pulsar…

Loudsx .
Loudsx .
2 months ago

far from it.

Ricki
Ricki
2 months ago

One of my brother’s pals had one of these Galants and it was the best thing about said pal.

Lil Nissan was tempting, but I’ll have to pass this time.

SegaF355Fan
SegaF355Fan
2 months ago

I’ll admit it – I’m growing soft. I chose the Galant.

ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
2 months ago

The Nissan being an automatic-equipped SE removes any interest factor. Plus, this era Galant was so handsome. Easy pick for the Mitsu.

The Dude
The Dude
2 months ago

I remember the good old days when Mitsubishi’s line up had desirable cars and wasn’t filled with ho-hum CUVs…

Church
Church
2 months ago
Reply to  The Dude

Sounds fake.

XLEJim700
XLEJim700
2 months ago

I always found the lines of the Galant to be handsome. I think we’d make quite a pair.

Clark B
Clark B
2 months ago

I have known two people with Galants of that vintage. Both of them had over 300k miles on the clock. They were in terrible condition, for sure, but simply would not die. I’ll go Mitsubishi on this one.

Russ Evenhuis
Russ Evenhuis
2 months ago

I’ve had an affinity for Mitsubishis since I owned a Cordia turbo when I was 18 and bombing along the autobahns. Sign me up for the Galant

Lincoln Clown Car
Lincoln Clown Car
2 months ago

I voted for the 200SX for nostalgia. I had a 200SX. Mind you it had a “-R” after the “SE”.

MikuhlBrian
MikuhlBrian
2 months ago

that little “-R” at the end of the trim level definitely made a difference. Manual trans. SR20 engine. Not as tossable as the previous Sentra SE-R, but still a fun little pocket rocket.

Gregory Schmidt
Gregory Schmidt
2 months ago
Reply to  MikuhlBrian

My SE-R had an aftermarket ‘t’ for 7 pounds of boost. I was too poor to buy the 300zx injectors and go for 10 pounds.

I miss that little monster.

Mike B
Mike B
2 months ago

I miss when cars had simple, clean interiors like these two.

I’ll take the Mitsu, I remember when those came out I thought they looked really nice for a non-European 4 door. OTOH, I remember those Nissans as being so bland looking, even when new. A few girls in my high school drove them, and I wondered why someone would choose one of THOSE as a new car to buy.

Mitsu looks good even today and is more practical than the Nissan. Also, a coworker of mine had one, he had well over 200K miles on it when he retired it around 2018. He had planned on getting rid of it much earlier but was just amazed at how reliable it was being for him.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
2 months ago

This is a real battle of the boring today. I guess I’ll take the Nissan. I like coupes.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
2 months ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

You just have to ask yourself: “Do I want the small cup of vanilla ice cream or the larger cup of vanilla ice cream?”

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
2 months ago

Yeah, pretty much. I’ll have a small coupe of vanilla, in that case.

Last edited 2 months ago by Shop-Teacher
Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
2 months ago

In the UK a 95 200SX would be an S14 chassis RWD coupe with the turbocharged SR20 engine. That’s a cool car.

Neither of these are cool, they are just cars. I’ll flip a coin.

Slow In Slow Out
Slow In Slow Out
2 months ago

I picked the comfy Galant mainly because the 200SX isn’t the SE-R spec. Back in the day I came soooo close to getting a 200SX SE-R. I loved the test drive and thought it was such a sharp little car and worlds better than the base spec (and a bit of a sleeper). But the dealer couldn’t get me one with a stick so I ended up with an Integra.

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
2 months ago

I trust the drivetrain more on the Nissan, so I’ll go with that.

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