Premium midsize car; Built in Australia
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,600 – $5,000*


1997 Mitsubishi Diamante


1997 Mitsubishi Diamante


1997 Mitsubishi Diamante interior


2002 Mitsubishi Diamante


2002 Mitsubishi Diamante

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Quietness
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Passenger and cargo room

In this highly competitive class, although other near-luxury cars rate higher, Diamante’s price on the used-car market makes it worth considering. LS has been the “consumer” model, with the ES going largely to corporate fleets. Despite solid improvement in performance, room and refinement, some rivals–especially the Lexus ES 300–improved more and also promised greater prestige.

Overview

Built in Australia, Mitsubishi’s front-drive near-luxury sedan served as its U.S. “flagship.” A previous Diamante had been marketed through 1995, but consigned to the rental-fleet business in ’96, its final season.

Redesigned for 1997, the new Diamante was nearly 4 inches longer than before, with a bigger interior and crisper styling than its predecessor. The V6 engine also grew in size, to 3.5 liters with a 210-horsepower rating. Only a sedan was produced this time; the former station wagon was gone. Rivals included the Infiniti I30, Lexus ES 300, Acura TL, Mazda Millenia, and Nissan Maxima ES.

Diamantes came in base ES or upscale LS trim. Despite an unchanged wheelbase, interior volume grew by 7.4 cubic feet. Weight dropped by nearly 250 pounds, thanks to greater use of aluminum components.

Dual front airbags were standard, with antilock brakes an option. The standard 4-speed automatic transmission varied its shifts depending upon the driver’s style.

Standard equipment included power windows, mirrors and locks; a security system; automatic climate control; cassette stereo; 15-inch tires; and a 3-point rear center seatbelt. The LS sedan added wider 16-inch tires on alloy wheels, a power driver’s seat, CD player, and leather interior trim. New options included a built-in rear child-safety seat.

Yearly Updates

1998 Diamante
Not much change was evident in the new Diamante’s second season. Antilock braking and keyless entry now were standard on both the ES and LS sedans. The LS gained a power moonroof and a Homelink remote-control transmitter to open the garage door.
1999 Diamante
Little-changed this year, Mitsubishi’s near-luxury sedan dropped to a single model rather than the previous ES and LS editions. Antilock brakes and a keyless-entry system were standard. A new Cold Weather Package option included traction control and heated front seats.
2000 Diamante
A short list of modifications for 2000 included a newly standard anti-theft engine immobilizer and a newly optional in-dash 6-disc CD changer. After being abandoned for ’99, the former ES and LS model designations were resurrected. In essence, the new ES sedan was equipped like the single ’99 model, but with a CD player. The 2000 LS contained equipment previously offered in Luxury and Premium packages. However, foglights, heated mirrors and front seats, and traction control, were combined into a new All-Weather option group.
2001 Diamante
Rear child-seat anchors were the only addition for 2001.
2002 Diamante
Diamante got revised styling front and rear, and added a new model for 2002. The new VR-X version had 210 hp vs. 205 in the other trim levels.
2003 Diamante
VR-X also gets a special black-mesh grille, aero-look lower body styling, cloth front sport seats, and wheel-opening flares.
2004 Diamante
The Diamante gets only cosmetic changes this year, including a re-designed nose, restyled dashboard and center console, new colors and interior trim, and a standard rear spoiler for the VR-X.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Only a single powertrain has been used for the Diamante: a 3.5-liter, overhead cam V6 engine rated at 210 horsepower, driving a 4-speed automatic transmission.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/213
Engine HP 205-210
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 231
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

18/24

19.7

Road Test

Packing one of the biggest and “torquiest” engines in the near-luxury field, the Diamante delivers lively acceleration. A test model reached 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. Flooring the throttle produces a satisfying kick off the line and in passing maneuvers.

Wind and road noise levels are generally low, though the engine can be a little coarse sounding at times and isn’t as smooth as the near-luxury norm. As for economy, we averaged 19.7 mpg in a new Diamante, with a considerable amount of highway driving. The automatic transmission delivers clean, quick shifts, up and down the gears.

Though billed as a sport sedan, Diamante is clearly biased toward comfort. It’s not nearly as athletic as, say, a Mazda Millenia. A soft suspension absorbs most bumps easily, but detracts from handling prowess. This sedan floats a bit over pavement swells and fast humpbacks, and suffers marked body lean in tight turns. Tire roar is noticeable on pebbled pavement surfaces. Most buyers will like the choice of spring and shock absorber settings.

With antilock braking, a Diamante fares well enough in panic stops, aside from an excess of queasy nosedive. Traction control is an advisable option to look for, because front tires can spin wildly on damp pavement.

Passenger space did not really grow with the added length in this generation, although the back seat is roomier than before. Leg and foot room are abundant for four adults, though head space is scarce for 6-footers beneath the power sunroof (if installed). Storage space is below par, too, and pop-out cupholders are on the flimsy side. Interior materials look appealing and detail assembly is thorough, but the car does not feel quite as solid as some rivals. Door closure, for instance, has sounded a tad “tinny.” And on rough roads, the Diamante simply doesn’t feel as effectively screwed together as some competitors.

Though simpler than the old one, the dashboard layout is rather “busy” and saddled with too-small radio buttons. Outward visibility is good, helped by a low dashboard top. The trunk is usefully spacious and easy to load, but hinges dip into the load-carrying area.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Mitsubishi Diamante LS

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 7
70%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 52

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.1 194.1 70.3 53.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.2 19 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.6 36.3 43.6 36.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Diamante 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 149
Injury 121
Theft 268

Trouble Spots

Engine noise
Description: Valve tap at start-up is common on DOHC models and usually goes away after a couple minutes, but replacement hydraulic valve adjusters are required if noise persists. (1997-2000)

Recall History

1998-04
Description: Bilingual English/Spanish removable airbag warning labels on dashboard and sunvisor do meet size requirements.
1999-2000
Description: Head of screw that holds retaining clip for parking-brake shoe can become brittle and break off; could result in parking brake dragging and/or failure to hold vehicle properly.
2000-03
Description: The owner’s manual doesn’t adequately explain the child-restraint system. Dealers will distribute further operation instructions.
2002
Description: The main underhood wiring harness may have insufficient clearance between the engine-control harness and the exhaust heat shield.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.