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Used car review Mitsubishi Magna TS 1994


Graham ?Smithy? Smith reviews the used Mitsubishi Magna TS 1994, its fine points, its flaws and what to watch for when you?re buying it.

Think Magna, think sturdy, but boring family hacks with little or no personality. That was certainly the way the mid-sized Mitsubishi was viewed back in the early 1990s when the TS appeared, but look past the pleasantly plain styling and you’ll find the TS is a reliable family car that represents good second-hand value for money.

The transformation of the Magna from trouble-plagued family four-banger to a car capable of competing with the mainstream large Aussie family models began with the TR, and took a sizeable step forward with the mid-model TS facelift in 1994 when Mitsubishi made its smooth 3.0-litre fuel-injected V6 available in more of its models.

Previously the Magna was a four-cylinder model trying to appeal to owners disenchanted with the cost of running their six-cylinder cars at a time when fuel prices were on the rise. At 2.6 litres the Mitsubishi engine was quite a large four and suffered from a lack of smoothness as a result, although it was reasonably torquey and would pull quite well.

When the disenchantment with six-cylinder engines didn’t translate into a wholesale switch to fours as we became accustomed to the higher fuel prices Mitsubishi simply had to meet the market with a six.

A V6 Magna is a smooth operator with safe and secure handling, even if it doesn’t have the neighbours rushing around for a look when you arrive home in your driveway.


The 1994 TS Magna was a facelift of the TR model introduced in 1991 and changed the way we thought about the Mitsubishi family car.

Earlier Magnas had developed a reputation for trouble, to the extent that they had sullied the Magna badge, but the TR turned things around with a fresh, if conservative, shape, strong safe body shell and much improved reliability.

The TS facelift built on the reputation established by the TR by adding new features such as ABS brakes and a driver’s airbag, and increased availability of the smooth 3.0-litre V6 engine.

The Magna began life as a four-cylinder family sedan when there seemed a real chance our fuel supplies would dry up and the demand for fours would climb through the roof, but instead we learnt to live with higher fuel prices and the demand for sixes remained high. There was nothing Mitsubishi could do, but add a six to its family sedan and tackle Holden and Ford head on.

This they did in the TR, and they enjoyed quite some success, even though the Magna was still regarded by most as a four-cylinder car that wasn’t quite in the big boys league.

New to the range in TS was the SE V6 in sedan and wagon versions, which expanded the availability of the smooth six to six models.

There was little to distinguish the TS from its predecessor. The easiest way to pick them from the outside is by the split grille, which was coloured either grey or silver depending on the model, and there was a new garnish mould on the rear, new wheel covers and new alloy wheels. Inside the TS boasted new cloth trim and a new cover on the centre console.

On the mechanical front Mitsubishi made some welcome improvements to the engines and automatic gearbox. New high swirl combustion chambers, pistons and ports improved the drivability and response of the 2.6-litre four, although it had little impact on its performance and economy. The smooth and willing fuel-injected 3.0-litre V6 was unchanged.

Revisions to the computer controlling the shifting of the four-speed auto trans, which reduced the torque during shifts instead of shifting at full torque reduced shift bump and made for a much smoother drive.

Some minor retuning also took place on the suspension with new bushes for a more comfortable ride over smaller bumps.

Demand for increased safety forced Mitsubishi to adopt ABS brakes and driver’s side airbag, which were both introduced as options available with the V6 engine.


The GLX was something of a stripper model aimed at fleet buyers and had a carburettor-fed four that struggled with the weight of the Magna. A 1994 GLX with up to 165,000 km on the clock can be had for around $5000, but it’s better to pay a little more for an Executive that got the more powerful fuel-injected four. An Executive of similar age and mileage will go for around $6000.

Later 1996 cars from the end of the TS model run will attract a higher sticker price. A 1996 GLX with around 130,000 km on the odometer will be around $7900 while and Executive will be some $600 more expensive.

For more performance go for the 3.0-litre V6 which will carry a premium of around $1500 over similar four cylinder models.


The TS Magna is robust and has survived the ravages of time and distance well. The body is sturdy and remains tight. Few rattles and squeaks seem to develop over the years.

Both four and six-cylinder engines are reliable and give little trouble. As they get on in miles it’s worth replacing the cam belt, at around 100,000 km to be safe, and they will probably develop oil leaks from the cam cover and front cover.

Unlike the earlier Magnas the auto trans in the TS is very reliable and gives little trouble.

Cars equipped with autos can have problems with the idle speed stepper motor, which is designed to raise the engine’s idle speed when ‘Drive’ is selected.


• solid body stands the test of time.

• plain styling gives it a granddad image

• torquey fuel-injected four is economical choice

• smooth V6 is a willing performer

• safe and secure handling


1994 VR Commodore Acclaim – $7000-$9500

1994 EF Falcon GLi – $7000-$9000

1994 SDV10 Toyota Camry CSi (2.2-litre) – $7500-$9500

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 6 comments

  • I just upgraded from a magna elite 4cyl to a V6 executive, i miss the luxury features but the car is perfect. Im a p plater but im not ashamed to be driving a magna. I think they look great. The magna was my first car, and ill never drive a holden or ford. They survive everything. I thrashed the 4cyl, and blew the head gasket but even on 2 cylinders the engine just wont quit.

    Daniel Van Rijthoven of Australia Posted on 29 July 2013 12:48pm
  • Own 1195 TS Executive sedan 5 speed manual. Just expired with blown head gasket at 433,000km. Wonderfulcar. No repairs previously needed.

    Colin Fenton of Wamboin NSW Posted on 28 June 2013 10:13am
  • This car has much better fuel economy in the manual version though!!! I've owned both and trust me, the difference is abysmal... much faster too!!!

    Miguel of Australia Posted on 08 April 2013 11:17am
  • Well I was not a magna fan but 15 years ago I met my wife and she came with a 96 Magna SE V6 Auto Wagon. We thought we would keep it as our second car until it died and then buy something else. Now in 2011 it has clocked 220 thousand kms and the silky smooth V6 has proved faultless. We have serviced right on the book including cam belt etc and always run PULP and a high cca battery. The only non book items were valve stem seals at 220 and upgraded suspension at 180. It is now worth nothing yet still drives better then many much newer cars whilst providing that nice mix of plenty of space, flexibility and blend of power for reasonable economy. The body is tight and rattle free and this is despite using it to tow our horse float and 17ft tinnie with regular rough road use. Funny but I have had Subarus and Camrys which in some ways were nicer but the Magna has proven itself tougher. I often look at it and think why have we still got it, it is a bit of dad's car too but every time I go for a long drive I know why. All I can say is very very under rated and for a second hand family wagon you would not find one better for the dollars.

    Sinbad of Tasmania Posted on 08 October 2011 6:02pm
  • Having owned a 4cyl auto '96 model exec wagon for over 13 years i found myself agreeing with everything written in this article with regards to reliability, comfort and handling. However i found myself disagreeing with the "torquey fuel-injected four" being 'economical' and 'pulling well'. Planting the foot in 'drive' would result in the car actually going slower, even with overdrive disengaged. If you wanted to over take it was a better (read 'safer') option to get out and walk... Having said this, we did once attempt tow a tandem trailer laiden with a holden hr, retiring from the rather pointless activity a short while later. The poor thing was never quiet the same after....

    Scott Burchett Posted on 23 June 2011 6:53pm
  • I've been through all of its issues, the car is a pleasure. Although this is a grandfather's car, it's quite reliable.

    AI Posted on 22 August 2010 5:54pm
Read all 6 comments

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