Couldnt agree with your comments more, I am definately not a fan of Magna's. I do feel that they have nice interiors and the body styling is quite nice on some models. But I feel that there is a lack mechanical quality.
I have 1993 TR Magna which would have to be one of the most reliable cars I have ever owned.
I have only taken the car for a service at 1500kms when it was initially purchased. In all other instances I have undertaken all services myself.
One thing that anyone should do if they are doing there own services is to change the oil and filter every 5000kms. This will prolong the life of your motor.
During the life of this vehicle, which is currently heading for 215000kms (I get 650kms per tank), I have replaced:
Voltage Regulator @ 35000kms;
Fuel pump @ 65000kms;
Timing chain (what an addition to the horsepower), clutch/thrust bearing and the harmonic balancer oil seal @ 160000kms; and
Passenger side drive assembly unijoints (which I took to a pro to have replaced) @ 180000kms.
The only thing I regret is not having replaced the oil pump when I did the timing chain, as it is on its way out.
What more could one say about the reliability of this vehicle. Total cost in all works undertaken, including services and tools purchased to date, is $3k.
I bought a 4 cylinder 1993 magna executive 5 years ago, and have had no problems at all. I have just fixed brakes, and had first service since purchase. cost 600. The computer is faulty now, and needs to be replaced. The car still handles like new, has good pick up for a 4 cylinder, and I couldn't be happier with my magna. It has just clocked up 168 000 Kms.
I have a 1988 magna and it had the same problem of making sounds when the wheels were in full lock. at first it was no problem, but then the power steering failed, and so I got a second hand power steering pump ($50 aus) and it now works and sounds fine.