Toyota MR2 Spyder Research & Reviews

Overview & Reviews

Average Score

4.72/5 Average
278 Total Reviews
Model Overview:

Let's break out the old automotive etymology textbook for a fun and fascinating exposé on the Toyota MR2 Spyder. The 1,345-word biography of Kiichiro Toyoda and his company's origins in making electric looms has been removed for reasons of brevity. The middle bit regarding the car's name is more conveniently straight to the point, referring to the fact that it's a Midengine, Rear-drive, 2-seat sports car.

The Spyder part of the name has nothing to do with arachnids, and is instead a common alternate word for a convertible sports car. Ferrari and Fiat have used the more conventionally spelled Spider name in the past and Toyota clearly wanted to tap into this high pedigree of sporting vehicles for its new-for-2000 roadster. As the old saying goes, the name says it all.

Except in French etymology, which reveals that "MR2" pronounced phonetically en francais sounds like the word forÂ…excrement. Therefore, Toyota called this car simply "MR" in France. In the English-speaking world, it was nicknamed "Mister Two." Ah, isn't etymology fun?

Past MR2s were offered with T-top roofs, but the Spyder served as Toyota's first real attempt to take on the Mazda Miata's monopoly in the low-priced roadster segment. Featuring a 1.8-liter four-cylinder mounted directly behind the driver, and a low curb weight, the MR2 succeeded as a fun-to-drive drop top.

But in the all-important cute category, it missed the grade. It had the profile of a squared-off Boxster, the face of a frog and a tail that resembled a Pokemon (especially when painted yellow). Also, the interior looked extremely dated before it was even introduced and its trunk made the Miata's look like a B-52's bomb bay. Although it was initially a hot commodity, the Toyota MR2 Spyder was a low-volume niche vehicle like its predecessors until the ax fell on it in 2005.

Most Recent Toyota MR2 Spyder

The Toyota MR2 Spyder was introduced for 2000 in only one well-equipped trim level. Antilock brakes, 15-inch wheels, air-conditioning, a glass rear window, power windows and locks, and a CD stereo were standard equipment. The mid-mounted 1.8-liter inline-4 was rated at 138 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission available was a five-speed manual.

In 2002, Toyota introduced the five-speed Sequential Manual Transmission or SMT for the MR2, making it the cheapest car at the time (by a long shot) to offer a true automated clutch manual. We found this option easy to use and liked the way it matched revs on downshifts, even though it sapped some acceleration from the engine. Without a fully automatic mode, however, the SMT's value was questionable. Given this, along with potential durability concerns, we suggest that used MR2 Spyder buyers stick with the regular five-speed manual.

For 2003, the MR2 Spyder underwent its midlife freshening with minor changes to the front and rear fascias and instrument panel. The SMT was upgraded to six speeds, while the rear tires grew to 16 inches.

In reviews, we found the Toyota MR2 Spyder very enjoyable to drive. In a roadster comparison test in 2000, it finished higher than the Miata by being more fun and tossable at the track. Its midengine layout meant it could lose its composure at the limit, but generally it went through turns quite nicely. The steering was quick and responsive, although the electrically assisted rack didn't provide as much road feel as other cars in this class.

We also never got used to the styling or interior design, and found its storage capacity laughable. The front-mounted "trunk" was taken up by the spare tire and the storage compartment behind the seats was very small and difficult to access.

Past Toyota MR2 Spyder models

The Toyota MR2 Spyder technically lasted for just one generation: from 2000-'05. From 1985-'95, there were two generations of the MR2: a midengine, two-seat coupe. A T-top was available, but there was no full convertible.

User Reviews:

Showing 1 through 10 of 278.00
  • If you are looking for fun, this is it. - 2002 Toyota MR2 Spyder
    By -

    Seriously, if anyone gives this car a bad review, then they probably don't own one. I find myself driving 15 miles out of the way on my commute to and from work, just so I can fit in those extra twisties. It's an excercise in minimalism. True there isn't much storage space, but there's can't be more than 2 of you anyway, how much could you possibly need. I would go as far as saying that the car is even economical, I find myself driving it instead of my Tundra because I get anywhere from 30-35mpg consistantly, AND it uses regular unleaded. It's just fun. It's supportive seats are comfortable on long trips.

  • Toyota MR2 Spyder - 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder
    By -

    Very fun and fast car to drive. The interior is not too roomy, but if you care for looks get this car. Not much cargo space either. Mazda Miata is the compteter of this car. This car is better thought because of its middle engine rear whell drive layout. This is used in most racing cars.

  • MR2 Spyder - my favorite care - 2002 Toyota MR2 Spyder
    By -

    Even after almost 2 years, I still smile every time I look at my Toyota MR2 Spyder. It handles incredibly well, corners like a dream and accelerates just as I need it to. The huge wheelbase on this small car allows me to take corners marked for 25 MPH at 50+MPH without even a quiver. All the under-the-hood maintenance items are clearly marked and easily found.

  • I'm a Toyota Man Now! - 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder
    By -

    I've owned a lot of cars, but this one takes the cake. The handling is awe inspiring, even if the horsepower isn't. Still, a 6.5 second 0-60 mph time is enough for me, and I enjoy getting 30+ mpg. For those who said the interior looks "cheap" and "plastic", get the leather interior. It is reminiscent of higher priced performance cars. I love the look and feel of the interior, very comfortable, and I'm a large guy. Everywhere I go, people stop and stare. And you may not need more HP. I've had two sports cars back down from a race ('05 Mustang, '03 Firebird). Reason? They thought it was a Porsche. I was a Chevy lover before, but I'm a Toyota man now.

  • 2zz swapped spyder review with TRD suspension - 2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder
    By -

    My review may not be a fair one since my spyder is not really close to stock. I've got a 2zz-ge engine and 6 speed from a 2001 Celica-GTS, the factory TRD suspension and bracing, additional under body bracing (breast plate), and much of the suspension rubber replaced with urethane. The car drives great and is my daily driver and has been very reliable, especially for a 14 year old car. Handling is very confident and acceleration with the 2zz engine is good. I've also got the TRD clutch-type LSD which I would not recommend - I would prefer the factory helical LSD option instead.

  • Love this car! - 2003 Toyota MR2 Spyder
    By -

    I love this car. Handles well, has excellent gas mileage, and runs like a clock.

  • great little car - 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder
    By -

    Like the Beach Boys said - FUN, FUN, FUN. Get up and go, it's got, lot of cargo space - not. Great second car for the work commute or the weekend crusing. A looker too, turns heads wherever you go. Must ride with top down, no wind with windows up so it's pleasant. 30 mpg so you can fight off the high fuel prices. Top is very easy to put up and down.

  • I love what you do for me - TOYOTA - 2003 Toyota MR2 Spyder
    By -

    I just bought my spyder yesterday- and love it. I am 54- and finally have the sports car of my dreams!!!!!!!!

  • Exotic car and an Average price. - 2002 Toyota MR2 Spyder
    By -

    Excellent car. Handles EXTREMLY WELL... power is alittle lacking, but with a few aftermarket Turbo kits to pick from. This car can get EXTREMLY POWERFUL. Nice ride, the BEST TOY i ever purchased for my self. Exotic looks, and just an overall great car.

  • MR2 Spyder - 2005 Toyota MR2 Spyder
    By -

    When I bought this car I did not realize how fun it was going to be to drive. The only thing that upsets me is that it is a little underpowered but that can easily be fixed thanks to TRD and Apex.

Toyota MR2 Spyder Reviews By Year:
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