Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door coupe
  • transverse mid-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,200 – $4,200*


1993 Toyota MR-2


1991 Toyota MR-2


1994 Toyota MR-2


1995 Toyota MR-2


1992 Toyota MR-2


1991 Toyota MR-2

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Cargo room
  • Noise
  • Ride

Billed as an “affordable exotic,” the MR2 was a slow seller. Soaring prices helped kill it, and they remain relatively high today. Because no one else offered a 2-seat midengined sports car in its price class, however, if that’s what you want, Toyota is the only game in town. Fortunately, Toyota’s reputation for solid workmanship makes the MR2 a better value.

Overview

After a half-decade on the market in its prior form, Toyota’s mid-engined, rear-drive sports car earned a redesign for 1991. Dubbed “Mister Two,” the 2-seater skipped the 1990 model year completely. The reworked version arrived in spring of that year, as an early ’91 model.

Bigger and racier in appearance than its predecessor, the 1991 MR2 displayed Ferrari-like styling and offered more power than before. Base models got a 130-horsepower, 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine, borrowed from Toyota’s Celica GT/GT-S. A turbocharged, 200-horsepower 2.1-liter engine, also used in the Celica All-Trac Turbo, went into the Turbo MR2. Both engines were dual-overhead-cam designs with four valves per cylinder, mounted transversely behind the 2-passenger cockpit. A supercharged engine, available in 1989, was not used in the new generation.

A 5-speed manual transmission was standard, with 4-speed automatic optional for nonturbo models. Unequal-size tires and wheels were installed: 195/60 on 6-inch wheels up front, versus 205/60 on 7-inch wheels at the rear. T-bar roof panels were available on the Turbo and the base MR2, but an optional pop-up/removable moonroof could be installed instead.

Riding a wheelbase that had been increased by 3.2 inches, measuring 9.3 inches longer overall, the new MR2 weighed 350 to 400 pounds more than its predecessor. A driver’s airbag was standard, and antilock braking was a new option. So was electro-hydraulic power steering.

Yearly Updates

1992 MR2
Following a full redesign for 1991, the new MR2 was virtually unchanged in its second season.
1993 MR2
An updated MR2 debuted in March 1992, as an early ’93 model. Suspension revisions were intended to reduce rear-end breakaway in hard cornering. Changes included reduced ride height, higher-rate springs and shock absorbers, stiffer bushings, and longer rear toe-control arms. Tires grew wider and bigger in diameter (now 15-inch). Alloy wheels got a fresh design, and the base engine grew from 130 to 135 horsepower. Both models gained a larger front air intake. All Turbo coupes now had the previously optional T-bar roof. Turbo coupes gained an 8-speaker audio system as well as standard air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, and power door locks.
1994 MR2
A passenger-side airbag joined the driver’s airbag for 1994. Both MR2 models got revised taillamps and minor tweaks to the suspension components and shock absorbers. The base model added standard air conditioning and a newly designed one-piece rear spoiler. Previously, spoilers were reserved for Turbos. Air conditioning switched to non-CFC refrigerant.
1995 MR2
Toyota’s midengine coupe entered its final season without change, except that the base model with T-bar roof gained a Power Package (power windows and door locks) as standard equipment. Steadily escalating prices and high insurance premiums had contributed to serious declining MR2 sales. Several years later, as the new century began, Toyota would revive the MR2 name for its new midengine Spyder convertible.

Engines

transverse mid-engine/rear-wheel drive

As the name suggests, Turbo coupes got a turbocharged engine: a 2.0-liter unit that made 200 horsepower, borrowed from the Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo. Also borrowed from the Celica, the 2.2-liter base engine was rated at 130 horsepower, increased to 135 for 1993. A 5-speed manual gearbox was standard, and the only choice for Turbos. A 4-speed automatic transmission could be installed in nonturbo models.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/132
Engine HP 130-135
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 140-145
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
22/29
21/28
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 200
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual

20/27

Road Test

High in fun quotient, the MR2 isn’t too bad in practicality, either. Performance is a plus, especially with the Turbo, which accelerated to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. A stick-shift base model, in contrast, took 8.5 seconds to reach that velocity.

A turbocharger isn’t necessary to enjoy the merits of an MR2, because the base model is nearly as much fun–and markedly cheaper, even today.

With the engine sitting right behind your ears, you’re sure to hear a lot of mechanical noise. Road rumble also may be prominent, due to the aggressive tire-tread design of the original high-performance tires.

With a firm suspension and wide tires on the MR2, you’ll feel most bumps and endure some harshness on washboard surfaces and heavily patched pavement, where the ride can become jiggly. Making up for that drawback, you’ll be able to scoot around corners practically like a Go-Kart. You can expect crisp turn-in and a virtually flat cornering attitude when the car is driven assertively. Braking is swift and stable, too.

Watch out for the tendency of the rear tires to suddenly skid sideways under hard throttle in a sharp turn. That’s not unusual behavior for a rear-drive sports car, but it can be tricky for the less-experienced driver. Suspension modifications for 1993 helped, but it’s still necessary to be wary in later models.

Turbo fuel economy disappoints. We got only 19.6 mpg overall when the car was new.

Cargo space divides between nooks around the spare tire in the nose (about 1 cubic foot) and a deep, oblong trunk behind the engine (5.5 cubic feet). Obviously, you’ll need to travel light. The low-slung cockpit looks snug, but provides more than adequate adult-size room and good outward visibility.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Toyota MR2

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 - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 2
20%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 0
00%
Cargo Room - 1
10%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 36

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
94.5 164.2 66.9 48.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
6.6 14.3 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.5 43.4
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 MR2 2-door coupe

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 157
Injury 106
Theft 125

Trouble Spots

Audio system
Description: Several problems with the sound system including CD player that skips or fails to play due to lens distortion (1992), CD skips or displays “ERR” (1992-92), cassette tapes will not eject (1990), whining noise from the speakers produced by alternator (1991), sound cuts out in cold weather (1991).
Audio system
Description: The dome light may not work, the door speakers may cut out or quit working, and/or the radio may quit working because water gets into the wiring harness and causes corrosion in the terminals. (1991)
Steering problems
Description: If power steering pump relay fails, power steering assist may become excessive. (1991-95)
Vehicle noise
Description: A clicking or ticking noise, that sounds like a speedometer cable problem ,is caused by the drive-motor circuitry requiring replacement. (1991)

Recall History

1991-92
Description: Driver’s occupant protection system (steering wheel and airbag) exceeds thorax criterion in NHTSA crash tests.

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.