Sporty/performance car; Built in Japan
  • 2-door convertible
  • transverse mid-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,000 – $11,000*


2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder


2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder


2002 Toyota MR2 Spyder interior


2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder


2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Instruments/controls
  • Steering/handling
  • Brake performance
Cons:
  • Cargo room
  • Entry/exit

Nimble and eager, the MR2 delivers genuine sports-car thrills. Compared to the more practical Miata, however, it’s more of a short-haul commuter or weekend toy. Workmanship on an early test MR2 was disappointing for Toyota, prompting several squeaks and rattles.

Overview

Borrowing a name from the recent past, Toyota launched a mid-engined, rear-drive, two-passenger sports car as a late 2000 model. The name and configuration had last been seen in 1995, in the form of an MR2 coupe. This time, Toyota made the MR2 a Spyder convertible instead.

Priced to go against the popular Mazda Miata roadster, the MR2 Spyder also competed against the more costly BMW Z3-Series and Honda’s S2000. Built on a modified version of the Corolla sedan platform, the MR2 held a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, adapted from the one in the larger Celica sport coupe. Tuned to deliver 138 horsepower, the engine came only with a five-speed manual transmission.

The folding soft top contained a glass rear window with defroster provision. No lift-off hardtop was available, so the MR2 Spyder was strictly a convertible.

Standard equipment included all-disc antilock braking, air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, power mirrors and locks, power mirrors, a CD/cassette stereo system, and 15-inch alloy wheels. No factory options were offered, but a Toyota dealer could install a tonneau cover, front-end mask, and wheel locks. Toyota intended to limit availability to about 5,000 cars per year.

Yearly Updates

2001 MR2 Spyder
Because the MR2 Spyder had been launched late in the 2000 model year, nothing changed for 2001.
2002 MR2 Spyder
Technology took center stage for 2002, as a unique new transmission became available. Working without a clutch, the optional sequential manual gearbox had no conventional “H” pattern shift lever. Gears could be changed by moving a floor lever forward to upshift, or back to downshift. Or, the driver could use an optional pair of steering-wheel buttons to accomplish the same task. No automatic-shifting capability was provided, and no automatic transmission was available for the MR2 Spyder.
2003 MR2 Spyder
The sequential manual transmission was upgraded from 5 speeds to 6 for ’03. Exterior changes included a reshaped nose, new headlamps and taillights, and color-keyed instead of black side air intakes. MR2 also got restyled gauges, chrome and metal-look interior trim, standard fog lights, and a power antenna in place of a fixed mast type. Wheel size stayed 15 inches in front, but grew to 16 inches in the rear, where slightly wider tires are fitted as well. Cruise control was a new feature with the SMT.
2004 MR2 Spyder
New for ’04 is the availability of a limited-slip differential on the MR2 Spyder.
2005 MR2 Spyder
This midengine 2-seat sports car is essentially unchanged for 2005, which is its final year.

Engines

transverse mid-engine/rear-wheel drive

In 2000-01, all MR2 Spyders had the same powertrain: a dual-overhead-cam, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine working with a five-speed manual transmission. A 5-speed sequential manual gearbox became available for 2002 and was upgraded to 6-speeds in ’03.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/109
Engine HP 138
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 125
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
SMT manual
25/30
25/33
26.5

Road Test

Razor-sharp reflexes combine with adequate power to make the MR2 Spyder feel like a big Go-cart. Toyota claimed the MR2 could accelerate to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, but a test car needed nearly 8 seconds. Happily, a smooth, light clutch and a precise short-throw gearshift extract all the available performance.

Also pleasing is the fact that the MR2 is as frugal as a Corolla. When new, a test model average 26.5 mpg, despite hard driving, using regular fuel.

Firm damping, a short wheelbase, low weight and somewhat limited wheel travel translate to a “busy” ride. Though not uncomfortable for a sports car, some sharp bumps can cause momentary skipping. Virtually no body lean is evident in curves, and the MR2 handles very nimbly on twisty roads, helped by quick and direct steering. Beware in fast wet-road cornering, because this mid-engined car is slightly tail-heavy.

Braking is powerful, with virtually no nosedive in hard stops. Expect a noisy experience except in gentle cruising, where tire thrum takes over. Wind rush is copious with the top up, but wind buffeting is modest, thanks more to the low seating than the standard flip-up plastic wind deflector.

Luggage space is minuscule, so travel light. Only 1.9 cubic feet of cargo space is provided, and most of that is behind the seats, with dual locking covers. Seating is bathtub-low, sills are high and wide, and door openings aren’t that large. Taller occupants get only adequate head and leg room. Getting in and out isn’t easy, either.

Controls are easy to see and reach, including simple climate and audio controls. Seats are upholstered in grippy fabric, but padding seems skimpy. The low cowl and short hood give a clear view ahead, and top-up visibility isn’t bad.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder

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 - 7
70%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 9
90%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 0
00%
Cargo Room - 1
10%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 43

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
96.5 153.0 66.7 48.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
1.9 12.7 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.5 42.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

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 N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Brake noise
Description: Original-equipment brakes make clicking noises. (2000)
Hood/trunk
Description: Some hoods may be hard to open because of poor spring effort. There is a new hood latch with new springs to correct the problem. (2000-01)

Recall History

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.