6 Best & Worst Toyota MR2 Years (Stats & Examples)

There’s no question that the Toyota MR2 is now becoming rare because of the legacy it left behind. This sports car handled itself well for a fast and fun drive throughout its model years.

Toyota gave us the MR2 for three generations from 1986 to 2007, with great improvement along the way. While there has been a series of unpredictability on its functions, the experience you get in some of its models is better than the others.

This is why we have the best & worst Toyota MR2 years. In this article, we explain some Toyota MR2 model years to avoid and the most reliable.
Let’s move right in.

The Best And Worst Years For Toyota MR2 Are:

It seems like the most reliable year for the Toyota MR2 is the 2005, 2007, 1996, and the 1997 models. During these years, the models excelled because they introduced new engine systems.

Conversely, the years 1991, 1992, and 1993 were not so lucky, and the models have received loads of complaints and issues.

What Toyota MR2 Years Are the Most Reliable?

Here are the Toyota MR2 years that are the most reliable:

1. 2005 – 2007 Toyota MR2

These final versions of the MR2, as we know, are considered amongst the most reliable. In fact, you can still get these versions close to new if you look around a bit.

The 2005 – 2007 Toyota MR2 falls amongst the third generation MR2 dubbed “Spyder”, which takes all the versions to a new level. They have low running costs and increased performance benefits.

These models work with a lively inline 4-cylinder engine that spurts out 138 horsepower. You can as well choose to go for either manual or automatic transmission.

Efficiency is also a significant improvement in these MR2 years, as the vehicle got an impressive 23 mpg for city driving and 29 mpg for highway driving. The vehicle also has a 12.7-gallon tank capacity, which is not bad for a car of this size.

Owners of the Toyota MR2 found it fun to drive, especially with the sequential transmission. The vehicle, itself, handles corners quite well and accelerates fast from a stop.

The 2005 – 2007 marked the first time the MR2 will work with a clutchless sequential manual transmission (SMT) gearbox. Not only that, the vehicle also features cruise control for the models, with a chrome-knobbed stickshift.

Another compliment note is the way the interior is laid out and designed with colored leather seats. Toyota added a six-disc CD changer in these models, with a storage box between the two seats.

Unfortunately, because of its size, the MR2 lacks cargo space, and tall people will really have trouble with the headroom. However, the 2005 – 2007 models offer a much longer size so that even tall people will have enough legroom.

You might want to check 11 sports car, like the Toyota MR2 with extra passenger legroom here.

There are now plans to bring around 5000 Toyota MR2 models to North America. This is to curve the demand from Toyota and MR2 fans since the production of the vehicle was discontinued.

2. 1996-1997 Toyota MR2

Even though this generation of the MR2 was not the best, you’ll still enjoy good characteristics from the older Toyota MR2. The only major changes in these model years is the aesthetics, and it’s hardly noticeable.

The first thing you’d notice in the 1996 – 1997 Toyota MR2 is the redesigned wheels, which are kept raw. The wheels are not painted and features a diamond cut in them.

New turn signals were added to the fender for a sportier look on the rear. Well, these are also unnoticeable in the older models of the MR2.

Yet another aesthetic change is the rear wing on the vehicle, which gives it a more aggressive overall look. This wing is also aerodynamic and keeps the car down at high speeds.

The interior also saw a few improvements that made it look sporty and upscale. The materials used also feel firm and well-made.

Leather materials are added to a lot more interior parts than in the previous versions. This is also the start of more leather being used in the MR2, as we see in early models after this one.

Make sure you also check out our post on 4 sports cars with cooled seats.

Many of the problems that weren’t addressed in the previous model showed up in this version too. Various owners had noticed some rust parts after a while of owning the car, and this is amongst other issues.

With that said, the Japanese manufacturer chose to keep what works with the car in terms of its performance. The engine performed efficiently, and this offset other issues with the MR2.

3. 1994 – 1995 Toyota MR2

The 1994 – 1995 Toyota MR2 were the first of the Toyota MR2 that were only introduced outside of North America. These models got a lot of improvements as the American turbo models stayed the same.

That was the third revision of the Toyota MR2 and they were upgraded to the third generation engine. This engine was more powerful for the Japanese market. In fact, its output went up to 135 hp.

Among other improvements are the anti-lock brake system and the electronic power steering wheel upgrades. These gave a better overall performance and feel to the Toyota MR2.

However, most improvements were made to the car’s exterior design, not the interior. So, the little details around the car made it look sporty and modern.

Visual Exterior Changes for the 1995 Toyota MR2:

  • Side skirts
  • Rear taillights
  • Rear spoiler
  • Lower front spoiler

Even though this new look faced some controversy in the beginning, most people eventually started to like it. It looked a lot like a Porsche Boxster and a roadster.

This version of the MR2 started to get a lot more competitors, like the Mazda Miata and the Honda S2000. However, due to the engine upgrades, the MR2 remained ahead of the pack.

These models are powered by a 1.8-liter 16-valve DOHC engine with a massive 138 horsepower and they weigh much lighter at only 2,200 pounds.

All these engine upgrades saw the MR2 go from 0 to 60 mph in about 6.8 seconds. Moreover, these model years also introduced an optional automatic gearbox for the first time in an MR2.

What Toyota MR2 Years Should You Avoid?

The following are the Toyota MR2 years you should avoid:

1. 1991 – 1992 Toyota MR2

The first revision from the 1991 to 1992 model of the MR2 had 14-inch wheels, and an improved suspension system. A new bumper was also redesigned with a small lip to enhance the sporty look.

This revision got improvements for the exterior, as well as the interior. The vehicle was also given more weight, and the exterior styling looked more like a Ferrari.

A new sheet metal design made the car heavier, and it also got more room in the cabin. Also, the interior styling is more upscale, with quality materials used on the dashboard and doors.

Engine performance was improved with a 2.2-liter 16-valve engine that spurted out 130 horsepower. This resulted in increased overall acceleration due to the Dual overhead cam engine.

You might want to also check out post on how long Toyota engine last.

Moreover, the improved engine performance is enough to move the 1991 – 1992 Toyota MR2 model from 0 to 60 mph in about 8.4 seconds.

Toyota also played around with the shifter feel by making it a bit more responsive for a sporty ride. This gives the vehicle a more tactile feel together with vibrations from the car.

For the 1991 – 1992 Toyota MR2, many of the visual improvements are subtle and only add more sportiness to the vehicle. However, many of the performance improvements are more noticeable in the vehicle’s smoothness and acceleration.

2. 1993 Toyota MR2

In 1993, Toyota introduced Rev 2, and it was the first big redesign of the Toyota MR2. Big improvements were made to the suspension after a few complaints about it from the first revision.

It seems a lot of owners and reviewers of the sports car were complaining about the transmission’s “snap oversteer.”

This is a situation when you go into a corner really fast and then lift off the throttle only for the car to be thrown forward. And if you’re turning, it will result in oversteering.

Toyota was able to correct this issue by improving the transmission. The weight distribution was also worked on in order to alleviate the snap oversteer issue.

The exterior look was also redesigned with 15-inch wheels and a larger bumper lip for an even sportier look. The turbo model was also given larger brakes for more stopping power.

Moreover, improvements were made to the transmission by adding synchronizers, which results in better gear shifting. The gear knob or shifter was shortened, and turbo models got a new slip differential.

This second revision of the Toyota MR2 was the last to be sold in North America. From this point on, only the Japanese market, together with some others, got the third revision and further ones.

The main reason why this version of the MR2 is so unreliable is because Toyota did not address many of the issues. Therefore, many of the problems faced by previous versions also showed up in this model.

What Are Some Typical Problems With The Toyota MR2 Models?

Here are some of the typical problems with the Toyota MR2:

  • Quick Rusts
  • Snap Oversteer
  • Oil Leaks
  • Broken Hoses
  • Water Leaks


Go back: Best/Worst years for all Toyota models.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.