Cars

Is The Toyota MR2 The Inexpensive Sports Car You Can Daily?

The Toyota MR2 Spyder could be one of the most underrated sports cars on the used-car market. It may not be the most attractive looking car ever, and it’s certainly no Lotus, though many people could debate that it’s a more affordable version of the Elise, the MR2 is still a surprisingly good purchase.

Like almost any other sports car, the MR2 is a two-door, two-seat car that has minimal storage and is relatively loud. It’s fun to drive, but that doesn’t mean it’s a practical car or a good option for a daily driver.

The basics

The MR2 Spyder is the later generation of MR2 produced by Toyota between the production years of 1997 to 2007. The MR2 title wasn’t just an odd combination of letters, it stood for the Toyota Midship Runabout 2 and it debuted in 1997 at the Tokyo Motor Show, fitting for an originally Japanese Domestic Market car.

The MR2 is classically mid-engine, giving it an excellent driving experience in comparison to some other sports cars of the same price. In the used-car market, you can purchase one in good condition for less than $10,000 on average. Because they are a Toyota, they have minimal maintenance costs and repairs are typically inexpensive.

They aren’t particularly powerful, offering only 138bph out of the reliable 1.8L engine. Aftermarket turbochargers are popular choices for the car and can increase the power and speed of the car.

A silver 2004 Toyota is parked in a parking lot.
2004 Toyota MR2 Spyder

Many potential buyers would also be interested in knowing that the MR2 can be purchased with a manual transmission, that also has that Toyota reliability and is easy to shift, but making the car that much more fun to drive.

MR2 space and practicality

The Toyota MR2 spyder doesn’t have a lot to offer in way of space and practicality, but some drivers might be able to make do with what it does have to offer.

There isn’t a lot of storage space in the MR2, considering there isn’t exactly a trunk because it is mid-engine. Behind the driver and passenger seat is one continuous storage bin that can be locked behind either seat, which doesn’t have much space to offer and wouldn’t be enough to get groceries or anything larger than a gallon of milk. Under the hood is a small compartment than could fit a small suitcase or purse, if you were to remove the spare tire, that is.

The interior of the car is minimal but offers air conditioning, power windows, and power steering – something the Lotus Elise doesn’t have. It doesn’t have the high-end touches of some more luxurious cars, but that is also one more reason to daily drive it – you don’t have to worry about keeping the car absolutely spotless.

A close-up of a Toyota MR2 Spyder's dashboard.
2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder interior | Rick Meyer via Getty Images

The MR2 is known for it’s genuine Toyota reliability and the cars have been known to last for well over the normal amount of miles expected with the proper maintenance. The cars are also easy to affectionately modify and there are several markets for aftermarket parts, headlights, and body kits that make the car more attractive.