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2004 Toyota MR2 Spyder Review
Porsche fun on a Toyota budget.
Reviewed by Automotive on
Debuting in 2000, the 2004 Toyota MR2 Spyder compiles several changes from over the years. The only difference specifically for the 2004 model involves the optional limited-slip differential. Toyota offers only one model and one basic trim level. It offers two manual transmissions with an optional sequential manual transmission (SMT), but no fully automatic transmission option. Despite all these limitations, the MR2 Spyder still provides a fun alternative to the Mazda Miata.
Engines: 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, six-speed manual
Models: Toyota MR2 Spyder
As Toyota made a lot of changes last year, little changes this year. The only new feature is an optional limited-slip differential.
The MR2 Spyder features a large grille on a low-slung front and body-colored front and rear bumpers. Round headlights sit in elongated plastic casings, and on the back end a stainless steel exhaust comes fitted with a chrome tailpipe. Fifteen-inch alloy wheels come standard up front, with 16-inch wheels in the rear. The 2004 Toyota MR2 Spyder uses all-season tires with a temporary spare mounted inside. This convertible has a manual-folding soft-top with a glass rear window. With the top down, a wind deflector mounts behind the seats. The MR2 Spyder measures 66.7 inches wide, 48.8 inches high, and 153 inches long. At 96.5 inches, the wheelbase stretches seven inches longer than that of the Miata.
The 2004 Toyota MR2 Spyder seats two. The cloth-covered sport seats feel cozy, but it can take some maneuvering to get into them. A six-way adjustable driver’s seat and a four-way passenger seat make occupants more comfortable. The MR2 Spyder also has drilled aluminum pedals, a cassette/single-CD stereo with four speakers, a dome light, front reading lights, and a day/night rear-view mirror. Other standard features include remote power door locks and one-touch power windows. Cruise control buttons come embedded in the steering wheel. The Spyder has electric power steering with a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, a 12-volt power outlet, air-conditioning, alloy trim on the doors and gear shift knob, front reading lights, remote trunk release, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. The dashboard features a clock, a tachometer, and low fuel level warning. Storage consists of a front console with storage, front cup holders, front door pockets, and a locking globe box. The max cargo for the MR2 Spyder totals a paltry 1.9 cubic feet. The lone option on this car remains the availability of tan leather interior when choosing the Absolutely Red exterior.
Performance & Handling
The only choice for this convertible—a 1.8-liter, dual-overhead-cam, four-cylinder engine—generates 138 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque. The 2004 Toyota MR2 Spyder comes with rear drive; Toyota does not offer all-wheel drive. An optional sequential manual transmission (SMT) replaces the clutch and gear shifter and is computer operated. The upshifts and downshifts are achieved by moving the selector to plus or minus positions or using the controls embedded on the steering wheel. This marks as close as the Spyder comes to an automatic transmission, as Toyota offers no fully automatic option. Toyota says the Spyder can go from zero to 60 mph in under seven seconds.
Overall the MR2 Spyder makes a fun little car to drive. It grips the pavement well and offers a smooth ride over even surfaces. Even with the wind deflector up, visibility looks good. Its size relegates it to more of a weekend car than a commuter vehicle.
Safety features remain as minimal as cargo space. Four-wheel ABS with front and rear ventilated disc brakes come standard. Front driver and passenger airbags improve safety, but side-impact airbags remain unavailable. The 2004 Toyota MR2 Spyder also comes with daytime running lights, an engine immobilizer, two fixed headrests, front seat belt pretensioners, and electronic brake force distribution. Warning systems include: oil pressure, low battery, lights on, key in ignition, low fuel level, and door ajar.
EPA Fuel Economy
- Good handling
- Fun drive
- Available SMT transmission
- Affordable for this type of car
You Won't Like
- No storage space
- Uninteresting interior design
- Few safety features
Porsche fun on a Toyota budget.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Mazda Miata
- Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder