2017 Toyota 86 Reviews
Cars.com Expert Reviews
Rechristened from its days as the Scion FR-S, the Toyota 86 remains a master of lightweight handling, but its appeal is growing more niche by the year.
Versus the competition
The fact that the 86 is slower than a minivan is a hard pill to swallow when its $27,000-plus starting price buys a lot of other decent — and quicker — sports cars. None are quite like the 86, but Toyota's onetime prodigy is showing some age.
When Toyota deep-sixed its Scion division in early 2016, the automaker's namesake brand got a few refugees. Among them is the 86, a renamed FR-S with styling and interior tweaks, plus minor hardware revisions. Compare the two cars here.
In addition to the base 86 trim is an 860 Special Edition, a limited-run car in the vein of the Scion's Release Series; stack them up here. All versions employ a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that sends power to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. We drove both.
The 86 moniker recalls the enthusiast-loved Toyota Corolla GT-S "AE86," a rear-drive sports coupe from the 1980s. The Subaru BRZ, built under a joint agreement between Subaru and Toyota, is a near twin (compare it here), but otherwise there are no other featherweight, rear-drive, four-seat coupes at this price. Change some factors, though — like greater weight and/or front-wheel drive — and suddenly plenty of alternatives exist. How strictly you draw the criteria will doubtless influence the 86's appeal.
The 86 starts around $27,000, while the 860 Special Edition runs another $2,900. An automatic transmission adds $720 to either car. As was the case with the FR-S, both offer minimal factory options but myriad accessories — from a navigation system to larger wheels, performance exhaust and more.
Handling enthusiasts will find the pricing palatable, as no direct competitor really exists outside the related BRZ. (The Mazda MX-5 Miata is probably the closest, but even that's a convertible with two fewer seats.) I suspect many shoppers will find Toyota's asking price too rich for their blood, especially with the extra sting of required premium gas.
The automaker's upgrades for 2017 are more than a name change, and the dynamics that won the original FR-S Cars.com's top accolade are as impressive today as they were four years ago. But other sports cars have improved. If handling trumps all else, the 86 is a strong choice. If it isn't, Toyota's player is a one-trick pony among sports cars at large.