2017 Toyota 86 is Pure Fun In an Affordable Package

2017 Toyota 86 (Aaron)

When Toyota dropped the Scion brand, some of that youthful brand’s models seemed to be potentially lost as well, including the FR-S. Toyota has kept it, however, changing its name to 86 (for which it already bore badging) and moving forward into 2017 with this fun little entry-level racer.

The manufacturer says

A global icon, the AE86 Hachi Roku Corolla helped cement Toyota’s racing cred. With its light body, rear-wheel drive chassis, and nimble handling, the AE86 was a force to be reckoned with on the track and the streets. It inspired generations of enthusiasts and the car remains a legend to this day. Toyota took this AE86 DNA and gave it a modern twist to create our purest sports car yet - the 2017 Toyota 86.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Toyota
  • Year, Model: 2017 86
  • Class, Type: Sports coupe
  • Propulsion system:
  • Base Price: $26,255
  • MSRP as tested: $27,120
  • Availability: Now

Overview

To begin with, it must be stressed that the Toyota 86 is not a race-winning sports car out of the box. It’s a beginner’s car, if track worthiness is your measurement. Most buyers, however, will like it for its fun drive and excellent sport dynamic in a low-cost package. This is a tiny, lightweight, well-handling little car that aims for the first-time sports buyer or the low-budget driving enthusiast who just wants to have fun getting from here to there.

The Toyota 86 is a rear-drive sports coupe propelled by a 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed (BOXER) engine from subaru. That four-cylinder engine and the tight little six-speed manual (or six-speed automatic) that it attaches to are from Subaru. This car is part of the “Toyobaru” collaboration, which Subaru sells as the BRZ. The little 2.0 four puts out 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque without any turbocharging or other gimmicks. Assuming you go with the manual transmission, which we recommend. The automatic drops those numbers by 5 each.

On paper, the Toyota 86 doesn’t look like much, but on the road, it’s nothing but fun. It’s not powerful enough to be intimidating, but it is loads of fun to pilot around and yank this way and that over windy surfaces and bouncy roads. Steering is precise and tight, the pedals are fast-paced, and the shifting is phenomenally short for a car at this price point. You feel the road all of the time, which may not be for everyone, but for sports enthusiasts, it’s paramount. Even beginners can expect to get close to six second 0-60 mph runs out of the 86.

Fuel economy is about the same as it was for the FR-S, with an EPA rating of 24 mpg combined (21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway). The automatic transmission improves that greatly to 27 mpg combined (24/32). For some, this may be reason to go with the paddle shifters and the convenience of the auto trans, but we think this takes a significant amount of the fun factor out of this car.

As with the FR-S before it, though, the Toyota 86 has limited interior space and almost no trunk to speak of. So versatility is not its strong point. Small children can be stuffed into the back seat in a pinch. Not much else.

What we like

Fun styling and excellent sports car appeal.

Fast-paced driving appeal with a great mix of sportiness and dynamism.

What we don't

Cramped interior for most people driving with more than one passenger.

Not much in the way of infotainment is available for this car.

Conclusions

The 2017 Toyota 86 is a true enthusiast's car. It’s not too fast, so parents of teenagers wanting a sports car needn’t worry about this car’s power or safety. It’s not so slow as to be a sports car in shape only, however, with great styling to boot. For about $20,000 or so, a nicely-done Toyota 86 can really make for a fun commute or A to B car.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The Toyota 86 was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, a total of 213 miles were put on the car in mostly dry, sunny conditions and pavement.

This site follows the emergence, application and development of transportation innovation. Reference to manufacturers, makes and models, and other automotive-related businesses are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement by FutureCars.com.

futurefuel