2017 Toyota 86 Review

Driving gems like this are few and far between

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

Positives: Near-telepathic steering, sporty handling, decent power, great looking and comfortable.
Negatives: Sub-par interior materials, not much in the way of storage, not tech-laden, could use about 20 more horses.
Bottom Line: This is a driver's car. Toyota invested its money well and anyone who buys this car for the right reasons will love it. If you're looking for something that's attractive, extremely fun to drive and comfortable for the front two passengers, this might be the car for you.
 View Our 2017 Toyota 86 Overview
When Toyota’s Scion brand went the way of the Dodo, our first question was, “What’s going to happen to the FR-S?” Well, Toyota did the right thing and brought the car over to its lineup and put the international name on it. The 86 name seems to suit the car better, and Toyota even came up with a super-cool logo that adorns the center of the steering wheel. While the small 2+2 may finally be on a winning team, it was unclear to us as to whether or not its name and brand change would impact it negatively. So, we spend a week with the car to find out.

Driving Experience



There is simply nothing like driving a good sports car, and the 86 easily qualifies. Geared toward enthusiasts, the car is an utter thrill to drive, even without the manual transmission. It's both communicative and sufficiently potent. It can feel a little rough on cracked and beat up city streets, but for the most part, it’s as pleasant an everyday car as it is on a smooth curvy road. Just because you may not have access to a track doesn't mean you can't have big thrills on local streets thanks to the fact that it has superb chassis and steering without being overpowered.

Ride Quality: The 86’s ride errs on the side of firmness, and you feel the bumps and cracks in the road. That being said, it’s not a harsh ride in most situations. Only the roughest of city streets made the car’s suspension feel too firm.

Acceleration: The 86 feels quick but not wildly so. Reported 0-60 times are about 6 seconds. The bonus is that you can drive the car hard without getting into major trouble.

Braking: The brakes offer good pedal feel and are progressive.

Steering: Very precise and well-weighted, which makes a curvy road a pleasure to drive. You get plenty of feedback from the road.

Handling: The car corners flat and feels wonderful in the turns. You can really push it and it’s easy to tell where its limits are.




There’s plenty to love about the 86, but its technology doesn’t come to mind. The car is a driver’s car plain and simple, meaning there isn’t much need for a lot of technology. It's clear, though, that most of the money went into the engine and chassis, rather than into the infotainment system. That being said, the car wasn’t built by Luddites, and it does feature enough tech to make even the most modern man mildly comfortable.

Infotainment System: The infotainment system is extremely simple and while it supports USB, auxiliary and Bluetooth connectivity, don’t expect to have access to all your apps. The screen is legible, but it won't tick the box of great screens.

Controls: The controls are simple. They almost seem too simple until you realize there isn’t really much to the infotainment system that needs complex accessibility.

Bluetooth Pairing: Connecting a phone took about a minute, and re-pairing upon re-entry was seamless.

Voice Call Quality: We experienced no issues while conducting calls. All calls were clear on both ends.




One of the better-looking cars out there, the Toyota 86 is an eye-catching ride. It’s attractive and sporty looking. It sits low, looks long and fast and keeps with the classic 2+2 sports car design of long hood and short deck proportions. It’s one of the most handsome cars out there for the money.

Front: The low nose of the car and the angle headlights along with the creases in the hood give the 86 a somewhat angry appearance. You can tell just by looking at the front of the car what it’s all about, and that is a good thing.

Rear: The short, upright and somewhat simple rear looks great. The dual exhaust pipes are a nice touch. Although there’s probably a little too much black plastic down by the bumper, overall the rear of the car is well-done.

Profile: From the side, you can really see how well-proportioned the car is. It’s exactly what you want a 2+2 sports car to look like.

Cabin: The cabin is driver-focused and has many nice touches. The big sore spot for us was the climate controls. They looked dated and chunky. Otherwise, the cabin is clean, if not a bit low-rent.




Small, affordable, sports cars aren’t especially known for their high levels of comfort, but the 86 does a good job, at least for the front occupants. Everything in the cockpit is well-placed and ready to help the driver feel at home while he or she whips the car through the next turn. Don't expect anyone shy of a small child to get in the back.

Front Seats: The cloth sport seats do a good job of holding you in place as you take on those turns. They offer plenty of support and a fair amount of bolstering. There’s also plenty of room up front to stretch your legs.

Rear Seats: You can squeeze someone really small back there if you absolutely have to, but don’t plan on making it a regular thing.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): There is a good amount of engine and road noise, but beyond that, the car is pleasant to sit in at speed. It feels solid and well put together. We didn’t notice any odd noises or harshness while driving.

Visibility: Front and side visibility are good, but seeing out the rear of the car can be a little difficult. You sit low and the rear window isn’t huge. The backup camera is handy for parking.

Climate: The 86’s climate controls may look a little dated, but they didn’t feel it. Heating up or cooling off the cabin was not an issue.




The 86 misses out on the highest safety marks but still gets good scores. NHTSA awarded the car four stars for the frontal crash test and five stars for the rollover test, but at the time of this review, the side crash test had not yet been completed.

IIHS Rating: The 86 missed out on IIHS Top Safety Pick rating due to the fact that it got only an acceptable rating for the small overlap front test, lacked crash avoidance technology and received a marginal rating for child seat anchors. All other tests received a good rating.

Standard Tech: The 86 comes with a good amount of standard safety technology including, daytime running lights, airbags, stability control, tire pressure monitoring, traction control, ABS, emergency braking assist and passenger airbag occupant sensing deactivation.

Optional Tech: None.




Don’t expect much storage or cargo space in a budget sports car. The 86 doesn’t have much, but what it does have is well-placed. Everything is easy to reach, making accessing things on the go simple. Don’t expect to be able to take much with you though this car is built for driving not moving things about.

Storage Space: Beyond the small armrest storage space, cup holders, small door pockets and tiny slot for your phone, there isn’t much in terms of storage space. You can use the rear seats to toss a bag if you need to.

Cargo Room: The 86 features just under seven cubic feet of cargo space, meaning you can fit a couple small to medium sized backpacks or a few large grocery bags, but not much else.

Fuel Economy



In a car like the Toyota 86 there’s always that nagging voice in your head to push things a little harder, and in a car that’s this fun, you want to oblige. However, it does naturally affect your gas mileage. In our book, that's totally worth it./p>

Observed: We saw an average of about 22 mpg over the course of our week with the car.

Driving Factors: We drove the car mostly in the city and under heavy throttle when the roads permitted. Most owners who buy this kind of car don't care much about gas mileage and prefer to drive it the way it was intended... in a more spirited fashion. That being said, 28 mpg highway is pretty good for a rear-wheel drive sports car.




The 300-watt 8-speaker sound system provides more than enough audio pleasure for the small cabin. The system had ample volume and was distortion-free at higher levels. It was clear but could've used more fullness and bass. With USB and auxiliary audio inputs and the very simple infotainment layout, there’s not much to dislike about this system.

Final Thoughts

If you love sports cars and need something that’s affordable and relatively easy to live with, the Toyota 86 makes a lot of sense. It’s not a practical car, but it has just enough creature comforts and space to be a legitimate daily driver without giving up too much. If you have a family, though, consider a sports sedan. This thing doesn’t have the leg or cargo room to make more than two people very happy.
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