2017 Toyota 86 Review

The enthusiast's sports coupe comes home


Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer



Positives: Razor sharp steering, sporty handling, attractive exterior, rewarding driving experience at all speeds.
Negatives: Infotainment system needs more features, cheaper-feeling interior materials, useless back seat, rough engine noise.
Bottom Line: The Toyota 86 is a fantastic little sports car with decent power, superb handling, and sharp steering. For the money it's one of the best driver's cars available. It offers a comfortable cabin but sub-par interior materials, and seating for two comfortably or four very uncomfortably. It's for the driver who doesn't need to carry a lot with him but wants a bit more room than a roadster can offer.
 View Our 2017 Toyota 86 Overview
When Toyota first announced that Scion would end its life, the first question everyone had was, "what happens with the FR-S?" Well, Toyota took that model under its umbrella, rebadged it, restyled it, upped the performance ever so slightly, and the Toyota 86 was born. Essentially, it’s the same car as the FR-S, but it has been updated, and to think nothing changed would be to discredit one of the best modern affordable sports cars. We got behind the wheel of the 86 to see just how good the model really is. Read on for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

9.5

 

There are plenty of great modern sports cars, but few of them offer the same level of fun as the 86. It’s one of the sharpest and most playful models out there at the price point. The rear-wheel drive 2+2 coupe is a car that rewards you the more you drive it. It took us a little while to really get to the point where we found its limits, but when we did, we realized that you can drive this car hard and it will respond in all the right ways.

Ride Quality: Around town you do feel the bumps. The car’s sporty suspension is on the firmer side. However, it’s not an unpleasant car to daily.

Acceleration: The 205 hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder can shoot the car from 0-60 in just over 6 seconds. It feels faster than that because you sit low and feel so connected to the road.

Braking: The ventilated disc brakes haul the little sports coupe to a stop easily. The brake pedal was smooth and progressive all the way through the pedal’s travel.

Steering: Some of the sharpest steering you can get for the money. The 86 steers like it’s on rails. There’s also plenty of communication between the wheels and the steering wheel.

Handling: The 86 corners flat and holds the road well. The rear has a tendency to step out on you if you’re not careful. Drive the car right, and you can whip around a twisty road much faster than you would dare to in other cars.

Technology

6.6

 

The 86 isn’t well equipped when it comes to technology. The display audio system works fine, but its features are few. If you want to stay connected, you have to rely on Bluetooth and your smartphone, which is less than ideal. Still, you can easily take calls or play music through your phone. We wish the system had Sirius XM radio and Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto.

Infotainment System: The 7-inch screen is plenty big enough, and the interface easy to navigate. The graphics should be better, and more features are needed. We get that tech isn’t the point of this car, but a better base infotainment system would go a long way.

Controls: The infotainment system could us a more intuitive layout for controls. Still, there are so few features, it doesn’t take long to figure it out.

Bluetooth Pairing: Pairing a phone was fast and easy, and we experience no issues.

Voice Call Quality: Calls were clear and we experienced no issues with transmission.

Styling

8.8

 

The 86 takes a lot of its styling cues from past Japanese sports car designs but with a modern twist. It’s low and curvy shape and long hood and short deck are all classic, but its LED headlights and taillights and dramatic front bumper keep the styling modern. Overall, it’s a great looking car.

Front: Toyota revised the front bumper and grille to give the 86 a more dramatic look when it adopted the car from the Scion brand. It’s more aggressive and we think it’s an improvement.

Rear: The rear would be gorgeous if the company had gone with a real rear diffusor and eliminated the eyesore that’s the line of lights between the dual exhaust. The red triangle light in the center is a bit of an eyesore. The lights hard angles don’t mesh with the rest of the car’s sleek curves.

Profile: The car looks best from the side. You can easily see its classic sports coupe shape, the sleek curves of the car’s fenders and its sloping roofline.

Cabin: The cabin of the 86 doesn’t look horrible, but you can tell right away that Toyota cheaped-out on materials. The layout is simple and uncluttered, but there’s a lot of cheaper-looking plastics throughout the cabin. Some leather and aluminum or even faux aluminum would go a long way to spruce things up.

Comfort

7.7

 

For two people, the 86 offers plenty of room to get comfortable and ergonomics that feel very good. Materials are on the cheaper side but that doesn’t negatively impact comfort too much. Try to squeeze more than two people in the car, and you’re in for a cramped ride. You have to move the front seats up really far to make any kind of room for rear passengers. We’d recommend never actually planning to use the rear seats for passengers.

Front Seats: The seats are clad in soft cloth material and offer a decent amount of padding and plenty of bolstering. There’s plenty of legroom and while headroom is a little tight, it should be fine for all but the tallest of drivers.

Rear Seats: The rear seats are hard to get to and offer little legroom, headroom, and shoulder room. The seats themselves are well padded and bolstered. They would be reasonably comfortable with more space.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Drive the 86 and you’ll notice tire, wind, and engine noise. Beyond that, the car felt and sounded solid with no errant noises.

Visibility: Visibility is good out the front and sides. Seeing out the rear wasn’t difficult either. The rear camera came in handy when parking, though.

Climate: The climate control system worked quickly and was powerful. Its simple controls and operation make it one of the easiest to use too.

Safety

6.7

 

The 86 does a pretty good job when it comes to safety. It has a good level of standard safety equipment and receives respectable scores from the IIHS. The NHTSA hasn’t concluded its testing yet, but the tests that have been conducted look promising.

IIHS Rating: The 86 received good ratings in all crashworthiness tests except the “small overlap front” test. In that particular test, it got an “acceptable” rating. Also, it features no crash avoidance and mitigation technology. Its child seat anchor ease of use was rated “marginal.”

NHTSA Rating: The 86 does not have an overall crash test rating from the NHTSA. It received a four-star rating in the frontal crash test and a five-star rating in the roll over test. Side crash testing has not yet been conducted. Still, the Scion FR-S, which is the same car just with a different name, was awarded a five-star crash test rating in 2015.

Standard Tech: The 86 comes with a fair amount of standard safety equipment, including vehicle stability control, traction control, ABS system, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, smart stop technology, hill-start assist, airbags, tire pressure monitoring, and a backup camera.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

4.2

 

A sports coupe like the 86 is built for fun not practicality. As such, it’s lacking when it comes to storage spaces. There are a few spaces inside the cabin to store items, but we found ourselves using the back seat regularly for gear.

Storage Space: There’s a small bin between the seats and a smartphone sized slot in the dash. Other than that you’re limited to the small glovebox, the large-water-bottle-size door pockets or the back seat.

Cargo Room: The trunk offers just under 7 cubic feet of space. It’s small but you could fit a few overnight bags in there.

Fuel Economy

7.1

 

Fuel efficiency in sports cars isn’t of the utmost concern to most people. The point of the car is to be fun and drive fast. The Toyota 86’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder does a decent job of walking the line between performance and efficiency erring on the side of performance. The EPA rates the engine a 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. We didn’t quite get the EPA estimated 24 mpg combined, but we didn’t try to.

Observed: 22 mpg

Distance Driven: 252 miles

Driving Factors: We drove the 86 primarily in urban environments with a few runs on the highway. We were fairly heavy on the throttle when appropriate.

Audio

7.7

 

The 8-speaker Pioneer audio system does a good job of producing clear sound in the 86’s small cabin. There's little to complain about, but we guess Toyota could offer a JBL upgraded system.



Final Thoughts

The Toyota 86 is simply a fun car to drive. It’s accurate and precise yet still playful on the right road. For the price, few cars, save for a Mazda Mx-5 Miata offer a better driving experience. The car has plenty of power for most people, and its willing engine eggs you on. The car has its downsides in the practicality department, but if you can put up with limited seating, cabin space, and storage, you’re really going to enjoy this Toyota coupe.

Check out our 1-Minute Video Review:

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