The 2020 Toyota 86 is a slow car that’s fun to drive fast. This lightweight, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and it’s also pleasantly easy and forgiving to drive. It’s a great choice for driving pros and novices alike. Plus, with its reasonable fuel consumption and Toyota‘s renowned reliability, it comes with a low-cost, no-nonsense ownership experience not often associated with the sports car segment.
While the ‘Toyota 86‘ moniker may date back only a few years, the car itself is much older than that. Formerly known as the Scion FR-S, the 86 was born when Toyota opted to wind down its experimental youth-oriented Scion brand, so while the name is new, the 86 is still the same car that’s been on the market since 2013. It also remains a twin of the Subaru BRZ, which is identical to the 86 from a practical standpoint.
Regardless of whether it comes with a Toyota, Subaru or Scion badge on the hood, this plucky RWD coupe remains one of our favorite performance cars. If you value handling verve more than straight-line go, there are few cars on the road that do it better.
What’s New for 2020?
The 2020 Toyota 86 comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay delivered via an updated infotainment system. There’s also a new exterior color called ‘Pavement’. Arguably the biggest change to the 86 for 2020 is the new special ‘Hakone Edition,’ which comes with 17-in wheels and unique interior elements and is offered exclusively in green. Finally, while the TRD Special Edition from 2019 is no more, a TRD Handling package is now offered on manual-equipped GT models and comes with SACHS dampers and Brembo brakes. See the 2020 Toyota 86 models for sale near you
What We Like
Easy and uproariously fun to drive
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Simple model structure
Good fuel economy for a sports car
What We Don’t
No engine upgrade available
Intrusive road noise
Cheap interior materials
Barely usable back seat
Every Toyota 86 is powered by a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed "Boxer" 4-cylinder engine developed by Subaru. The 86 puts out a humble 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque with the standard 6-speed manual transmission or 200 hp and 151 lb-ft with the optional 6-speed automatic.
Fuel economy comes in at 21 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving with the manual. The automatic returns 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The Toyota 86 is available in base, GT, and Hakone Edition trim levels for 2020.
The base 86 ($27,940) comes standard with 17-in wheels, summer tires, automatic LED headlights, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, suede interior trim, a 1-piece folding back seat, a 7-in touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, a USB port, HD radio and an 8-speaker sound system.
The GT ($30,790) adds aerodynamic enhancements, a rear spoiler, LED fog lights, proximity entry and push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, leather upholstery and an analog tachometer with a programmable rev indicator. The GT is the only 86 available with the TRD Handling package, which comes with SACHS dampers and Brembo brakes.
The Hakone Edition ($30,825) gets bronze 17-in wheels, ‘Hakone Green’ exterior paint, a tan leather interior, a sliding center armrest, a deep pile trunk mat with an ’86’ insignia, imitation suede interior accents with contrast stitching, a matte black rear wing and heated sport seats with tan leather bolsters and black Alcantara inserts.
While we’d strongly recommend the manual, checking the box for the automatic transmission costs between $300 and $700, depending on the trim level.
The 86 comes standard with anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, a backup camera, front side airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags. There are no accident-avoidance technologies available.
The government has only tested the 86 for frontal crash worthiness, where it got four out of five stars. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 86 the best possible score of Good in all crashworthiness tests save for the newer, more stringent small overlap front test, where it earned a score of ‘Acceptable,’ one down from the top.
Behind the Wheel
Call it an 86 or an FR-S, or even a Subaru BRZ — regardless, this is an uproariously fun car to drive. It’s lightweight and RWD, which has always been a recipe for fun, while its wonderfully responsive steering allows you to feel connected with the road beneath you. At the same time, its relatively skinny tires let you slide around a bit without grave fear of sliding backwards into a ditch. As the old saying goes, sometimes it can be more fun to drive a slow car fast.
And yes, we’re calling the 86 slow — by modern sports car standards, at least. Its 205 or 200 hp (depending on the transmission) is just merely sufficient, and its lack of midrange power could sure use a turbocharger to help even things out. Also, that power delivery greatly depends on the transmission you choose. We think the 6-speed manual remains the best choice. The 6-speed automatic gets better fuel economy and includes paddle shifters, but with it, the 86 is robbed of much of its driver involvement and feels more like a small, cramped, loud, underpowered coupe than the budget sports car it really is. If you’re worried about driving a manual, don’t worry — the 86 makes it easy with a forgiving clutch and a direct, pleasingly mechanical gearbox. We all had to learn some time.
Regardless of transmission, though, expect the 86 to deliver an abundance of road, wind and engine noise. It can get tiresome, and since the interior is also dominated by hard plastic, the 86 isn’t exactly the most pleasant car to take on long highway journeys. The cockpit of the 86 is clearly from a past era. Restrict it to the daily commute and weekend back-road adventures and you should love it. In all fairness, though, the front seats are comfortable and offer plenty of adjustment, while the controls are easy to reach.
Other drawbacks include a lack of a standard center armrest and a back seat that’s all but useless. There’s also no good place to store your phone, and the standard touchscreen is basically an aftermarket unit rather than a larger, more user-friendly unit that might be found in more modern vehicles.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Subaru BRZ – For all intents and purposes, the BRZ and the 86 are the same car. While in previous years, the BRZ offered a few performance options not available on the 86, things are about even for 2020, given the 86’s newly available TRD Handling Package. Deciding between these two in 2020 comes down to whichever one you like to look at more and whether the Toyota or the Subaru dealership will give you a better deal.
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata – The Miata is the 86’s main competitor. Offered in both soft-top convertible and folding fastback hardtop ‘RF’ bodystyles, there’s arguably no other car that matches its combination of style, layout, performance characteristics and price. Since it isn’t as old as the 86 and carries a more upscale aura, we wouldn’t hold it against you if you preferred the Miata at this point.
2020 Honda Civic Si Coupe – The Civic Si is FWD, which means it won’t treat you to the same tail-out fun, but it’s an exceptional handler, and not just for a FWD car. Its turbocharged engine is also more appealing than the 86’s naturally aspirated mill and its interior space and noise quelling capabilities are superior.
Used Porsche Cayman – You’ll need to go back a few years to find a used Cayman in the 86’s price range, but they’re out there, and Porsche‘s certified pre-owned program allows for older cars than any other brand. Importantly, if you’re looking for RWD sports car excellence, it doesn’t get better than the Cayman.
While it’s the kind of platform that keeps the enthusiasts’ attention, the Toyota 86 is starting to get old, and Toyota has already mentioned that the next-generation model is already in development. With that said, in its current iteration, the 86 offers a fun package that you can’t get in many other modern automobiles, especially not at this price point.
While the Mazda Miata is more modern and arguably more compelling, its convertible bodystyle isn’t for everyone, and for buyers who want a truly no-nonsense RWD performance car, the 86 will certainly be appealing. We recommend the GT trim with a manual transmission and the TRD Handling Package. Whatever you do though, get the manual. Find a Toyota 86 for sale