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2020 Toyota 86 vs. 2020 Subaru BRZ: What’s the Difference?

  • The Toyota 86 and the Subaru BRZ were introduced for the 2012 model year

  • They are perhaps the most obvious examples of badge-engineering on the market today

  • The Toyota 86 was sold as the Scion FR-S from the 2012 model year to the 2016 model year

If you’re looking for an economical performance car, the 2020 Toyota 86 and the 2020 Subaru BRZ are bound to be on your radar. Both offer a sporty design, a low center of gravity, and rear-wheel drive, making them great for everything from canyon carving to weekend autocross events. Because they were co-developed by Subaru and Toyota, these two sports cars are virtually identical, separated by little more than their front fascias and their respective badging, which makes them perhaps the most egregious example of badge-engineering on the market today — they even wear identical headlights and taillights. Below, we’ve attempted to identify any differences between the two across a number of categories.

2020 Toyota 86 vs. 2020 Subaru BRZ: exterior

Exterior

The BRZ and 86 twins wear sporty exterior styling. There’s no mistaking the fact that this is a performance-oriented 2-seater. With proportions similar to those of the Mazda Miata, the BRZ and the 86 both have a long front end with aggressively angled headlights, muscular rear haunches and a short rear deck lid. The only real exterior difference between these two is the front bumper. While the BRZ wears a more angled front bumper with a prominent black plastic bar across the front opening, the 86 has a more open-mouthed appearance. Around back these two are identical, with taillights that almost mirror the design of their headlights, a dual rear exhaust and a race-inspired upside-down-triangle-shaped brake light in the middle of the rear diffuser.

2020 Toyota 86 vs. 2020 Subaru BRZ: interior

Interior

Since these vehicles are more about driving excellence than features and technology, their cabins are pretty spartan, not to mention dated. Everything is the same: They use the same steering wheel, the same seats, the same dashboard and the same buttons and controls. The standard 7-in touchscreen infotainment system looks more like an aftermarket unit but does offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The heating and air conditioning vents on either side of the dashboard are circle-shaped, while the two center vents are trapezoid-shaped. Other items of note include aluminum-plated pedals, round HVAC control knobs and a manual parking brake lever. See the 2020 Toyota 86 models for sale near you

While the BRZ and 86 technically offer room for four, that cramped back seat is really only big enough for small children, and even then, they probably won’t be comfortable back there for long. See the 2020 Subaru BRZ models for sale near you

2020 Toyota 86 vs. 2020 Subaru BRZ: mechanicals

Mechanicals

Under the hood of the 86 and the BRZ is a 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ 4-cylinder that makes 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque when it’s paired with the standard 6-speed manual transmission or 200 hp and 151 lb-ft with the optional 6-speed automatic.

Neither Toyota nor Subaru has offered this engine with more power in either vehicle, and it doesn’t appear that they ever will, as the BRZ and 86 are more about usable power and handling prowess than straight line performance. The fuel economy for both vehicles comes in at an EPA-rated 21 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on highway and 24 mpg in combined driving with the manual, or 24 city/32 hwy/27 combined with the automatic.

2020 Toyota 86 vs. 2020 Subaru BRZ: tech

Features & Technology

These cars offer virtually the same equipment, but they package it differently. For example, Toyota offers the TRD handling package as an option on the GT trim, but only on examples equipped with a manual transmission, while the BRZ offers the same features from that package as part of the limited-edition tS trim level, which is only available with the manual.

Both vehicles offer a 7-in infotainment screen as standard along with a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, LED headlights and a Torsen limited-slip differential. Additional features include heated seats, LED fog lights and a rear wing. With the manual, you get a short-throw gear shifter, while the automatic comes with paddle shifters.

Neither vehicle offers anything in the way of active safety features like automatic emergency braking or blind spot monitoring.

2020 Toyota 86 vs. 2020 Subaru BRZ: pricing

Pricing

As with everything else about these two, pricing is similar. The base BRZ, which is somehow the ‘Limited’ trim, costs $29,745, while a better-equipped tS model comes in at $32,395. Both prices include destination fees.

The 2020 Toyota 86 is offered in three trims. Again factoring in destination fees, the base model comes in at $27,940, the GT costs $30,790 and the special 2020 Hakone Edition (which gets you green paint, gold wheels and some brown interior trim) carries a sticker price of $30,825. The most expensive 86, a GT model with the $1,270 TRD handling package and $425 ‘Halo’ exterior color, comes in at $32,765.

2020 Toyota 86 vs. 2020 Subaru BRZ: conclusion

Conclusion

Choosing an 86 could very well come down to whether the Subaru or Toyota dealer is closer to your house. Another factor in your decision should be which manufacturer is offering better financial incentives at the time of your purchase.

Still, we’re sure differences like brand allegiance and available exterior colors will play a role in your decision as well. Just know that whichever one you choose, you’re getting a great RWD performance car with excellent balance, great styling and a simple interior, regardless of which emblem is on the steering wheel. Just make sure you opt for the manual transmission. Find a Toyota 86 for sale or Find a Subaru BRZ for sale

 

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Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a YouTube Channel that experts say "has potential". In his free time, he likes to hike, climb, mountain bike, snowboard, and canvas the Mountain West in his Toyota Land Cruiser. Writing bios in the third person makes him uncomfortable, but he thinks this one has turned out well.

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