2017 Toyota 86, 2017 Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S
Denis Flierl's picture

Review: 2017 Toyota 86 2-Door Coupe Gets Minor Tweaks; It’s Still the Best Sports Car for the Money

The 2017 Toyota 86 sports coupe gets a few tweaks to retain it’s status as the best sports cars for the money. What upgrades make it an even better value?

The 2017 Toyota 86 is a driver enthusiast’s dream, as it’s still one of the best automotive values on the planet. That’s a pretty strong recommendation for a sports coupe that needs a complete remodel. The 86, formerly the Scion FR-S before Toyota ditched the brand, has been around since 2012 and could use a major remodel. But the sports coupe may not need as much as you think.

What’s new for 2017?

For 2017, the Toyota 86 features a minor refresh that includes some exterior styling changes, revised suspension settings, a bit more power, and upgraded interior materials. The changes make it more attractive, more comfortable, a bit quicker, and give it better grip as the rear wheels push it through the corners.

Features and options

The 2017 Toyota 86 ($26,255) comes standard with cloth seats with manual adjustment, fold-flat rear seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with leather trim, aluminum pedals, Bluetooth, keyless entry, rearview camera, eight-speaker Pioneer HD radio with touchscreen, LED tail lamps, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, limited-slip differential, traction control, and hill start assist are also standard. Total MSRP as tested: $27,120 including destination.

Exterior design

The Toyota 86 gets upgrades over the Scion FR-S, with a wider and more aggressive grille. It features LED headlamps, flared front fenders that bulge upward, and new gills that create a vortex to improve airflow. Out back, there’s a refreshed bumper, LED tail lamps, and a diffuser with one more slat to improve downforce. The alloy wheels with twisted spokes have also been change from the FR-S.

Interior highlights

Stepping inside, reveals a sporty cockpit that’s completely driver focused. Gauges are located squarely in front of the driver, and the diameter of the steering wheel is about one inch smaller than it was in the FR-S, for a sportier feel. The sport front seats are excellent, comfortable and well-bolstered keeping us firmly in place during our more spirited driving this week.

The cabin in the sports coupe is basic, but classy and the quality of materials is excellent for this price point. The upholstery is one-tone and there’s carbon-look accents, while the dash and door panels feature an attractive synthetic suede with silver stitching. There’s enough room up front for taller drivers and the tilt/telescoping steering wheel helped us find the perfect driving position. More on Page 2.

In the back, the rear seat is only good for small kids, cargo and storage. Don’t try to fit an adult back there, unless they lay down. The seats fold flat for extra cargo-carrying ability, and Subaru likes to say the BRZ twin’s trunk can hold enough for a track day: four wheels with tires and a toolbox. Overall, the cabin is a great place to spend a day at the track, or for short commutes.

Engine and fuel mileage specs

The 2017 Toyota 86 is powered by the Subaru 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder naturally aspirated boxer engine. Toyota’s contribution was their direct injection and port injection technology. It develops 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque, upgraded an additional 5hp over the FR-S. This tester came with the standard 6-speed manual shifter, but a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters is an option. Underneath, the 86 rides on MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone rear setup. It gets ventilated disc brakes on all four corners for stopping power. EPA fuel mileage estimates are average at 21/28 city/highway mpg and 24 combined mpg.

Driving dynamics

Luckily, we had dry roads during our week for the drive in Colorado’s high country. It was just ahead of a winter storm that dumped a foot of fresh powder west of Denver. That would have kept the Toyota 86 in the garage, as it’s a rear drive sports car built for summer fun. Yet as a winter car, the 86 is a capable daily driver in all climates, if you have all-season tires and the roads are relatively dry.

The Toyota 86 is a true sports car designed with the driving enthusiast in mind. It’s not like a Ford Mustang, that feels bigger and bulky. It’s small, quick in the corners and it performs like more expensive sports cars. That was Subaru’s and Toyota’s goal and they succeeded in producing a sports car that pegs the fun-to-drive meter.

The Toyota 86 won’t snap your neck back like most muscle cars, but for $26000 it’s the best sports car value on the planet. Subaru tweaked the 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine and gave it 5 more horsepower. It’s enough to get your performance juices flowing and when you toss it around the tight mountain corners, you won’t find a more stable sports car. If you take it to the track on weekends., it makes an ideal coupe when you throw on set of high-performance track meats. The boxer engine sits low and back in the chassis giving it one of the lowest centers of gravity of any sports machine. More on Page 3.

If you like to drive, get the 6-speed manual gearbox. This car was meant to be shifted manually and you’ll get the most enjoyment rowing it yourself. The 2.0-liter boxer likes to rev high and it’s easier to keep it there to take advantage of the power band with the 6-speed manual.

On the road, the 86 is quiet up to about 70 mph and then the road noise kicks in. Toyota pipes in the exhaust note so you can hear the 2.0-liter boxer when you step on the gas and it has the unique sound only a boxer engine can produce. The steering is precise and quick as we checked out in the tight mountain curves west of Denver. In the city, the coupe is a joy to drive on the commute and perfect for navigating narrow urban streets.

Conclusion

The 2017 Toyota 86 gets a few tweaks for improved performance and new styling. The changes make it more attractive, more comfortable inside, a bit quicker, and gives it better grip in the corners. We would recommend getting the 6-speed standard gearbox. The 86 is still one of the best sports car bargains on the planet.


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