2017 Toyota 86 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Toyota 86 was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 8.6

Several class rivals have more powerful engines, but the 2017 Toyota 86 is still plenty of fun to drive. Its responsive steering and agile handling make it more than a match for a curvy road, and it feels grounded around turns, letting you take them at more thrilling speeds. With the manual transmission, the 86’s fuel economy is about average for the class, but it bumps up a bit with the automatic.

  • "And, man, is this car fun to drive! If you haven't been in one of these in a while go find one and drive it. The owner won't mind. Ours was a six-speed automatic, which we also recommend … because it shifts faster than you can and because it's more comfortable in traffic. On curves, of which we found many, the stock 86 is a smooth, fast dream to drive." -- Autoweek
  • "The updated suspension improves handling and dynamics, while the styling changes provide enough of a signal that this now a Toyota and not a Scion. It's a fun little thing to drive and thankfully still has that 'going 30 but feels like 50' sensation that I love in small sporty cars." -- Cars.com
  • "205 horsepower may not sound like a whole lot in this era of muscle-bound hypercars, but when it powers one of the sharpest handling cars you can get, it's enough. That was my thought while piloting the 2017 Toyota 86 up a twisting mountain highway in Southern California." -- CNET

Acceleration and Power

The 86 features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 205 horsepower, which is an increase of five from the 2016 Scion FR-S. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available. If you opt for the automatic, horsepower drops to 200. The engine provides adequate power, but critics think the 86 would be more fun if it was more powerful. However, they note that it’s still engaging to drive, with some recommending that you keep the engine above 3,000 rpm to extract the most of the engine's potential.

Despite having a less powerful engine than many class rivals, the 86 gets about average fuel economy for a sports car. With the manual transmission, the 86 gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. If you opt for the automatic transmission, fuel economy jumps up to 24/32 mpg city/highway, which is above average for the class.

  • The extra power isn't really noticeable. I've thought that the FR-S (and now 86) could use more low-end torque, but adding five to each of the power ratings doesn't move the needle enough to make a difference. I do prefer the manual to the automatic - the automatic is fine and it comes with paddle shifters, but with the manual it's easier to keep the 86 in the power, which is pretty high up in the rpm range." -- Cars.com
  • It's still not particularly quick, but it's definitely fun." -- Autoblog
  • Regardless of transmission choice, the engine remains far more entertaining if kept above 3,000 rpm [rather] than below it." -- New York Daily News

Handling and Braking

Rear-wheel drive is standard, as is a sport-tuned suspension. The 86 has an ideal suspension setup for driving enjoyment, and it’s athletic on winding roads. The steering is sharp, and the 86 stays grounded even when taking corners at speed. It also has a decently comfortable ride for a sports car.

  • "Our judgments were validated when we got into the stock 2017 Toyota 86. Just because you can make something stiffer doesn't mean you'll go faster with it. The stock suspension setup is just right." -- Autoweek
  • "In the turns I was absolutely thrilled with the 86's response. The front end moves incredibly quickly and the body feels stiffer than most cars. I easily took turns marked for 35 mph at twice that, with the car not even bothering to slip the back end out. More remarkably, the ride quality remained very comfortable, with reasonably pliant dampers. The 86 is the kind of car that you shoot down a twisty section of road, then turn around so you can do it again." -- CNET
  • "… you do notice an immediate difference in the suspension tuning. The old FR-S was notoriously squirrely; the back end was too stiff, which made it chattery on the road and difficult to feel the limits of the rear tires' grip. It would break away without much warning, which could be dangerous. So, Toyota has revised the 86's suspension, including spring-rate changes, revised shock tuning and a thicker rear stabilizer bar. The updates have settled down the back end and the 86 drives more like the Subaru BRZ now, which is a good thing in my opinion." -- Cars.com

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