2018 Toyota 86 Performance Review


Performance: 8.5

The 2018 Toyota 86 is fun to drive thanks to its athletic handling and sharp steering. But many critics think it could be even more fun if it had a more powerful engine. Instead, the 86's engine has less horsepower and delivers slower acceleration than many competitors. The 86 generally rides smoothly, and fuel economy is OK for the class.

  • "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 (2017)
  • "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 (2017)
  • "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 (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The 86 has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 205 horsepower when mated to the standard six-speed manual transmission. With the available six-speed automatic, horsepower drops to 200.

The engine won't blow you – or any other cars – away. It's responsive, but acceleration and overall power are middling, especially by class standards. The 86 feels (and sounds) livelier when you get the engine into higher rpms. Both transmissions are fine, but the manual is more fun.

The 86 gets its best fuel economy with the automatic transmission, at an EPA-estimated 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Those numbers are above average for the class, though they aren't class leading. With the manual, ratings drop to 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

  • Acceleration isn't lightning quick, but it is plenty responsive. 0-60 mph times in the low seven-second range are nothing to scoff at and the drivetrain's character is well matched to the car. Most of our enthusiast drivers didn't think the car needs more power. The engine delivers a satisfying and deep-throated growl over 4500 rpm." -- Consumer Reports
  • 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 (2017)
  • "It's still not particularly quick, but it's definitely fun." -- Autoblog (2017)

Handling and Braking

Rear-wheel drive comes standard in the 86, as does a sport-tuned suspension. Driving enjoyment is the goal here and in that, the 86 succeeds. It's responsive when turning, the steering is sharp, and the brakes are strong. The 86 remains planted around corners, even when taking them at speed. Ride quality is decent 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 (2017)
  • "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 (2017)
  • "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. … 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 (2017)

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