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2020 Toyota 86

Consumer Reviews
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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
July 1, 2020

Buying tip

Skip the optional handling package unless you want your spine to pay the price.

features & specs

Automatic
GT Automatic
GT Manual
MPG
24 city / 32 hwy
MPG
24 city / 32 hwy
MPG
21 city / 28 hwy
MSRP
$27,780
MSRP
$29,910
MSRP
$30,190

The 2020 Toyota 86 has its flaws, but it's still a fun small sports coupe.

The 2020 Toyota 86 is a driver-focused sports car in an era that’s nearly passed it by. Its humble power output, aging platform, and small stature keep it out of the pantheon of all-time great sport coupes—but those looking for an affordable and fun-to-drive sports car need look no further. We give it 5.8 out of 10 overall for excellent handling and value. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020, the 86 gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, adds an optional handling package that improves the suspension, brakes, and more for track use, and introduces a new Hakone edition that pays tribute to one of Japan’s great driving roads.

The 86 (pronounced “eight-six”) wears traditional sports coupe proportions with mixed results. We wouldn’t call it stunning, but it’s hard to find much fault with a low, wide, two-door. The interior is showing its age, but sports trademark Toyota quality and just the right number of buttons and knobs flanking the touchscreen infotainment system.

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As a joint effort between Toyota and Subaru, the 86—also known as the Subaru BRZ—uses a 2.0-liter flat-4 from Subaru, a 6-speed manual transmission or available automatic, and rear-wheel-drive. Its 205 horsepower (200 with the automatic) is adequate when you wring it out, but a sub-optimal 156 pound-feet of torque leaves us wanting for more grunt—or a turbocharger. Handling is superb thanks to a short wheelbase, near-perfect weight distribution, and direct steering that balances response and ratio well. The ride quality is on the firm side of average, but what else would you expect from a small sports coupe?

There are two trim levels available, 86 and GT, as well as the new Hakone edition. The $28,015 base price includes LED headlights, sport seats in cloth, keyless entry, power features, synthetic suede trim, a fold-flat rear seat, and 17-inch alloy wheels. A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is also standard. Options include the new handling package, and GT and Hakone models get improved interior and exterior features.

The 86 gets average crash test scores for categories it’s been tested in, but no active safety features are standard or available. Fuel economy is mediocre for a small, light sports car, at 24 mpg combined with the manual transmission and 27 mpg combined with the automatic.

7

2020 Toyota 86

Styling

The 2020 Toyota 86 checks all the right sports car boxes in terms of design but fails to excite beyond that.

The 2020 Toyota 86 sports traditional two-door coupe styling, but it’s neither offensive nor particularly exciting. It at least differentiates slightly from its twin, the Subaru BRZ, and for that we give it 7 out of 10 here.

Long hood, wheels pushed to the corners, a cabin built for two—these are the makings of a proper sports car design, and the Toyota 86 makes sure all those boxes are checked. Its big grille helps distinguish it from the Subaru BRZ with which it shares nearly everything else. There isn’t much about the 86 that really piques our interest anymore after eight years on the market in various forms, but it’s still classic in its appearance.

The cabin is similarly reserved, and logically laid out with climate controls directly below the basic infotainment screen, drive mode switches clustered around the gear shift, and a straightforward gauge cluster with a nice round steering wheel in front (not flat-bottomed, which is more a trend than a useful feature).

In black, black and gray, or black and red, the interior is dark and dreary, but some might call it racy. A new Hakone Edition adds some visual flair with brown leather to go with its green exterior and gold wheels.

Review continues below
8

2020 Toyota 86

Performance

The 2020 Toyota 86 is a blast on a twisty road but still needs more power after all these years.

The 2020 Toyota 86 lacks the oomph we’d like but makes up for it with exceptional handling and a fun attitude. We give it 8 out of 10 here. 

While most manufacturers are chasing horsepower and top-speed milestones, Toyota is content to let you have as much as possible without the risk of serious speeding fines. As such, the 86 is not particularly quick at all, and while that’s fine, it keeps this little sports coupe from being a true legend.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter flat-4 sourced from development partner Subaru, which makes 205 hp and a puny 156 lb-ft of torque. That means you’ve got to wring every pony out of this engine by staying high in the rev range, something that’s doable with the slick standard 6-speed manual transmission, but harder with the sluggish optional 6-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive makes this a true sports coupe and gives the 86 a tendency to oversteer with controllable results, thanks in part to thin standard rubber.

Speaking of steering, the 86 excels at it. Handling is light and tossable through the round, perfectly sized steering wheel, and with a nearly 50/50 weight distribution, this is one of the most intuitive sports cars to drive, bar none. A new handling package adds stiffer springs, better brakes, and more handling-oriented goodies, but where’s the option for a turbocharger, Toyota?

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4

2020 Toyota 86

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Toyota 86 is a four-seat sports car that’s really built for two, and not much luggage at all.

The 2020 Toyota 86 is well-built and high-quality but lacks practicality as you’d expect from a small sports coupe. We give it 4 out of 10 here.

While it technically seats four, the 86 is best treated as a two-seater only with the ability to fit two small children in the rear seats when needed. The front two bucket sports seats are supportive and provide good bolstering for when the going gets twisty but are very low to the ground. Head and leg room are abundant enough to accommodate taller occupants, but a cavernous interior this is not. Don’t even bother with the rear seats unless you’ve got a masochistic side.

The trunk is similarly tiny, offering only 6.9 cubic feet of usable space, but the rear seats can fold flat, allowing a set of four tires and rims to fit inside, a feature Toyota and Subaru designed specifically for track days.

In typical Japanese fashion, interior quality is good and while costs were cut in certain places, most of what you see and touch looks and feels up to snuff. We also appreciate the logical, no-nonsense layout of the controls and displays in the cabin.

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2020 Toyota 86

Safety

The 2020 Toyota 86 lacks full crash test scores and doesn’t offer any active safety technology.

The 2020 Toyota 86 lacks comprehensive crash test scores, so we can’t give it a rating in this category. 

Strangely, both the federal government and independent IIHS have given the 86 a few crash test ratings, but not in every category. The NHTSA awarded four stars for frontal crashworthiness and five for rollover prevention, while the IIHS granted an “Acceptable” score for the front overlap category, and a “Good” rating for the front, side, roof strength, and seats.

Unfortunately, the 86 has never been available with any active safety tech and won’t get the option this year either, leaving only airbags, stability and traction control, and a backup camera as safety features.

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6

2020 Toyota 86

Features

The 2020 Toyota 86 is well-equipped across the range, and options are limited to a more hardcore handling package.

The 2020 Toyota 86 comes decently equipped from the factory and features some enticing extras, but it’s no luxury vehicle. We give it 6 out of 10 here, as it presents a lot of value. 

For 2020 the 86 is available in three trims: base, GT, and Hakone Edition. As standard, this small sports coupe gets cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, folding rear seats, keyless entry, LED headlights and taillights, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system now with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. With a manual transmission, the 2020 86 costs $28,015 including destination, while an automatic transmission is only a $720 upgrade.

The GT trim adds dual-zone climate control, heated seats with leather and Alcantara trim, a 4.2-inch information display in the gauge cluster, keyless ignition, leather and synthetic-leather touchpoints, and a few other unique trim pieces. Interestingly, the automatic version of the 86 GT is less expensive than the manual, starting at $30,865 while the 6-speed starts at $31,145.

A new Hakone edition, which celebrates one of Japan’s most famous driving roads, adds tan leather to the interior upholstery, a unique green paint hue, and bronze wheels to differentiate it from other 86s. This special edition runs $30,900 for the manual version and $31,620 for the automatic.

Standalone options are limited in general, but a new TRD handling package that was only available on the TRD edition last year can be had on either the base car or the GT, and adds stiffer dampers, Brembo brakes, unique 18-inch wheels, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires.

Review continues below
4

2020 Toyota 86

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Toyota 86 isn’t as fuel-efficient as we’d expect from a small sports car, at 24-27 mpg combined.

For a small, light sports car with a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder, the 2020 Toyota 86 manages only mediocre fuel economy, and worse when you really wring it out, which you’ll definitely want to do as often as possible. It’s a 4 out of 10.

With a manual transmission, the 86 gets 21 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined on premium fuel, while the automatic improves things slightly to 24/32/27 mpg. That’s still below what we’d expect from a small sports car, as the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Fiat 124 Spider manage 30 mpg and 29 mpg combined, respectively, with automatic gearboxes.

Review continues below
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$27,060
MSRP based on Manual
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5.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety N/A
Features 6
Fuel Economy 4
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2020 Toyota 86 Pricing Insights

  • 2020 Toyota 86 is available
  • Rebate: Up to $1,000
  • Finance: From 2.9% APR
  • Lease: From $423/mo. (est.)
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