The 2019 Toyota 86 is one of the less expensive rear-wheel-drive sports cars on the market alongside its Subaru BRZ twin and the Mazda MX-5 Miata. While the 86 may be heavier than the Miata, it does offer more practicality compared to its convertible competitor with a lift-gate trunk and a rear seat. Regardless, the Toyota 86 is an excellent handling sports car that's perfect for having fun at street-legal speeds.

Best Value

The Toyota 86 is at its best in its simplest base configuration. Additionally, be sure to choose the manual transmission. Cars like these are meant to create a connection between the driver and the machine, and a stick shift only encourages this connection further.

Many Toyota models have few to no packages or options, and the 86 is no exception. There are no packages, but there are a wide variety of accessories though that you can get the dealer to install, including different wheels, lowering springs, a performance exhaust, a sway bar kit, and upgraded brake pads. The one accessory that really catches our eye though is the Center Console Armrest, a feature that's sorely missing from the interior of the 86.

  • Model: 2019 Toyota 86
  • Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Output: 205 hp / 156 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Six-speed manual
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 21 City / 28 Hwy
  • Options: Center Armrest ($189)
  • Base Price:$27,375 (including the $920 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$27,564

Performance

Toyota 86

The Toyota 86 is a sports car that's begging for more power. The naturally aspirated flat-four produces only 205 horsepower and more crucially, a measly 156 pound-feet of torque. While this is 24 hp more than its Miata competitor, the 86 weighs almost 500 pounds more, and the lack of low-end torque makes it feel gutless when you hit the accelerator. As it stands, the 86 can't keep up with most hot hatches and sport compacts, and while it's lightweight, it isn't light enough for the motor.

However, when you get the 86 on a twisty road that requires you to maintain momentum instead of speeding down straights, it can really come into its own. The 86 seems to rotate around the driver, communicating the amount of grip available at both the front and rear. In fact, this model is one of the best cars for learning how to induce and mitigate oversteer at will, owing partially to the narrow tires. The steering is direct, if not a bit light for our tastes, but, overall, the model is a lot of fun to drive at low speeds.

Style

The Toyota 86 certainly looks like a sports car, with a long hood and a low roof. Overall, it's a good looking car, managing to avoid the Toyota's propensity to overindulge in styling features. On the other hand, it's hard to accurately describe the 86's interior style because it barely has any. Toyota was clearly trying to call back to the car's 1980s spiritual successor, the AE86, but it actually looks like Toyota designed it at the last minute.

The dashboard is a mostly uninterrupted slab, and the infotainment screen looks and functions like an aftermarket system from the 1990s shoved into a space that was never designed to accommodate it. The LCD clock looks exactly the same as the ones decades ago, supporting the theory that Toyota accidentally bought way too many back in the day, and now has been forced to figure out a way to incorporate them in new models even though time has marched on. The only real attempts to break it up are the faux aluminum trim that looks and feels very cheap, and fake carbon fiber that doesn't come close to imitating the real stuff, as is the norm with fake carbon fiber. Others will rush to defend it as old-school, minimalist, and exactly how Toyota intended it to be, but the interior of the 86 looks more at home in a $17,000 car, not a $27,000 car.

The Toyota 86 is comfortable in that it's not uncomfortable, but there's definitely room for improvement. This isn't a car suited to long road trips, as there isn't much noise insulation and the engine tends to drone at an unpleasant tone. Additionally, the rear seat is mostly vestigial but the lift-back gives the 86 the ability to carry four extra wheels with tires to the racetrack, a feature it was specifically designed to do.

The Best and Worst Things

The Toyota 86 is one of the most nimble cars on the road, and is a lot of fun to drive on twisty roads. Additionally, the rear end will step out very predictably when traction is lost, allowing drivers to have some sideways fun at much safer speeds.

The worst thing about the 86 is the lack of torque. While 205 hp is a respectable number, this car desperately needs a lump of torque from a turbo to get it moving faster. Unfortunately, despite years of begging from enthusiasts, it doesn't seem like Toyota or Subaru are going to make it happen.

Right For? Wrong For?

Toyota 86

The Toyota 86 is perfect for those looking for an inexpensive sports car but prefer the security of a coupe over a convertible. Additionally, those who want to explore the world of drifting will find the 86 to be perfect, as it wants to break those rear tires loose, communicating to you exactly how and when to do it.

However, those who need practicality or the ability to carry more than one other person should look elsewhere. Asking someone to get into the back seat of an 86 is cruel and unusual, and putting two adults back there is completely out of the question.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 Toyota 86 is very good at being a sports car when you keep it under the speed limit, but those who are looking for the thrill of acceleration will be disappointed. Furthermore, the interior of the 86 isn't the nicest place to be, especially over longer trips. However, for those who want to inject some fun into their standard commute, or have a nearby racetrack they can take it to for some sideways action, the 86 is hard to beat.