A hoot to drive. The 2020 Toyota 86 brings many of the sports car thrills we want to a small package. It supplies the on-road connection drivers expect with its weighted steering, deft handling, and taut suspension.
Its naturally-aspirated flat-four engine supplied by partner Subaru is no power maven, as it develops just 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. Drivers, though, find a way to make every horse work for this lightweight and diminutive sports car, while enjoying its low center of gravity which leads to exceptional cornering capabilities.
We overwhelmingly prefer the quick-shifting six-speed manual transmission to the sluggish six-speed automatic. The manual's clean clutch uptake simply satisfies.
Sports car looks. The argument must be made that the Toyota 86 and its sister Subaru BRZ aren't sports cars. After all, a four-cylinder engine without boosting power just doesn't meet that criterion.
But the looks are all sports car and that's the main attraction. Its silhouette strongly suggests something much more potent is at work, although you'll have to opt for the Toyota GR Supra if you want the performance cred to go with it.
A long hood, wheels pushed to the corners, and a snug cabin designed for two are hallmarks of a sports car and almost describes the four-passenger Toyota 86. Its now-classic looks have aged well, although we find most of the available interior schemes dreary. Check out the new Hakone Edition that adds some visual distinction with brown leather to go with its green exterior and gold wheels.
Decently equipped. Straight from the factory, the 86 comes with many of the amenities we want and expect. That's good news for a model whose top-trim version barely pushes past $30,000. LED lights, automatic climate control, a fold-down rear seat, and a 7-inch touchscreen display are included. This year, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility come standard, as Toyota finally catches up with most of its competitors.
The midrange GT trim is our pick, adding $3,130 to the base price. This one exchanges cloth seating for leather and adds heated front seats, Alcantara trim, an upgraded gauge cluster, and keyless ignition. Opting for an automatic transmission is only a $720 upgrade, but we'd pass here.
This year, Toyota makes its available TRD handling package available on all trims. The package adds Brembo brakes, stiffer dampers, unique 18-inch wheels, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. It's a must-have option for serious enthusiasts, but it does come at a cost to your comfort.
Comfort for two. Rear seats and sports coupes are still a thing, but the 86 could absolutely do without one. Essentially, the seat isn't usable by anyone, so its purpose may be a mystery, although for insurance purposes it may save drivers some money. If you do happen to use the seat, it's very difficult to get in and out. And once inside, only the smallest adults or children will find the space tolerable.
The trunk is very small too, measuring just 6.9 cubic feet. That's enough room for a pair of weekend bags, but not much else. Fortunately, folding down the rear seat expands the storage space considerably. That's where you can store four tires and rims in anticipation of your track time.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Toyota 86 is a fun sports coupe, but it's not without its flaws. It's humble power numbers and small stature keep it out of the upper echelon of a segment for enthusiasts.
Interested persons would be wise to cross-shop the BRZ and Mazda MX-5 Miata, or even the Chevrolet Camaro or Ford Mustang.
Check prices for the 2020 Toyota 86 »