Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
A small, lightweight coupe, the affordable 2018 Toyota 86 is a favorite with young driving enthusiasts eager to explore the limits of its well-balanced rear-wheel-drive chassis. With a 205-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, the new Toyota 86 is no muscle car, but it’s quick and it comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission.
You'll Like The 2018 Toyota 86 If...
If you like to drive you’ll like the 2018 Toyota 86. It’s quick and its rear-wheel-drive chassis is unique in a sea of front-wheel-drive hatchbacks like the VW Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST. Its 205 horsepower doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough to drift the coupe around corners. This is a fun car to toss around.
You May Not Like The 2018 Toyota 86 If...
There are quicker, faster and more powerful cars available for the money including hot hatchbacks like the VW Golf GTI and American muscle cars like the Ford Mustang. Also, unless you’re a hardcore enthusiast, the Toyota’s stiff suspension and loud interior are not to be listed in the “good” column.
After a long list of changes and improvements last year, updates to the 2018 Toyota 86 are few but significant and include a new GT trim level with leather upholstery and a few other features, and a top-of-the-line trim level called the 86 Black. Both are available with a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. Prices start just over $29,000.
There’s a small back seat, but the 2018 Toyota 86 is essentially a 2-seater. The good news is that the rear seat folds flat to expand the trunk. Unlike a Mazda Miata, the Toyota can carry two golf bags or it can get your extra set of wheels and tires to the racetrack. Seat comfort is good and the low seating position is perfect for this sporty coupe. The faux-suede upholstery is grippy so you don’t slide around when you’re driving hard. Control placement is perfect and the tachometer is right where it should be, center-mounted just as it is in the Porsche 911.
The 2018 Toyota 86 isn’t just a mechanical twin to the Subaru BRZ, but the two look nearly identical as well, with only small differences in front-end styling and trim. We like its long, low hood and extra-low stance, which are meant to recall the legendary Toyota 2000 GT of 1967, and the simplicity and tidy proportions of the design keep it from looking like it fell out of a Fast and Furious movie. There aren’t any giant wings, huge scoops or obtuse flares over the fenders, but don’t worry; there’s an ample aftermarket that can supply those accessories if you’re so inclined.
For the enthusiast looking for affordable daily street thrills and the occasional track-day superstar, the new 2018 Toyota 86 is still a tough act to beat. With 205 horsepower, the small, lightweight coupe isn’t going to blaze its rear tires or out-drag a V8-powered Camaro or Mustang, but it’s quick, hitting 60 mph in about 6.2 seconds and it’s fun to throw gears at the 2.0-liter engine’s lofty 7,000-rpm redline. In the corners, the rear-wheel-drive Toyota is well-balanced, and it has a tossability that’s rare in today’s cars. The taut suspension lets you carry speed into a corner unlike nearly anything at this price point, and Toyota’s steering is well-weighted, properly quick and it offers excellent feel. On the other side of the coin the Toyota 86 can be a bit crude doing the daily life thing. For hardcore enthusiasts it’s perfect, but the casual driver may find the 86 to be noisy and its ride a bit rough.
Prices for the 2018 Toyota 86 jump off with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $27,000 when you include the $895 destination charge. Throw in about $900 for the navigation system, and note that the automatic transmission only adds $720 to the price, although you should still skip it. The better-equipped 2018 Toyota 86 GT and the top Black trim level both start just over $29,000 with the manual transmission. These prices make the little Toyota sports car easily competitive with the Mazda Miata, and even low-end models of the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, although the last two aren’t nearly as fun to drive. The Subaru BRZ costs slightly less. Whatever you do, check out the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for their 2018 Toyota 86, which holds its value well.
The 2018 Toyota 86 may be the easiest car to buy in Toyota’s lineup. There are only two trim levels. The base model includes air conditioning, cruise control, one-touch power windows, power mirrors and door locks. There are also 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth and a touch-screen audio system that includes a rearview camera, plus auxiliary and USB inputs. The standard transmission — and one you should stick with — is a 6-speed manual. The GT and Black trim levels get dual-zone climate control, push-button start and a display with a g-meter. For safety, the Toyota 86 features stability control, traction control and six airbags.
The only factory option on the 2018 Toyota 86, beyond color choice, is the 6-speed automatic transmission, a pretty good unit that includes steering-wheel-mounted paddles for rev-matching downshifts. Still, stick with the stick. Other factory options are listed as accessories, and include an upgraded audio system with navigation. The GT trim level gets some exterior upgrades like LED fog lights, and the 86 Black get blacked-out mirrors and rear wing supports. For enthusiasts, the real news is the extensive list of TRD performance gear you can add, including lowering springs, a quick-shift kit, anti-roll bars, larger wheels and more, all while keeping the factory warranty.
TRACK MODEA unique feature of the Toyota’s electronic Vehicle Stability Control system, Track mode loosens the system’s parameters, allowing the driver more wheel slip and yaw angle before it steps in to get you back on the proper line. It’s engaged by holding the “Track” button down for one second. There’s also a Full-Off mode, which puts the driver in complete control. FOLD-DOWN REAR SEATEvery 2018 Toyota 86 comes with a fold-down rear seat to expand the capacity of the coupe’s small 6.9-cubic-foot trunk. With it folded the 86 can carry two sets of golf clubs or, more importantly, it can haul a jack, tools and an extra set of wheels and tires to the racetrack.
Under the Hood
There is only one engine in the 2018 Toyota 86, a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine engineered and supplied by Subaru. It puts out 205 horsepower in manual-transmission cars and 200 horsepower with the automatic. The engine in manual cars also gets a flatter torque curve which improves responsiveness. "Horizontally opposed" means the cylinders are parallel to the ground, lowering the center of gravity and helping the Toyota 86 feel more nimble. Those thinking of the TRD shift kit may like the shorter throws, but we think it hurts the overall feel. And skip the 6-speed automatic; the paddle shifters are fine, and you get better fuel economy, but the new 86 is simply more fun to drive with the manual.2.0-liter flat-4 (manual transmission)205 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm156 lb-ft of torque @ 6,400 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg 2.0-liter flat-4 (automatic transmission)200 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm151 lb-ft of torque @ 6,400 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/32 mpg
A small, lightweight coupe, the affordable 2018 Toyota 86 is a favorite with young driving enthusiasts eager to explore the limits of its well-balanced rear-wheel-drive chassis. With a 205-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, the new Toyota 86 is no muscle car, but it’s quick and it comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission which is perfectly in character for the little sports car. Marketed as the Scion FR-S until last year, the 86 is now the only real performance car and the only 2-door model in Toyota’s expansive lineup. The "86" name is an homage to the car’s spiritual ancestor, the mid-1980s’ Toyota Corolla GT-S, affectionately known to fans by its internal model designation, AE86, or hachiroku in Japanese. The fun-to-drive 4-seater competes directly with the Subaru BRZ, which is its virtual twin both visually and mechanically, and the Mazda Miata.