By on July 11, 2018

2018 Toyota 86

You bunch of ungrateful whelps. “Give us affordable rear-drive performance!” cried all hands, weeping at the thought of departed rear-drive funbags such as the MR2 and Corolla GT-S. Toyota, ever the dutiful servant, shacked up with Subaru to create the chuckable 2,700 lb sprite you see above.

And how’d you repay ‘em? By waiting for the things to show up on BHPH lots, that’s how! Ingrates. This is the car everyone wanted and then promptly forgot, as illustrated by the fact it is outsold more than 2:1 by the antiquated Sequoia.

My rage is manufactured and over the top, of course, as everyone’s seems to be these days. Still, the 86 is a great car, especially in base trim.

There are technically three trims of the 86: base, GT, and GT Black. All are powered by the 2.0-liter boxer-four, whose dimensions allow it to be slung low under the 86’s long hood, imbuing the sporty imp with a centre of gravity similar to that of Lowly Worm.

Base 86’s are priced at $26,850. For that sum, one will find good touch points inside the cabin, such as a leather-trimmed wheel that tilts and telescopes so drivers can get comfy prior to a bit of back road barn burning. In fact, Toyota goes through the trouble of specifically mentioning “knee support cushions for spirited driving,” indicating there are more than a few gearheads on both the engineering and marketing sides of the table.

2018 Toyota 86

Air conditioning is standard, of course, as are all manner of power motors for the doors and windows. Manually-adjusted seats keep the weight down. Remote keyless entry appears but a push-to-start is reserved for the GT, leaving base model owners suffering the indignity of twisting a, y’know, actual key in order to fire up the boxer engine.

It’s that mill which prompted the most carping from armchair critics, most of whom bleat that 205 horses and 156 lb-ft of twist isn’t enough powerrrrrr. An automatic transmission sucks up five horses, costs more, and should be avoided like the plague. It’s not a bad ‘box, but the spirit of this car is better suited to a stick. A six-speed manual transmission helps keep things on the boil while a Torsen limited-slip diff doles out power delivery at the rear.

Oddly, the only color on Toyota’s palette for which they charge a premium is white. Extroverted shades like Ablaze Red and Oceanic Blue are gratis, as are any number of greys. Beige is not available. In a presumed effort to keep a lid on costs, black fabric is the sole interior choice. Those cruising Toyota lots will learn a rear spoiler is a dead GT giveaway, as are fog lights up front. Neither are necessary; stick with this base car.

2018 Toyota 86

Toyota did rummage around in the engine a couple of years ago, finding those extra five horses (for manual cars, at least). The company reiterates that a turbo is not in the cards, saying the car’s architecture could not accommodate boost without negatively affecting its weight balance. The next-gen car may get a displacement bump to 2.4L. We’ll see.

The 86 enjoys robust aftermarket support. Intakes, exhausts, tunes, and the like are all available to those who feel their Toyobaru needs more oomph. A popular plug-n-play turbo kit, one of many, promises an extra 100 horses, giving the car a power-to-weight ratio not far off that of a Charger Hellcat. Springing for these treats will be all the easier for those who buy the cheaper base car.

Only 2,288 of these machines have been sold so far this year, a number roughly equal to how many Corollas are sold in two days. Like I said: buncha ingrates.

[Images: Toyota]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selection.

The model above is shown in American dollars with American options and trim, absent of destination charges and available rebates. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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60 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2018 Toyota 86...”


  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I am glad this car exists, and it is too bad that it does not sell better. But I get the reasons why.

    I used to hate on the car, for no reason other than the small motor. But, that really doesn’t matter. It is a light car, probably a great commuter for someone who is single and desperately wants that Toyota reliability in something small and fun and clearly does not have the word Corolla attached to it.

    Good choice.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      I see the same black 86, either on the highway or in the drive-through, every weekday morning. He’s always going the other way – and he’s hooning that wee thing every time I see him. I envy him as I lope along in 6th gear, trying to save gas in the current age of $1.60/L for premium fuel.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    I’m drawn to that interior for some reason. It’s spartan but not too bare bones. The finish above the glovebox and on the top of the doors set it off nicely.

  • avatar
    John R

    “The company reiterates that a turbo is not in the cards, saying the car’s architecture could not accommodate boost without negatively affecting its weight balance.”

    ಠ_ಠ

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yeah – $26K and 250 hp (with similar torque because 4 cyl turbo) SCREAMING DEAL!

      $26K with 205 hp and 150 lb ft? Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        A mild factory supercharger bringing the (peak) numbers to 215/230 (and filling in the midrange torque hole that generates most of the “no power” complaints) would be plenty.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          And add almost no weight. I’d bet a spare tire and supercharger or turbo are about the same weight penalty. Supporting modifications would be some extra cooling, maybe a larger oil pan.

          Not having Subaru’s turbo in this car was a terrible waste of resources. As someone once said: great landing, wrong airport.

          I’ve driven an 86 on track and while easier to hustle around the bends then my Z I’m not giving up my 290HP V6. The problem with power is you get used to very quickly, you get spoiled, so despite the low weight and quick turning at some point you encounter a straight section – and then the 86’s go pedal is more like a snooze button.

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    I’m sure it’s a great car and one I’d really enjoy driving. But I just cannot get past the grimmacing overbite with Joker-like side slashes that characterize front-end styling of many automobiles for the past few years. This car does that grimmace as nice as any, but that’s like saying you might get away with just one bag instead of needing two. Not a car that will ever end up in my stable, I wouldn’t be able to bear looking at it every morning.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The auto news tells us daily that cars like these have fallen out of favor because of the popularity of CUV/SUV/trucks, so don’t act surprised or indignant, if even sarcastically, when no one buys them. Jack it up 4″ and give it 4WD and get in line

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I like these, and would seriously consider one for my next car, since I no longer need to carry three people on a regular basis.

    I would probably go with the Subaru version, if for no other reason to avoid dealing with Toyota Southeast.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Back when I was half-casually checking these cars out, I thought the base non-alcantara Subie seats had better fabric than the Scion version.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      That’s a good point, maybe I should drive the extra distance to check out a BRZ before deciding between this and the Civic Si. I’ve got plenty of time, I won’t be actually in the market for a few months at least.

  • avatar
    deanst

    “Air conditioning is standard, of course, as are all manner of power motors for the doors and windows.”

    It has power doors?

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    One barrier to selling these is the classic Japanese iron that has been imported in the last 5 years or so. $27k can get you a pretty decent GT-R if you look around a bit.

  • avatar
    hirostates12

    Good luck finding one with a stick on a dealer lot in the Midwest. The lack of inventory led me to buy a Mustang GT for about 6k more. Would have loved to save the money but Subaru and Toyota don’t seem to WANT to sell these cars.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      That’s a shame. I checked the three local Subaru dealers, they have a total of 13 BRZs, all of which have manual transmissions.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I ran into this exact thing when looking them up recently in my area. One was manual, the rest were all automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      I ran into the same thing the last time I went car shopping. My solution was to phone every dealer in the area to ask if they had any MT units on the lot. I bought from the one that did. When some of the others made follow up calls, I made it a point to explain why they lost the sale.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    When this car was released, it was hailed as the Second Coming. This car was going to rule the roads and surpass all other sport coupes. There were so many articles on this site alone, I really believed they were Astroturfing for Toyota.

    It’s been a total flop. It flopped better than Neymar.

    Although Toyota and Subaru just can’t seem to be bothered to do anything about it, the prescription from the B&B was MOAR POWER. Every chance I get, I openly suggest to Toyota and Subaru to buy a bunch of GM LT V8s and give the people what they want.

    I guess they’re are too busy selling CUVs to worry about a slow selling coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      I worry for the Toyota/BMW team-up on the Supra, would much prefer Toyota reliability under the hood.

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      As much as I love GM small blocks, I don’t think it’s realistic at all to expect Toyota to develop a totally bespoke powertrain for their entry-level sports coupe, just for the US market.

      Why would it be just for the US? Because an engine with a 6L+ displacement puts your annual Japanese road tax in the $1,000+ range. Kinda kills the point of a bargain basement car. The twins have sold decently-enough in Japan, and everywhere else is just an afterthought.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    It’s a great car! Even if it is half-Toyota (reliable but boring). I like to think of it as the ultimate Mercury Capri or Opel Manta, or even a 4-cylinder 240Z, cars I liked as kid.

    I’m OK with the power.

    Maybe it’s age, but between the age of 10 and 20, I rode many a time in Mantas, and a Capri. I just got in and out of the front passenger seat, the rear was a little bit of a hassle.

    This car seems lower, and closer to the ground. Perhaps it is. It also seems snugger. Maybe it’s the consoles that the 70s cars didn’t have. Or maybe it’s me, as I’m over 50 now, vs 12-20…

    All these tall cross-overs out today, even the small ones like Buick Encore, make the 86/BRZ seem even lower.

    Still, I might get one before it vanishes.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Lol speaking of the Encore, I heard a radio advertisement for a GMC-Buick dealer yesterday, the guy was saying “we have NEVER been able to offer 40% off a new vehicle!” in reference to an Encore. Really seemed to back up what was discussed in the Buick Death watch article a while back.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Why is it when I looked these up recently on cars.com, they were all much more expensive than the $24,995 Civic Si coupe I’m also considering, and all but one had an automatic? Even though they’re all listed as “base”, they’re all at or over $30k.

    As I opined in another article when discussing these, its as though Toyota dealers just don’t know how to sell a sporty car. Why order mostly automatics? Because that’s how you sell most Corollas?

    Back to the Civic Si, there are things about the styling I don’t love, but overall, I do like it. I like the profile of the 86, and the tail lights are cool, but the styling otherwise isn’t good to me. So far as I can tell, the only reason to choose the 86 over the Si would be the fact that it is RWD. Is that worth an extra $5k? And worth the trouble of having to find a manual and settle for whatever color it is, because most are automatics? I’m leaning more towards the Honda, but I haven’t driven either yet.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Coolest 86 that I have seen was in the parking lot of a Texas Roadhouse in Albuquerque. The place was packed so I was parked near the back where I assume many of the employees park. Waitresses were mostly UNM students… anyway.

      The car was white, windows tinted just enough that I could still see that it had a stick. There was a sticker in the back window that said: “YOU JUST GOT PASSED BY A GIRL!”

      Maybe there is hope for the younger generation and auto-enthusiasm.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      There is a decal stripes and trim “special edition” floating around now.
      http://toyotanews.pressroom.toyota.com/releases/2017+toyota+860+special+edition.htm

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Not for me, but I’ve never cared for stripes or any other exterior graphics. The only ones that look good on a Mustang are the ones on the lower door area. The stripes that go down the middle/top are just not my style.

  • avatar
    OzCop

    These cars are popular among the SCCA autocross crowd, with 70 plus drivers signed up for various classes for SCCA’s Autocross Nationals in Lincoln, NE in Sept. A new spec class was introduced this year, allowing modifications involving wheel, brake, cold air intakes, a spec tire, and other light mods have around 50 in that class alone.
    My issue(s) with these cars are 1) Cost, 2) lack of torque, 3) entry/exit ergonomics for old boned, old muscle guys such as myself.

    Addressing cost, yeah, base price is a bit steep at 26 K, and dealers seldom “deal” off the sticker price, and factory incentives are few and if there is one, not more than 12 to 1500 bucks. In contrast, my 2017 Focus ST 1 stickered for 24 K, but the out the door purchase price was a bit over 18 K, has more standard hp by 50, back up camera, AC, power locks and windows, keyless entry, push button start, high performance suspension package, and other desirable features. Down side is FWD and electronic control diff. Some consider a hatchback a downside, but I’m not one of them.

    Torque, the Focus has a substantial lead over the FRS by over 50 ft.lbs, enhanced by the turbo engine and can easily be modified to deliver more. But who needs it?

    Ergonomically, I have zero issues with exit/entry, steering column tilts and steering wheel telescopes.

    That said, I would still consider the 86 if the price were closer to 20 K than 30 K.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I agree, the lack of torque is what contributes most to the feeling of the car being slow. I mean, my old Taurus has more torque. Granted, its a V-6, but its also very old compared to this car.

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      You haven’t seen sticker shock until you’ve checked out the $49k GR version:
      https://toyota.jp/86/grade/gr/

      The steering wheel is nice, but that + brakes + rims + Recaros != $23k IMO….

  • avatar
    e30gator

    My brother has one just like the picture above. Actually, his is a Scion bought new in 2014. What a fun car to zip around the roads around Ashville, NC in!

    Not fast, but IMO more fun than a hemi Challenger to flog around town.

  • avatar
    pprj

    I went to the dealer ready to love this car and close the deal. But no, it did not happen. The engine is not as good as the chassis. That chassis can handle 50hp more. And more torque.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I seriously looked into one of these after I seriously injured my back and decided to sell my g37s sedan because I started to drive it less to prevent a painful flare-up. The G had a great trans. but the clutch take up vague, not really heavy , but heavier than some 4cyl. turbo cars.
    As I sat in the car at the auto show ,flicking the clutch in/out like light switch,I figured there was no way I could hurt my back with this clutch.

    But other thoughts came into my mind.It ultimately is not a slow car, I got my license in the early 90s and drove some seriously slow sh&9 boxes, but knowing what aftermarket is out there for this car I know I’d fall into that rabbit hole I’d done with previous cars. A few track days /autocrosses in my 330I zhp, I ended up with a supercharged e46 M3 sedan. But some of the driveability was lost and the character of the car changed quite a bit.Not to mention the niggly maintenance things a modified car brings.
    I wanted the little BRZ coupe but ultimately I knew I’d want it to be a little more comfortable/quieter , a little torquier power plant to deal with traffic. No one wants to go 8/10ths to keep up with the flow of traffic.It’s otherwise only a weekend toy , or a 20 something person’s car. Problem is, 20 somethings don’t buy sports cars anymore.
    Make it 10% bigger on the inside, give it 230-240hp/200 torque, make it more refined , I’m in again.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    There are 4 listings on cars.com for 86es with photos within 50 miles of Washington DC. (Photos means they are in stock – there are 5 without photos which I assume means in transit or allocated)

    I live about 25 miles out of the city and there are times when I do a search and there a none listed.

    It’s something I should want. But it just never makes it on my list of serious thought. I don’t much care for the front end refresh but even before when I liked the Scion design it just didn’t seem like a good value proposition. It’s already right around $30k for the ones around here. If you added 50 hp we’d likely be at $40k.
    I drove it, I liked it, but I don’t want it. It’s a shame since I will be part of the reason it dies.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I’m surprised that this isn’t selling better, but things have changed in the auto market. I would have thought that all of these with automatic transmissions would have been popular as “secretary specials” sold to women buyers, but I guess young women are more into small crossovers now.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    O – 60 times, per Car and Driver:

    Civic Si: 6.7 seconds
    Focus ST: 6.3 seconds
    Subaru BRZ: 6.2 seconds
    VW GTI; 6.0 seconds

    How is it that the 86 and BRZ are underpowered, but the other three are not?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Expectations. The chassis says “sports coupe”, but your getting Civic speed. So there is a disconnect. They developed this great chassis but no way to exploit it since the power was down. The GTI is a hot hatch, people don’t buy it for handling but it actually does the job really well with all that torque vectoring stuff VW is doing. Also if you drive a GTI the turbo has plenty of torque, so the car rushes forward, it feels fast. The 86 on the hand feels sluggish. Despite the performance numbers being similar the driving experience is quite different.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The Civic Si starts $2700 cheaper. The other two are hatchbacks, so you’re giving up some performance for the added utility.

      Another thing is the Civic, Focus, and Golf all offer a big power version for people that desire it. No reason to fret over a Civic Si’s speed when you can buy a Civic Type R. But, there is no uber 320hp 86 GT-S or BRZ STI. That 6.2 time is as good as it gets from the factory.

      Also this:
      Miata: 5.9
      Mustang EB: 5.1
      Camaro 2.0T: 5.4

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      It’s also worth noting that some of C&D’s other tests of the Toyobarus have 0-60 times in the 7 second range (not even counting the 7.7 posted by one automatic example). It’s really not a good engine (although slow is not the right word), and I think if they used something that made a different 205hp/151 lb-ft, it wouldn’t be so hated.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Because for the same price, I can have this:

      https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/733793590/overview/

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      It’s not underpowered. It’s under funned. This is a great chassis that turns into a snoozefest because the engine just doesn’t want to play, even though by the numbers it is adequately rapid. It should have had a smaller displacement turbo from day 1 – similar power, waaay more, and more accessible, torque.

      The lack of torque means to get the numbers you have to wail on the poor thing, and it just doesn’t want to be wailed on. The extra 100ft-lb of the GTI, made a few thousand rpm lower, as an example, means you can just put your foot in it at pretty much any speed and gear and it GOES, despite being a lot heavier. And even then, the VW 2.0T is a much happier revver than the Subaru boxer, and makes nicer noises doing it.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    The biggest problem I’m having with the GT86 is the strange protrusion in the roof, into which my head presses. I’m going to break my neck in a rear-end collision. Not to mention, helmet is out of question.

    I tried asking around for a lower seat, but the response was rather muted.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    We promised to buy ’em, just not *new*.

    They’re priced right, but besides performance, they have to primarily appeal to chicks, hair dressers, sweet 16’s, etc. And some pensioners too, meaning they have to be “cute”.

    Think back to the MR2, AE, CRX, 240SX, and Similar. How were they styled and who was buying them new (or bought for)?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I don’t find them priced right. $30k can buy a lot of car, but this isn’t a lot of car.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It’s not a “Bang for your Buck” type of car, nor were the MR2, AE, etc. The “HF” CRX was a good value, but you also get decent (to insane) resale with the segment, similar to the Jeep Wrangler, Miata, Tacoma and a couple others where 2nd/next owners are lined up, cash in hand, and likely keeping their primary (financed/leased) cars.

        Plus original owners mostly don’t modify, neglect or thrash on them. I owned a few of them from the segment, drove them like they were stolen, but never from “new”.

        Now 5.0/LX/Notch Mustangs, I bought a couple new.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          The CRX HF was also extemely slow. It was built for fuel mileage.

          So, this car isn’t fast, it isn’t a good value, it isn’t particularly good looking, and it is not economical. You’re doing an amazing job of explaining why it sells so poorly. Add to that, Toyota dealers seem to stock up on automatics, whereas most people who visit a Subaru dealership would more likely take home a similarly-priced WRX.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I didn’t get the HF to go fast, my MR2 wasn’t much faster, and I had a Mustang to go fast.

            So the 86/BRZ isn’t fast, but for a 2nd owner, and or used spare/2nd car, it’s totally fine. They probably have plans to heavily mod it, and or turbo kit.

            It’s major reason it’s failing at the showroom. “Performance minded” sports/sporty new car buyers demand more power. Then its price would be perfect. A fun, great handler simply isn’t enough.

            And to that, it’s looks aren’t what its (unintended, non-enthusiasts) audience are looking for.

            I wouldn’t call it ugly or hideous, but it needs to be styled by chicks, for chicks, hair dressers, etc.

            Looks-wise, the (not much faster) Miata is exactly what (original) owners were looking for, which btw didn’t buying them to “track” or for their performance, for the most part.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    The kids aren’t driving much and few wives will let husbands buy a two door.

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    I just couldn’t be bothered caring about this car. Sad part is I am 100% in the target demographic. I really wanted to get excited over the 86, especially with the years of hype leading up to its debut..but nope. And it’s 100% due to power. Think Jack wrote an article about it on R/T, but it’s not just the power it makes, but how it feels. The weird mid rpm lump in power with the meh sound has me longing for a k series motor.

    My money went with a 17 GTI. Torque is awesome and makes it a blast while still feeling adult. All my enthusiast friends. Well we all drive 300 hp fwd/awd hatches and say how this car is begging for the wrx drivetrain. Money talks.

    The 86 – Everyone’s dream used vehicle!

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    What a piece of garbage this and the Subaru clone are – worthless – ugly – and made by Toyoduh. This was a pretentious model that was supposed to be special and is now bought by people who don’t know a good car from a frog.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    I’ve always thought of the 86/BRZ as the Miata coupe Mazda refuses to make. One or the other would have been on my short list when I was shopping for my automotive retirement toy. The problem is they came out in 2013 and I was shopping in 2007. The G37 I bought then is in excellent condition. When I get too old to continue driving, it will probably go to a recent college graduate who would appreciate a well maintained classic that’s still affordable.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    It’s a car!

    Sorry, wrong underpowered Toyota.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I worry for the Toyota/BMW team-up on the Supra, would much prefer Toyota reliability under the hood.

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      Rumors on the Supra MkV forum indicate that Toyota told BMW they wanted the engine to be good for ~700hp, so while the new Supra has a B58-based engine it uses the iron bottom end from the diesels in the family. I wasn’t fond of hearing that as I think the B58 is a pretty stout closed-deck block (shops are making 600+hp stock internals) and I wanted an aluminum powerplant significantly lighter than a 2JZ……but it does indicate that Toyota is keeping high-power durability in mind.

      I wish they went over the Z4 with a fine-toothed comb, got the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) for a bunch of BMW parts they didn’t like, and then had Denso make their own versions that never break.

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