2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Review – Same as It Ever Was, Thankfully

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Fast Facts

2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Fast Facts

2.4-liter four-cylinder (228 horsepower @ 7,000 RPM, 184 lb-ft @ 3,700 RPM)
Transmission/Drive Layout
Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Fuel Economy (U.S., MPG).
20 city / 27 highway / 22 combined (EPA Rating)
Fuel Economy (Canada, L/100km)
11.9 city / 8.7 highway / 10.5 combined (NRCan Rating)
Base Price
$30,300 (U.S.) / $37,704.50 (Canada)
Price As-Tested
$32,975 (U.S.) / $38,288.67 (Canada)
Prices include $1,025 destination charge in the United States and $1,960 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Cheap speed is almost always welcome, even if there are sacrifices made.

Such is the case with the 2022 Toyota GR86 – it’s a blast to drive, but you make sacrifices for the sake of fun.

The backseat, for example, isn’t really usable for most adults. The ride is stiff and entry and exit into this low-slung coupe can be a pain for the taller set or those dealing with health issues that make bending challenging. Long highway stints are noisy, thanks mostly to engine drone.

Not only that, but the interior is, uh, a bit downmarket. And a little outdated, despite being a key component of a refresh.

On the other hand, the steering is heavy, precise, and direct. The tail is tossable. And while acceleration from the new 2.4-liter horizontally-opposed “boxer” engine (228 horsepower, 184 lb-ft of torque) isn’t ass-kicking, it’s swift enough. Oh, and the shifter and clutch for the six-speed manual work well together – the shifter is a pleasure to operate.

This is a car that needs to be tracked, preferably at a slower, more technical track than one with long straightaways. But it’s still fun to drive around town.

Again, to an extent. As noted above, there are compromises, and they make themselves known. It would probably be a bit annoying to daily a GR86, even if you never used the backseat and your local roads were made of smooth pavement. Even if you never dealt with rain or snow and the effects inclement weather tends to have on a lightweight rear-drive coupe.

But as a weekend or track-day toy, for relatively cheap – a tick over 30 grand – the GR86 shines.

It always has done that, yet Toyota set out to improve the car’s flaws. The changes aren’t a perfect success – as noted above, the interior feels a bit outdated, despite having a new infotainment system and a new digital display.

A more important change is the 2.4-liter engine that replaces the previous 2.0-liter four. The bump in power does drop 0.9 seconds off the claimed 0-60 time for the manual and 1.4 from the automatic, but it’s hard to notice the difference during seat-of-the-pants testing.

There are only two trims available – base and Premium, and my Premium test unit came with 18-inch wheels, Torsen limited-slip differential (the suspension is MacPherson strut in front and multi-link in the rear), blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, color-matching duckbill spoiler, keyless entry and starting, functional bumper inlets and fender vents, dual-zone climate control, LED lighting, adaptive front lighting, chrome-tipped dual exhaust, heated front seats, Bluetooth, USB port, Android Auto, Apple Carplay, and satellite radio.

Options included the paint job, GR-specific shift knob and air filter, an accessory package, rear-bumper applique, auto-dimming rearview mirror, door edge guards, and carpeted floor and cargo mats. That and freight took this car’s price from $30,300 to $32,975.

That’s a relative bargain.

Toyota – with help from Subaru, of course – has cooked up a fun-to-drive little run about. Boosting the power gives the car a bit more verve, though, again, pure power isn’t the GR86’s reason for existence. This a car meant for the curves, and that hasn’t changed.

There are tradeoffs involved in driving a car like this. But hit a corner the right way, and they’re worth it.

What’s New for 2022

The engine gets a displacement bump from 2.0 liters to 2.4. The infotainment system is updated and there are some other minor changes.

Who Should Buy It

The weekend warrior and those in pursuit of cheap fun.

[Images © 2023 Tim Healey/TTAC, Toyota]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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4 of 22 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on May 03, 2023

    22 MPG combined. 🙃

    • Analoggrotto Analoggrotto on May 03, 2023

      Depends how it's driven. Otherwise who cares, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range is back for them.

  • Kosmo Kosmo on May 03, 2023

    I've aged out of a car like this, but thrilled it still exists.

    Rumor is the Subaru has a bit more pleasant ride?

    • N N on May 03, 2023

      You NEVER 'age out' of a car like this. I'm 65, and absolutely love mine. It's a retro throwback to the sports cars of the 1960's/1970's I drove back in the day, a modern version of a MGB-GT, Fiat 124, Opel GT. Except with twice the power, more comfort, and much better safety and heating/AC. Driving one puts a smile on my face every time.

  • Tassos Obsolete relic is NOT a used car.It might have attracted some buyers in ITS DAY, 1985, 40 years ago, but NOT today, unless you are a damned fool.
  • Stan Reither Jr. Part throttle efficiency was mentioned earlier in a postThis type of reciprocating engine opens the door to achieve(slightly) variable stroke which would provide variable mechanical compression ratio adjustments for high vacuum (light load) or boost(power) conditions IMO
  • Joe65688619 Keep in mind some of these suppliers are not just supplying parts, but assembled components (easy example is transmissions). But there are far more, and the more they are electronically connected and integrated with rest of the platform the more complex to design, engineer, and manufacture. Most contract manufacturers don't make a lot of money in the design and engineering space because their customers to that. Commodity components can be sourced anywhere, but there are only a handful of contract manufacturers (usually diversified companies that build all kinds of stuff for other brands) can engineer and build the more complex components, especially with electronics. Every single new car I've purchased in the last few years has had some sort of electronic component issue: Infinti (battery drain caused by software bug and poorly grounded wires), Acura (radio hiss, pops, burps, dash and infotainment screens occasionally throw errors and the ignition must be killed to reboot them, voice nav, whether using the car's system or CarPlay can't seem to make up its mind as to which speakers to use and how loud, even using the same app on the same trip - I almost jumped in my seat once), GMC drivetrain EMF causing a whine in the speakers that even when "off" that phased with engine RPM), Nissan (didn't have issues until 120K miles, but occassionally blew fuses for interior components - likely not a manufacturing defect other than a short developed somewhere, but on a high-mileage car that was mechanically sound was too expensive to fix (a lot of trial and error and tracing connections = labor costs). What I suspect will happen is that only the largest commodity suppliers that can really leverage their supply chain will remain, and for the more complex components (think bumper assemblies or the electronics for them supporting all kinds of sensors) will likley consolidate to a handful of manufacturers who may eventually specialize in what they produce. This is part of the reason why seemingly minor crashes cost so much - an auto brand does nst have the parts on hand to replace an integrated sensor , nor the expertice as they never built them, but bought them). And their suppliers, in attempt to cut costs, build them in way that is cheap to manufacture (not necessarily poorly bulit) but difficult to replace without swapping entire assemblies or units).I've love to see an article on repair costs and how those are impacting insurance rates. You almost need gap insurance now because of how quickly cars depreciate yet remain expensive to fix (orders more to originally build, in some cases). No way I would buy a CyberTruck - don't want one, but if I did, this would stop me. And it's not just EVs.
  • Joe65688619 I agree there should be more sedans, but recognize the trend. There's still a market for performance oriented-drivers. IMHO a low budget sedan will always be outsold by a low budget SUV. But a sports sedan, or a well executed mid-level sedan (the Accord and Camry) work. Smaller market for large sedans except I think for an older population. What I'm hoping to see is some consolidation across brands - the TLX for example is not selling well, but if it was offered only in the up-level configurations it would not be competing with it's Honda sibling. I know that makes the market smaller and niche, but that was the original purpose of the "luxury" brands - badge-engineering an existing platform at a relatively lower cost than a different car and sell it with a higher margin for buyers willing and able to pay for them. Also creates some "brand cachet." But smart buyers know that simple badging and slightly better interiors are usually not worth the cost. Put the innovative tech in the higher-end brands first, differentiate they drivetrain so it's "better" (the RDX sells well for Acura, same motor and tranmission, added turbo which makes a notable difference compared to the CRV). The sedan in many Western European countries is the "family car" as opposed to micro and compact crossovers (which still sell big, but can usually seat no more than a compact sedan).
  • Jonathan IMO the hatchback sedans like the Audi A5 Sportback, the Kia Stinger, and the already gone Buick Sportback are the answer to SUVs. The A5 and the AWD version of the Stinger being the better overall option IMO. I drive the A5, and love the depth and size of the trunk space as well as the low lift over. I've yet to find anything I need to carry that I can't, although I admit I don't carry things like drywall, building materials, etc. However, add in the fun to drive handling characteristics, there's almost no SUV that compares.