New 2019 Toyota 86 Coupe New 2019
Toyota 86 Coupe

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The 2019 Toyota 86 is an anomaly that strikes twice. It’s the only 2-door model and the only sports machine in Toyota’s massive portfolio. This compact coupe was created in a joint project with Subaru (known as the BRZ on that side of the street). The Subaru counterpart is similarly distinctive and made even more individual by only coming with rear-wheel drive (every other Subaru has all-wheel drive as standard). The 86 (named after a 1980s’ cult version of the Corolla) is small, light, agile and relatively quick considering its 205-horsepower engine is hardly bursting with muscle. Apart from having a fixed metal roof, it has a lot in common with the Mazda MX-5 Miata, in that it’s a great introduction to rear-drive fun without being so powerful that rookies might get out of shape too easily.

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You'll Like This Car If...

You get it. You understand the fun that can be had from driving a less well-endowed car at its limits rather than having a powerful machine whose potential can never be realized on public roads. Here is a light and well-balanced car that’s a thrill to toss around.

You May Not Like This Car If...

You need more practicality, power, refinement, prestige, and maybe not something quite so low-slung. The Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Mustang are priced similarly and might be more your thing. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

What's New for 2019

A new limited run of 1,418 units joins the range this year. It’s called the 86 TRD Special Edition, starting at $33,340. TRD stands for the Toyota Racing Development division, bringing upgrades from specialist manufacturers, a dedicated set of aerodynamic additions, plus a sportier interior compared with Toyota’s regular 2019 86 versions.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

This is one of those cars where even going out for a carton of milk seems like an adventure, especially if you take a twisting route usually frequented by motorcyclists on the weekends. The chassis is communicative and predictable, it relishes tight corners, and becomes a learning experience where the driver can experiment with things like braking late and letting the weight transfer help rotate the car before adding a touch of steering correction and mashing the throttle on the way to the next turn. The downside is that the 2019 Toyota 86 can be noisy and cramped, while the firm ride is tiresome at times. It takes a real enthusiast to appreciate such a focused machine. This is called a 2+2, so the front seats are okay, but the rear places are probably best left for overnight bags.

Favorite Features

TRACK MODE
This setting in the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system allows more leeway before kicking in and cutting power. By pressing the Track button for one second, the driver can then exploit the chassis with some wheelspin and lateral movement. There’s also a fully Off mode where the VSC is disabled completely.

FOLD-DOWN REAR SEAT
The trunk in the 2019 Toyota 86 accommodates a meager 6.9 cubic feet, so the folding rear seat provides extra cargo capacity. This allows for a couple of golf bags or, more likely, tools and an extra set of wheels and tires for track days.

Vehicle Details

Interior

Toyota’s 2019 86 shares at least one attribute with the ever-wonderful Porsche 911. They both have their tachometers (rev counters) right in the center of the driver’s instrument cluster -- because engine speed is often more crucial than road speed (planning that perfect upshift, for example). This illustrates how driver-centric the 86’s interior design is; the rest of the controls are situated just as perfectly. The front seats are comfortable and supportive enough for long stints, and the simulated suede upholstery prevents their occupants from sliding around during hard cornering. The seating position is low to the ground, exactly as it should be.

Exterior

The only real differences between the Toyota 86 and the Subaru BRZ are the badges. Both have classic coupe proportions and silhouettes. The long, low nose gives way to a small cabin and then the roofline dives down to the short tail. Incidentally, it’s the Subaru-derived flat-4 engine that allows the front to be so ground-hugging and svelte. An upright inline-4 would require more height and mess up the shapes. Toyota keeps the exterior simple, avoiding hood scoops, fender flares and rear wings, but there’s a thriving aftermarket selling such things.

Notable Standard Equipment

Aside from the TRD Special Edition, the 2019 86 comes in base and GT trim levels. The former has 17-inch alloy wheels, LED exterior lighting, air conditioning, disc brakes front and rear, USB port, rearview camera, sport front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen. Most important, it features a 6-speed close-ratio manual transmission as standard. The optional automatic has its positives, but a manual 86 is far more involving. The GT version has a push-button start, dual-zone climate control, and a g-meter (measuring lateral acceleration -- it’s a nice toy for the track). Conspicuous by their absence are any electronic driver aids.

Notable Optional Equipment

Factory options are few. The main one is the 6-speed automatic transmission that includes steering-wheel-mounted paddles and a rev-matching feature on downshifts. It’s available on both trim levels. Navigation is another extra. However, here’s a good point to mention some of the equipment in the TRD Special Edition, which comes with Brembo brakes (featuring larger-than-stock discs), Sachs suspension components, and Michelin Sport 4 tires on 18-inch alloy wheels. Some TRD accessories -- such as aero additions, performance-enhancing parts and cosmetic components -- are also available.

Under the Hood

The 2019 86 uses a 2.0-liter engine from Subaru. It’s a “boxer” or flat-4 configuration and a Subaru hallmark. Instead of four upright cylinders in a line, there are two pairs of horizontally opposed pistons. The benefits include a lower center of gravity, ideal for a sports car. When paired with the manual transmission, the engine makes 205 horsepower; the automatic drops that by five horsepower. Manual versions also have a flatter torque curve, which translates to sharper throttle responses, yet another reason to avoid the automatic. Fuel economy is slightly better with the auto, but driving is more fun with the manual. The shift kit from TRD brings shorter throws, which sounds tempting in principle, but we think it detracts from the overall feel.

2.0-liter flat-4 (manual transmission)
205 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm
156 lb-ft of torque @ 6,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg

2.0-liter flat-4 (automatic transmission)
200 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm
151 lb-ft of torque @ 6,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/32 mpg

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Pricing Notes

Add the $26,455 Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) to a destination charge of $920, and the 2019 Toyota 86 starts at $27,375. The GT is priced from $29,505 and the range tops out at $33,340 for the limited-run TRD Special Edition. The automatic transmission is an extra $720 in all variants. These prices make the new 86 competitive with the excellent and updated-for-2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata, and even low-end models of the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, although the last two aren't nearly as fun. The Subaru BRZ usually costs slightly less. Check out the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their 2019 Toyota 86. This is a specialist little sports car that fulfills its enthusiast brief perfectly and so holds its value well.

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