Say this about Toyota: the company has real range. Within a span of a few months, I drove one of the brand's most popular products in the RAV4, and one of its most niche in this 2022 Toyota GR86. I suppose there are some surface-level elements that Toyota could point to on both vehicles that represent “brand DNA” but the reality is that the two machines couldn’t be more different in terms of intent and execution.
If hundreds of thousands of RAV4 sales are what it takes for Toyota to keep partnering with Subaru on a pure piece of fan service like the GR86, I’m all for it. But where the RAV4 feels like a just-good-enough product – trading on a long-standing reputation for reliability and not much else – the 86 feels like it’s truly built by enthusiasts for enthusiasts.
Gallery: 2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Review
The spartan in-cabin experience, tech, and materials are adequate for someone young and limber enough to daily drive this sports machine, but they’re all basically irrelevant for the ideal purpose of the car: driving for pleasure. The GR86 is intense, immediate, balanced, punchy for its weight, full of feel and feedback, and generally just a delight to push hard. It’s also almost singular in the US car market at this point, with only its Subaru twin and the Mazda MX-5 Miata (kinda) competing for enthusiast dollars.
Motor1.com editors may not agree on all things Toyota GR86, but we all agree that spending an afternoon in the car on a good road, is time well spent.
Seyth Miersma, Editor-In-Chief
- Favorite Thing: Buckets of Character
- Least Favorite Thing: My Old-Man Back
Describe a car as “loud, really stiff, and intense” to your average driver, and they’re liable to think you didn’t like it very much. But to those of us who like to dream of being racing drivers – one corner at a time – those words help to underscore just how involving the GR86 really is.
Even other dedicated sports cars, like Toyota’s own Supra, have tended to become more like what we used to call “Grand Touring” machines. Fast and great-handling, but also comfortable enough to drive for hours at a time without complaint. The GR86 just hits different.
The 2.4-liter boxer four sounds, well, pretty rough. It’s never quiet and it is often downright loud, but no matter the volume the tonality is consistently wonky. Once you reach highway speeds it hardly matters though, as the tremendous wind rush and tire roar just about drown out the aftermarket-y noises coming from the exhaust. The whole shebang feels completely unfiltered, which is unusual in 2022, and totally rad.
I love that getting smooth with the clutch takes some time, that there’s real steering feel and suspension feel through the seats, and that with electronic aids switched off you get a tossable rear-wheel car that isn’t entirely buttoned up. Yes that last bit is true of a Shelby GT500, too, but you need millions of horsepower and dollars to get there.
In fact, the weakest link in Toyota’s package of driver feel and race-ready dynamics is… me. Too tall (the headroom is tight for those of us in the 6-foot-5 set), too wide (ditto the 240-pound set), and with too many miles on my question-mark-shaped spine, I can only enjoy the intensity of the 86 in short doses these days. Thank god that the best driving road in my hometown is only a few miles from my house.
Brandon Turkus, Managing Editor
- Favorite Thing: Baby Supra Looks
- Least Favorite Thing: Um…
The whole concept of these Pro/Con pieces is that we, the Motor1.com staff, name our favorite and least favorite things about a car. Until the Toyota GR86, I’d never had a problem finding things to praise or complain about. But the successor to the Scion FR-S and Toyota 86 is so damn all-around compelling that I’m struggling to come up with anything. Its many positives overwhelm the few faults I found after a couple days behind the wheel.
Take, for example, the cabin. It’s predominantly plastic, which is quite hard and flimsy in spots. But the interior is laid out in a perfect, driver-focused manner, with a fantastic seating position, a tiny steering wheel, awesome gauges, and a snickety-snack gear lever that (Car Review gods forgive me) falls perfectly to hand. And it’s part of a package that starts at $29,000. How am I going to whinge about some cheap materials with that list of positives? I’m also not going to rehash what Seyth said, because I agree with all the driving-related things. Again, you get that in a $29,000 car. It’s just fantastic.
Honestly, if a car company builds a fun-to-drive car that puts me in the mood for ripping along a twisty road and then sells it for under $30,000, I wouldn’t care if it looked like a deformed toe. And yet, the GR86 looks fantastic. The baby Supra rear end, with the duck-tail spoiler, is fantastic, and the front does happy-but-sporty better than Mazda ever did. The profile is effortless and classic – if Triumph or Austin-Healy were still building sports cars today, they’d be shaped like the GR86.
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Jeff Perez, Senior Editor
- Favorite Thing: Enough Power, Finally
- Least Favorite Thing: Copy-And-Paste Tech
It's easy to complain about comfort issues in a sub-$30,000 sports car. And as I noted in my review of the new GR86, it is indeed uncomfortable. But I'm going to instead give Toyota a hard time for not differentiating the GR86 from the BRZ when it comes to tech.
It has the same slow-ish to respond 8.0-inch touchscreen display as the BRZ with the same less-than-stellar Starlink graphics. There are some fun retro nods in the digital instrument cluster that aid the overall look, but knowing what Toyota can do with infotainment systems (see: Tundra), the setup here is pretty disappointing.
That said, the Toyota GR86 is all about the driving experience – and one of the biggest improvements is with the powertrain. The new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine affords the GR86 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It isn't Supra-quick, but that's enough extra oomph to give the GR some much-needed straight-line quickness.
The GR86 now achieves peak torque 50 percent quicker than the previous version – 3,700 RPM versus 6,400 – and races to 60 miles per hour in just 6.1 seconds with the manual gearbox equipped. Finally, there's just enough power here to match the sublime handling of this sports car.
2022 Toyota GR86 Premium MT