posted on April 29, 2022

Affordable fun, now sharper than ever

The Toyota GR86 is all-new for 2022. Formerly known as simply the Toyota 86, GT86, or Scion FRS, this entry-level sports car was developed together by Toyota and Subaru (the latter brand still offers their own, slightly different version called the BRZ). It’s a favorite among experience-oriented drivers looking for an affordable rear-wheel drive sports car that handles well and comes with three pedals. The second-generation GR86 brings a revised look, more power, and interior and mechanical updates, which is great news for that crowd. For our April car of the month, let’s take a look at Eric from LA Auto Spot’s 2022 Toyota GR86 in Los Angeles.

LA Auto Spot’s 2022 Toyota GR86 (Hawthorne, CA)
2022 Toyota GR86
2.4L228 hp6.4 sec140mph25 mpg$75
2.4L Flat-4228 hp6.4 sec140 mph25 mpg$75

First, what’s up with the name change? Toyota has started badging their performance cars with “GR,” which denotes Toyota’s racing division “Gazoo Racing.” So the 86 is now the GR86. This car skipped the 2021 model year while supply chain issues hampered development and manufacturing in the auto industry, but it’s back for 2022 with updates to the exterior design that also jump out — the new look is a nice improvement, with sharper, more muscular lines and a prettier face.

The GR86 and Subaru BRZ have been firm favorites with purists and tuners since the fraternal twins were released back in 2012. This lightweight, rear-wheel drive coupe is a rare example of a well-balanced sports car that starts under 30 grand. And, both the Toyota and Subaru versions come standard with a six-speed manual transmission — again, a rare thing in today’s market. Eric’s car is an automatic, which may dampen the amusement for a small group, but it means everyone else can join in on the fun and give it a try.

Ever since this model was introduced, the chief complaint for owners has been the lack of power. Now, the GR86 comes with a larger engine and a modest 23-horsepower bump over the outgoing generation — the 2.4L boxer, or flat-four engine makes 228 horses, and takes the car to 60 mph in the low six-second range, depending if you have two pedals or three. Which isn’t blowing any socks off, but it’s pretty quick, and if you’re looking for a Toyota sports car with big power, there’s always the turbocharged Supra.

That said, the GR86’s main appeal is its razor-sharp handling, balance through corners, and overall responsiveness. This new generation comes with stiffer suspension and an even lower center of gravity, which further emphasize its agility given the meager 2,800-pound curb weight. For the price, you’d be hard-pressed to find such a fun and communicative driving experience elsewhere.

Despite all its hard-charging talents, this car’s suspension is still forgiving enough for daily driver duty. Plus, the GR86 and BRZ pair are the only sports cars in their price segment to offer four seats. Not that they’re especially spacious or comfortable, but a back row is always nice to have in a pinch — Eric even offers a child safety seat as an Extra.

The Toyota GR86’s playful nature, sure-footed composure, and affordable price tag make it a delight for drivers. And with more power than the outgoing model, the 2022 GR86 provides a sweet-spot formula for anyone who takes joy in operating a motorcar.

*Daily price is subject to change

Steven is an avid car guy and content maker at Turo. Between Golden State Warriors games he can be found getting lost somewhere in California.