With its pure handling and simple feel, the 2023 Toyota GR86 is the perfect gateway into sports car ownership. Developed in concert with Subaru, the GR86 is a rear-wheel-drive sports car with a gutsy, but not especially powerful 4-cylinder engine and a choice between manual and automatic transmissions. Shop it against the near-twin Subaru BRZ plus the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The GR86 scores well for its handling, value, and tech. After a redesign last year, the GR86 enters 2023 with a limited-run version called 860 but is otherwise unchanged.

2023 Toyota GR86 Review

 While far from adventurous, the 2023 Toyota GR86 has clean, slick styling. You’re here for handling, not styling, though the latest version of Toyota’s (and Subaru’s) squat, entry-level sports car looks a lot sleeker than before. The GR86’s proportions are its biggest styling asset. The long front end, low roofline, and pert tail are pure classic sports car. A mesh grille and vertical air intakes behind the rear wheels serve function as much as form. This year’s new special edition version comes painted orange and has different 18-inch alloy wheels than other versions.

The 2023 Toyota GR86 out handles cars costing two, three, and four times as much. The GR86’s appeal lies largely in its brilliant handling and steering, though we toss in another point for power that’s good enough. These cars are rear-wheel drive only, and they come with a Torsen limited-slip rear differential to make the most of their arrangement.



Look for 228 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque from the Subaru 2.4-liter flat-4, which moves rearward through a 6-speed manual gearbox or, optionally, a 6-speed automatic. The manual hits 60 mph in 6.1 seconds; add half a second for the automatic. Those numbers are not great by sports car standards, but let’s remember that this car costs just $30,000. With a torque peak that comes on at just 3,700 rpm, a low figure for a non-turbo vehicle, the GR86 has enough hustle to make it plenty fun on a track. The manual is brilliant, though opting for it means you won’t have access to any driver-assistance tech. If that’s important, the automatic shifts crisply and comes with paddle shifters for track use.

Power is fine, but handling is brilliant. The strut/multi-link suspension and narrow tires deliver brilliant poise. Base models ride a little better than those with the optional 18s, though all models transition into easily controlled oversteer at the flick of the steering wheel. There’s a reason these cars are popular choices for performance driving schools. They’re easy to drive all the way up to their limits, and then easy to catch if something goes wrong. Communicative, quick steering gives off Porsche vibes, but for far less cash. Strong brakes add to the appeal.

2023 Toyota GR86 Review

The 2023 Toyota 86 with the automatic earns 3 mpg more than the manual. The EPA and Toyota know the 86 with the automatic is more efficient than you are rowing your own gears, with a rating of 21 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined. That earns a 3 here, and it’s 3 mpg better than the 86 with the manual, which has an EPA rating of 20/27/22 mpg. It’s more efficient than most muscle cars but trails both the Mazda Miata and Toyota Supra, even with a turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine.

The 2023 Toyota GR86 is a safe choice but the manual lacks most modern tech. How safe the Toyota GR86 is depends on which version of the Toyota GR86 you’re after. Only those with the automatic transmission come with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control. Regardless of gearbox, the Premium trim tosses in blind-spot monitors, too. That safety tech helps contribute to a Top Safety Pick+ score from the IIHS. The NHTSA has not yet crashed the GR86.

2023 Toyota GR86 Review

Practical only by sports car standards, the 2023 Toyota 86 is a small choice. Two doors, a low roofline, and a short trunk lid can only mean a cramped interior. That’s just what the Toyota GR86 delivers and it’s probably what you expect. The cabin is simple and functional, with hints of metallic trim to brighten things up. It’s a business space, not a luxurious abode.

The front seats have terrific support, and even taller drivers will find good leg room and enough head room for a helmet. That’s no accident, of course. The steering wheel doesn’t telescope, though, which can be a bit of a burden for longer drives. Grippy cloth seats in the base model work better for track use than the leather and suede-like jobs in Premium trim though the cloth seats aren’t heated.

The rear seats work best as an additional storage area, especially since the 6.3 cubic-foot trunk will barely hold a roll-aboard suitcase. The rear seatbacks fold down for what Toyota says is just enough room to squeeze in a set of track wheels and tires. Good workmanship and solid, but not luxurious, interior materials are in line with reasonable pricing.

The 2023 Toyota 86 packs in fun and features for less than $30,000. The 86 costs $29,495, including destination, and comes with a leather-trimmed shift boot and steering wheel, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility, power windows and locks, and basic bucket seats covered in cloth. The automatic transmission costs another $1,500. The touchscreen and value earn it a point each, but models with the manual lack the driver-assist features standard with the automatic.

The most significant upgrade to the $32,095 Premium are 18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires. That’s the one to buy for sunshine state drivers. Premium also adds heated front seats and synthetic leather upholstery, eight speakers instead of six (and an amplifier), a rear spoiler, and blind-spot monitors. Limited to 860 units, the 10th Anniversary model costs $35,445 and comes with heated sport seats, a leather shift boot and steering wheel. All 86s are covered by a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty, two years or 25,000 miles of scheduled service, a year of National Auto Sport Association membership, and a high-speed track day.

The 2023 Toyota 86 is a rare beast; one that we’re grateful and privileged that the relationship with Subaru made happen. Blending in Subaru bits has only helped to improve the 86’s driving experience. Razor-ready track performance is the forte of every 86 including newfound power, predictable teeth-gritting handling, and technology nannies that actually let you have some fun. In the end, the Subaru Toyota marriage is the best of both brands, and we are all the wonderful beneficiaries.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design
Performance
Infotainment System and Tech Features
Fuel Economy
Value
Previous article2023 Hyundai Tucson Review: Jack of All Trades
Next article2023 Volkswagen ID.4 Review: An EV for the People
Car fanatic journalist living in the PNW covering all things automotive.
2023-toyota-gr86-review-its-got-that-feelingThe 2023 Toyota 86 is a rare beast; one that we’re grateful and privileged that the relationship with Subaru made happen. Blending in Subaru bits has only helped to improve the 86’s driving experience. Razor-ready track performance is the forte of every 86 including newfound power, predictable teeth-gritting handling, and technology nannies that actually let you have some fun