2022 Toyota GR86

PHOENIX — If the Toyota GR86 looks somewhat familiar to you it might be because it was formerly known as the Scion FR-S, or the Toyota 86 after Toyota officially discontinued the Scion brand in 2016. Beginning in August of 2017 the 2017 Scion FR-S became a Toyota branded vehicle along with the iA and iM sedans.

But now for 2022 there’s an entirely new model of the 86 called GR86 and as before there’s a Subaru version of this car called the BR-Z that’s essentially the same vehicle with different branding and within a few dollars of each other’s base price.

After skipping the 2021 model year the 2022 GR86 is back and introduced with two available trim levels, 86 and 86 Premium, the latter adding larger 18-inch alloy wheels, Alcantara trimmed interior and a large spoiler that Toyota has dubbed ‘duckbill.’

The name GR is a reference to Toyota’s Gazoo Racing division. The GR brand races in the World Endurance Championship, the World Rally Championship, among other series.

Visually and most noticeable is the exterior styling that while is reminiscent of the outgoing model has been heavily updated and is definitely more muscular and athletic in appearance and more “sports car.” We definitely like the look with its strong DNA hints of the Toyota GR Supra.

Our test GR8 was the Premium model finished in Track bRED with black interior. Other colors offered are Pavement Gray, Halo White, Trueno Blue, Neptune and Steel. Both Track bRED and Halo White are a $425 option. The Premium trim also includes heated leather and alcantra (a suede-like material) trimmed seats, door trim, headliner and atop the gauge cluster.

There’s an 8-inch touchscreen located mid dash that comes standard on both trim levels along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The touchscreen is simple to use and intuitive but there isn’t much in the way of apps or functions, in fact navigation isn’t part of the technology. For that you’ll have to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The interior is very similar to the outgoing model including the operating controls and steering wheel. The GR86 is very small and sits extremely close to the ground so getting in and out of the vehicle takes a bit of effort, especially myself at 6-foot 6-inches tall. But once behind the wheel there’s surprisingly ample room for manual seat adjustment up and down, back and forth along with a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. I could sit nearly straight-legged behind the steering wheel with good visibility. The bad news is the back of my seat was pressed fully against the seat cushion bottom of the rear seat.

Speaking of the rear seat, yes there is one, but it is incredible tiny and forget about having an adult sit back there, it isn’t going to happen. However, you could get a kid or two back there and it’s also handy for a few packages. The rear seats do fold down allowing a passthrough from the trunk via the rear of the vehicle giving you more room that what one might think.

But the 86 has always been about the powertrain, suspension, and its rear-wheel-drive driving dynamics rather than luxury nous. For 2022 the 86 is powered by a new horizontal naturally aspirated 228 horsepower 2.4-liter four cylinder up from the previous model’s 2.0-liter four cylinder. That’s 23 very much needed more horsepower that’s amazingly noticeable resulting in an impressive driving experience. The engine is courtesy of Subaru that also supplied the outgoing 2.0-liter powerplant. A six-speed manual shifter is standard, and an optional six-speed automatic that came equipped in our test GR86

On the road and a brief time on the track the noticeably more horsepower made the 86 an absolute hoot to drive. The car’s Trigger fish handling delivered thrills and confidence along with its perfectly balanced steering and sure-footed brakes. While we personally would have chosen the manual shifter over the automatic, one consolation is the paddle-shifter that includes Normal, Sport, Snow, and Track modes from which to select.

We also like that Toyota throws in a one-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association that includes one "high performance driving event" and discounts to other track days.

Overall, the 2022 GR86 is arguably the most driving fun you can find for a sub $30k sports coupe. It’s simply magnificent especially on curvy blacktop mountain roads here in Arizona where I tested the vehicle. It’s even more special now that Toyota engineers have upped the horsepower. For the record we still wished for a bit more horsepower say in the range of 250 – 275 horsepower. It covers the 0 to 60 mph run in the low six seconds which is quick but not amazingly quick. But even more important with the GR86 is the way it handles with amazing precision and drives is in a word - awesome. Ok, two words –awesome and marvelous.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $27,700 - $30,300
Price as Tested: $33,250
Engine/Transmission: 228-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder paired with a choice of a six-speed manual shifter or six-speed automatic transmission
EPA Fuel Economy: 21/31/25 MPG – City/Highway/Combined
Seating: 4
Crash Test Safety Ratings: Highest possible 2022 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick+

Where Built: Ota, Gunma, Japan

Competes With:
Hyundai Veloster N
Mazda MX-5
Subaru BRZ
Volkswagen GTI

Sharp new styling
Comfortable, supportive front seats
Thrilling driving dynamics

Annoying turn signals that lack a lane change function
Tiny rear seat
Needs more horsepower

— Jim Prueter