An elemental sports car with 2+2 seating, the 2022 Toyota GR86 has a four-cylinder engine, a manual or automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. The “GR” in the name stands for Gazoo Racing, a Toyota motorsports brand. The automaker’s GR Supra also refers to Gazoo.
What’s New for the 2022 Toyota GR86?
Mostly new for the 2022 model year, the Toyota GR86 uses the same basic formula that made the first-generation 86 (and before it, the Scion FR-S) so popular with driving enthusiasts. The affordable sports car employs an upgraded version of the previous platform but is more structurally rigid and powerful than before. In addition, Toyota redesigned the interior, but the small rear seats remain for occasional use only.
2022 Toyota GR86 Price and Configurations
Toyota offers the GR86 in two trim levels, standard and Premium, and prices start at less than $29,000. Here are the highlights of each:
- GR86 — Riding on 17-inch alloy wheels, the GR86 base model includes steering responsive LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-way power driver’s seat, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone integration for Apple and Android devices, and a six-speaker stereo. With the automatic transmission, the GR86 also comes with numerous advanced driving assistance and collision avoidance systems
- GR86 Premium — Upgrade to the GR86 Premium for 18-inch wheels, performance all-season tires, larger brake discs, a large rear spoiler, heated front seats, synthetic leather and suede interior materials, aluminum pedals and door sill scuff plates, an eight-speaker stereo system, and subscription-based connected services
2022 Toyota GR86 Review and Test Drive
Toyota’s lightweight two-door sports car has captivated driving enthusiasts since its introduction in 2012 when it debuted under the company’s now-defunct Scion brand as the FR-S. Jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru (which offers the same car as the BRZ), the first-generation FR-S/86 was a fun car. Still, many owners desired more standard power and maximum handling grip. So with the new Toyota GR86, the automaker wisely addresses its customer’s wishes and more.
As a result, the 2022 Toyota GR86 is a mission-focused vehicle targeting driving enthusiasts, and the company makes this very clear when promoting the coupe. Toyota also says the GR86 pays tribute to the AE86, the mid-1980s and 1990s coupe that offered driving purists a sporting front-engine, rear-wheel-drive car at an affordable price. (In the U.S., Toyota sold the AE86 as the Corolla GT-S.) Enthusiasts celebrated the original AE86 for its agility, responsiveness, and easy-to-drive character that Toyota calls “86-ness.” The automaker claims that “86-ness” influences nearly everything about today’s GR86.
It is worth noting that the GR86 is one of the last of its kind. Decades ago, automakers switched to front-wheel-drive platforms with turbocharged (or hybrid) powertrains for their inexpensive sport-compact cars. And today, luxury features and innovative technologies are used to draw buyers into the $30,000+ segment. But that’s not how Toyota rolls with the GR86.
In sharp contrast to most everything else in its price range, the Toyota GR86 is a traditional rear-wheel-drive sports coupe with a naturally aspirated engine and minimal creature comforts. Aside from its twin, the Subaru BRZ, the two-seat Mazda MX-5 Miata is the only other vehicle like it with this segment.
We reviewed a GR86 with Premium trim and a six-speed manual transmission over a week of testing in Southern California. I spent time driving it around town, on highways, and through the canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the test vehicle was $31,750 (including the $1,025 destination charge).
2022 Toyota GR86 Review: The Design
With its sleek styling, wide stance, and aggressive character lines, the GR86 screams sports car from every angle.
Credit the Toyota’s traditional front-engine rear-drive architecture and Subaru’s engine design, which arranges the cylinders in a horizontally opposed, or “flat,” configuration. Because a flat-4 is shorter than an inline-4, the design permits a well-proportioned layout for a two-door coupe. The car’s styling further emphasizes the sports car theme with an aggressive front end, lower body cladding, and two large exhaust pipes at the rear. In addition, the Premium model adds a boy-racer duckbill spoiler.
Open the doors wide to drop into the GR86’s passenger cabin, taking note that the front seats are low, and you’ll need to watch your knees on the lower dashboard. The test car’s front seats came wrapped in Alcantara simulated suede and proved comfortable with plenty of lateral support. Sadly, the front seats lack lumbar adjustment, which is almost expected these days.
Though comfortable for two adults, the cabin isn’t particularly spacious in terms of the overall room. Many people are unaware that the GR86 has 2+2 seating, which means two passengers can theoretically squeeze into the extremely tight back seat. For context, the GR86’s rear accommodations are even smaller than what you’ll find in a Porsche 911. And there is absolutely no legroom when a six-foot-tall person is occupying a front seat.
The cockpit is driver-focused and minimalistic in design. Toyota renders most everything in mid-grade textured plastic with a few painted silver accents thrown in for contrast. The driver peers through a three-spoke steering wheel at a 7-inch display screen with bright white graphics that changes its layout based on the driving mode. Toyota also mounts an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display on the dashboard just below the climate control vents.
It requires a bit of acclimation to learn (and remember) where the various controls are within the cabin and how to operate them. While Toyota has done a nice job of physically clustering related controls together, there is a lack of consistency and cohesiveness throughout the cabin. For example, the white gauges stand in stark contrast with the illuminated red graphics on the climate controls. Also, there is an array of raised buttons, flat buttons, rotary dials, rocker switches, and toggles spread across the dashboard, console, and steering wheel.
Storage space within the passenger compartment is minimal, with two can-sized cupholders hidden within a paneled area under the center armrest and larger water bottle-sized drink pockets in the door. Use the cupholders for drinks, and it’s a challenge to operate the manual gearbox.
I suspect most owners will use the rear seats for additional cabin storage and to complement the trunk’s utility. Though the cargo room appears relatively insignificant in pictures, it is spacious enough to swallow a pair of 22-inch carry-on bags and a few more small items. Despite its diminutive size, the GR86 is a sports car with a slightly practical side.
2022 Toyota GR86 Review: The Technology
Most new vehicles are chock-full of innovative technology to wow shoppers and make their driving and riding experience more luxurious and convenient. That’s not the case with the Toyota GR86. Remember, this is a mission-focused vehicle targeting driving enthusiasts, and technology can get in the way. That doesn’t mean that the GR86 lacks innovation; it simply means that most of the technology and driver-assist systems work transparently — precisely the way an enthusiast wants it.
A case in point is the driver’s instrument panel, which uses a 7-inch screen to simulate either an analog tachometer or a bar display based on the driving mode. This solution is innovative and helpful without causing distraction. Toyota also puts buttons on the GR86’s steering wheel that allow the driver to effortlessly scroll through vehicle instruments and dynamic displays without taking a hand off the wheel.
Also, kudos are due to Toyota for allowing the driver to set an audible tone at a specific engine rpm that permits shifting without looking down at the tachometer. When driving the car as Toyota intends, this feature is beneficial.
The infotainment system is easy to navigate, particularly since Toyota engineered it with three physical buttons on each side of the screen that serve as shortcuts to commonly referenced displays and actions. The buttons include Home, Phone, Apps, Radio, Next Track, and Previous Track, and all of the on-screen icons are self-explanatory. Unfortunately, compared to many systems on the market today, the interface is less graphic intensive and appears a bit dated. But, on a positive note, it’s responsive and easy to use.
While nobody is buying the Toyota GR86 for its innovative digital technology or safety ratings, that doesn’t mean the company left out infotainment, electronic conveniences, and safety features. In addition to satellite radio, the infotainment system includes smartphone integration supporting Apple and Android devices. However, the GR86 does not have an embedded navigation system, which means you’ll need to use your smartphone for that function.
Toyota Connected Services is also standard, though after a complimentary trial period, you’ll need to pay extra for each of the four plans. They offer remote access to some vehicle functions, an ability to schedule service or get navigation assistance, access to a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, and safety-related services. Additionally, through Safety Connect, the GR86 offers a dedicated “SOS button” to make emergency calls, an ability to summon emergency responders when the airbags or collision sensors determine that they are needed, stolen vehicle tracking, and more.
2022 Toyota GR86 Review: The Drive
The previous generation FR-S/86 came with a rather lackluster Subaru-sourced 2.0L four-cylinder engine. While it had soul, it fell short on low-end torque and horsepower, leaving many driving enthusiasts wanting more. Subaru steps up to the plate for 2022 with a larger 2.4L variant of the flat-four that delivers 228 hp at 7,000 rpm and 184 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,700 rpm. That represents a solid jump from the previous model’s 205 hp and 156 lb.-ft. of torque.
A traditional six-speed manual gearbox is standard equipment and is a rarity considering that fewer than two percent of all new vehicles are offered with a manual transmission today. However, if you can’t operate a clutch pedal, you can choose a six-speed automatic transmission for an additional cost. While the torque converter automatic doesn’t shift as quickly as a more modern dual-clutch automatic, it is smooth, durable, and reliable. In addition, regardless of transmission choice, Toyota allows the driver to choose between Normal, Sport, and Track driving modes to tune the engine’s responsiveness to throttle input.
Toyota carried the original suspension design — front MacPherson struts and rear double wishbones — forward for the new model, but engineers retuned the dampers, lightened some components, and enhanced rigidity to deliver sharper handling. Interestingly enough, Toyota only offers standard single-piston brakes on the new GR86, dropping last year’s Brembo component upgrade. However, pundits speculate a “Performance Package” will arrive later this year to rectify the omission.
From behind the wheel, the 2.4L engine delivers impressive performance for a naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine. Toyota says the sprint to 60 mph takes fewer than six seconds, but you’ll really need to spin the engine toward redline to achieve the quickest acceleration numbers. On a more relatable note, the larger displacement engine provides additional torque, which is welcome in nearly every driving situation. Pulling away from a stop, merging into traffic, and safely passing slower vehicles isn’t stressful. Toyota has done a fine job matching the powertrain to the car.
Yet despite the GR86’s sporty mission, there’s virtually no tailpipe exhaust note to enjoy. Nearly all of the noise emanating from the GR86 is coming from under the hood, a mechanical disharmony of moving valves and firing fuel injectors that gets louder as the engine spins at higher revolutions. The engine noise is less noticeable on the highway, where tire and wind noise drown it out.
Driving enthusiasts won’t care about cabin sounds — good or bad — as they will be enthralled with the way the GR86 drives. Thanks to the redesigned suspension and larger displacement engine, the Toyota has earned its place as a bona fide sports car. Toss it into a corner, and it hunkers down predictably with minimal body roll. The steering is responsive and perfectly weighted, and the chassis is impeccably balanced, allowing the driver to place the wheels precisely on the road.
Also, for the record, the standard brakes are just fine. I never experienced fade or any issues during spirited driving on public roads. However, if you are going to track the GR86 at a racing circuit, I suggest replacing the brake pads with a high-temperature compound.
The one tradeoff for the superb handling is a rough ride, due in part to the test car’s high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires with stiff sidewalls. But the Toyota GR86 also has a very firm suspension that will jostle and jounce over even the slightest undulations in the pavement. Larger potholes and bumps can be downright uncomfortable as the wheels hit them and transfer the impact into the passenger compartment.
Fuel economy is respectable when you take the GR86’s performance into account. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the GR86 at 22 mpg in combined driving with the six-speed manual transmission. The GR86 with an automatic transmission delivers better fuel economy, returning an EPA-rated 25 mpg in combined driving.
Is the 2022 Toyota GR86 a Good Car?
If you consider yourself a driving enthusiast, you’re in the market for a rear-wheel-drive sports coupe, and you’re willing to overlook attributes that define such a vehicle, such as a harsh ride, noisy engine, and limited utility, then the GR86 is a near-perfect fit. There are dedicated sports cars that cost three times as much as this two-door Toyota that don’t deliver the visceral engagement, driving dynamics, and smile-per-mile factor of this $30,000 vehicle. Toyota has a winner on its hands that is very appealing – assuming you fit its very select demographic.
Toyota GR86 Competitors for 2022
Few affordable and legitimate rear-drive sports cars exist, which could explain why Toyota felt it was worth the investment to keep the GR86 in its lineup. As was true with the old 86/FR-S, Toyota partnered with Subaru to build the new GR86, so it has a doppelgänger in the form of the Subaru BRZ. Alternatives include the Mazda MX-5 RF, which does not offer a rear seat or as much trunk space and utility as the GR86 or the BRZ. If you’re willing to consider a front-drive car, the Hyundai Veloster N is worthy of consideration.
Toyota GR86 Features
With a starting price below $30,000, the 2022 Toyota GR86 serves as an affordable commuter, a weekend driver, or the foundation of a competitive racer. The common denominator here is that you should love to drive to fully appreciate this rare gem of an automobile.
- Steering Responsive Headlights — Standard LED headlights adjust to illuminate in the direction the driver steers
- Pre-Collision Braking — Available forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking system*
- Lane Departure Warning — Available feature warns the driver when the car is leaving a lane. Using the turn signal deactivates it*
- High Beam Assist — Available automatic high-beam headlights*
- Safety Connect — Available subscription-based service including automatic collision notification, safe teen driving settings, and more*
- Active Sound Control — Standard feature enhances the engine sound within the cabin
- Infotainment system — Standard 8-inch touchscreen, smartphone integration for Apple and Android devices
- Subwoofer — Available 10-inch, 200-watt stereo enhancement*
- Remote Engine Starter — Available via subscription to Remote Connect services, this allows owners to start the car’s engine remotely*
- Adaptive Cruise Control — Available feature automatically maintains a safe following distance to vehicles ahead*
- 2.4L four-cylinder engine
- 228 hp
- Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission
- Rear-wheel drive
- 22 mpg (manual) and 25 mpg (automatic) in combined driving
- Push-button engine starting — Standard
- Dual-zone automatic climate control — Standard
- Tilt/telescopic steering wheel — Standard
- Six-way power driver’s seat — Standard
- One-piece folding rear seatback — Standard
*Availability is subject to specific trim level specifications