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  • 2019 Toyota 86 GT

    Posted on December 14th, 2018 ninarussin

    Two-plus-two for driving enthusiasts

    By Nina Russin

    2019 Toyota 86

    The Toyota 86 is the automaker’s small, sporty car co-developed with Subaru (BR-Z), and inspired by the Corolla Levin of the 1980s, also known as the “86.” Aside from the BR-Z, the Toyota 86 has no true direct competitors, although it is frequently compared with the Nissan Z-cars, Chevrolet Camaro and sometimes the Hyundai Veloster. In terms of performance, it seems closest to the two-seat Mazda Miata and Fiat 124 Spider.

    Twenty-nineteen is the third year for the 86 in the Toyota line-up: previously the car was part of the Scion brand. Toyota has added TRD version with Brembo brakes, Sachs dampers, special 18-inch rims and body kit. However, the powertrain remains basically unchanged, consisting of a two-liter 205-horsepower boxer engine (from Subaru) paired with the choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

    Base price for the 86 with the automatic transmission is $27,174 minus the $920 destination charge. Final MSRP for the GT version tested is $30,225. As with other vehicles previously sold under the Scion nameplate, the 86 is essentially monospec with two options: all-season tires (not available on the TRD model) and a premium audio system with navigation.

    Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona

    2019 Toyota 86

    Over the past week I had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the 86, driving around Phoenix, Arizona and east valley cities. While I love the styling of the 86 and its sports car heritage, the rear-wheel drive sports car continues to suffer from a lack of power, which makes it compare unfavorably to competitors such as the Z-car and Camaro.

    This isn’t to say that the 86 is a sloth: it has plenty of power to get off the line and merge into traffic. Being a very small vehicle, the chassis is relatively light: 2817 pounds for the automatic transmission model. The light curb weight makes the boxer engine’s 205 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque go further. Buyers who don’t mind pushing a clutch pedal would do better to buy the manual version that gets five extra pound-feet of torque and is less expensive ($26,455).

    The 86’s best attributes are its front-to-rear weight balance that contributes to excellent steering response and its lovely styling. The GT version gets a rear spoiler that adds some growl to the coupe’s exterior. The six-speed automatic transmission works well with the boxer engine, producing precise shifts and downshifting for hard acceleration. When the driver pushes the throttle the 86 delivers a pleasing belch out of the exhaust.

    2019 Toyota 86

    The electric power steering system is very well tuned, with plenty of assist at low speeds and sharp on-center response that is virtually indistinguishable from a hydraulic unit. A standard rear-view camera in the rear-view mirror helps to monitor for cross-traffic when pulling out of parking spots in crowded areas. The image is small and can be hard to see, especially at night.

    A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and compact double wishbones in the rear. The setup does a good job of absorbing bumps in the road while maintaining a light, nimble feel in keeping the with coupe’s sporty mission. The coupe sits very low to the ground with 4.5-inches of ground clearance, creating a low center of gravity for better performance at speed.

    There is more noise intrusion to the interior than for other Toyota models but that’s to be expected from a small, light sports car. It is by no means excessive and for most members of the intended audience, a non-issue.

    Driver-focused interior

    Toyota 86 Interior

    The 86 interior is quite small, so the coupe won’t work well as a primary vehicle for anyone traveling with more than two people. The rear seats offer some additional interior storage and enable owners to qualify for lower insurance rates. However, there is absolutely no legroom.

    I found the driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view and although I didn’t take any long trips in the car, lower back support seems to be more than adequate.

    Keyless entry and start are nice add-ons for those who plan to use the car as a daily commuter, especially at-this-time of year when most are driving to and from work before sunrise and after sunset.

    The standard Pioneer sound system produces good audio quality. Although satellite radio is not standard equipment, owners can plug in an iPod or utilize Bluetooth. Dual-zone climate control enables both occupants to adjust the temperature for personal comfort. Front seats on the GT model are also heated to keep the driver and passenger warm in the winter months.

    I found both the gauge cluster and center stack screen easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. Standard LED headlamps and tail lamps deliver long, bright beams of light after dark. LED daytime running lamps make the 86 easier for other drivers to see, which is an important safety feature since the coupe is much smaller than the average vehicle on the roads these days, and-also sits much lower.

    Standard safety

    Standard safety features include six airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, hill start assist, back-up camera and tire pressure monitoring.

    The sporty 86 is on display at Toyota dealerships nationwide.

    Like: A stylish sporty coupe with excellent front-to-rear weight balance and steering response.

    Dislike: Lack of power.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Toyota
    Model: 86 GT
    Year: 2019
    Base price: $29,305
    As tested: $30,225
    Horsepower: 205 HP @ 7000 rpm
    Torque: 151 lbs.-ft. @ 6400 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 24/32 mpg city/highway.

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