2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Review

A more powerful and still wonderfully analog sports car

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Great styling, the right power boost, wonderful handling and steering, tons of fun without tons of trouble from the law.
Negatives: Brakes can't keep up with a lot of hard driving, still low-rent interior.
Bottom Line: The new GR86 is about the best a sports coupe can get at this price. It rewards the driver for proper inputs and never feels like it's going to get out of hand. It's also quite stylish now.
Formerly known as the Scion FR-S and the Toyota 86, the heavily revised Toyota GR86 is, effectively, the second-generation of the affordable sports coupe. But it's not a total redesign, even if it looks and feels like it. The exterior has been totally redone to look more upscale, and the interior is also much improved over the old car's. The most drastic change, however, is the bump in power from 205 to 228, but the biggest difference is the peak torque that hits 184 lb-ft at 3,700 rpm versus the old car's 156 lb-ft at 5,400 rpm. Just as important is the fact that you can still get the car with a 6-speed manual transmission. We drove the new GR86 to see how much it has changed and whether or not it's significantly better than the first-gen car. Read our full review below.

Driving Experience



Nobody will accuse the GR86 of having tons of power, but it doesn't need it. The car weighs 2,838 pounds, so 228 horses is plenty. The combination of an excellent chassis, superb handling and steering, great steering feedback, rear-wheel drive, a limited-slip diff, and the ability to rope your own cars equate to one of the most rewarding cars to drive at this price. F

Ride Quality: The ride is firm without being harsh. You feel the road, just the way you'd like to in car like this.

Acceleration: 0-60 now comes in 5.4 seconds, which is plenty quick considering the old car did it in a little bit over six seconds. The six-speed manual transmission is eager and decently precise. The clutch is light, but engagement is excellent. The car doesn't feel overwhelming, but it's still plenty thrilling thanks to the resolved mid-range torque issue from the previous car.

Braking: Under normal use, the brakes are fine. They modulate well, and the pedal feel is really great. But if you push it hard, you start to feel some fade. Sadly, there's no Brembo brake package like the previous car, but hopefully, that will get resolved soon.

Steering: There's a solid amount of feedback coming through the steering column, and it's very responsive and precise. The amount of effort is also very good.

Handling: The feedback through your pants is great. You can tell when the rear wheels are reaching their limit. It's willing to kick out a bit, which makes it more fun to toss in the corners. The near-flat cornering and the ability to bring the GR86 back in line are seriously entertaining and rewarding.




The in-car tech for a car like this is pretty good. It's nothing fancy, and it's very functional and easy to use. We like that it's not overly complicated so as not to distract from the driving fun.

Infotainment System: The GR86 now gets a slightly upsized screen (8 inches versus the old car's 7 inches). Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are standard. The screen is easy to read, and the icons are quickly decipherable. The configurable 7.0-inch digital gauge display looks clear and purposeful. /p>

Controls: The controls are pretty much analog and easy to use. The steering wheel buttons, climate controls, and driving modes are easy to operate while driving, just the way they should be.




As much as we liked the styling of the old Toyota 86, something was missing. It looked a bit lithe and cheap, but the new car change all that with a fuller, sportier, and more premium look. We also like the fact that it's not overstyled. Just the right amount of touches make it one of the best-looking sports cars out there, kinda like a bargain Lexus RC.

Front: The front fascia has just the right amount of personality. The black mesh grille and black trim on the functional intakes pair well together. We like the headlights that eschew the old, somewhat odd AirPod look. The hood creating is also a nice touch.

Rear: This might just be our favorite angle of the GR86. The taillights are more ellipsoid now, and the ducktail spoiler is fantastic. The license plate cutout is now in the bumper, giving the back end a more unified look. The round tailpipes are perfect.

Profile: The side view is so much better now because it's got a fuller, thicker look and better proportions. The short overhangs, body creases, upswept rocker panel, and the functional front fender vent combine to give the GR86 a truly premium sports car look.

Cabin: While the cabin is improved, it's still on the cheaper side. That said, we think it has better materials than the much pricier Nissan Z. The sueded sport bucket seats look great, and red illumination in the center stack are just right. We also love the layered dash and the round outboard HVAC vents.




For a sports car, the GR86 is pretty good when it comes to overall comfort. While it's only a 2+2, there's ample space for the front occupants, even six-footers. The seats, ergonomics, and materials quality are very good.

Front Seats: We found the bucket seats comfortable and supportive for a sports car of this caliber. The broad seatbacks, excellent bolstering, and good cushioning add up to easy driving for long periods of time.

Rear Seats: Very tight to the point where we won't dare get back there. Even for small kids, it's very small.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Sound from the engine is piped in, and it's pretty realistic. Otherwise, it's well sorted. Wind noise is minimal, and road noise is about as expected for a sports car. It's not intrusive, but you can definitely hear it.

Visibility: The seating position is good, and the front and side glass are sizable. Sightlines out the back are compromised because of the pillars and fastback, but that's expected.

Climate: The system worked well, and we had no trouble with the AC firing up. The front center vents are small-ish, and they could use better airflow.




Most sports cars don't fare that well when it comes to safety, but the GR86 is an exception to that rule. It scores incredibly well and even comes with good standard safety features. It's just too bad that optional features such as adaptive cruise, collision warning, and lane-departure systems are only available on the automatic.

IIHS Rating: It earns the Top Safety Pick+ with excellent scores in crash tests and avoidance.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The GR86 Premium comes with Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.

Optional Tech: None.




For sports cars like this, you should definitely lower the bar of expectations when it comes to storage and cargo room. While it is more capacious (relatively speaking) than the Mazda MX-5 Miata, it's still not ready to take on a long road trip for two or even more than a few grocery bags.

Storage Space: The cabin is tight when it comes to small item storage. The door pockets can only handle water bottles, and the small split-top armrest compartment can't take much stuff. The back seat, however, is pretty good for duffel bags and small carry-on luggage.

Cargo Room: 6.25 cubic feet of cargo space is a couple of cubes bigger than the Miata, but at least you can fold down the seatbacks for more space.

Fuel Economy



sThe boxer four spits out more power, and the commensurate efficiency is reflected. The old model got 21 city/28 highway/24 combined and the 2nd-gen car gets 20/27/22. We actually did pretty well considering we drove the car hard most of the time.

Observed: 19.4 mpg

Distance Driven: 280 miles.




The Premium trim model gets upgraded from six speakers to eight, so we guess that's a premium system. It's fine but won't blow you away with its sound quality. The clarity and bass are acceptable, and there was no distortion at higher volumes.

Final Thoughts

We've driven some very good sports cars this year. The Miata, the Supra, and the M240i, but it's the GR86 that presents the best value and the best driving experience for the money. Now that it has more power and better mid-range torque and improved styling, the GR86 is a sports car we would consider for ourselves. Its wonderful analog nature is impressive in a world where there's way too many disconnected EVs and over-tech'd vehicles. It's a car that shouldn't exist in today's marketplace, but we're thrilled that Toyota has committed to a second-generation model.
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