There aren’t too many dramatic changes with the 2017 Toyota 86. Rather, it’s a mid-life facelift or a ‘refresh’ in manufacturer terms for a vehicle that’s already been around for nearly five years. First launched locally in 2012, the 86 has been a supremely popular vehicle – a fact mirrored around the world – so you can understand Toyota’s reluctance to make sweeping, wholesale changes.
205 horsepower may not sound like a whole lot in this era of muscle-bound hypercars, but when it powers one of the sharpest handling cars you can get, it's enough. Buyers can choose between automatic and manual transmissions, but in most cases they prefer the automatic one. Toyota 86s equipped with manual transmissions get a five-pony boost to 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. Automatic models soldier forth with a carryover 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 200 hp and 151 lb-ft. Choose the manual and you'll be rewarded with an easy clutch and a rewarding short-throw shifter. And, as we said, five more ponies, courtesy of intake and exhaust tweaks and the polishing of some internal engine components. The only upside to the automatic is improved fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on the highway. Manual 86s are EPA-rated at 21/28.
There's plenty of noise inside the 86, from the wind, the road, and the engine. Considering its purpose as a low-cost sportscar, the 86's interior din isn't the end of the world. The 86 gets revised spring rates and damping all around, and a thicker anti-roll bar at the rear. It's not a night-and-day difference from the old suspension setup, but the rear of the car feels a bit more planted on rough roads and with steep steering angles. Its low weight of 2,758 pounds keeps the 86 feeling nimble and light on its 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy tires. The car rides and handles very well, and its starting price of $27,120 sounds reasonable. But it's still underpowered, especially when compared to something like the Ford Mustang EcoBoost.