Small, lightweight, manual transmission, rear-wheel drive sports cars are rare these days. There are only a few left, and the new 2022 Toyota GR86 is one of them. And it's fantastic. After a week of driving GR86, we are convinced it is one of the best sports cars on the market today. With phenomenal steering, a potent boxer engine and superb handling dynamics, Toyota has not only mastered what was great about the first generation, but improved it to make it one of the most fun driving experiences of the modern sports car era. And it's affordable.

2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Test Drive Review

Price and Value 

Regardless of the trim you choose for the GR86, you're getting a real value. The MSRP range for the 2022 Toyota GR86 is $27,700-$30,300. It is available in two trim levels, Base and Premium, with a suite of standard features that includes rear-wheel drive, a 6-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. Some of the major differences in manual-transmission equipped trim levels are noted below. 

● GR86 Base: $27,700 

17-inch machined-finish alloy wheels

7-inch GR digital gauge cluster

GR leather-trimmed manual tilt/telescopic 3-spoke sport steering wheel

● GR86 Premium: $30,300 

18-inch matte black-painted alloy wheels 

Color-keyed duckbill rear spoiler

Two-stage heated sport seats with leather-trimmed bolsters and Ultrasuede inserts

In either the base or the premium trim, the Toyota GR86 is an excellent value. It plays its sports car role very well, but it also is surprisingly practical. For the right buyer, this could easily be their only vehicle.

Toyota’s warranty is on par with the industry average, with a 3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Toyota also throws in complimentary maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles.

Performance 

The GR86 Premium might be the new king of affordable performance. Everything from its engine and power delivery to its handling, suspension and driver engagement are second to none in this price segment. The GR86 has no problem punching far above its weight, and we couldn't be more grateful that this lively little sports car exists.

Engine 

The major complaint with the first generation 86 was its power. We are happy to report the issue has been remedied and vastly improved in the second generation. This is thanks to a more powerful 2.4-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine that makes 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The infamous torque dip of the old 2.0-liter engine is non-existent now, and power is spread throughout the rev band. And while the power numbers aren't huge, it's more than enough to have lots of fun with. 

2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Test Drive Review

Fuel Efficiency 

Further selling its value play, the 2022 Toyota GR86 is surprisingly fuel efficient. The Environmental Protection Agency rates it at 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway for a combined rating of 22 mpg. In our week of testing, it returned much better fuel economy — nearly 27 mpg in our combined driving.

Drivetrain 

The second generation GR86 is a masterclass in drivetrain engagement and dynamics. The manual transmission rows through the gears with accurate, satisfying throws. The rear-wheel-drive dynamics are very fun and get just fishtaily enough when you want them to. 

Acceleration and Handling 

The last generation 86 was always a bit ponderous in its acceleration. Those days are gone. It's genuinely quick and provides a true sports car feeling of acceleration. Car and Driver clocked the GR86 from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. The handling is some of the best we've experienced, even when compared to cars costing twice as much. As they say, it handles like it's on rails. That said, the suspension is a bit firm and bouncy, which may be too harsh for some daily drivers.

2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Test Drive Review

Braking 

Braking power was fine, but we suspect those wanting to take their cars to the track will want to upgrade the pads and the brake fluid. The pedals are perfectly placed and easy to modulate. A host of safety and braking technologies are available, but only when equipped with the optional automatic transmission.

Interior Comfort and Convenience 

This sports car interior is everything you need and nothing you don't. It's stripped down but not bare. Everything has been purposefully designed to help you focus on the driving experience. The Premium trim of our tester had nice touches like perforated Ultrasuede seats, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system and other fresh and simple features. The driver and front passenger have plenty of leg and shoulder room. The same can't be said for those in the backseat. It’s probably best left to storage or very small children.

2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Test Drive Review

Seats 

The seats in the new GR86 are excellent. They're supportive, sporty and very comfortable, even on long drives and for a variety of body types. The Premium trim’s leather and Ultrasuede combination look sharp, and the seat heating elements work wonderfully. We loved the seats in the GR86 and wish they were in other cars.

Climate Control 

Like everything else in the cabin, the climate controls are simple and easy to use. The HVAC system was effective in cooling the cabin on hot days. The dual-zone automatic climate control feature was a welcome bonus.

Cargo Space and Cabin Storage 

Given how small the GR86 is, it's genuinely surprising how practical this car can be. There's not much by way of interior compartments and cubbies, but the backseat provides lots of storage space — especially when folded down. When down, you can fit large Costco runs, a bike, camping gear or even a full set of extra wheels and tires in the back. Even with the back seats up, the trunk is still very accommodating and can fit up to six bags of mulch in its 6 cubic feet of space. The GR86 is one of the most surprisingly versatile vehicles on the market.

2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Test Drive Review

Infotainment System 

Continuing the utilitarian theme is the infotainment system. The Premium trim adds an 8-inch color touch screen with eight speakers and an amplifier. It is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The stereo doesn't sound amazing, but it gets the job done.

Exterior Appearance and Functionality 

The 2022 GR86 shares much of the architecture of the previous generation, but the fresh, clean design is a beautiful update for the sports car. The proportions are excellent and give off sleek and sporty vibes. It's a less busy design than the previous generation, but one that will probably age well and look good for years to come.

Our tester was finished in the can’t miss it Track bRed color. Other eye-catching colors such as Neptune, Pavement, Steel, Trueno Blue, Raven and Halo are available.

Wheels 

Opting for the Premium trim gets you black-painted multi-spoke 18-inch wheels shod with 215/40 R-18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires. It's a great combination for performance and aesthetics. However, the low sidewalls and stiff rubber of the Pilot Sport 4 tires produce an excessive amount of road noise on the highway. On uneven highway surfaces, the cabin can almost be deafening. The Base trim’s 17-inch wheels and thicker sidewall Michelin Primacy tires might be a better option for daily driving.

2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Test Drive Review

Lights and Turn Signals 

No matter the trim, the GR86 comes with front and rear LED lights. They illuminate the road ahead effectively, which is reassuring in such a small car. The turn signals look sharp from the exterior, but the auto reset turn signal stalk can take some getting used to. 

Cameras and Side Mirrors 

You don’t really need more than a backup camera in the GR86 given how small it is, and it looks reasonably sharp. The side mirrors are somewhat larger than expected and provide ample views down the sides of the vehicle. 

Front and Rear Windshield 

Overall visibility in the GR86 is pretty good. The C-pillar is fairly large and can create a bit of a blind spot, but the blind spot monitoring system and large side mirrors help with that. The windshield wipers worked well, but it was not cold enough to test the defrost features. 

Safety 

The GR86 might be small, but it’s actually a safe car, especially when equipped with an automatic transmission. The GR86 did well in its crash test ratings, reassuring for anyone hesitant about its small size. 

2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Test Drive Review

Features 

The automatic transmission GR86 provides a litany of safety features. Our manual transmission equipped tester had plenty of basics to keep you safe, as well, including: 

  • Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Seven Airbags
  • Smart Key System

For a full list of safety features on the automatic transmission GR86, click here

Awards and Ratings 

The 2022 Toyota GR86 is a hit with just about everyone. Awards include 10 Best from Car and Driver; Driver’s Choice – Best Sport Coupe from MotorWeek; and Best Resale Value from Kelly Blue Book. 

The 2022 GR86 was also named a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, receiving Good ratings in all six of the institute’s crashworthiness tests. As of this writing, the 2022 GR86 has not yet been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Final Impression 

The 2022 Toyota GR86 is one of the best sports cars on the market at any price point. It’s a wonderfully satisfying driving experience and a pure recipe for fun. While the suspension is on the stiffer side, and the tires produce a good amount of noise on rougher roads, neither of those drawbacks takes away from the joyful and playful nature of this little sports coupe. 

2022 Toyota GR86 Premium Test Drive Review

Whether you choose the Base or Premium trim, the GR86 is a great value. The Premium gives you leather and Ultrasuede seats, 18-inch wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, a duckbill rear spoiler and aluminum pedal covers. It’s the trim we would choose for $2,600 more than the Base. 

FAQs 

Is the GR86 a family car? 

While it’s never going to haul your family around in the same comfort as a minivan, the GR86 is surprisingly practical for small families. If you have young children — and the front seat passengers are not giants — you can fit two kids in the back and two adults up front. It won’t be the most comfortable ride, but it can be done. The trunk is also surprisingly large and can accommodate Costco runs, small strollers and soccer gear. 

Is the GR86 economical? 

Absolutely. The GR86 is affordable, fuel-efficient and inexpensive to maintain. We averaged almost 27 mpg in our week of testing, far exceeding the conservative EPA estimates. 

Find your GR86 on KSL Cars today.

KSL Cars does not endorse any vehicles. The views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not reflect the views or opinions of KSL.com or its employees.