2017 Toyota 86

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2017 Toyota 86

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Toyota has shuttered the Scion brand, but the FR-S was too good to go away, and so it lives on by the same name it goes by in other markets: Toyota 86. The moniker is a nod to the AE86 code name for Toyota's revered rear-drive Corolla coupe of the 1980s. As part of its homecoming, the car gets a series of updates, including a more powerful engine, new front and rear fascias and a retuned suspension.

Like the AE86 before it, the 86 is a back-to-basics sports car, a light-weight two-door with rear-wheel drive and an emphasis on handling over power. Designed as a joint project with Subaru, which sells its own version (the Subaru BRZ), the car shows obvious Subaru cues, including a horizontally opposed ("Boxer") engine and liberal use of Subaru switchgear throughout the cabin. The differences between the two are primarily equipment offerings and suspension tuning.

Though the 86 is technically a four-seater, it's really built for two, with comfortable and supportive front seats and an excellent driving position. The backseat is marginal, and the best way to use it is to fold down the seatbacks to expand the meager 6.9-cubic-foot trunk.

For 2017, the 86's 2.0-liter engine has been tweaked to deliver 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque with a manual transmission. Automatic cars retain last year's ratings of 200 hp and 151 lb-ft. Toyota has tweaked the manual transmission's gearing to provide better acceleration, but we don't expect dramatic changes. We anticipate zero-to-60-mph times in the mid-6-second range for manual cars and high 7s for the automatic. EPA fuel economy estimates are 24 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway) with the manual transmission and 27 mpg combined (24 city/32 highway) with the auto gearbox. This being a sports car, we naturally gravitate toward the manual transmission, but don't dismiss the automatic out of hand. It features paddle shifters for manual gear selection and a sport mode that does a great job of keeping the engine on boil, especially when you are hustling through curves.

The Scion FR-S has always impressed us with its light and nimble nature. This is not a car for stoplight rallies — the average V6-powered family sedan would easily beat it in a drag race — but rather one in which to enjoy the curves. And enjoy them we do. Toyota has retuned the suspension for a more compliant ride; Subaru has retuned the suspension of the BRZ as well, and the Subaru is the more tail-happy of the two cars.

Like its Scion predecessor, the 86 is sold in a single trim level, with only the automatic transmission and one extra-cost color on the options list. We expect Toyota will follow Scion's tradition of offering dealer-installed accessories to customize the car (and drive up its sticker price). Let Edmunds help find the perfect 2017 Toyota 86 for you.