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2023 Toyota 86 vs. Subaru BRZ: Which One’s Best For Me?

This year brings the latest iterations of Toyota and Subaru’s affordable sports cars: the 86 and the BRZ, respectively. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these two are extremely similar in nearly every way, considering that the two vehicles were jointly co-developed. How on earth are you supposed to choose which is better for you? We’re here to detail all the differences between the two and how to choose which is best for you.


Review Summary

While mechanically similar, the 86 and the BRZ have some subtle differences that can easily make or break your decision about which to buy.

  • While nearly identical, the BRZ was initially more popular solely because it was released a bit earlier.
  • The BRZ offers slightly better handling straight out of the factory, but the 86 has the advantage of Toyota’s Toyota Racing Development package.
  • Toyota delayed production of the 2022 86 to make changes to the suspension and chassis that made it drive and handle differently from the BRZ. So, while mechanically identical, the 86 handles differently. Most noteworthy is its tendency to oversteer and a ‘slippery’ feel when cornering.
  • Both cars are great choices if you want to dip your toes into motorsports while having something fun and sporty to drive day-to-day.

At a Glance

Let’s check out the technical specs of both the 86 and the BRZ so you can get a more detailed idea of how similar they are. You probably won’t make your decision based on this section, but it’s essential nonetheless that you get an idea of what these cars can do.

Toyota 86
  • Starting MSRP: $28,725
  • Horsepower: 232 HP
  • Engine: 2.5L 4-cylinder
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Honeycomb grille
  • Leather interior
Subaru BRZ
  • Starting MSRP: $28,995
  • Horsepower: 228 HP
  • Engine: 2.5L 4-cylinder
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • U-shaped grille
  • Leather interior

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Overview of Toyota 86:

Toyota made some slight tuning changes to the 2022 86, or as they renamed it, the GR 86. The result changes the handling just a hair from the BRZ, but enough that you would notice the difference back-to-back. The stiffer rear springs and softer front springs give this model a ‘loose’ cornering feel.

Pros
  • Slightly slippery handling reminiscent of a Porsche
  • Smaller front grille
  • Brighter daylight LED headlights
  • Beat the BRZ by 0.5 seconds on an early track run
  • Larger 7-inch touchscreen
Cons
  • Slippery handling makes cornering difficult if you’re not used to it
  • Front license plate holder may not be to everyone’s tastes
  • Has fabric on its seats

car and road divider

Overview of Subaru BRZ:

The BRZ was tuned by Subaru for “stability and precision,” and it shows if you drive the car. With softer rear springs and stiffer front springs, it corners more sharply than the 86, although it lacks the 86’s bright daytime LED headlights. Mechanically, though, it offers everything the 86 does, with a slightly comfier interior.

Pros
  • Suspension and steering are tuned for sharper cornering
  • Alcantara inserts make the BRZ’s front seats far more luxurious than the 86
  • Better control out of the factory
  • Offers an additional mile to the gallon on the highway
  • Slightly better braking capability
Cons
  • Dimmer daytime running lights
  • Very slightly less power than the 86
  • 5 seconds slower than the 86 on the track

car and road divider

What Are The Differences Between Them?

The 86 and the BRZ are nearly identical cars underneath the hood, with very minor handling and interior differences.

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Performance

Edge: Toyota 86

The edge only goes to the 86 because it beat the BRZ on the track. Otherwise, you’d be hard-pressed to even notice a difference in power between the two cars. After all, they do have virtually identical engines!

Price

Edge: Stalemate

The BRZ starts at $200 more than the 86, but you should hardly make a buying decision based on such a slim difference. The price edge goes to whichever car you can find a good deal on because the MSRP is simply too close to make a judgment.

Reliability

Edge: Toyota 86

The 86 isn’t one of Toyota’s most reliable cars, but sports cars are rarely built for reliability anyway. Either way, you can’t discount Toyota’s legendary reputation for reliable, long-lasting cars. It might not last eons like a Corolla will, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Design

Edge: Personal preference

Different strokes for different folks: not everyone will like the 86’s honeycomb grille, and neither will everyone like the BRZ’s rather basic U-shaped grille. Take a look at the two side-by-side and make your own decision about which has the better design.

What the Users Say

  • Users generally agree that the BRZ and 86 are virtually the same car and that the only way to choose between them is to give both a test drive.
  • Most users say they made their choice based on which car’s appearance they liked more, or which they were able to get a better deal for.
  • Some drivers prefer the BRZ for its more luxurious feeling interior and better infotainment system. Although, they admit it’s a bit of a moot point because the 86 has GT trim with a similar interior.
  • Users note that the BRZ tends to hold its value better, so you’re more likely to get a better deal on a used 86 in the near future.

Related Read: Toyota Venza vs. Rav4: Which One’s Best for Me?

car and road divider

Conclusion

The Toyota 86 and the Subaru BRZ are nearly the same cars in every way, with minor handling and interior differences at the base level. To choose between the two, we would highly recommend shopping around to see which car you personally prefer the look and feel of. Of course, getting a good deal on either one can make or break the choice too.


Featured Image Credit: (Left) 2022 Toyota GR86 Premium in Halo, Front Right, (Elise240SX, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International) (Right) 2022 Subaru BRZ, (Coolomon Tetris, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)

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