Zachary Berry
6 Comments

What’s the Difference Between the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota 86?

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Explore the small, yet important details that separate these two successors of the Scion FR-S

In the sports car segment of the automotive industry, two of the most popular models are the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota 86. The fact that both of these models maintain a similar level of popularity should come as no surprise; after all, they are based on the same vehicle format.

A collaboration between Subaru and Toyota brought the Scion FR-S vehicle format to Subaru, who in turn churned out the Subaru BRZ. After Scion went under last year, Toyota adopted the FR-S and transformed it into the Toyota 86.

Therefore, it may be tempting to dismiss these two vehicles as being exactly the same. Nevertheless, if you examine both models very carefully, you will discover some tiny, yet important differences between the two.


Learn More About the Subaru BRZ: 2017 Subaru BRZ Overview


Grille Design

The most noticeable difference between the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota 86 is the front grille design for both vehicles. When the BRZ and 86 are observed from the front, it’s understandable how many onlookers might assume that these two vehicles are completely unrelated.

The Subaru BRZ has a more subtle, traditional front grille design for a sports coupe vehicle. With its slim headlights and wide grille guard, the BRZ’s aesthetic is reminiscent of something like a Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Meanwhile, the Toyota 86 has a much more aggressive-looking grille, highlighted by jagged creases surrounding the grille opening. This dynamic departure distinguishes it from both its BRZ cousin and FR-S predecessor, though it may be a little too unorthodox for some sports car enthusiasts.


Price

When shopping around in the prestigious sports car segment, every penny can add up. That’s why it’s important to note that the base model of the Subaru BRZ is slightly less expensive than the base model of the Toyota 86.

The BRZ starts out with a price tag of $25,495, and, with the addition of an $820 destination fee, the BRZ tops out at an asking price of $26,315. The base Toyota 86 asks for $26,255, and the model reaches a total price of $27,150 after a $895 destination fee.


Fuel Efficiency

In truth, the fuel efficiency ratings for the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota 86 are nearly equal to each other. Still, nearly equal is not the same as equal.

With the manual transmission, the BRZ does slightly better than the 86 when it comes to highway MPG, as the BRZ has a fuel economy of 21/29 MPG City/Highway, while the 86 has a fuel rating of 21/28 MPG City/Highway. That advantage for the BRZ carries over into the automatic transmission, with the Subaru scoring a 24/33 MPG City/Highway score, while the 86 comes just slightly under with a rating of 24/32 MPG City/Highway.


Higher Trim Levels

The Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 each have one additional trim level, although the BRZ also possess the limited edition “Series. Yellow” model in its lineup. The Subaru BRZ Limited trim starts with a base price of $27,645 for a total asking price of $28,465 after its destination fee.

The Toyota 86 860 Special Edition model has a base price set at $29,155, with a total price of $30,050 after the destination fee. Both upper-trim models add a similar set of features that aren’t found on either of their respective base counterparts.


Standard Features

The remaining differences for the base models of the BRZ and 86 involve a handful of standard features. For example, the Subaru BRZ comes standard with a rear spoiler, while the Toyota 86 packages voice-activated controls in all models.


Learn More About the Toyota 86: 2017 Toyota 86 Overview


Conclusion

While the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 may be built from the same frame and possess the same dimensions, that doesn’t mean they are exactly the same. For thrifty drivers who want to save money at the pump and during their initial purchase, the Subaru BRZ is the better value. Still, if you’re looking for a sports vehicle that possess its own design aesthetic and the reliability that only Toyota can offer, then the Toyota 86 is the way to go.

Regardless of which model you choose, you’ll find the same level of performance and styling that made the Scion FR-S such a hit in the first place.

  • Zachary Berry

    Zachary Berry currently resides in the Dayton, Ohio area. However, he enjoys traveling from place to place, as he was born in Oklahoma City and has also lived in Albuquerque and Orlando (such is the life of a military brat). Zachary graduated from Ohio University with a major in Strategic Communication, which is fancy talk for advertising and public relations. Beginning his career at The News Wheel as a lowly intern, he was able to climb his way to the top, eventually claiming his place within the last cubicle on the left. Other jobs that Zachary has held include driving around a safari truck at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. When he’s not putting his nose to the grindstone, Zachary enjoys watching and critiquing movies and television. See more articles by Zachary.

  • So, the vehicle is mainly build by Subaru, because if you open the FR-S hood there’s a Subaru engine, transmition and power train in it, but you’re saying the Toyota 86 is more reliable… that doesn’t make any sense to me.

    • Zd Berry

      You’re correct when you say that a good deal of the parts that both the BRZ and FR-S use originate from Subaru. In this regard, when it comes to replacing or repairing those parts, reaching out to Subaru may very well be the most reliable and streamlined decision. When I said that the Toyota 86 offers great reliability, I was speaking to the Toyota brand’s reputation for reliability as a whole. In terms of vehicle reliability, Toyota consistently scores top marks from groups like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power. That’s not to say that Subaru is not a reliable brand; simply Toyota has built its brand around its reputation for reliability.

    • Bijan Jamshidi

      The transmission is from Toyota. Used in older IS models (Lexus).

  • Jim M

    So, I see you base your story on CR and JD Power and not on facts. OK, the article makes a bit more sense now.

  • Bob Waite

    Nice article touching on some of the basics. The largest difference will be an item that will not appear until the owner sells or trades the BRZ, about a 15% greater value over the FRS.

    • INOKCarl

      Actually, a large difference will be noted immediately when the owner gets insurance on the car, and finds the rates for the BRZ considerably less. We’ve seen up to $40 per month differences between the BRZ and the FRS.