2017 Toyota 86 Test Drive Featured

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I often daydream about owning a small sport-coupe and zipping around mountain roads on the weekends. I also, as you will come to find out, am not realistic when it comes to my daydreaming tendencies.

I am, as some would say, “a large guy,” and do not fit well in most vehicles. It was half joking and half wishful thinking when I asked to borrow the new Toyota 86 for a road trip to Las Vegas. I am sure the Toyota Marketing team got a chuckle out of the request, but deep down inside they were looking forward to the comic relief that would ensue – my 6’6” 270lb frame folding like origami to get in the driver seat.

Toyota 86 Test Drive - Denver to Vegas | Buck The Commute

I know what you are thinking, “What would possess Beau into thinking the 86 would be a good car for a ‘Big-Guy’?” Well, if it weren’t for my ‘stature’ the answer would be straightforward – on paper the 86 has everything you would need for a fun driving experience. The 2.0-Liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine produces 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. This high-revving engine combined with the vehicle’s 2774-pound curb weight (manual transmission) means the Toyota 86 has a better horsepower per weight ratio than the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF.

Toyota 86 Test Drive - Denver to Vegas | Buck The Commute

It was with great joy that I picked up the Toyota 86 for my trip to Vegas. I fully expected that my years of not practicing yoga would catch up with me and my body would not bend in the ways needed to comfortable get in and out of the driver seat. I will spare you the unflattering images of me getting into and out of the driver seat and instead explain what the largest challenge – how short the 86 is. With a height of 50.6-inches, the top of the door frame sits roughly at my navel. This is, as it turns out approximately 6-inches lower than the top of the door on our 2008 Subaru Outback; a vehicle I have a hard-enough time getting into and out of. Unlike our Outback, the 86’s doors provide an ample opening front-to-back that more than made up for the shorter opening.

Toyota 86 Test Drive - Denver to Vegas | Buck The Commute

Once inside, I was surprisingly comfortable. I had plenty of room for my 36-inch inseam legs to comfortably rest and allow my feet to operate all the pedals. My long legs required the driver seat to be placed in the farthest back position, resting against the front of the back seat. Having the seat in this position meant my head was positioned nearly in line with the rear windshield and directly under the lowest part of the roof. Although my head didn’t touch the headliner, there wasn’t enough room for me to slide my fingers between my head and the headliner.

Toyota 86 Test Drive - Denver to Vegas | Buck The Commute

Despite what some would call “cramped quarters,” I had a blast driving the Toyota 86 from Denver to Las Vegas and back. It was the perfect size for two of us, our luggage, and a pelican case full of camera gear. I found the car to be well balanced in the corners absolutely loved how well the six-speed manual transmission shifted. The Toyota 86 lived up to everything I hoped it would be and would recommend it to anyone looking for a compact commuter car that would be well-suited for a couple to take on a road trip.

Toyota 86 Test Drive - Denver to Vegas | Buck The Commute

Having said all of that, I am resolved to the fact that I am too tall to own and commute to work in a car like this. I am really bummed about this, normal-sized people get all the cool cars! I will, however, seriously consider the Toyota 86 for my 5’6” wife (Krista). She never had an issue getting into or out of it and could easily commute to work in it. The only problem I see with this scenario would be the battle over who got to drive it on weekend road trips and me having to concede to defeat.

Toyota 86 Test Drive - Denver to Vegas | Buck The Commute

Beau Johnston is the Owner & Publisher of Living Overland, and Editor in Chief for TCT Magazine.

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