Building A Better Z: The 2023 Toyota GR86
The category: Most fun you can have with your clothes on for under $35,000.
The answer: The 2023 Toyota GR86. Absolutely no contest.
225 horsepower from a 2.0-liter Subaru BOXER engine (Subaru sells this car as the BRZ) in a light, compact coupe with near-perfect weight distribution (53% front/47% rear). You can get it with a six-speed manual (0-60 in 6.1 seconds, EPA fuel economy estimate 20 city/27 highway/23 combined) or a six-speed automatic (0-60 in 6.6, EPA 21 city/31 highway/26 combined).
Yes, the trunk is tiny. The rear seat is so useless for people that I honestly forgot to take a picture (there's one in my review of the '22 model from a year ago).
And absolutely none of that matters because here is where it all comes together---behind the steering wheel. The sheer delight of a small, light, perfectly-balanced machine is something very few cars can deliver.
You can get a base manual GR86 for $29,495 including destination, so if you're aiming under 30K, welcome to your car. Our tester was a Premium automatic, which is $33,095 including destination.
That money gets you 18-inch alloy wheels, a Torsen limited-slip differential, Toyota's comprehensive active safety suite, heated power outside mirrors, LED lighting, chrome-tipped exhaust, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, heated ultra suede front seats with leather bolsters, and an eight-inch touchscreen with an eight-speaker audio system.
And the extra-cost options? $295 for black lug nuts and wheel locks, $289 for carpeted floor mats and a carpet cargo mat and $69 for a clear rear bumper appliqué, bringing the total price to $33,748.
I hate to bring arch-rival Nissan up in a Toyota review, but, adjusted for inflation, this is the kind of bargain the original 240Z was when it dropped in the fall of '69. And that car couldn't dream of 0-60 times in the sixes and an audio system like this one. In a just world, this would be the car everyone's gotta have. And now you know.