2019 Toyota 86 TRD SE Review by David Colman - It's E15 Approved
This is a gem worth celebrating
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Does the 2019 86 TRD SE live up to its revered lineage? The answer is yes, because the Toyota Racing Development Special Edition (TRD SE) is without doubt the best sports coupe Scion/Toyota has produced in the 7 years this vehicle has been produced. The reasons you will want to pay a premium of $3,835 for the SE over the price of a base model 86 are clearly enumerated on the window sticker. For starters, the SE looks much more purposeful than any other 86, with its TRD perfected front bumper, side skirts and rear spoiler. TRD revises the exhaust system from the catalyst back to the twin tailpipes, which now project through a TRD-branded rear diffuser panel. The SE model can be had in any color you like as long as its "raven." This lustrous shade of metallic black compliments the superlative red and black trimmed sports seats and the red and black rimmed sport steering wheel. Toyota will make only 1,418 TRD SE models this year, and all will be raven over red.
So what's the net effect of all these modifications? After all, the BRZ/FR-S/86 has always been one of the sweetest handling sports coupes you can buy at any price, let alone for just $33,340. What Toyota has done with the TRD SE is to perfect the basic package in such a way that you will never forget your first twisty road drive in this lightweight and addictive (2,770lb.) screamer. Although you can buy a base model 86 with an automatic, the SE comes only with a super quick shifting 6-speed manual transmission. This gearbox, like everything about this coupe is delightfully basic and analog. This is a Toyota that is comparatively bereft of the usual bevy of intrusive safety warning beeps, flashes and judders. If you're looking for that old time sports car driving experience, you've come to the right bucket seat, because the TRD SE provides driving joy in spades.
So what's lacking in this TRD SE 86 combo? More power would be a welcome addition. Ever since the joint venture project first came to be, the underpowered nature of the flat 4 has hindered ultimate enjoyment here. While you can rectify the situation through the aftermarket by ginning up a GReddy T5182 turbo ($3,402 plus installation), why Toyota doesn't make one of its own available has been an insoluble mystery for seven years now.
ENGINE: 2.0 liter 4 cylinder Boxer, DOHC, 16 valves
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 21MPG City/28MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $33,340
HYPES: Nimble, Handsome, Effective Back Road Tool
GRIPES: Please Turbocharge
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10