What Is It?
Toyota’s popular midsize sedan, Camry has been the best-selling passenger car in America for the last 18 years. The eighth-generation Camry possesses a much more aggressive look than any previous generation, in direct response to criticism that previous models had been too conservative — even boring. Toyota Racing Development has been involved with performance development for all types of Toyota competition vehicles for the past 40 years, and for the first time the Japanese automaker adds the performance-tuned 2020 Toyota Camry TRD — the most aggressive Camry ever offered.
2020 Toyota Camry TRD
The 2020 Camry — along with the 2020 Avalon — are the first sedans to ever wear the TRD badge. The bold look of the Camry TRD begins with a gloss black mesh grille and a black aerodynamic body kit that includes a front splitter, side aero skirts, a rear diffuser and a rear spoiler. The look gets completed with matte black 19-inch TRD wheels, red brake calipers and polished stainless-steel exhaust tips. Toyota and Camry badges are black with TRD badges in red, along with red stripe accents. Camry TRD is offered in Midnight Metallic Black and three two-tone combinations: Supersonic Red, Windchill Pearl or Celestial Silver with a Midnight Black Metallic roof.
What We Drove
Our test car was Supersonic Red with the Midnight Metallic Black roof, trim and rear spoiler — a package that boasts loud and clear that this is no ordinary Camry. Far from boring, Camry TRD upgrades are not simply cosmetic but also include TRD suspension tuning, larger brakes and cat-back TRD dual exhaust. The TRD-tuned suspension adds stiffer springs that drop the ride height by 0.6 inches, stiffer sway bars and TRD shocks. Thicker underbody braces increase torsional rigidity and the package is finished off with standard Bridgestone Potenza 235/40R19 summer tires or all-season tires as a no-cost option. Front brakes are upgraded with 12.9-inch front rotors with dual-piston front calipers and tuned for more direct feedback. The MSRP of our test car including delivery and handling is $32,920.
Under the Hood
The 2020 Toyota Camry TRD features the 3.0-liter V6 engine producing 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. Power gets delivered to the front wheels via a Direct-Shift 8-speed automatic transmission with Sport mode and paddle shifters. The V6 delivers lots of power but is also very efficient, posting EPA ratings of 22 mpg city / 31 mpg highway / 25 mpg combined.
Inside, the Camry TRD carries a black with red accents theme, beginning with black Softex-trimmed sport seats with fabric inserts, red accents and red embroidered TRD in the head restraints. Additional features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel with red stitching, a TRD embossed shift knob, TRD floormats and red seat belts. The dash features unique TRD gauges with red accents and TRD animation at startup in the multi-information display.
For decades Camry has been known as a reliable, conservative midsize sedan, but the TRD upgrades transform the car into more of a fun-to-drive sport sedan. With the aerodynamic body kit, black accents and large rear wing, many other drivers may not even recognize the 2020 Toyota Camry TRD as a Camry. The Midnight Metallic Black projects a sinister persona, and the two-tone options accentuate the bold grille and aerodynamic additions, especially in Supersonic Red. That said, the rear wing is a little too much “Fast and Furious” wannabe — a better choice would be the more subtle lip spoiler from the Camry XSE as an option — and it would fit well with the rest of the package.
On the Road
From the driver’s seat, it quickly becomes obvious that the TRD updates are not simply cosmetic. From the exhaust note to the supportive feel of the sport seats, the Camry TRD is different from any previous production Camry. More importantly, the Camry TRD is engaging and fun-to-drive — attributes not previous associated with Camry — with the exception of the most recent Camry XSE. Happily, the TRD treatment takes things to another level with suspension upgrades and tuning for a firm, controlled ride that is not too harsh or jarring, yet still comfortable for everyday use. A true sport sedan.
The 301-horsepower V6 is a powerful engine for a midsize sedan — many competitors no longer offer a V6 — thus the Camry TRD is quick and responsive. The 8-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth shifts and seeks the next gear quickly under moderate acceleration to improve fuel economy. In Sport mode the transmission holds lower gears longer for a more aggressive and responsive feel, and the driver can opt for paddle shifters to control gear changes manually. With all that power delivered to the front wheels, it’s easy to spin the front tires from a stop — especially in the wet — and to induce power understeer in tight corners before the traction control intervenes. Toyota recently introduced all-wheel-drive as an option for Camry, but only with the 4-cylinder engine — here’s hoping for a Camry TRD AWD in the future.
The Camry TRD interior details really enhance the sporty look and performance of the car — the sport seats are comfortable with decent lateral support and attractive red accents. The red stitching and red instruments add to the sporty flair, accentuated by the red seat belts. The asymmetrical design of the center stack creates a driver-focused cockpit. Many of today’s interior designs feature tablet-style screens, but the way the Camry TRD’s infotainment screen integrates with the dash is much more appealing.
The Camry TRD is the most performance-oriented Camry ever offered, featuring a bold exterior design, an aerodynamic package and sporty interior design. With a powerful V6 engine, TRD-tuned suspension and engaging driving dynamics, the Camry TRD is a fun-to-drive sport sedan that is still fuel efficient and practical for everyday use at a reasonable price. For the driver who needs the convenience and reliability of Toyota’s midsize sedan, but who also wants to shake a conservative image and have some fun on backroads — Camry TRD offers the perfect combination.