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2020 Toyota Camry TRD Review & First Drive

Toyota spices up its traditionally conventional family sedan with a TRD model

Sam Du
Dec 30, 2019

There are very few times that we talk about the Toyota Camry at Super Street. It's traditionally been classified as a boring commuter sedan for the masses; not something enthusiasts look to buy or modify. Even if we inherited one from our parents, it's probably something we hope someone steals off our driveway so we can use the insurance money to get something cooler (well, maybe not to that extreme, but you catch our drift). It's not very exciting and despite branding in NASCAR (who watches that, anyways?), it's still a Toyota that's not on our radar.

2020 Toyota Camry TRD Passenger Side Rear View 03 Photo 18/18   |   2020 Toyota Camry TRD Review & First Drive

A couple of years ago, Toyota president Akio Toyoda preached a new philosophy "no more boring cars". What this meant was there was to be a drastic shift in the way Toyota designed and engineered their new models. For example, rather ordinary vehicles like the Prius and Corolla received stylish updates and a better architecture to make them more capable, functional and pleasing to look at. This, of course, also rang true for the Camry. Unloved by enthusiasts since its birth in '83, the 8th-gen Camry offers an appeal across the board with a healthier redesign, performance-inspired ingredients and up-to-date tech. This past summer, Toyota also announced the first-ever TRD iteration of the Camry, and we were one of the lucky few to test it at Texas Motor Speedway (yes, a racetrack!).

Now, we must warn you: you don't need to sell all your project cars and run to your nearest Toyota dealership... this isn't something that's going to change the industry. However, we feel it's a sign of good things to come from Toyota, and we've outline four points that we took away from this "not so boring" Camry.

4 Major Points about the 2020 Toyota Camry TRD

2020 Toyota Camry TRD TRD TRD Sideskirt Photo 18/18   |   2020 Toyota Camry TRD Review & First Drive

Power. As weird as it is, the TRD Camry is the least expensive way to get into a V-6 Camry at $31,995. It shares the same 301hp and 267 lb-ft that other Camry models have but independent tests have shown this model to run 0-60mph in around 5.8-seconds. What's unique about the TRD model is that you can get a cat-back exhaust from Toyota which offers a little extra tone, but the automaker couldn't confirm if there were actually significant power gains from the modification (we suspect not). Moral of the story: The V-6 Camry still accelerates from 0-60mph one second faster than the Toyota 86. It's got plenty of juice to overtake grandma 'n grandpa on the freeway or get you to the next stoplight in a hurry. It doesn't sound bad at all but don't expect to win any real drag races.

2020 Toyota Camry TRD Driver Side Front View 02 Photo 18/18   |   2020 Toyota Camry TRD Review & First Drive

Looks. The TRD model doesn't just look decent for a Camry, it actually looks pretty damn good. The all black version is our favorite, but white isn't bad either. The TRD comes with its own rear spoiler, front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser (kind of like what any aero manufacturer would design). Black accents like the headlights, mirrors and door handles are found throughout (yes, chrome is not cool anymore, kids). Our favorite addition is the 19" matte black TRD wheels. We'd love to see someone throw these on the Corolla Hatchback!

Handling. There's quite the laundry list of upgrades that enhance (not transform) the car's handling. In addition, slightly bigger front rotors, dual instead of single piston front calipers, Bridgestone summer tires, slightly stiffer and lower springs (.6" drop), slightly tougher bracing and slightly thicker sway bars, plus re-valved dampers. We overuse the word "slightly" because most Camry owners probably wouldn't feel a difference, but for hooligans like us that actually ripped on this car through an autocross course, we appreciate its extra attitude. Perhaps the biggest gripe that really frustrated us on the track was that lazy automatic transmission, but hey...we can't win 'em all...

2020 Toyota Camry TRD Sam Du Photo 18/18   |   2020 Toyota Camry TRD Review & First Drive

TRD. The TRD Camry might not be the flashy sports sedan we had all hoped for and dreamed about, but it's a promising effort from Toyota. It's a page out of their successful playbook used in the truck line (think Tacoma TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro). Toyota undoubtedly sees a demand for more exciting and higher performing vehicles. Even if no one was begging for a cooler Camry, maybe there's something more desirable down the pipeline. A TRD Corolla Hatchback or TRD Supra, perhaps? Our fingers are crossed.

2020 Toyota Camry TRD TRD Wheel 02 Photo 18/18   |   2020 Toyota Camry TRD Review & First Drive
By Sam Du
1023 Articles
2020 Toyota Camry TRD Review & First Drive
That New Car Smell
The Sticker: $31,995
Layout: front engine, front-wheel-drive
Power: 301hp, 267 lb-ft of torque (87-octane)
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6 with aluminum block and heads, port and direct fuel injection; TRD cat-back dual exhaust with polished tips
Drivetrain: direct shift eight-speed automatic with sequential shift mode
Footwork & Chassis MacPherson independent front strut suspension; multi-link rear; TRD front and rear springs, shocks, stabilizer bars and underbody braces
Brakes: 12.9" front vented rotors with dual-piston calipers, 11.06" rear rotors with hydraulic brake booster
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" TRD matte black wheels; 235/40R19 Bridgestone Potenza tires
Exterior: TRD gloss black rear spoiler, front splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser; black-housing Bi-LED headlights; LED daytime running lights and taillights; gloss black front grille; color-keyed rocker panels and door handles; black mirrors and window trim; shark fin antenna
Interior: 4.2" TFT display; TRD instrumentation with red illumination, shift knob; Sport SofTex front seats with red stitching, belts and inserts; leather steering wheel with red stitching and paddle shifters; aluminum pedals
Wheelbase: 111.2"
Dimensions 192.7"/72.4"/56.3" (length/width/height)
Curb Weight: 3,572 lbs
Fuel Economy: 22/31/25 (city/hwy/combined)

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