A Question of Lust: Toyota Unwraps the Camry and Avalon TRD

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
a question of lust toyota unwraps the camry and avalon trd

You’ve seen teasers all week, suffered through breathless commentary from NASCAR drivers, but it’s finally time. The big day has arrived. On Friday, Toyota pulled the remaining wraps off its Camry TRD and Avalon TRD, highlighting the features of its tricked-out sedans ahead of their official debut at the LA Auto Show.

Jokes aside, the TRD treatment applied to this pair is more than just an appearance upgrade, even if buyers aren’t the recipient of additional ponies. Positioned as an aspirational model for those who want more from their sensible, front-drive sedan, the TRD duo is designed to hold the road and stop faster. They’re also made to draw eyes to two models that, despite their heritage, remain just as vulnerable to changing consumer tastes as other sedans.

But are these really “the track-tuned sedans that enthusiasts have been asking for,” as Toyota claims?

I’d hazard a guess that the appearance of Toyota’s racing arm in the mainstream passenger car field is more likely to sway an already committed Camry or Avalon intender into upgrading, rather than bringing in outside buyers. An upsell via the eyes and ears, if you will.

The changes bestowed upon the new-for-2018 Camry and new-for-2019 Avalon in TRD spec are many. They include upgraded brakes with 12.9-inch front rotors and red, dual-piston binders (apparently borrowed, sans paint, from the Sienna minivan, as per Bozi Tatarevic), with 12-inch/single-piston binders in the rear.

Power in both sedans comes by way of an untouched 3.5-liter V6 generating the same 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque you’ll find in stock, non-hybrid Avalons and higher-end Camrys. Sport mode and paddle shifters come as part of the package, not that the latter feature stands to see much use. The only transmission is, apparently, a similarly unmolested eight-speed automatic — a unit your author finds fault with for laggy downshifts.

Once those ponies start charging, you’ll at least hear them. Unlike the questionable, audio-enhanced engine growl (I never noticed much of one) in the Avalon XSE, these rides benefit from a cat-back exhaust for a more menacing aural experience.

Improved roadholding comes by way of half-inch wider, 19×8.5-inch wheels shod with Bridgestone Potenza 235/40R19 summer rubber, with new, stiffer springs bringing a 0.6-inch reduction in ride height. Those springs pair with beefier front and rear sway bars, TRD shocks, and enhanced underbody bracing for decreased roll and bolstered body stiffness. Just how stiff these legs are off the track remains to be seen.

Of course, no bystander’s likely to notice those chassis upgrades on the street, but the aero enhancements detailed already on these pages will get their attention. The body kit applied to both models includes a front splitter, side aero skirts, trunk lid spoiler (mercifully low-profile on the Avalon), and rear diffuser. Red-line TRD strips underscore the add-ons both inside and out. And just look at those red seatbelts. Certainly, no passenger will be able to miss the TRD badge stitched or stamped onto various interior surfaces, and there’s even a trunk mat to remind them of the car’s unique nature.

Paint choices total four: Supersonic Red, Windchill Pearl, Celestial Silver Metallic, and Midnight Black Metallic, with the first three shades coming in a two-tone layout on the Camry.

While Toyota doesn’t list a price for these two beasts, expect the TRD treatment to run at least an additional three grand on top of the XSE trim. Availability comes in the fall of 2019, when both vehicles land as 2020 models.

[Images: Toyota]

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3 of 34 comments
  • Daniel J Daniel J on Nov 17, 2018

    No Android auto, no sale for me.

    • Brn Brn on Nov 18, 2018

      It's interesting that we've reached a point where an infotainment feature is a deal breaker.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Nov 19, 2018

    The red Avalon is a perfect example of how ugly a front end can be. If I had one I would lose a lot of weight because I would puke every time I went out to the garage and saw it. I can't think of an uglier car from recent times. Given the hate I have for oblesks in the middle of the dash, I would still buy a Stinger over this if that were the only choice.

  • Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.