Toyota Lends a Little Attention to Its Car Lineup

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Despite deep-sixing its Yaris hatch and sedan for the coming model year, Toyota hasn’t lost interest in all of its passenger car models (not that the Yaris was really as Toyota, but that’s beside the point). There’s been a fair bit of action on that front in recent years, and the automaker shows no signs of stopping.

New trims join the brand’s car entourage for 2021, though those looking to get into the barest-bones Camry will walk away from this article disappointed.

Starting at the bottom in terms of size, the new-for-2020 Corolla sedan gains a new flavor: Apex.

A sport package, Apex can be applied to the more invigorating SE and XSE grades, adding a tuned suspension and stiffer stabilizer bars to those trims’ 169-horsepower 2.0-liter engine. New springs and shocks lower the vehicle six-tenths of an inch, and a body kit adds a front spoiler, side sills, fog light covers, rear diffuser, and optional lip spoiler. Eighteen-inch wheels carry optional summer rubber.

Toyota says some 6,000 Apexes are earmarked for America, with all but 120 of them being CVT-equipped models.

In the Camry camp, the base L trim is jettisoned, making the LE grade the entry level sedan for 2021. New front fascias greet this clan, though it’s a game of spot-the-differences. On LE and XLE, Toyota claims it upped the lower air intake’s visual presence, with the same going for the sportier SE and XSE. You be the judge.

While nothing changes in terms of engines or transmissions, buyers can now pair the XSE trim with hybrid power, and other consumers will face newfound choice when it comes time to pick out a color. New wheel designs arrive for ’21, as well as new additions to its Safety Sense 2.5 suite of driver-assist features. The pre-collision system (w. pedestrian detection) is supposedly now better able to pick out cyclists and walkers. It might also flash a warning to the driver or automatically deploy the brakes if an oncoming car is detected during a left-hand turn.

Last and largest, the Avalon gets in on the all-wheel drive game its Camry stablemate started playing late in the 2020 model year. Available on XLE and Limited grades, the system pairs with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder.

Elsewhere, the ridiculous and uncalled-for TRD version continues for ’21, and hybrid buyers can do whatever they want with the knowledge that their battery pack has swapped nickel-metal hydride for lithium-ion. The brand’s new “Vehicle Approach System” signals the car’s presence to unwitting pedestrians when travelling at low speeds.

New colors abound, and the lineup adds an XSE Nightshade trim that dons blacked-out 19-inch wheels and exterior trim.

The new Toyotas will enter dealers this fall.

[Images: Toyota]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Jalop1991 Jalop1991 on Jul 15, 2020

    -->The brand’s new “Vehicle Approach System” signals the car’s presence to unwitting pedestrians when travelling at low speeds. "Warning Warning Warning Rioters Approaching"

  • Stuki Stuki on Jul 16, 2020

    Ridiculous is not necessarily uncalled for, when you have focused so hard on perfecting pragmatic practicality; for virtually all possible sedan use cases and potential buyers; that the end result ends up a bit boring, for those among them who wouldn't mind a little more pizzaz; but who aren't willing to give up on the rest of pragmatic sedan perfection, in order to obtain it.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic You mentioned that Mitsubishi cars had lost their character. Many brands are losing that that element as well. GM is giving up on the ICE Camaro and Dodge on the ICE Challenger. There goes the Bad Boy image. Might as well get your teeth pulled and dentures put in place. Would like to see a few EVOs with cherry bomb exhaust and true 4 cylinder BIG blower turbos; 4 wheel drift capacity is mandatory!!🚗🚗🚗
  • Tassos Here in my overseas summer palace, I filled up my tank twice in May, at 68 and 52 euros (a full 90+ liter tank fillup has taken 130-135 Euros in the past, and I am 23 miles from downtown here, while only 1-2 miles in the US)Still, diesel here is MUCH cheaper than gas. Yesterday, I paid 1,488 a liter while gas was at least 1,899 (regular).Multiply by almost 4 for gallons AND by an additional 1.1 for $.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic IIRC, both China and the EU use a standardized charger connection. About time the US & Canada to follow.Would take some of the anxiety out of an EU purchase and accelerate adoption. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Varezhka The biggest underlying issue of Mitsubishi Motors was that for most of its history the commercial vehicles division was where all the profit was being made, subsidizing the passenger vehicle division losses. Just like Isuzu.And because it was a runt of a giant conglomerate who mainly operated B2G and B2B, it never got the attention it needed to really succeed. So when Daimler came in early 2000s and took away the money making Mitsubishi-Fuso commercial division, it was screwed.Right now it's living off of its legacy user base in SE Asia, while its new parent Nissan is sucking away at its remaining engineering expertise in EV and kei cars. I'd love to see the upcoming US market Delica, so crossing fingers they will last that long.
  • ToolGuy A deep-dive of the TTAC Podcast Archives gleans some valuable insight here.