By on July 15, 2020

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]

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14 Comments on “Toyota Lends a Little Attention to Its Car Lineup...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m a fan of the Corolla SE and despite the goofball name the “Apex” trim sounds nice. Although 6,000 out of all Corollas means it will be quite rare on the lot. Maybe they should just make the “Apex” version stuff the normal setup on the XSE trim.

    On the Camry I’m not sure there is really enough dynamic difference between the SE and XSE to justify two separate trims. I think the TRD version is the nonhybrid one to get even though you’ll have to deal with that weird rear spoiler.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    It’ll be interesting to see what changes Honda has in store for the upcoming mid-cycle refresh this fall. Knowing my luck, it’ll have power-folding mirrors and LED turn signals in the rear: the former would have been nice to have, while the latter makes no sense since every other exterior light on my Touring is LED. As for the interior, a little more bracing for the creaky forward console door (where the wireless phone charger is, or where one can be installed by the dealer, who gets to rip half the interior apart to install it) might be nice. Again, knowing my luck, they’ll go to a full digital panel versus the existing one with an analog speedometer.

    As far as the Camry goes, I wonder what interior tweaks there will be? Whatever the case, this mild refresh won’t move the needle much. Obviously, given the carnage in the ranks of rent-a-car places since Rona, there won’t be enough fleet/rental sales to make offering the “L” trim worth the trouble.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So 2% of Apex Corolla models will have manual transmissions?

    Be still my heart…/s

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Don’t go making such drastic changes now!

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Toyota will find that this trim level is very popular, to the point that no one buys anything else.
      And before anyone realizes it, we’ll find ourselves living on the Planet of the Apex.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Well, I was about to say they finally got rid of that hideous Predator mouth… but no, now it’s got Squirrel Cheeks in a high wind.

    I am not amused.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Good imagery. I think they were going for the flared nostril hard-to-handle flighty Arabian steed, but ended up with exactly what you said. There are many new front ends that look like the result of what your dog’s face looks like when it shoves its snout out the car window at 60 mph anf grooves while its cheeks flap in the wind.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Good imagery. I think they were going for the flared nostril hard-to-handle flighty Arabian steed, but ended up with exactly what you said. There are many new front ends that look like the result of what your dog’s face looks like when it shoves its snout out the car window at 60 mph and grooves while its cheeks flap in the wind.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “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.”

    This is a big mistake. American economy is going into a crash landing and people will be looking for bare bones low cost models

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Corolla Hatch ends for 2020 for USA.
    That’s the end of hot hatch promise for North America.
    No Yaris Hatch. No Yaris sedan. No GR Yaris. No Corolla Hatch with GR Yaris engine.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Given that the Corolla hatch was quite truncated compared to the sedan I don’t really see it as a big loss. There was even less rear seat room than the sedan for crying out loud.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Corolla Hatch ends for 2020 for USA.”

      Where did you read that? They were introducing things for the 21MY hatch just 10 days ago.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    –>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”

  • avatar
    stuki

    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.

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