By on February 22, 2021

2020 Toyota Camry TRD

2020 Toyota Camry TRD Fast Facts

3.5-liter V6 (301 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm; 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive

22 city / 31 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

10.8 city, 7.6 highway, 9.4 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $31,040 (U.S) / $35,990 (Canada)

As Tested: $32,920 (U.S.) / $38,655 (Canada)

Prices include $955 destination charge in the United States and $1,870 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

I once wrote that the Toyota Camry is a jack-of-all-trades kind of car – a balanced machine that does lots of things well but not one thing in any spectacular way. I’ve also long told anyone shopping for a mid-size sedan that while the Camry is great, if they want something sporty, they need to give their attention to Honda and Mazda.

Toyota has decided to do something about that.

No, they haven’t redesigned the Camry to be the equal of an Accord or Mazda 6 when it comes to sport-sedan driving. Instead, they’ve reached into the parts bin to TRD the hell out of a Camry.

It’s kinda ridiculous, but it kinda works.

2020 Toyota Camry TRD

It starts with the venerable 3.5-liter V6, which doesn’t get any performance enhancements when compared to other trims. Perhaps Toyota feels that 301 ponies and 267 lb-ft of torque is enough. An eight-speed automatic transmission gets that grunt to the front wheels.

The exhaust does get tuned to sound sportier, and the transmission gets paddle shifters and a sport mode, so there’s that.

2020 Toyota Camry TRD

That doesn’t mean the TRD treatment is just about badging. While the engine is unmolested, the chassis is tuned for better performance. Torsional rigidity is increased, the car is lowered 0.6 inches, and stiffer coil springs and sway bars increase roll stiffness (44 percent upfront, 67 percent in the rear). TRD-specific shocks and 19-inch Bridgestone Potenza summer tires are part of the package.

As are large front-brake rotors (from 10 inches up to 12.9) with dual-piston calipers.

The tweaks work – this Camry handles a bit better than other versions, and while the ride is stiffer, the sacrifice falls within acceptable levels for the daily commute.

Indeed, this car handles well enough that I could see it being used as a track-school ride for the true newbies. The ones who need the training wheels provided by FWD and safety nannies. I swear I haven’t touched the whiskey yet today – it really is a spritely thing.

NASCAR uses a modified version of this car as a pace car at some races for a reason beyond corporate dealing.

2020 Toyota Camry TRD

Packages like this aren’t complete without cosmetic changes, and Toyota obliges with a black grille, black and red badging, red-painted brake calipers, red pinstriping, and stainless steel exhaust tips.

Inside, red stitching, TRD logos galore, and red seatbelts remind you that your Camry has been sprinkled with cayenne pepper and hot sauce, so to speak.

You also get a rear spoiler, front splitter, side aero skirts, and rear diffuser. Toyota claims the aero elements are functional

2020 Toyota Camry TRD

The look is a bit boy-racer, and it gives the impression that some desperate dad plunked down extra to avoid looking uncool in a Camry, but one can’t deny it stands out. This car isn’t getting lost in the sea of crossovers and generic mid-size sedans at your local strip mall.

It’s not pretty, exactly, but it sort of works, as long as you embrace the ridiculousness.

Feature-wise, the TRD treatment doesn’t take away the creature comforts. To wit, standard features include SafetySense driver-aid (pre-collision with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams), rearview camera, 7-inch touchscreen for infotainment, USB, Bluetooth, satellite radio, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and keyless entry and starting.

A $500 two-tone roof and the Supersonic Red paint job ($425) were the only options.

2020 Toyota Camry TRD

With destination and those two options, the $31,040 base price moved to $32,920. Fuel economy remains a respectable 22 city/31 highway/25 combined.

I like to cook, and I like to season my meat, often with Cajun seasoning and/or cayenne pepper. I don’t want to eat bland food. And a lot of drivers don’t want to drive bland cars. The Camry, of course, is often accused of being bland.

The TRD Camry is anything but. It’s not a pure sports sedan – it’s a bland car that has been seasoned to spice it up. With mostly successful results.

You get a dressed-up Camry that looks like the old J.C. Whitney catalog spewed all over it, but if you can handle the snide looks the styling may earn you, you get a Camry that’s enjoyable enough to drive while still comfortable in terms of both ride and features, without a huge price or fuel-economy penalty.

Go ahead, ladle that seasoning on.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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50 Comments on “2020 Toyota Camry TRD Review – Spicing it Up...”


  • avatar
    jack4x

    If this is what it takes to keep a V6 in the midsize class, then I’m reluctantly all for it, although we’re approaching Civic Type R levels of hideousity here.

  • avatar
    gasser

    If you could buy it without the “aero” kit, many more would be interested. It’s a perfect for a commuter +
    The aero “enhancements” attract a LOT more LEOs than compliments.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    “In a world where…” these shapes are used by NASCAR, I don’t want a boy racer.

    Might as well paint one Petty Blue, put a number on it, and set it on fire.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Come on – for a little more you can step into a fully loaded 155 hp 3 cylinder Chevy Trailblazer that gets 28 mpg.

    (I hope my sarcasm was obvious.)

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Thumbs-down: Boy racer look

    Thumbs-up: 301 HP V6 rated at 22/31 mpg, $32k, 8 actual gears

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m unironically a Camry fan. It’s the mid-size sedan I would buy if I were a more pragmatic person.
    I do like that this is a sedan with a V6 for only a touch over $30k available in 2021. Most of the stuff in the XSE V6 is just extra fluff that I don’t care about.

    But still, even as a guy that has owned a lot of Pontiacs and has a Stinger now, that body kit is really over the line of good taste. I’d have to do a trunk swap to lose the goofball spoiler.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Vertical tail fins came and went in a few short years in the late 50’s. Equally ridiculous horizontal ones, “spoilers”, have endured for decades unfortunately. With few exceptions, all they do is spoil the vehicle’s appearance, and MSRP.

    • 0 avatar
      1337cr3w

      I had a 2014 V6 XLE for a spell. It was supremely comfortable, reliable, and pulled like a rocket. The one primary flaw imo was that it couldn’t put down all the available power. If they offered the V6 with AWD I would buy one in a heartbeat

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Old man grumbles, says, “Needs a manual”.

  • avatar
    amwhalbi

    You, know, the older I get, the more I see the impact on age on myself. There was a time when I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Camry. Sure, I did buy a used ’95 Camry strippy with a 5 speed for my twin sons to drive when they were in college because, despite its blandness, it was reliable transportation for them. But I would drive it only when absolutely necessary.

    Then during the summer of 2019, I reluctantly accepted a a 2019 Camry rental for a trip to the east coast when it was the only midsize option. And while it was not up to my 3 previous Accords in handling or driving enjoyment, I sort of appreciated it for what it was – comfortable, good ride, handling that was at least decent. All in all, not a bad car for a road trip, even though I wouldn’t ever be likely to buy one. That’s a statement I would never have made when I was twenty, ten or even five years younger.

    Which brings me to my point: I’m not sure why Camry tries to deny its (well executed) true identity by making pseudo sporty changes to a car designed to provide transportation for the masses. Yes, I suppose it might make it marginally more attractive to Toyota loyalists who want a “live on the edge” Camry and are reluctant to switch to an Accord or 6. I get that. But there is something to be said for any car embracing what its target audience/mission is, and then trying to build the best possible vehicle that achieves that mission (and obviously, sells a lot of cars in the process). Camry has largely done that over the years, and even though I have never been behind that effort, maybe it’s time for me to start acknowledging that it is nonetheless still a worthwhile goal to aspire to and achieve.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      One could say the same thing about minivan ‘shame’. Attempts to appease the haters usually don’t work.

      I give props to Mitsubishi for playing it straight with the unpretentious Mirage, for example.

      • 0 avatar
        amwhalbi

        Agree on “minivan shame,” although it has always been easier for me to acknowledge that minivans have an entirely different target audience. By definition, minivans have inherent handling restrictions. Those restrictions are not intrinsic to midsize sedans, so hence my Camry hangup.

        I see your point on the Mirage. Must admit, I wouldn’t have thought of that myself. But that’s a valid take.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Do Camry shoppers really want a spoiler stuck on their trunk lid? Especially that spoiler which doesn’t even appear to match the car’s size or style. This seems like a terrible idea which will result in very low sales. However its likely good profit for bolting on a few different bits and blacking out the badges (and roof for some unknown reason). Sure the aero bits are functional… in lowering your highway mileage. Is anyone worried that their current Camry lacks downforce and will spin off the race track? I can understand stiffer suspension as some people like more feedback or a firm ride, but the other bits? LOL. Anyone walking into their office and bragging they just got a “special” TRD Camry is going to get laughed at by anyone who knows the difference between FWD and RWD. The red stitching and paint is nice, everything else can go.

  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    “Supersonic Red”?? Oh my. Who actually buys this car?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, no one’s buying it anymore – the color isn’t even available. Right now, you can have black on black, or white with that comical black roof.

      • 0 avatar
        Tim Healey

        Correct. This was a 2020, and we’re still reviewing 2020s because we suspect that they will still be available for some time. For 2021, this color choice is not available on the TRD.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’d pay the extra for the XSE to avoid this appearance kit (and to get a sunroof, which is mandatory here in Darkwinterstan).

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      Supposedly the manufacturers watch these sites. I hope they realize the market for this XSE with the “Aero Delete” package is bigger than they guessed.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      How’s the weather there, still pretty dark?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        This winter has been ducking awful. Extremely dark, chilly, and rainy (or, last weekend, snowy). As I look outside right now, in the brightest part of the day, it is 49, windy, and raining lightly, and looks like the sun barely came up.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Sorry to hear. I’ve been pouring gallons of hot water on the two inch thick ice in my driveway because it laughs at salt and a *hammer* doesn’t break it by itself. Making matters worse, he driveway on a steep incline and I park at the top in order to avoid being trapped having to go up it… but this year this mega ice is everywhere around it and on the curb behind (actually almost lost control of the car trying to back out Saturday night). Next year, I’m going to FL or Vegas for six weeks in winter I’m not dealing with this sh!t season here anymore:)

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            That sucks. Dark is one kind of bad but icy is worse.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The driveway and the pine trees out back are the only two design flaws in this otherwise remarkable property. I was toying with the idea of taking the top concrete pads out and replacing them with permeable pavers over the summer. One of them was very damaged when I bought the house and I had it repaired, but was warned the repair is not a permanent fix.

            https://kglandscape.com/permeable-pavers-snow-ice/

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that because of the chassis tuning changes and the desire to ensure the stiffest body structure possible, that the fold-down rear seatback is not available on this model. The article would lead one to believe that is not the case, so clarity would be useful. As it is, that alone (well, the rear spoiler too) would keep me from considering this vehicle, which I quite like otherwise.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    So, did a build on this car to see if you can get this color without the stupid black roof, and red isn’t even available anymore. Your two choices are all-black, or white with the black roof. Gaaack.

    The Pep Boys body kit garbage is a turnoff, but no color availability puts me over the top. I’d pop for another couple grand and get the XLE with the V-6 – there’s a lot more equipment, and it can’t handle all that worse. Besides, it’d be a fine sleeper.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    There’s nothing more lame in my book than hooning commercials with a fwd car via the parking brake, I don’t care if it is Kyle Busch….however Nissan gets the most derision for this by far.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    There is A LOT going on with the lines all around that center stack, and the fitment is horrid in some places.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      And it looks worse in the flesh. It’s awful. Camry is the biggest-selling midsize car still, presumably leased or purchased by the sight challenged.

      The TRD specific changes just confirm my feeling that Akio hasn’t got a clue, but luckily for him, neither do his customers.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I specifically want my Camry as bland as stinkin’ possible. I’ll take the performance enhancements though. But why have a console shifter-stick when there’s not even a manual option? Then I’ll have to relocate it for the custom bar-height sub-box/work-table/phone-mount/drink-holder/computer-desk. A dial on the dash would be fine.

  • avatar
    EX35

    Would probably take a lightly used stinger over this.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Take it with a grain of salt – I’m a big Stinger fan and haven’t owned one.

      I’ve seen a number of mechanic videos on the socials pointing out a number of problems with the Stinger and how certain basic maintenance items on them are a nightmare.

      Again – not a hater – take it with a grain of salt.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The spark plugs are a PITA and the factory brake pads are made of brie but otherwise it isn’t too bad.
        The Stinger GT is also going to burn through 91 octane and offset summer tires much faster than the Camry will go through its consumables. The trade off is that it is a lot more powerful and RWD too.

        I’d say the choice depends on your climate, your anticipated ownership length and how tall your passengers are going to be.

  • avatar
    Norman Stansfield

    All the aero doodads defeat the purpose of subtle performance. I don’t want to be caught driving a Camry, but this one looks like fun, except everyone will now notice me. Guess it’s a Maxima for me…

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Egad, this car… This is like the 60 year old guy putting on skinny jeans and wearing a man bun.

    I looked at these last year at the local dealer car show. It’s a whole bunch of contradictions which hides a fairly competent and potent FWD car. I looked at the painted roof and thought to myself I hadn’t seen one like that since my dad’s 1968 Mercury Montego. He didn’t want to pay for the vinyl roof, but liked the look of the black roof on the car.

    A while back the Toyoda scion (see what I did there?) proclaimed that Toyota would make more exciting cars. This thing is a little tone-deaf. It has all of the go-fast goodies on a rather decent platform, but then we end up with the ricer junk attached to it and an odd paint job, too.

    One last hurrah for the mid size hot rod, the type of car that died 30 years ago. I guess no one told Toyota that the Lumina Z34 wasn’t really that great of a seller. But it was a helluva lot better looking.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Lipstick on a pig and not an attractive color at that.

    Toyota engineers were hamstrung with what they could do, so in terms of handling (much less performance), falls behind the Sonata N-Line and Accord Sport.

  • avatar

    Oh, horror, horror, horror! This is beyond words and beyond belief!

  • avatar
    V16

    Why would an sport sedan buyer choose this over the new Sonata N series?
    The V6 motor is the ONLY plus.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Why bother? The people who are going to buy these still won’t figure out how to merge with traffic at the prevailing speed, or turn off their brights.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    $#!+box

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    This is the less ugly of Cinderella’s sisters. The front end isn’t quite as bad as the standard Camry.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    BREAKING: Tiger Woods was involved in a rollover crash in what appears to be a Hyundai Genesis CUV.

    https://twitter.com/SonsofJohnnieLe/status/1364297709809586177

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