SEATTLE — For well over a decade, the Camry has been American’s best-selling passenger sedan and with the 2020 model year, Toyota adds a TRD model to the line-up. Toyota’s Racing Development (TRD) team worked overtime on adding track-tuned tweaks to this reliable sedan. Outside of the obvious aesthetic differences over the non-TRD models, Toyota has added a better-performing suspension and engine.
Churning out a strong 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, is a 3.5-liter, aluminum block, normally aspirated V6. It’s mated to an 8-speed, direct-shift, ECT-i transmission that does a good job of power delivery to its front wheels.
In addition to the black alloy wheels, the TRD model also gets larger, 12.9-inch front disc brakes. You’ll find that the braking system works very well with minimal brake fade, even after extended periods of hard driving.
There are also nice touches to the inside as well, that are exclusive to the TRD. You’ll find red stitching accents in the seats as well as lines of red around the black and gray interior — giving it a more sporty look and feel to it. The seats aren’t that different than other Camry models and the use of hard plastics give it a more cheapened look and feel.
While the front seats offer good body support and are multi-adjustable, we’d like to see Toyota offer better lumbar support and a passenger seat that has the same level of adjustability as the driver’s seat. The rear seats, while mostly comfortable, could lead to passenger fatigue on longer road trips. Leg room is rather good and adults up to 6’2” shouldn’t have issues with headroom.
Even though it’s obvious that Toyota has put some work in updating the interior, it still doesn’t feel very special. The display isn’t the largest we’ve seen in this class of car nor does the JBL audio system deliver an audio prowess we’ve seen from the likes of KIA or Hyundai and their use of Harman/Kardon/Infinity over the years. In fact, we expected a lot more from the audio system. The TRD moniker should be a Toyota that offers the top-shelf of everything. The fact is, you’ll find a far superior audio system in the Land Cruiser and it too is powered by JBL.
On the plus side, however, you’ll find that both Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard, giving drivers a more safe way to use their mobile devices while driving.
The open road:
On the open road is where this car really shines. You can really feel its sports-tuned suspension kick in around hard corners. The tighter springs over other Camry models add over 40-perfect less body roll up front and up to 60-percent less in the rear. The net outcome is a car that gives the driver a great deal of confidence while driving it hard in “sport mode”.
The horsepower and torque of this car really help it drive more special than other sedans in its class. However, with over 300 horsepower, we’d like to see Toyota come out with an all-wheel-drive option. The issue all high-powered front-wheel-drive vehicles suffer from is severe wheel-spin at launch. While the traction control does help to curb the spin quite a bit, even using that isn’t the ideal way to harness the power of this V6 engine.
In the end, the TRD team has many things to be proud of with the way this Camry turned out. It has a strong presence with the way it looks and it’s easily the best-handling sedan in this segment that we’ve driven to date.
If Toyota would consider offering all-wheel-drive in the future, it’d hands-down be the “must have” performance sedan in its price bracket. As it stands now, it still doesn’t have any real competitors and that helps keep it in a special place for those looking for solid performance, sporty styling and Toyota reliability.