2020 Toyota Camry TRD: Good, But Also, Why?

When the notification came in that a Camry TRD press car was being delivered, I was honestly a little excited. The V-6 Camry is surprisingly powerful at 301hp and at 3500 lbs its relatively light for a car these days. It seemed with a little bit of go-fast bits to the suspension it could be a fun car. In reality, after a week with the car, I could only ask myself… yes, this is a good car, but why does it need to exist?

In theory the Camry TRD kind of makes sense. Taking a normal car you see every day and turning it to 11 with some tweaks has been a proven method used by many manufacturers. The Civic Type R, Subaru WRX and every AMG Mercedes built right now are proof of that. It proves Toyota does have the right idea. Making boring cars fast usually equals fun. But Toyota still has some work to do.

First of all, the V6 Camry with any sporting intentions *needs* AWD. When a driver applies any sort of more aggressive application of throttle, the front tires all but get blown off. This car could theoretically be pretty dang quick, but the lack of ability to apply that power to the ground is very disappointing.

Visually, it’s not a bad looking car. The Supersonic Red Color is very pretty, especially when combined with the black roof. The 19” matte black wheels are some of my favorites I have seen on any Toyota. The side skirts are aggressive but remain subtle enough to be appreciated. The same cannot be said about the wing. On a “TRD” edition, it is not too much of a surprise that it has a wing, but the actual shape of the wing is unnecessarily complicated and turns it from something that could have been considered practical, to a complete joke. 

The interior is generally a nice place to be. Rather than taking a loaded car and adding more to it, Toyota decided to take a base and make it more sporty. Thankfully, Apple CarPlay appears to have permeated every vehicle in the Toyota lineup. At $32,920, the TRD Camry is pretty affordable, but was missing features often found on even less expensive cars such as heated seats, dual-zone climate control. The thing I found to be the most unfortunate was the horizontal red bars in the cushion and lower back area of the seat. It made the car seem less sporty, something you do not want on a car that is supposed to be geared to aggressiveness. 

Overall, the Camry TRD is a good idea that is almost there, but not quite fully baked. Toyota could have an amazing car if they would give it that extra AWD to get over the hump to make this Camry really great. Toyota can build a fun car, and I’ve driven them. From bottom to top, Corolla to LC500, they are both great cars but they completely whiffed on their best selling car of all. Toyota, give us some AWD, and then we’ll talk, but until then, it’s not everything it could be.