2020 Toyota Camry TRD V6 Review

The family sedan, transformed


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Truly entertaining to drive, great handling manners, V6 finally mates with good components, looks aggressive, better interior than the Avalon.
Negatives: Front wheels can't exploit all the power, transmission isn't any quicker to shift than the standard XSE, steering feedback is largely absent, juvenile-looking spoiler.
Bottom Line: The Camry TRD finally adds the right performance flavor for the Camry's V6 engine. Not only is it properly angry looking, but it has the driving dynamics to back it up. Too bad it doesn't have all-wheel drive.
We never thought we'd see the day when Toyota made a Camry for the track that you could also drive to work and back every day. That's what the Camry TRD is meant to be, and you're not supposed to laugh. While it doesn't have any additional power above the Camry XSE V6, it does get performance enhancements like better brakes, stiffer suspension, revised valves, and better underbody reinforcements. Did we mention it also looks the part? We drove the Camry TRD V6 for a week to see if this racier version adds driving verve to the new Camry. Check out our full review below.
 

Driving Experience

8.2

 

The Camry TRD enhances the already good driving experience in the XSE V6 trim. Not only does it manage the curves better, there's palpable improvement in the way the TRD V6 feels when pushed.

Ride Quality: The ride is definitely firmer but not harsh, the way you'd expect from a more focused car. It's still just fine for driving around town.

Acceleration: The TRD gets to 60 mph in the same 5.8 seconds as the XSE V6, so it's not any faster even though there's some fat trimmed from the weight due to lighter wheels. That said, the car feels quicker because it's a bit more in tune with the driver, and that's a good thing. It's just too bad Toyota didn't give it a bit more power via engine tuning or higher flow exhaust.

Braking: The brakes feel strong and more responsive thanks to the bigger rotors and additional piston.

Steering: Steering is pretty quick and on-center. There's not a whole lot of feedback, but overall it's a good setup.

Handling: Taking the Camry TRD into a turn inspires confidence. There's less roll than a standard Camry, and it feels quite composed.

Technology

7.7

 

It's a good thing Toyota did away with its old Entune infotainment system from the last generation because it was dated to look at, as well as operate. The current system is cleaner, easier on the eyes, and more responsive. Overall controls have been improved, too, as evidenced by the cabin's better ergo.

Infotainment System: The 8-inch touchscreen display is clear and nicely situated in the dash. The look won't blow your socks off, but it's definitely commensurate with the new car's design.

Controls: Physical knobs and buttons are well-sized, and the shifter feels great in the hand. Steering wheel controls are easy to find when you're in motion, and the climate controls are simple and quick to use.

Styling

8.2

 

The Camry TRD actually looks better than its bigger brother, the Avalon TRD. Sure, sometimes it still looks like it's trying too hard, but the overstyling actually works on the smaller car. There's a lot of sporty red trim inside and out, which can be a bit polarizing.

Front: The front end is pretty much the same as the XSE V6 with ample amounts of black mesh and some busy surfaces, but it actually looks right on the TRD versus the more muted XSE.

Rear: The huge spoiler and big diffuser dominate the back end. We do like the twin round pipes and the improved exhaust note, but we'd like to see a more downplayed spoiler. It's just a bit too juvenile for our tastes.

Profile: The TRD looks great from the side. The matte black window trim, roof, and TRD wheels give it the proper menace. The fact that it also sits about half an inch lower is noticeable.

Cabin: The red stitching and red seat belts are nice touches that elevate the interior's sportiness. We also like the red gauge lighting and the aluminum pedals that remind you to get a little aggressive on your morning commute.

Comfort

8.3

 

The Camry is roomy and ready for families. The TRD doesn't change that much, and that's a good thing. There's plenty of room in front and back, and the seats are well executed in both rows.

Front Seats: The front seats don't have any additional bolstering or adjustability than the XSE V6, but they're good enough. Seatbacks are wide and accommodating, and the seating position is good.

Rear Seats: 38 inches of rear legroom is plenty for tall passengers, and there are nice contours for comfort. The middle seat, as usual, suffers from the bump and a more vertical seatback.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Other than the enhanced exhaust sound, the TRD's cabin is quiet. The build quality is also typical of Toyota, which means solid.

Visibility: Sightlines all around are very good. The thick C-pillar causes some obstruction, but it's not bad.

Climate: The dual-zone climate control system works quickly. The TRD does not have heated or ventilated seats, unfortunately.

Safety

9.5

 

The Camry received top marks for 2020, and Toyota's standard safety features are some of the best in the business. Families should feel confident that the Camry is excellent in this regard.

IIHS Rating: It's a Top Safety Pick+ for the stringent 2020 test criteria.

NHTSA Rating: The Camry received five stars from the federal government.

Standard Tech: The TRD comes with Toyota Safety Sense P: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, adaptive cruise control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, auto high beams, the Star Safety System, and a backup camera.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

7.7

 

The Camry is practical for everyday use in terms of cargo and storage. In TRD form, it loses the folding rear seat of the standard Camry, which could be an issue for larger loads.

Storage Space: There's a huge cubby in the front of the center console with ample room for your phone, etc. The armrest is deep but not long, convenient for small gear away from peering eyes. The long cupholder is also good for other items besides beverages.

Cargo Room: The Camry's trunk has 15.1 cubic feet of space, but it's smaller than the Accord's. One demerit is the fact that the rear seats don't fold down because of the added reinforcements behind it.

Fuel Economy

7

 

We drove the TRD in Sport mode the entire time, but it didn't seem to crush the gas mileage numbers as bad as we thought it would. Under normal driving, we have every confidence the TRD can meet its EPA estimates.

Observed: 19.2 mpg.

Distance Driven: 89 miles.

Audio

6.6

 

The stock system in the TRD is good but not great. We weren't blown away by the fullness of the system. We would've liked to see the upgrade JBL 9-speaker system come as standard equipment.



Final Thoughts

The Camry TRD V6 is a distinct flavor of Camry that we're happy to see. Sure, there are better sports sedans out there such as the Genesis G70, Kia Stinger, and the Jetta GLI, and the Mazda6. But the Camry TRD V6 is still fun to toss around, and it has the bombproof Toyota reputation. There's plenty of power, although we would've liked to see a bump to 325 or so. Owners who want space, reliability, good performance, and visual drama will be more than content with the Camry TRD V6.
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