2021 Toyota Camry TRD
A couple of years ago, Toyota Racing Development ran in the NASCAR Cup Series wearing the body of one of the best-selling vehicles in America - the Camry. This mid-size sedan represented a winning formula that yielded a slew of race victories and two driver’s championships.
For the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, the Camry body is back. Is it time to celebrate?
We were wondering if we should when a 2021 Toyota Camry TRD arrived at our offices for a week’s evaluation. It made us wonder if this particular sedan could induce some adrenaline for you.
Granted, the Camry has always a garnered a high level of owner loyalty, a reputation for great reliability and high build quality. This current generation continues this tradition by staying relevant in design and technology. The TRD model adds more flair in a package that may excite some enthusiasts.
The basic design is shared with all other Camry models in the lineup. The three-dimensional front end is based on an open T-shaped upper grille. The side profile features a more natural look, with various lines, curves, and textures. The roofline is low, with more rakish front and rear window angles. The window area and door openings are quite large. The rear end is complimented with slim horizontal taillight units.
Toyota add more ground effects and aggressive details to the Camry TRD. There is a running valance along the sides of the car, crowned with a front splitter extension, rear ground effects and a small diffuser flanked by two large TRD exhaust ports. The rear spoiler is fixed onto the trunk lid. The finishing touch is a set of 19-inch matte black alloy wheels.
Just like all other Camry models, drivers are greeted with a black-and-red interior featuring a triangle-shaped center stack, a tablet-like infotainment pod for the seven-inch touchscreen, and a deep center console with plenty of storage. Our TRD tester has the standard 4.2-inch information screen in between analog speedometer and tachometer dials in red numbering. While the red looks cool and fits the TRD brand, they really do not show up well during sunny days.
The black-and-red front seats in our TRD tester have a shape that is comfortable, but lacking support for sporting drives. More bolstering for these seats would make them perfect. Rear seat room was fine for many bodies to sit behind each other. Plus, the red seat belts finish off the interior motif. A 15.1 cubic feet trunk expands further with the rear seats folded down for longer cargo.
The Camry TRD only comes with a 301-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Performance is solid from this driveline with good acceleration and response on passing maneuvers. As for fuel economy, we averaged 26.9 MPG.
With the lowered suspension, the ride quality is on the firm side but is very smooth. Bumps and rougher sections of road are managed just fine without any response into the cabin. You can see it in the handling, where the cornering and agility are flat and responsive.
Steering is also pretty good, with some sharper maneuvering from the wheel to put it into place. Driving in Normal and Eco mode exposes a bit of play on-center. That is easily fixed by putting it in Sport mode, where the steering feel is heavier and more controlled. The brakes are also pretty good, with a soft pedal feel. They also offer great stops in normal and panic situations.
The 2021 Camry lineup starts from $25,045 for a basic L model. Our TRD tester came with a sticker price of $34,207. The TRD model is the most affordable trim level to get the V6 engine in – a rarity in this segment.
Speaking of which, the mid-size segment continues to shrink with at least two more models being cancelled in a year’s time. While the Camry TRD continues to offer a V6 to add to its performance appearance package, it still attracts some competition from turbocharged four-cylinder models. These rivals include the Honda Accord Sport and Touring, Hyundai Sonata N-Line, Kia Optima GT, Nissan Altima SR VC-Turbo, Subaru Legacy Limited and Touring XT, and Chevrolet Malibu Premier.
While you can still get a V6-powered mid-size sedan, they are a dying breed. If you catch something like the 2021 Toyota Camry TRD, you are in a class of your own. NASCAR fans, included.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors