Calgary, Canada – Never in a million years did I imagine uttering the words ‘I’m excited to drive a Camry.’ Or perhaps, and I’m stretching here, the words ‘badass’ and ‘Camry’ in the same sentence. But when TRD is involved, it sort of changes things.
My last foray with the japanese 4-door was in 2014, doing laps at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the then all-new 2015 Camry XSE, piloted by a former NASCAR champ. But that was long ago where sporty expectations fell short and the Camry was still a Camry.
This time it’s different. And there were no racetracks – just a car full of kids and glorious windy roads.
The result is a thoughtfully stylized, V6-powered 301-hp 2020 Camry flossing a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded exhaust system, and blacked-out bodykit — all courtesy of Toyota’s racing branch.
Sounds great but does the first-ever TRD performance model Camry offer a spirited drive with 267 lb.-ft. of peak torque on the open road? Absolutely. Is this sportified Camry XSE a true sport sedan? That’s what we need to know. Are we seriously still talking about a Toyota Camry? We are.
On the Road: how does the TRD-spec 2020 Camry handle?
The Camry is one of the only mid-size sedans in the segment to offer a V6 powertrain, so the TRD flavour here hit the ground running. Out of the box and bolted to the range-topping trims, the 3.5L 24-valve V6 engine is capable of making 301-hp at 6,600 rpm and 267 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,700 rpm.
TRD pitches in with a D-4S direct injection system, along with a specially-developed VVT-iW variable valve timing system for the intake, with VVT-i on the exhaust. At the back, a TRD exhaust and stainless steel exhaust system upgrade.
We took a quick family day trip to the mountains – an opportunity for some much-needed fresh air. Both for us and the Camry’s throttle where I had a proper chance on the highway to open this 4-door up and conclude whether this red on black family hauler is a glorified Camry or the real deal.
In the corners, it’s automatically clear the suspension is tuned – not some hack job to make this a ‘sporty sedan’ – but a proper, stiff TRD setup including a front and rear stabilizer bars. Rear and front disc brakes and 19-inch TRD wheels round out the footwork.
This car is fun to drive. And there was no way TRD was going to butcher this endeavor. Only thing missing is Camry’s AWD drivetrain.
Close mid-range ratios improve passing performance thanks to a Direct Shift 8-speed automatic transmission, found on both 2.5L and 3.5L engines. The 301-hp V6 delivers enough power to put a smile on your face and peak torque at 4,700 rpm was on-point to handle the uphill climbs without a problem.
Overall, this car is fun to drive. And there was no real way TRD was going to butcher this endeavor. Only thing missing is Camry’s AWD drivetrain.
Exterior TRD styling upgrades
The 2020 Camry is still in its eight-generation since 2017, with some minor tweaks along the way. The redesign then was drastic and much needed for the best-selling passenger car in the US the past 17-years, reinventing itself with a bolder and significantly sleeker look the long-running 4-door desperately needed.
Fortunately, this rocket is void of tacky add-ons causing unnecessary attention for all the wrong reasons. The two-tone styling looks sharp with the expansive black roof against the Supersonic Red guise.
Low-slung, black wheels, colour-match mirrors, a tasteful rear spoiler, and proper aero side skirts, it’s tough to argue with the Camry TRD’s quick looks and aggressive attitude.
In our opinion, the Toyota x TRD collaboration resulted in an appropriately sporty Camry inline with its performance abilities.
Here are the key TRD extras on the modified 2020 Camry XSE:
- Hood silencer
- Fixed roof
- TRD bodykit
- sport front and rear fascia
- sport grille
- front splash guards
- trunk lid spoiler
- rear diffuser
Inside the Camry TRD
Inside, the cabin looks sharp flossing the mixed cloth and leather look in a red-black combo. Some of the materials felt flimsy (i.e. centre armrest door and gloss plastic around the the touchscreen) and the centre stack layout is nothing to get excited about, but all is forgiven for what is typically a value-based, passenger vehicle.
A Camry hallmark are the comfy seats for those long-distance drives. You know TRD means business when it removes the XSE’s power passenger seats and rear foldable 60/40 setup. Up front, expect heated front seats with red-stitched TRD headrests, sport pedals below, and a sporty TRD embossed leather shifter.
Best part? You’ll still get a massive rear trunk.
2020 Camry TRD price:
In the US, the 2020 Camry TRD starts at $32,125. Almost the same price as the Camry Hybrid XLE, and cheaper than the XLE V6 and XSE V6.
This tester from Canada is the Camry XSE V6 starting at C$40,490. However, the TRD package will shave off $3,705 by removing big items including wireless phone charging, blind spot monitoring, panoramic moonroof (that’s right, no moonroof with the TRD version which is the one big bummer), head-up display, and others.
So, oddly, the price goes down a couple thousand dollars due to the subtractions. Hey, for a sport model we’ll take it (or not). This one rings in at total C$38,685, including $1,770 freight & PDI.
For the price, the enhanced Camry TRD sport sedan is an exceptional value. Now, let’s see if sedan shoppers and Toyota fans will actually buy a slammed Camry.
Takeaway: is the Camry TRD worth it?
Did Toyota really need produce a sporty, TRD-tuned Camry? No. Are we glad they did? Absolutely.
In a world where sedans don’t get no respect, we’re always excited when a 4-door family vehicle steps it up. The XSE trims looks sleek and stylish in its current generation, and TRD just stepped it up with clean, tasteful aero upgrades and enhancements.
The performance and handling is exceptional, though not a high-performance sports sedan (nor is it trying to be) and perhaps missing the Camry’s AWD system, TRD did one thing right: finally shed the Camry’s boring, passenger car stigma, for once and for all. Something most of us likely never saw coming – that’s the year 2020 for you.
Shopping for a sedan? Check out more 4-door reviews here.