The Toyota Camry has always been that boring girl, Karen, in accounting that has her hair up in a bun, glasses pushed up, and a serious look on her face that means she is there for work and not play. However, the arrival of the 2020 Toyota Camry TRD is akin to the Karen that finally let her hair down and heads out for a night out on the town in order to move to the rhythm of the music without a care in the world. Does that mean the Camry TRD actually has some soul?
The Toyota Camry TRD is more than just an appearance package
When the Camry TRD trim level showed up for the 2020 model year, we admittedly scoffed, thinking that a body kit and black wheels were just a back-handed shot at smearing lipstick on a lackluster pig and calling it “sporty.” However, upon receiving the car and driving it a decent distance, we will admit that we were wrong. Yes, part of the TRD trim level consists of an aggressive body kit and black wheels, but it’s a little more than that.
After seeing in person, the TRD boy kit actually seems to work well with the Camry’s existing body lines. The TRD trim level comes in four different colors: white, silver, black, and red. And our tester donned the Supersonic red paint with a black contrasting roof, which not only made its appearance “pop,” but we also liked that it matched the red seatbelts and trim in the interior. But more importantly, the Camry TRD’s aesthetics are befitting for the mechanics that lie underneath its body panels.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts
Beneath those black 19-inch wheels lie 12.9-inch front brakes (up from 12 inches) and a set of TRD springs and dampers, which give the Camry a much-needed aggressive squat. Again, that athletic stance is more than just for looks as we found that the Camry TRD hugged corners almost as well as its 86 stablemate and changed direction with a sense of eagerness that we would never guess a Camry could have. The stiffer front and rear sway bars probably have a lot to do with it as well.
Under the hood is the run-of-the-mill 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. And while it’s not as unique and power surge-happy as the turbo 2.0-liter found in the Honda Accord, for example, we did find that the meaty torque curve and overall smoothness of the V6’s power delivery worked well for pulling out of corners and getting off the line with some haste. What really sets it off though, believe it or not, is the TRD-tuned, cat-back exhaust system that lets out a nice rumble on cold startups and a deep growl under heavy acceleration. Not only is Karen awake, but she’s ready to play.
Does the Camry TRD have a soul?
Now that Toyota has finally let the Camry’s hair down and allowed it to breathe a little, we can finally say that it has a lot more personality. There is finally a Camry that we, as driving enthusiasts, can relate to and while it’s outlandish looks and louder exhaust might not be for everyone, they at least show that you really can make a party animal out of an otherwise bland girl from accounting, like Karen.