The 2021 Toyota Camry Finally Brings Back Fan-Favorite Feature After 29 Years

The 1980s definitely had a vibe. It is one of the more identifiable eras in recent history. Back then, Car culture was something altogether different from the previous decade. A major change was the obsession with all-wheel-drive cars. Rally was raging with group B madness, and production cars were all about trying to follow suit. The Toyota Camry is not exactly something we tend to think of as something with this feature. Still, it had it all those years ago, and the 2021 (technically mid-year addition to the 2020 model) Toyota Camry also has it for the first time in nearly thirty years. 

What’s new with the 2021Toyota Camry?

As mentioned by Car and Driver, the Toyota Camry All-Trac came in AWD from 1988-1991. Toyota abandoned this rad feature for nearly 30 years until mid-way through the 2020 model Camry when Toyota decided to give Camry owners that 80s off-road grip back

The AWD sedan got hit hard by the onslaught of the SUV boom. The 2021 Toyota Camry getting AWD is, I hope, pushback from the sedans. Mid-way through 2020, Toyota reintroduced the AWD option to the Camry as a refresh to the line. Unfortunately, the model didn’t begin production until March of 2020, which is why so many of us missed the news, you know, because of that other thing that happened in mid-March of 2020…

2021 Toyota Camry parked on the top level of a parking garage
2021 Toyota Camry | Toyota

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According to Car and Driver, Toyota believes that 15 percent of Camry buyers will go for the AWD version (the coolest 15 percent, that is.) The real question is, how many of them will add the old All-Trac badge to their new Camry? Toyota will add an AWD badge on the back of the Camry to let everyone know, but the real ones will hop on eBay and snag the real emblem. 

How will the AWD system affect the Camry?

Car and Driver says that the AWD system will add about 165 lbs to the Camry but will not affect trunk space. The rear differential will cause the rear seats to sit just a touch higher, .4 inches higher, to be exact. The other main change is the wider rear end makes the AWD Camry have a slightly wider turning radius. 

2021 Toyota Camry parked on the top level of a parking garage
2021 Toyota Camry | Toyota

Another change you may not have seen coming is that due to the newfound girth of the rear axle hardware, the exhaust pipe has less room, which robs approximately 1 hp from the AWD version. 

The AWD version is friendly, not sporty

The AWD option will be available for any four-cylinder Camry. However, the V6 and hybrid models will not be allowed to have it. Don’t worry, though; the four-banger makes 202 hp in most trims except the sportier XSE, which clips on an extra 3 hp and a dual-tip exhaust system. This power goes through an eight-speed automatic transmission, which gives crisp upshifts and decisive downshifts to put the power where you need it when you need it.  

Unfortunately, the Camry isn’t exactly a screamer. There just isn’t enough power or snap to make the AWD Camry the fun driving experience it could be. In normal, every-day driving, the rear axle disengages and runs like a normal front-wheel-drive car. It’s only when the front end slips, or you really give it the beans, that the back end locks in and gets moving. 

It is clear that this Camry is about function over form. This is not going to impress many or excite people like maybe I thought it would. No, this is a practical move and nothing more. If you find yourself in some snow or on a dirt road somewhere, sure, it’ll help you get where you’re going, but this is not an 80s rally machine.