The Toyota Camry TRD is a head-turner… no 2 ways about it. Here’s why:
Expectation vs reality.
With the new Supra for example, our expectations (and hopes) were really high. The Supra has dream-car expectations to live up to. Hence the wide spectrum of debates & opinions about the car. But the Camry??? No one expects much from a Camry… aside from reliability & good value. We don’t expect to be stunned.
What we loved about the Toyota Camry TRD…
-19” TRD wheels
-Lowered TRD suspension
-Ground effects / aero kit
-NASCAR-meets-JDM type spoiler
-2-tone paint option
-Legit TRD catback exhaust
-Solid value at about 30k
What we did not love about the Toyota Camry TRD…
-The 8-speed automatic transmission is too ‘shifty’ at interstate cruising speed.
-‘Manual Mode’ really isn’t.
-Would love a thicker steering wheel in the TRD model.
-No AC vents in the rear (kids & carseats & whatnot).
I like this car a lot. I think most/all of us can agree that the TRD Camry looks striking! It seems that Toyota is giving their designers some leash, and I love where they’re going with it. Performance-wise, there are 2 arguments, both of which have merit.
The 1st argument…
is that the Camry TRD’s beauty is skin deep & that it needs more performance to back it’s appearance. That’s valid. ‘More performance’ is always valid lol. But ‘more performance’ always comes with more cost… so think it through.
The 2nd argument…
is that there’s already some good performance in there, and TRD really brings it all to surface.
1) The 3.5 v6 makes solid/strong 300 horsepower.
2) The Camry TRD-tuned suspension is lower, stiffer, and comes with bigger sway bars & chassis bracing.
3) The 12.9” rotors & 4-piston front calipers get the job done deliberately.
4) The TRD exhaust on cold-start has car enthusiasts popping out of their holes & looking around like prairie dogs.
5) The interior is on-point in TRD upholstery/trim.
Truth is – the Camry TRD delivers above expectations on most fronts, and that’s a fun type of vehicle to own. People are surprised by the ‘Lexus presence’ in Camry packaging. You can feel drivers eying the car at a redlight, wondering what they’re looking at… and wondering why this 2-tone rumbly thing that says CAMRY on the trunk… is more striking than their entry-level BMW.
SPORT MODE is where the Camry TRD needs to be 100% of the time.
SPORT mode sharpens up throttle response & shift points, and brings out the best of the TRD package. It brings your attention to the car & the drive. The Camry really does feel all-around pretty solid in SPORT! Plus – SPORT didn’t seem to have any noticeable/negative effects on MPGs… so pushing the SPORT button just became part of the starting sequence.
The transmission is my only real sigh. On city roads and backroads, it’s fine. But at interstate speeds of about 80mph, the car is frequently downshifting-around with even the slightest bit of throttle input. Normal mode… SPORT mode… it doesn’t matter. It’s one shifty devil. Even when you switch to ‘manual’ mode, the car overrides you… I didn’t like that.
Now – if you’re brave enough to cruise at 90, the Camry TRD is in it’s zone.
My opinion: A true DCT transmission would be a really good match for the Camry TRD.