The updated 2021 Toyota Camry is perhaps the most powerful and efficient example of the classic and trusted sedan from Toyota ever made.
For 2021, the folks at Toyota didn’t make any Earth-shattering changes to the platform that came out in 2018. Small adjustments can be found all over though. Not only does the lineup lose its base car, the L trim level, but now all trims get enhanced safety features like adaptive cruise control. In addition, new wheels, paint colors, and some gentle exterior styling redesigns have also been added. A new 9-inch touchscreen is available for the first time inside.
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Incredible efficiency from the Hybrid model
Top of the range TRD is affordable
TRD models have some real performance
Base engine is disappointing
CVT is underwhelming
Interior quality feels a bit cheap
An AWD TRD would be nice
While the performance gap isn’t as grand as the difference between the base Charger and its Hellcat trim level, the 2021 Toyota Camry reminds you of that performance difference. The base 203 horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and CVT transmission make you wonder if this car isn’t a few years older than it really is. It’s slow to respond, slow to accelerate, and slow to react. Of course, it’s a Camry so that’s less shocking than what happens behind the wheel of the TRD trim level.
Slip behind the much more aggressive steering wheel of the Toyota Camry TRD with the 301 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and everything feels alien. This is undoubtedly the best Camry Toyota has ever made. It’s actually pretty quick. It handles pretty well, and dare I say it… it actually looks like it drives. Perhaps for the first time ever, almost anyone who could want a brand new Camry will have a version that perfectly fits them. The only down side of the TRD model is that with so much power channeled to the front wheels alone, the torque steer is noticeable.
The Camry is a truly efficient vehicle that we can’t knock in any way. The worst of trim packages with fuel efficiency in mind is the TRD and it still gets 22 mpg city and 31 on the highway. The regular Camry gets 28 mpg city and 39 mpg highway, while the hybrid goes to the extreme with up to 51 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway.
Perhaps the most unchanging part of the 2021 Toyota Camry is the interior. None of the trim levels seem to take a dramatic step up or down in either direction when it comes to quality. Fit and finish inside is great, but it’s unlikely that anyone seated in a Camry could be convinced that they’re in a luxury vehicle. While that might not be shocking, it’s important to consider that many competitors of the Camry offer just such a feeling. The XLE comes close to offering a bargain luxe feeling, but in our eyes comes up short largely because of how loud things are in the cabin. Good luxury cars are quiet inside and the Camry is not that. Still though, that gives those who want the TRD model just one more thing to like as its sporting personality can be heard and not just felt.
That shouldn’t take away from the fact that the Toyota Camry is a comfortable and well laid out car that can easily fit four full-sized adults. The design of the interior will remind you of older Prius models in terms of the layout. Maybe the most underrated feature is the outstanding climate control system that easily manages both zones with quick and capable adjustments. Cargo space is satisfactory, but not particularly noteworthy.
Every 2021 Toyota Camry comes standard with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, which is a great feature. Both the 7 and 9-inch touchscreen infotainment centers are responsive and well laid out. The system Toyota is using is called EnTune, which is now on its third version that shows through in how it behaves. The wireless charging, multiple charge points, and optional nav are all welcome additions too.
Overall though, if you test multiple brands you’ll easily spot that Toyota has spent its resources on safety tech and the overall fit and finish of the Camry. What’s truly the most impressive part of the Camry is that outstanding collection of safety tech that’s included on all trim levels and the optional bits too like full-speed adaptive cruise which is a no brainer. Let’s dive into that a bit more now.
While some companies struggle to offer any more than the most basic of features, Toyota remains committed to providing the most vital safety features on every trim level. Automatic braking, adaptive cruise, and lane keep assist are outstanding standard features. The optional extras offer even more in the form of blind-spot monitoring, rear automatic braking, and a heads up display. The 2021 Toyota Camry has a 5-star crash test rating from the NHTSA and is a top safety pick+ from the IIHS.
With the L trim level no longer available, the LE takes the new place as the base level Toyota Camry and does a nice job with great standard safety features and decent efficiency as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The SE Trim level appoints the Camry with some important features like automatic climate control, 18-inch wheels, and a sport tuned suspension.
The hybrid powertrain can be had in all but the TRD model and this is where the LE Hybrid is priced to begin. Throughout the range features are equal among gas and hybrid powered Camry trim levels.
Bumping up to the XLE package provides a bevy of tech and luxury upgrades like full-speed adaptive cruise, wireless charging, the 9-inch infotainment screen, and leather.
XSE turns a focus towards more sporty driving with 19-inch wheels, dual exhaust, blacked out grille trim, and the same sport tuned suspension of the SE, but now with much of the luxury and tech goodies from the XLE.
The only engine found in the TRD is the 301 horsepower V6 and its paired with an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission. You’ll get special 19-inch wheels, a unique sport tuned suspension, and aero bodywork among other things.
The 2021 Toyota Camry carries the same limited warranty of 5-years or 60,000 miles and 3-years or 36,000 miles for the powertrain that almost every other manufacturer uses. Where Toyota starts to stand out is the 24 months or 25,000 miles of complementary service that they offer. Where other manufacturers don’t offer much of anything, Toyota dominates.
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The 2021 Toyota Camry is an outstanding value for money among those who are looking for a vehicle that doesn’t really dominate the game in any one facet. That’s ok though because with multiple facets the Camry can shine more brightly. The Camry can do almost anything you could want it to do from being an inexpensive and reliable car for a college kid to a sincerely sporty front-wheel drive sedan. It’s not a traditional sports sedan, but it’s not just an econobox either.