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2020 Toyota Camry Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader November 2019

The 2020 Toyota Camry receives some key additions that stand to build on what is already a segment-leading midsize sedan. When it was redesigned two years ago, the Camry was made to drive better, look much better and be much more refined on the inside. Additionally, its engine options manage to be both powerful and fuel efficient -- the latter being especially true for the Camry Hybrid -- without resorting to turbocharging like much of the competition.

Frankly, the Camry hasn't been this compelling in years, even if other recently redesigned competitors have stolen its thunder a bit. This long-time stalwart of automotive sensibility has shaken off some of the old crust and injected some personality into its driving experience and styling. We think that its sharper handling, more composed ride, more natural driving position and other range of improvements make for a car that should be atop the consideration set of anyone looking to buy a midsize sedan. Competitors may outdo it in a few areas, but it's really without any major shortcomings. Plus, with a wide variety of variations from which to choose -- including, for the first time since the early 1990s, all-wheel drive -- finding a 2020 Toyota Camry that works for you should be easy.

What's New for 2020?

The Camry gets a couple of big additions for 2020. First is the availability of AWD on 4-cylinder models, making this the first time the Camry has offered 4-wheel traction since the Camry All-Trac was discontinued after 1991. The system is similar to what's been available in the RAV4 since the 2019 model year and can completely disconnect itself when it isn't needed, leaving the Camry to be powered strictly by its front wheels. Altogether, expect the system to be about as unobtrusive as possible, as it's designed to engage only under hard acceleration or when the vehicle senses slippage, making it ideal for buyers in cold climates that are likely to see snow in the wintertime.

On another note, Toyota is introducing a new performance-oriented Camry TRD model for 2020 as well. Priced aggressively, the TRD comes standard with the Camry's V6 engine and adds a TRD-tuned suspension, larger 12.9-in brakes with red calipers, a cat-back dual-exhaust system and added structural bracing. Stylistic changes include unique wheels, unique aero bits on the front fascia, side skirts and rear diffuser, a rear wing and more.

There's also a new-for-2020 SE Nightshade edition that amounts to a basic SE model with blacked-out styling elements. Finally, the entire 2020 Camry model lineup gets standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for 2020 -- a long overdue addition. See the 2020 Toyota Camry models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Newly-available AWD system
  • TRD model is unique in the segment
  • V6 offers great power
  • Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, finally
  • Hybrid offers exceptional fuel economy
  • Toyota Safety Sense included on every model

What We Don't

  • Model lineup might be a little confusing
  • Can't get AWD with the V6 engine
  • TRD model comes with limited equipment

How Much?

$25,250–$39,670

Fuel Economy

The base Camry engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. That's a lot for a midsize sedan, and it actually goes up to 206 hp and 186 lb-ft with the XSE trim. Front-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission are standard, while the Camry's newly-available AWD system is only offered with the 4-cylinder models. Fuel economy estimates are 28 miles per gallon in the city, 39 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg in combined driving. That's exceptional, and the base L model actually gets 2 mpg better. Toyota claims that -- thanks to the design of the AWD system -- AWD models shouldn't experience much of a fuel economy penalty, if any.

A 3.5-liter V6 engine is available on the XLE and XSE trim levels and puts out 301 hp and 267 lb-ft. The XSE returns 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined, while the XLE returns 1 mpg better on the highway. The Camry's V6 runs on basic 87 octane, and premium fuel is not required.

The Camry Hybrid pairs a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission that, collectively, produce a total output of 208 hp. However, differences in battery type and wheel/tire combos result in different trim levels achieving different fuel economy numbers.

The base Hybrid LE trim level has a lithium-ion battery pack and 16-in wheels, resulting in an eye-popping fuel economy estimate of 51 mpg city/53 mpg hwy/52 mpg combined. That effectively matches most Prius trim levels.

The Hybrid SE and XLE have a nickel-metal hybrid battery pack and larger 18-in wheels that have a greater rolling resistance. This results in 44 mpg city/47 mpg hwy/46 mpg combined, which is still better than most other hybrids. For context here, the average annual fuel cost difference between the Hybrid LE and the SE/XLE would be about $100 at the time of this writing.

Standard Features & Options

As far as the mainstream trims of the 2020 Toyota Camry go, there are the more traditional L, LE and XLE trims, plus the sportier SE and XSE trims. XSE and XLE models are available with the V6 engine, while there's also a new-for-2020 TRD trim that's offered exclusively with the V6. On top of that, buyers can now opt for optional AWD, which will be available on LE, XLE, SE and XSE models equipped with the 4-cylinder engine. While Toyota has yet to announce pricing for the Camry's AWD system, we expect it to cost about $1,000, which is what it costs in the Prius. The hybrid version is available in LE, SE and XLE trims.

The base Camry L ($25,250) comes standard with 16-in steel wheels, automatic bi-LED headlights, a backup camera, highway-speed adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, manual height-adjustable front seats, power driver lumbar adjustment, Bluetooth, one USB port, a 7-in touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a 6-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack and a media player interface.

The LE ($25,795) adds 17-in alloy wheels, an 8-way power driver's seat, a 60/40 split folding rear seat and an alarm system.

The SE ($26,995) has different styling, altered suspension and steering tuning, front sport seats and a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel with paddle shifters. In terms of feature content, the Camry SE adds 18-in wheels, single-zone automatic climate control and SofTex vinyl upholstery.

Both the LE and SE can be equipped with a sunroof, blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert systems (packaged together), the Convenience package (passive keyless entry and push-button start, an auto-dimming mirror and a universal garage opener) and the Audio package (an 8-in touchscreen, wireless smartphone charging, HD Radio, satellite radio, remote vehicle controls, Safety Connect emergency services and on-board Wi-Fi).

The SE Nightshade Edition ($27,695) offers the same features as the basic SE model but with black styling elements that include the wheels, door handles, mirrors, window trim, grille and roof-mounted shark fin antenna.

The new Camry TRD ($31,995) offers the Camry's optional V6 engine at a steal, as the other V6-equipped Camry trims cost at least $2,500 more. In the TRD, the V6 is unchanged, putting out the same 301 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque paired with the same 8-speed automatic it uses in other applications. What the TRD does gain is added structural bracing, a TRD-tuned suspension that drops the ride height by 0.6 inches, bigger brakes and a cat back exhaust system. Additionally, the TRD Camry gains 19-in wheels that are 3.1 pounds lighter and a half inch wider than those found on the XSE trim. Summer tires are standard -- which, it's worth mentioning, will prove problematic to buyers in cold climates. There's also a big, obnoxious, love-it-or-hate-it rear wing and additional styling elements. Paddle shifters are included as well.

The XSE ($30,830) builds on the SE trim, while the XLE ($30,280) adds to the LE. Both add full-speed adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, three vehicle setting modes (Eco, Normal and Sport), an electronic parking brake, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, an 8-way power passenger seat, leather upholstery, rear adjustable headrests, an upgraded backup camera and instrument display, the Convenience package content and three USB ports. The XSE has 19-in wheels, while the XLE has 18-in wheels plus a leather-wrapped version of the LE's steering wheel.

The V6 engine is optional in the Camry XSE ($35,955) and XLE ($35,405) and brings with it a panoramic sunroof, a color head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, the Audio package content and a 9-speaker JBL sound system. All of these items are also available on the 4-cylinder XSE and XLE. A factory navigation system is an option on the V6 trim levels, but we don't see much value in it now that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.

The entry-level Camry Hybrid is the Hybrid LE ($29,205), which comes standard with 16-in steel wheels, automatic bi-LED headlights, LED running lights, automatic high beams, passive keyless entry with push-button start, multiple drive modes (EV, Eco, Normal ans Sport), a backup camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-way power driver's seat, a manual height-adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, cloth upholstery, a 60/40 split folding back seat, one USB port, an auxiliary audio jack and a 6-speaker sound system.

The Hybrid SE ($30,905) adds the SE styling, 18-in wheels, altered suspension and steering tuning, more aggressively bolstered front seats, SofTex simulated leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Finally, the Hybrid XLE ($33,505) reverts to the LE's styling, chassis tuning and seat design. It adds its own 18-in wheels, an enhanced climate-control system, an 8-way power passenger seat, leather upholstery, the leather-wrapped steering wheel, a color head-up display, three USB ports and the LE/SE's options listed above. Adaptive LED headlights, a surround-view parking camera system and a 9-speaker JBL sound system are optional.

Safety

Every 2020 Camry comes standard with forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist automatic high beams and radar cruise control, which has full-speed functionality on top trim levels, making it capable of functioning in stop-and-go traffic. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is available as part of a package as well. Safety Connect emergency communications are standard on the V6-powered XSE and XLE and optional on all but the base L.

The government gave the Camry a perfect 5-star rating in every crash test. The non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gave the Camry perfect marks in all crashworthiness, crash avoidance, headlight and child seat anchor categories, earning it a coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation -- the Institute's top honor.

Behind the Wheel

The current-generation Camry feels like a totally different car compared with the Camrys of old, showcasing a degree of poise, precision and composure that has never before been associated with this nameplate. Though there are LE and SE trim lines that differ in steering and suspension tuning, their dynamic differences aren't that noticeable, and both maintain a fairly comparable balance between comfort and handling precision. The SE just sharpens things up a bit. Some may lament the loss of the old Camry LE's looser steering and pillowy ride, but we think the majority of buyers will like this change to a more modern car feel.

In terms of engine choice, the base 4-cylinder is a knockout, delivering excellent power and response along with exceptional fuel economy. Its lighter weight also allows for a more natural steering feel than in the 301 hp V6-powered model. Sure, there's obvious appeal in having that much power, but you don't really need it, and that steering advantage arguably makes the 4-cylinder the better car to drive. With the new optional AWD system available on 4-cylinder models, the Camry should be a little more capable in snowy conditions, which is huge for buyers in cold climates. Otherwise, you'll be unlikely to notice much of a change.

Reviewers have been pleasantly surprised by the performance characteristics of the new Camry TRD. The Camry's V6 is already plenty powerful, hustling the vehicle to 60 miles per hour in under 6 seconds. With added structural bracing, reworked handling characteristics and more stopping power, not to mention a sportier appearance, the TRD trim brings even more newfound excitement to the Camry. Drive the new TRD trim side by side with a 4-cylinder Camry and a regular V6 model to see for yourself.

The Camry's interior is also a better, more modern place to spend time relative to past versions. Its seating position is lower, and there's a more thoughtful placement of the wheel, shifter and other controls that results in a more driver-oriented cabin. You sit in the Camry now, rather than on it. Everything else inside impresses, too, as the quality of materials highlights a stylish design that, if anything, is bordering on overly trendy. Pleasingly, there isn't that much of a difference between the LE and XLE beyond leather seats and extra features. You don't have to pay a lot to get a nice Camry.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Honda Accord -- The Camry and the Accord have long been the two top-selling midsize sedans in America. While the Camry uses naturally aspirated engines, the Accord uses turbos. Make sure to drive both the Camry and Accord -- both are excellent.

2020 Subaru Legacy -- For those seeking a more conservatively styled midsize sedan (or one with standard AWD), the Legacy is a good place to turn. Its value, safety ratings and reliability are all strong. It's also all-new for 2020.

2020 Mazda6 -- The new Camry reminds us more of the Mazda6 than the previous Camry. That's saying something, as the Mazda6's handling and driving experience in general are the sportiest and most driver-focused in the segment. The Mazda6 is a borderline luxury car, making it a very strong alternative.

Used Toyota Avalon -- Much of the new Camry's refined styling and more luxurious interior applies to the Avalon as well, which should be easily found as a used or certified pre-owned vehicle. Engine options consist of the same V6 and hybrid options found in the Camry.

Autotrader's Advice

The Camry has been a segment-stalwart for decades now, and the current model is the best iteration yet. There's something for everyone, from the basic-spec L and LE models, to the fuel-sipping hybrid options, to the bold performance-oriented TRD trim. While the TRD model is compelling, we think most buyers will be best served by either the LE or the Hybrid LE models. Compared with the V6, the basic 4-cylinder Camry offers class-leading power and fuel economy, which makes the V6 a little hard to justify. The Hybrid is compelling for its incredible fuel economy, but its higher price tag means that it should appeal primarily to buyers who expect to do a lot of driving and keep their vehicle for a long period of time. Otherwise, drive the LE and SE variations to see which you prefer behind the wheel, although differences are subtle. Each also comes with enough feature content that probably makes jumping up to their XLE or XSE counterparts unnecessary. Find a Toyota Camry for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2020 Toyota Camry Review - Autotrader
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