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2021 Toyota Camry Review

The Toyota Camry is the best-selling midsize sedan, and there’s good reason for its popularity. Whether you need a safe, reliable and economical commuter car, a premium-leaning family sedan or a hybrid (reviewed separately) that can achieve around 50 mpg, there is a Camry for you.

Toyota’s popular sedan was revamped just a few years ago with daring looks, crisper handling, a full suite of safety systems and connected technology. The revamp only helped the Camry compete with rival the Honda Accord, not to mention other players like the Hyundai Sonata, Subaru Legacy, Nissan Altima and Kia Optima (now called the Kia K5).

Since then Toyota hasn’t slowed down, introducing all-wheel drive (AWD) last year along with the first performance-oriented TRD model.

The 2021 Toyota Camry gets a freshening with updated front fascia and new 7- or 9-inch touchscreen displays. The 2021 Camry also marks the first vehicle with the enhanced Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ with added safety features like pedestrian detection. Throw in the Camry’s enviable history of strong reliability and resale value, and it’s little wonder why it remains the one to beat.

What’s New?

The 2021 Camry is the first model to feature Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ system, the latest version of Toyota’s standard active and driver-assistance suite. The Camry also gets a slightly restyled front end. A fresh infotainment system arrives with 7- and 9-inch touchscreens. See the 2021 Toyota Camry models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Standard suite of safety & driver-assist systems
  • Excellent history of reliability & resale value
  • Choice of 4-cylinder or V6 powertrains
  • Comfortable yet taut driving manners
  • Now available with all-wheel drive

What We Don’t

  • Smaller trunk than previous Camry

How Much?

$24,970 to $35,545

Fuel Economy

The Camry’s standard engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. That’s ample 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 AWD system is only offered with the 4-cylinder models.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2021 Camry are an impressive 28 miles per gallon in the city, 39 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg in combined driving. With AWD, that drops to 25 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined.

The Toyota Camry stands out as the last mainstream midsize sedan to offer a V6, and it’s a good one. The optional 3.5-liter V6 engine is available on the XLE and XSE trim levels and puts out 301 hp and 267 lb-ft. The 2021 XSE is rated at 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.

Standard Features & Options

The 2021 Toyota Camry is available in a wide array of trims and variations.

LE and XLE models are the more comfort-oriented trims, while SE and XSE have sportier styling and suspension tuning. The Camry TRD, introduced last year as the first Camry made by Toyota Racing Development, is the sportiest Camry with a track-tuned suspension. The V6 is optional on XLE and XSE models and standard on the TRD.

All-wheel drive is optional on all Camry models with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine.

The LE ($24,970, plus $995 destination fee) includes 8-way power driver’s seat, 60/40-split/folding rear seats, an alarm system and 17-inch alloy wheels. The newly updated standard infotainment system includes a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa integration, and Wi-Fi hot spot (subscription required after trial). Also standard is Toyota’s full suite of active safety systems known as Safety Sense 2.5+ that bundles highway-speed adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, enhanced pedestrian detection and automatic high-beam control.

The SE ($26,485) has sportier styling and sport-tuned suspension and steering, 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 (a 9-in touchscreen, wireless smartphone charging, Sirius XM satellite radio, and dual-zone climate control.

The SE Nightshade Edition ($27,185) 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 Camry TRD ($32,185) offers the Camry’s optional V6 engine at a steal, as the other V6-equipped Camry trims cost at least $2,810 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. For 2021 the TRD includes blind-spot monitoring.

The XSE ($30,4200) builds on the SE trim, while the XLE ($29,870) adds to the LE. Both add full-speed adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, three drive-mode 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 XLE and XSE also get the Audio Plus package with the new 9-inch touchscreen display.

The V6 engine is optional in the Camry XSE ($35,545) and XLE ($34,995) and brings with it a panoramic sunroof, a color head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, and upgraded audio with 9-speaker JBL system. All of these items are also available on the 4-cylinder XSE and XLE. A factory navigation system is optional on XLE and XSE models, as is a head-up display (HUD) that’s standard if you get the V6. If you live where it gets especially hot, you might love the ventilated front seats available in XSE and XLE grades.

The all-wheel-drive (AWD) Camry LE and Camry SE start at $26,370 and $27,885 respectively. AWD versions of the Camry XLE and Camry XSE begin at $31,270 and $31,820, respectively.

The blacked-out 2021 Toyota Camry Nightshade is available as a front-driver SE model for $28,585 or an AWD SE for $28,585.

Safety

The 2021 Camry is the first vehicle to get the automaker’s new Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+. This builds on the prior system and again includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, and automatic high beams. It adds enhanced pedestrian and bicyclist detection, plus a new intersection assist that can warn of oncoming vehicles or pedestrians in intersections when you’re making a left-hand turn.

Additionally, full-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) is standard on XLE, XSE and TRD models and has the ability to bring the car down to a stop and resume when traffic flows again.

Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is also standard on XLE, XSE and TRD models and optional on the LE and SE. Furthermore, the ability to automatically brake while in reverse to prevent a collision is optional on XLE and XSE models.

Also standard is a rear-seat reminder to help prevent leaving a child in the car.

The 2021 Camry is yet to be crash-tested, but the 2020 model earned 5-star ratings from the government. 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 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 softer 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 recently introduced AWD system available on 4-cylinder models, the Camry is more capable in slick and snowy conditions, which is huge for buyers in cold climates.

The Toyota Camry TRD model is unlike any other in the lineup. It has the potent V6 standard and a suspension that has been stiffened to the point of being nearly jarring on rougher roads. The result is a Camry that loves to corner and hug turns. It is more rigid thanks to components like rear cross bracing. Note that the additional hardware makes it unable to fold the rear seats. The TRD is a surprising departure for the Camry, but if you’ve always wanted a Toyota sedan with racy looks and a screwed-down feel, give it a try.

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. New this year is a revised center stack that is highlighted by a “floating” central touchscreen that’s either 7 or 9 inches in size depending on model.

Whatever trim you choose, 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.

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 Hyundai Sonata – The Sonata offers some of the most cutting-edge technology available in a modern sedan. Sleek looks are part of this complete package, too.

Used Toyota Avalon — For about the same price as a new Camry or less, you can get its larger, plusher, V6-packing sibling.

Questions You May Ask

Is the 2021 Toyota Camry a good car?

The Camry is one of the best cars in its segment. It is safe, reliable, practical, stylish and drives well.

Which is better, the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord?

Each is an excellent choice. The Camry is a bit more comfortable and has more traditional interior styling. The Accord is more athletic and has a forward-thinking interior.

Is the Toyota Camry available with all-wheel drive?

Yes, it is. All-wheel drive (AWD) became available for the 2020 Camry.

Autotrader’s Advice

The Camry has been a segment-stalwart for decades, and the current model is the best iteration yet. There’s something for everyone, from entry LE and SE models to the XLE and XSE models that could pass for a premium sedan, to the track-tuned Camry TRD. Throw in three powertrain choices including a segment-exclusive V6 and optional all-wheel drive, and there really is a Camry for every buyer. Truth is, every one of them is a winner.

LE and SE models are easily recommendable in their own right, and if you have the extra money and want a more luxurious experience, check out the XLE and XSE. If you are drawn to the Camry TRD, we do recommend getting in a good test drive. Its suspension may be too stiff for some tastes.

No matter which Camry you choose, you’ll also get the latest safety systems. Then there’s the Camry’s nearly 40-year history of reliability and its high resale value. There’s a reason the Camry remains the best-selling sedan in its segment, and it’s hard to go wrong with any model. Find a Toyota Camry for sale

 

 

 

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