As car enthusiasts hem and haw about boring crossovers taking over the American auto industry, there are a couple of new rays of hope for affordable sport sedans and they come from a rather unlikely source. I’m talking about the all-new TRD variants of the Toyota Camry and the Toyota Avalon.
Let me start by saying I haven’t driven these cars and I can’t personally speak to what they’re like behind the wheel — but they sure seem promising on paper. When I first heard a while back that there would be TRD variants for these two sedans, I thought one of two things would be the case. Either it would just be an appearance package and not actually add anything to the performance (think any Chevy with an RS badge), or they would be too expensive and out of reach for most of the drivers who want them (think the Ford ST crossovers).
Luckily, I was wrong on both counts. It turns out the Avalon and Camry TRD models nicely blend form and function with some very real performance upgrades to complement their aggressive new aesthetics. We’re not talking about Hellcat-killers here, but it looks like there’s just enough in terms of mechanical upgrades to make a real difference in how these cars drive.
According to Toyota, rigidity has been improved quite a bit to improve handling. This is accomplished through thicker underbody bracing, meatier sway bars, and "track-tuned" shocks resulting in a boost in roll stiffness by 44% in the front and 67% in the back for the Camry TRD. Both cars sit 0.6 inches lower than their non-TRD variants — and a lower center of gravity is always a good thing for the driving experience. They also both get upgraded front brakes with bigger rotors and dual-piston calipers plus a "specially-tuned" cat-back dual exhaust, which has no claimed performance upgrade, but makes the 301-horsepower V6 that is standard in both cars sound better.
All of these performance upgrades are, of course, accompanied by exterior and interior appearance packages that include red accent stitching, red seat belts, liberally applied TRD badging, matte-black alloy wheels, and rear spoilers.
This is all stuff that was announced in the original press release for these cars way back in late 2018. What we didn’t know until recently is the pricing, which turns out to be one of the most exciting things about these cars. The Camry TRD starts at $31,040 and the Avalon TRD starts at $42,300. That makes the Camry TRD the most affordable V6 Camry you can buy — and the Avalon TRD is priced between the Limited and Touring trims.
That’s a pretty good value for the Avalon TRD, and a value so good that is almost doesn’t even make sense for the Camry TRD. If you’ve been thinking about getting a V6 Camry, then the Camry TRD just became a no brainer because it’s the most affordable, best-looking, and highest-performance V6 Camry you can get. I’ve always thought the cost of entry for the V6 was a little steep for the Camry — but my gripe has been thoroughly resolved now that there’s a more affordable version of the V6 Camry that’s also the most desirable version for enthusiasts who need a practical sedan.
In a world where performance crossovers are starting to become the new standard in affordable, practical cars that are also fun to drive, the new Toyota TRD sedans give me hope that budget sport sedans are alive and well. They also give me hope for the future of the TRD moniker — and I hope this is a signal that we’ll be seeing sporty TRD variants of more Toyota models. Prius TRD, anyone? Find a Toyota Camry for sale or Find a Toyota Avalon for sale