DETROIT — For the first time ever, Toyota has produced a TRD trim line of its bestselling Camry. The 2020 Toyota Camry is a head-turner. And for the record, TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development.
This car had an edgier design and an aggressive stance. The body kit included a front splitter, side aero skirts, trunk lid spoiler and rear spoiler. All that improved stability at higher speeds.
We thought this car was effortless to drive. Acceleration was top-notch; the suspension was a little stiffer than a normal Camry, but it was not harsh. The sedan was by no means sedate.
It had a gloss black grille with sport mesh insert and black exterior badging. Distinctive red pinstriping, red-painted brake calipers, red TRD badging and polished stainless steel TRD exhaust tips completed the road-hungry look.
When we first got in the Camry TRD, what stood out was the fit and finish. The control area had a black piano template. The instruments were analog and black-faced with the numerals reversed out in red. It was a simple layout. The odometer, the speedometer, one held the temperature gauge while the other housed the fuel gauge.
Under the control pod, there was a nook that held the USB jack and the 12V plug. There were two more USB charging ports in the center console. And there was a bin beneath the surface of the console that was hidden by a sliding door.
The interior matched the exterior in that it was black and red. It was not as garish as you would think. The car had red stripes in the seat and back pads. Toyota used SofTex® to trim the front seats. It is a leather-like material and the automaker used fabric inserts with horizontal red lines.
TRD embroidered headrests were a nice touch. The leather-wrapped steering wheel had red stitching, and the seat belts were red. A shift knob with an embossed TRD logo, along with unique black with red piping TRD floor and trunk mats, and a unique TRD meter with red-illuminated accents and multi-information display (MID) start-up animation completed the black and red cabin motif.
Toyota’s direct-injected, 301 horsepower DOHC 3.5-liter V-6, teamed with the direct-shift eight-speed automatic transmission featuring sport mode, eco and normal modes and paddle shifters. A specially-tuned TRD cat-back dual exhaust system conveyed a throatier idle and acceleration sound. The exhaust did sound good.
Thicker underbody braces increased torsional rigidity, and unique coil springs lowered the Camry TRD by 0.6 inches for a reduced center of gravity and more aggressive stance. Camry’s TRD chassis was further enhanced with stiffer coil springs and sway bars for an increased roll stiffness of 44% in the front and 67% in the rear.
A unique set of TRD shock absorbers, 19 x 8.5-inch matte-black alloy wheels, and Bridgestone Potenza 235/40R19 summer tires completed a chassis package that improved body control, handling agility, and steering precision.
The front brakes were larger with 12.9-inch diameter rotors and dual-piston calipers, compared to 12.0-inch rotors and single-piston calipers. Brake performance was tuned to provide more direct feedback.
And that gets us to the potential problem with the 2020 Camry TRD: it is not as fast as it looks. The 3.5-liter V6 makes 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. That’s not enough.
Toyota has used the 3.5-liter V6 engine frame to create more oomph. We know of at least two 3.5-liter engines the automaker has that make more horsepower. They should make at least one of them an option on the Camry TRD, if not both.
That said, the 2020 Camry TRD is a capable and good-looking sedan. It had a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist and automatic high beams.
It looks alone made this 2020 Toyota Camry TRD worth its $32,920 as tested sticker.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.