The 2020 Toyota Camry is unlike any that have come before. True, this generation set a unique tone from the very beginning with its significantly enhanced driver involvement, interior quality and overall style. However, the 2020 model goes even further by offering greater variety than ever. The addition of all-wheel drive satisfies requests by customers and dealers alike for a more all-weather-ready Camry. Then there's the new high-performance Camry, the TRD – it's highly unlikely anyone was clamoring for that, but if the goal was to show that a Camry can get the blood flowing, well, mission accomplished.
Now, in many other ways, the Camry is also like its predecessors – it's reliable, holds onto its value well and is very safe. So, while much has changed, much has also stayed the same. That's a good thing, and even if the Honda Accord is broadly more appealing, the Hyundai Sonata more distinctive and Mazda6 more fun to drive, the diverse Camry lineup is a must-consider.
There are three primary additions for the 2020 Camry. First, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa capability join Apple CarPlay as standard equipment. Second, all-wheel-drive is a new option, the first Camry with it in 30 years and one of only three family sedans today that offer it. The final 2020 addition is the new Camry TRD model. This only comes with the otherwise optional V6 and features a slew of high-performance parts and tuning upgrades from Toyota's TRD division.
Toyota bucks the latest design trend of effectively slapping a large tablet atop the dash, instead integrating its touchscreen into a stylized pod that sits between inward sweeping lines (the standard 7-inch touchscreen is above left, the 8-inch upgrade is above right). The dash is perhaps a little over-styled, but you can't call it boring and we like that Toyota shies away from large swaths of tacked-on fake wood or metal to carry the look. Quality is also above average, as there really isn't much of drop-off in look, feel and general ambiance from a fancy XLE to the more entry-level LE. We also like the abundance of storage space in the doors, under the center armrest and in a voluminous two-tier smartphone bin.
Now, while many may prefer the Camry's integrated touchscreen, there's no getting around the fact that looking at it draws your eyes further away from the road than the dash-top designs. The touchscreen itself is also a love-it-or-hate-it affair. Some will appreciate its simple layout, especially for the audio controls. Others find it a bit slow and aesthetically behind the times. Either way, at least it now comes standard with all the latest, must-have smartphone connectivity features: Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa connectivity.
If it weren't for the colossal Honda Accord, the Toyota Camry would stand out for its interior space. The lowered roof of the latest generation may make some folks feel like they're oddly close to the ceiling (especially with a sunroof), but headroom's still OK, and legroom is abundant. Someone 6-foot-3 can even sit behind another without knees grazing the seatback. We also like that the latest Camry has a lower driver seating position than before, making it feel like you're sitting in the car rather than on it. It's just one of the many things done to this generation to make it feel more immersive and driver-focused.
The trunk offers 15.1 cubic-feet of space, which is less than an Accord, a Sonata or VW Passat. In comparison to the Accord in particular, the trunk is a bit narrower and not as deep. However, that says more about those other sedans than the Camry. The trunk's still really big, with enough room for four roller bags and plenty left over.
It should also be noted that the all-wheel-drive and hybrid Camry models have the same trunk space as the regular front-drive versions, but the hybrid’s back seat is a smidgen higher since the battery resides underneath. This difference is unlikely to be noticed, however.
The 2020 Camry is available with the widest variety of powertrain options in the midsize sedan segment.
Things start with the 2.5-liter inline-four that produces 203 horsepower (best in class) and 184 pound-feet of torque when paired with front-wheel drive (206 hp and 186 lb-ft in the XSE). The newly optional all-wheel-drive system (AWD) reduces output by a tiny amount. An eight-speed automatic is standard.
Fuel economy with this engine varies depending on trim level and drivetrain. The volume-selling LE and SE with front-wheel drive achieve an excellent 28 mpg city, 39 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. The base L trim is even better at 34 mpg combined, while the XLE and XSE take a minor hit at 31 mpg combined. All-wheel drive takes a further dive, especially on the highway, to 25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined in the LE and SE (25/34/28 for the XLE and XSE AWD).
The optional 3.5-liter V6 is paired exclusively with front-wheel drive and the eight-speed automatic. It produces a whopping 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Unlike some turbocharged engines that require premium fuel to achieve max performance, the Camry's V6 runs on regular. Fuel economy is still strong at 22 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. The TRD trim is just a hair lower at 22/31/25.
Finally, the Camry Hybrid uses a pair of electric motors in conjunction with a four-cylinder engine. Together, they produce a combined 208 hp. By comparison, a Prius produces a mere 121 hp, yet the Camry achieves nearly the same fuel economy. The Camry Hybrid LE trim level returns 51 mpg city, 53 mpg highway and 52 mpg combined. The other trims are 44/47/46, a difference that isn't as significant as the numbers make it seem.
Forget all your pre-conceived notions of the Toyota Camry. It is a far more involving car than ever before with sharper, more composed handling and pleasantly responsive steering. Everything gets a bit tighter in the SE and XSE trims, but choosing them isn't an absolute must any more for folks who like to drive. True, the Honda Accord and Mazda6 remain superior drivers' cars, but the Camry isn't so far off.
In fact, the new 2020 Camry TRD was seemingly made to make that very point, as it's outfitted with track-tuned chassis components, a strengthened structure and enhanced steering to deliver handling that approaches sport sedan territory, at the expense of a less-forgiving ride.
The TRD comes standard with the muscular V6 engine that's optional on other Camrys. No matter the trim, though, this is a strong, smooth engine that only gets better when you realize it matches the fuel economy of its turbocharged four-cylinder competitors. Of course, few people get the V6 (only 6%). The majority go for the base four-cylinder that offers best-in-class power, but when it's compared to turbocharged engines, you'll likely notice that it has less low-end grunt and sounds a bit winded when pushed. It's certainly not Toyota's most refined effort, although at least it has a capable partner in the smart eight-speed automatic that's greatly superior to the CVT's found in most competitors. All of that pretty much carries over to the new Camry AWD, but to dig a little deeper, you can read about our time with it here.
Finally, there's the Camry Hybrid, which might actually be the pick of the litter. Its electric motor adds the low-end pull the base four-cylinder lacks, while also smoothing things out a bit. Furthermore, the battery's placement under the back seat lowers the car's center of gravity and lessens the front weight bias, making for improved dynamics around corners. A heavy right foot still results in a fair bit of droning from the powertrain, but it is better than past hybrid efforts, as is the brake-pedal modulation.
Our first drive of the all-wheel-drive Camry, including information about its engineering. You see, all-wheel drive wasn't meant to be in the new Camry. Then things changed.