Anthony's Analysis: 2021 Toyota Camry TRD

 by  Anthony Fongaro  - Photos via Toyota- 11/22/2021 

What makes a sports sedan? Does it have to come from a prestigious brand or can it be more mainstream? Lately, the gas-powered sedan market has a good amount of sports sedans that have plenty of power, handling, technology, and more. Most actual sports sedans are quite expensive, so we go to “sporty” sedans. These are regular vehicles with some more spice. They can have uprated engines, suspension, and gearboxes, but they come from more humble beginnings. That takes us to Toyota and something that is truly interesting. 

A Toyota Camry is safe. It’s reliable. There’s plenty of tech, good gas mileage, and is a familiar face. For the most part, the Camry is a great car though a bit mundane. That’s where Toyota’s racing division, TRD, comes into play. In the last few years, TRD has been making its mark on a lot of Toyotas. Even though the Camry TRD has performance parts, it’s the least-expensive V6 Camry you can buy. At first, that seems quite weird. Most manufacturers put their performance models either at the top or second in the food chain. There is a reason why this is only $33,000, but let’s take a look at the Camry TRD.

I had a bit of a laugh when I first saw a Camry TRD. That wing is really what defines the car, but let’s look at the entire thing first. The front end has an all-black grill along with some fake vents and a fake splitter. Those elements may not do anything, but it helps to have the TRD stand out. Then, we have the side profile I love that the Camry TRD is lowered and has some great-looking black wheels. These match well with the two-tone Midnight Black Metallic Roof and the Calvary Blue paint. There are more body-kit styling cues under the doors and more black accents on the door mirrors. Once again, the rear has a big wing along with a TRD badge.

Move inside and you get a lot of red accents on the floor mats, seats, and seatbelts. The seats are comfortable but aren’t heated. The steering wheel has your typical safety and media buttons, but there’s a big cheap piece of plastic under the Toyota icon. The dials are conventional dials with a little 4.2-inch TFT display. To the side is a 7-inch display, along with basic climate control. There is one thing that I can’t believe Toyota did. The rear seats don’t have an armrest and can’t fold down. Why!? Other sedans like the Hyundai Sonata N-Line are sporty and can fold it down! So it looks like Toyota cut costs to make this the “affordable” V6-powered Camry. 

There are a few modifications that transform the Camry from just being another Camry. The V6 is the same 3.5-liter V6 that makes 301-horsepower and 257 lb-ft. This has an 8-speed automatic which can be shifted by paddle-shifters, but they’re slow. Keep it in Drive, and the 0-60 MPH is a scant 5.6 seconds, but Toyota included a sports exhaust which makes the Camry TRD sound quite good. If you’re used to a turbocharged engine, you’ll have to let your Camry rev to get to its powerband. When you do, the Toyota pushes that power to the front wheels. Toyota does offer all-wheel-drive on other models but would push the TRD to the top-of-the-line trim. There are also some suspension upgrades that make the car feel sporty but there is under-steer. 

I do like that V6, but it only returned 20-mpg. This brings me to a few questions. The first comes to the exterior. Is it too much? Yes, but I love how non-Camry it looks. It almost looks like a joke that Toyota made and put it into production. If I had a Camry TRD, I would see if I could get a trunk-lid spoiler. Number two is the tech. Yes, it has adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring, but the backup camera looks like it’s from 2010. Technology in the Camry TRD seems to have been removed and I’m not sure why? Once again, other vehicles don’t sacrifice technology for a sporty feeling. The one thing that is a major red flag is the lack of a folding rear seat. Those in the back aren’t going to be happy with no center armrest. 

I’m not sure if the TRD is the right V6-powered Camry, unless you like the sporty look. I would go with the XSE which is $3,000 more at $35,000 but comes with a lot more equipment. At the end of my test, I enjoyed driving the Camry TRD, but it’s really lacking in tech. There are some people that don’t need upgraded infotainment systems and like a sporty-looking Camry. I like a sporty Camry and the TRD does a great job looking and sounding the part. You probably won’t see a lot of Camry TRDs but, I’d still say to look at one. It’s definitely the sportiest Camry ever.

The numbers


3.5-liter V6

Power: 301-horsepower

Torque: 267 lb-ft

0-60 MPH

5.6 seconds

Pretty quick for a family sedan.

Fuel Economy

20 MPG

Competitors do much better.


8-speed automatic

Just keep it Drive, paddle-shifters are worthless.



Average for this class.



I’d love AWD, but it would be too expensive.

Verdict as a Number


A good sporty sedan, but sacrifices tech and a rear armrest.