Showing The Path Toyota Is Audacious Enough To Take

In its continuous pursuit of excitement that started sometime with the introduction of the latest Camry, Toyota revealed two cool cars - the Toyota Avalon TRD and the Toyota Camry TRD. These may be some of the most important products Toyota has ever unveiled. Not per se in terms of sales or market, but in terms of something far more important for us - car enthusiasts. The Avalon TRD and the Camry TRD are what the company wants to show the world - audaciousness.

See, before the latest 2018 Camry, Toyota’s car development process was always led by the engineer. The engineer was at the top of that imaginary car development food chain. For the latest Camry, it was the designer.

"We actually started with that 2-inch doodle," Ian Cartabiano, Toyota California Chief Designer said, "And it became sketch, bigger sketch, bigger sketch, model. But that original intention followed all the way through to the cars. It was totally new for us. There’s always been a designer, but the chief engineer has been the top guy. It was always just 100 percent engineering."

Obviously, not for the latest Camry.

Well, the Avalon TRD and the Camry TRD are basically an ultimate expression of the flamboyance Toyota wanted to express with the latest line of its cars. That was the main idea behind Akio Toyoda’s, Toyota CEO, comment back in January 2017. He said,

“Until now, there were times when Toyota’s cars were called ‘boring’ or were said to be lacking in character,” Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda told reporters of USA Today. “But I now feel that, in terms of driving and design, our customers have begun to favorably evaluate our cars.”

He said it just months after the unveiling of the latest Toyota Camry, a bold design exercise that seemed kinda risky compared with the Toyota styling habits of the past.

So, what do the tricked-out Avalon and Camry TRD bring to the table then?

Exterior

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD and Camry TRD Exterior
- image 805021

The Avalon TRD and the Camry TRD are 0.6-inches lower compared with their respective standard models.

They both feature a full body kit designed in Toyota Calty studio in the U.S., and they can both be had in only four different exclusive hues.

In researching about this article, I learned that the latest Toyota motto is “An Raku Tan.”
An - Safe
Raku - Fun
Tan - simple and concise

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD and Camry TRD Exterior
- image 805032

The design philosophy behind all of this has been called the J-Factor which, according to Toyota, “creates new values by ‘synergizing’ various contradictory elements to create a sense of harmony.”

Well, we have a contradiction here for sure. The dull, beige Camry and slightly bigger but dull, beige Avalon aren’t dull anymore. At all.

Toyota Calty Design Research, which was responsible for the development of the new 2020 Camry TRD and the 2020 Avalon TRD, gave the new cars a fresh dose of aero enhancements. No, I am not talking just about the TRD plaques, nicer exhausts, and bigger wheels, but about a whole body kit.

Yup, it is like the Avalon and Camry visited a tuning shop - one that installed a new front splitter, side skirts, a rear diffuser, and even a trunk spoiler.

Honestly, I do not see that many of these pieces will help a lot in terms of downforce, or aero efficiency, for that matter. Yet, in conjunction with other changes, you will see here, the body-kit is more than welcomed - especially one that showcases an adventurous character of the machine.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD and Camry TRD Exterior
- image 805035

Both cars - the 2020 Toyota Camry and the 2020 Toyota Avalon - received much the same additions. Although, it must be said that the front grilles are completely different with the Camry featuring a glossy black grille and massive openings that further highlight the sporty note Toyota is so eager to express.

Aside from new trim pieces, the car can be ordered in Supersonic Red, Windchill Pearl, Celestial Silver Metallic, and Midnight Black Metallic finish.

All with nice red touches like the red calipers.

Interior

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD and Camry TRD Interior
- image 805013

Somehow, I wish that Toyota Calty studio did more to craft an even nicer interior.

The latest Avalon and Camry interiors are a nice place to begin with, but this is a sporty machine now.

In either instance, Toyota focused on introducing a number of red details for the Avalon and for the Camry cabin. Stitching is the most obvious solution. “Let’s red it out,” someone must have said at one point. And Toyota did it. Whether you are in the 2020 Avalon TRD or the 2020 Camry TRD, the red stitching can be found on the steering wheel, on the dash, on the gear lever, on the seats, and on the floor mats. It all looks fine, but that’s just it. I’d like something even more flamboyant.

Drivetrain and Performance

  • “Track tuned” on racetracks in the U.S. and Japan
  • Stiffer compared with any other Camry and Avalon of before
  • Bigger front brakes with front discs now measuring at 12.9 inches in diameter
  • 0-60 mph in less than 6 six seconds
2020 Toyota Avalon TRD and Camry TRD Exterior
- image 805017
The new Camry TRD and the new Avalon TRD finally received some much-needed performance upgrades.

Both TRD works have been based around models with a 301 horsepower, 3.5-liter, V-6 engine. Toyota Racing Development (TRD) treatment formulated suspension upgrades that were apparently tested at the Toyota Arizona Proving Ground, TMC Higashi-Fuji Proving Ground (Japan), and MotorSport Ranch (Texas). Can you imagine the Camry or the Avalon hitting some tracks? Well, looking at the TRD tricked-out machines, I definitely can. I will tell you why now.

The Avalon TRD and the Camry TRD aren’t just about the show and no go. The changes to the chassis include increased torsional rigidity partly thanks to the installation of the thicker underbody braces. Mandatory new coilovers found a way on the Camry and the Avalon as well. Unfortunately, Toyota only said that the new coilovers are custom and they actually near both cars to the ground by exactly 0.6 inches. Considering that the Avalon TRD and the Camry TRD now feature 19-inch wheels with stickier tires, lower height, and a lower center of gravity, stiffer springs add further to the dynamic and sporty driving characteristics.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD and Camry TRD Exterior
- image 805016

Finalizing the changes, Toyota improved the brakes as well. The front discs on both models grew to 12.9 inches. As such, the feel and performance of the brakes have been further enhanced. Apparently, the new brakes provide better feedback compared with any Avalon or Camry of before.

As I stressed before, TRD based its magic around models with the most powerful V-6 engines. This is the same engine that is found in the Lexus IS 350 F Sport. The Camry XSE with this engine and a nine-speed gearbox can surge to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. I doubt that this one, from TRD, can do much better. Considering that the transmission has been slightly returned for the sporty effect, I can only assume it will do 60 by a tenth of a second or so quicker.

Pricing

The 2019 Toyota Avalon is expensive. I mean it starts at 35,500. The 2020 Toyota Avalon will be considerably higher. Based on the top-notch model and refined for better performance, I can only assume that the Toyota Racing Development Avalon will hit a price of more than $40,000, thus competing with the high-end Avalon offerings.

On the other hand, the 2020 Toyota Camry TRD should be cheaper. Considerably so, actually. The XSE V6 starts at $34,600. Consider all the added performance gear, a TRD badge (cmon, it is worth something), and flamboyance no other Camry ever had, and we have a car that’s easily breaking $36,000. We will know much more after the official unveiling at the L.A. Auto Show later this month.

Competition

2020 Camry TRD Competition

Chevrolet Malibu

2016 Chevrolet Malibu
- image 624588

Although available as a Hybrid, the Malibu lacks proper grunt to compare with a car such as the Camry TRD. It lacks a V-6. Actually, it does have a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine with 250 horsepower, but not a N/A V-6. That is a problem. Regardless of the high-end trim and torquey (260 pound-feet of torque) turbocharged 2.0-liter, the performance version eluded Chevy Malibu buyers. There isn’t one.

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu

Hyundai Sonata

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class High Resolution
- image 713845

It seems that the V-6 offering in the Toyota Camry TRD is its best trait. The Sonata, another clear Camry competitor, does not have a V-6 option. Instead, a 245 horsepower 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine lurks under the bonnet of the 2019 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T.

Mild-performance version?

No way! The Sonata doesn’t have one either, and this makes the Camry quite unique in this segment.

Read our full review on the Hyundai Sonata

2020 Avalon TRD Competition

Buick Lacrosse

2017 Buick LaCrosse High Resolution Interior Exterior
- image 656228

The 2019 Buick Lacrosse Avenir isn’t exactly a performance-focused full-sized Sedan. It is more of a plus, luxurious cruiser. However, it does feature a number of cool traits (including a V-6), that make it comparable to the Avalon TRD. However, in its Avenir trim, the Lacrosse starts at more than $44,000. Although having all the performance bells and whistles, I doubt that the Avalon TRD will fetch such a price.

Read our full review on the 2018 Buick Lacrosse

Nissan Maxima

2016 - 2017 Nissan Maxima
- image 625157

The 2019 Nissan Maxima SR Midnight Edition may be the closest thing to the 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD. It is a meaner, neater, and finer Maxima compared with other similar versions. With clear sporty pretentions, it uses a 3.5-liter, V-6 with 300 horsepower. Just like the 2020 Avalon TRD. Heck, the thing has black wheels as well. Yup, this is a clear contended to the Avalon TRD. Only, it starts at less than $40k. Somehow, I feel the Avalon TRD will be a tad more expensive.

Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Maxima

Final Thoughts

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD and Camry TRD Exterior
- image 805014

By sharpening up their most praised sedans corresponding with the unveiling of the never-better Toyota Corolla, the Japanese manufacturer definitely showed its conviction and dedication to crafting cars that aren’t boring. At all. Akio Toyoda, Toyota CEO, said it so two years ago and the TRD version of the company’s popular sedans prove it. They aren’t boring.

Too flamboyant? Maybe!
Too raunchy? Maybe!
Boring? Oh, No!
Now, I cannot but wait for the Corolla TRD. Boy, I’d like to see that with a 250ish horsepower engine competing with the GTI or something.

Further Reading

2018 Toyota Camry High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 702373

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Camry.

2019 Toyota Avalon Exterior
- image 778165

Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota Avalon.

2019 Toyota Avalon Exterior
- image 778130

Read our full driven review on the 2019 Toyota Avalon.

2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Exterior Interior
- image 768630

Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: