The Toyota Camry turns 37 years old and for the occasion, Toyota releases the first-ever XSE Hybrid grade that combines the Camry’s most fuel-efficient powertrain with its highest expression of the sport and luxury blend.
All 2021 Camry models debut Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, the automaker’s newest version of the groundbreaking driver assist technology suite that includes automatic emergency braking.
All Camry models for 2021 also get a new floating multimedia screen in 7-inch or 9-inch sizes, plus a new herringbone seat pattern on the XLE grade. Capping off the long list of enhancements, restyled front ends lend greater distinction among Camry grades.
This expansion for 2021 follows a year in which Camry added an all-wheel-drive option and its first-ever TRD performance model.
The 2021 Camry offers 20 different choices in the midsize sedan segment today. Those choices include:
- Three V6 grades – XLE, XSE, and TRD
- Seven four-cylinder FWD grades – Base, LE, LE Upgrade, XLE, SE, SE Upgrade, and XSE.
- Six four-cylinder AWD grades- LE, XLE, SE, SE Upgrade, XSE, and Nightshade Edition.
- Four hybrid grades – LE, SE Upgrade, XLE and XSE (new)
Camry holds its status as one of the longest-running nameplates in the auto industry.
Bold New Look Up Front
A new look up front distinguishes the comfort-oriented LE and XLE grades from the sport-oriented SE and XSE for 2021. A new front fascia for the Camry LE and XLE grades shows a more defined lower intake area.
The gas version of the LE grade also debuts a new 17-inch alloy wheel design, while the XLE features a redesigned 18-inch alloy wheel. The SE and XSE grades show off a bolder redesigned lower fascia shape featuring a honeycomb-style grille and side vent inserts, plus new side vent accents.
Accentuating the revised design, the 2021 Camry augments its exterior paint palette with a new Blueprint replacing Blue Streak Metallic and a new, exclusive colour for the Camry TRD, Ice Edge with a two-tone Midnight Black Metallic roof.
The XSE grades will now exclusively offer the two-tone with Wind Chill Pearl or Celestial Silver Metallic with a Midnight Black Metallic roof combination.
The performance-tuned Camry TRD, which debuted for 2020, keeps its exclusive, aero-enhanced design. The 2021 Camry TRD now comes standard with Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, plus heated exterior mirrors.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+
Toyota is a pioneering force in the adoption of Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) ever since it made the advanced safety features standard across many of its model lineups for 2017, five years ahead of the voluntary commitment by many OEMs with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make it standard on virtually all light vehicles.
For 2021, the Camry is the first Toyota model to include TSS 2.5+, the next phase in Toyota’s evolution of safety systems. A number of functions that are part of the Toyota Safety Sense have been enhanced.
For starters, the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), features multiple enhancements.
By enhancing the system capabilities, it is now possible for the system to help detect not only the vehicle ahead but also a preceding bicyclist in the daytime and even a preceding pedestrian in low-light conditions.
TSS 2.5+ also enhances the PCS w/PD system with intersection support. At intersections, the system may detect an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian when performing a left-hand turn and may provide audio/visual alerts and automatic braking in certain conditions.
Additional PCS functions include emergency steering assist, which is designed to stabilize the driver’s emergency steering maneuvers within their lane while avoiding a preceding pedestrian, bicyclist, or vehicle.
Camrys that come equipped with Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), which can activate the feature above 50 km/h, have a system designed to perform vehicle-to-vehicle distance controls down to 0 km/h and can resume from a stop.
DRCC also includes a new feature that allows for smoother overtaking of slower vehicles.
If traveling behind a vehicle traveling slower than the preset speed, once the driver engages the turn signal with steering input the system will provide an initial increase in acceleration in preparation for changing lanes; after changing lanes, the vehicle will continue acceleration until it reaches the preset driving speed.
Lane Departure Alert is designed to help notify the driver via steering wheel vibrations or audible alert if it senses the vehicle is leaving the lane without engaging a turn signal.
When DRCC is set and engaged, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) is designed to assist the driver by providing a slight steering force to help centre the vehicle in its lane using visible lane markers or a preceding vehicle.
Additional TSS 2.5+ features include Automatic High Beams, which detects preceding or oncoming vehicles and automatically switches between high beam and low beam headlights.
Toyota’s Rear Seat Reminder will come standard on all 2021 Camrys. The feature notes whether a rear door was opened within 10 minutes of the vehicle being turned on, or at any time after the vehicle has been turned on, with a reminder message in the instrument cluster after the engine is turned off, accompanied by multitone chimes.
The 2021 Camry is the second Toyota to feature Rear Seat Reminder, as it already comes standard on the 2020 Toyota Highlander.
In addition to the TSS 2.5+ system, to help Camry drivers change lanes with confidence, Blind Spot Monitor is designed to help detect and warn you of vehicles approaching or positioned in the adjacent lanes.
Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) can offer added peace of mind by helping to detect vehicles approaching from either side while backing out and alerting you with a visual and audible warning. These features come standard on XLE and XSE grades and are available on certain LE and SE Upgrade.
Camry All-Wheel Drive
The all-wheel-drive option that Camry debuted for 2020 is projected to account for about 36 percent of Camry’s 2021 sales. The Toyota-developed Dynamic Torque Control AWD system is available as a standalone option for the four-cylinder LE, XLE, SE, SE Upgrade, Nightshade and XSE grades.
Notably, the Camry AWD is a North America-only model developed in the U.S. and assembled exclusively at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky. Camry AWD uses the high-efficiency 2.5-litre Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine teamed with an eight-speed Direct-Shift automatic transmission.
Dynamic Torque-Control AWD provides effective traction for inclement and slippery weather while minimizing AWD’s typical drag on fuel economy.
The system can direct up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, in response to acceleration from a start or slippage at the front wheels.
When AWD isn’t needed, the electromagnetically controlled coupling on the rear-drive axle can disengage the propeller shaft to prioritize fuel efficiency. The AWD is designed to re-engage in an instant when needed and its operation is transparent to the driver and passengers.
The addition of AWD does not affect passenger space, trunk room, ride comfort, cabin quietness, or vehicle agility. Inside, the car has the same rear-seat hip point height as the Camry Hybrid.
The transformation to AWD adds 165 lbs. (other grade weights vary) over FWD versions. The suspension tuning, wheels, and tires differentiating the Camry model grades carry over to the AWD versions.
That means, for example, the Camry XSE grade features the same sport-tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels in both FWD and AWD versions.
The 2021 Camry base model offers available heated seats and the feature comes standard on all other grades. A heated steering wheel comes standard on the SE Upgrade (minus Nightshade Package) or higher.
Camry TRD features
Initially, the “TRD” identifier for Toyota Racing Development was seen only on off-road toughened Toyota trucks and SUVs.
Yet, TRD has been deeply involved with all facets of Toyota motorsports for more than 40 years, with a trophy case full from victories in rallying, IMSA GTO and GTP road racing, NASCAR, and NHRA Funny Car racing.
The sophisticated, high-strength TNGA-K platform that underpins the Camry was like an open invitation for TRD to rev up the sedan’s performance.
The result was the first-ever Camry TRD performance model for 2020, and this road-tamer continues for 2021 with upgraded standard features, including Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
The Camry TRD is equipped exclusively with a direct-injected, 301-horsepower DOHC 3.5-litre V6 teamed with the Direct-Shift eight-speed automatic transmission featuring sport mode and paddle shifters.
A specially-tuned TRD cat-back dual exhaust system conveys a throatier idle and acceleration tone.
The TRD Look + Function
The aerodynamic body kit, which includes a front splitter, side aero skirts, trunk lid spoiler, and rear diffuser, not only adds a track-ready look but also improves high-speed vehicle stability. Camry TRD wears a gloss black front grille with a sport mesh insert and black exterior badging.
Distinctive red pinstriping, red-painted brake calipers, red TRD badging, and polished stainless steel TRD exhaust tips complete the road-hungry look. The 2021 Camry TRD is available in solid Midnight Black Metallic, or in two-tone schemes featuring new Ice Edge or Wind Chill Pearl with a black roof.
In the cabin, the TRD treatment outfits the Camry with Black Sport SofTex-trimmed front seats with red accents and red-stitched TRD embroidered headrests. The leather-wrapped steering wheel also has red stitching, and even the seatbelts are red.
A shift knob with an embossed TRD logo, along with unique TRD floor and trunk mats, and a unique TRD meter with red-illuminated accents and multi-information display (MID) start-up animation complete the cabin upgrades.
TRD Handling Thrills
TRD engineers developed this special Camry’s dynamic characteristics through extensive testing at Toyota Arizona Proving Ground, TMC Higashi-Fuji Proving Ground (Japan), and MotorSport Ranch (Texas). Chassis enhancements abound, including thicker underbody braces that increase torsional rigidity.
The TRD-tuned suspension lowers Camry by 0.6 inches (15.2 mm) for a reduced centre of gravity and a more aggressive stance. Stiffer coil springs and sway bars increase roll stiffness by 44 percent in the front and 67 percent in the rear.
A unique set of TRD shock absorbers and 19 x 8.5-inch matte-black alloy wheels complete a chassis package that improves body control, handling agility and steering precision.
The Camry TRD’s front brakes are larger with 12.9-inch diameter rotors and dual-piston calipers, compared to 12.0-inch rotors and single-piston calipers on the Camry XSE grade. Brake performance is tuned to provide more direct feedback.
Foundation for Agility and Ride Comfort
Extensive use of high-tensile-strength steel in the TNGA-K platform, along with innovative fastening methods including laser screw welding and advanced adhesives, give Camry its rock-solid feeling on the road.
Optimally tuned MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension endow the Camry with a ride-handling balance befitting luxury vehicles. (SE, SE Upgrade and XSE grades have sport-tuned springs and shocks.)
Camry has long been renowned for quietness in its class, and the new-generation model improved on that by incorporating noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) countermeasures previously found exclusively on luxury models.
Extensive sound-absorbing insulation includes foam or vibration-dampening materials throughout the vehicle, along with a thicker dash silencer mat across the entire firewall section. A special vibration-damping coating is applied over a wider area of the underfloor, and noise-proofing material encompasses more surface area under the headliner.
The cabin’s features
The Camry relays information to the driver via three available displays. New for 2021, a floating 7- or 9-inch central touch-screen display, like that of the new-generation Toyota RAV4, combines audio and navigation. Customizable features and smartphone-like touch screen icons ensure a familiar and convenient operation.
For even greater functionality, Camry also offers an available 7-inch multi-information display within the instrument cluster. An available 10-inch colour Head-Up Display (HUD) on the XSE V6 or XLE V6 projects vital information, including speed and turn-by-turn navigation directions, onto the lower portion of the windshield.
The Camry’s interior melds functionality, elegant styling, and impeccable craftsmanship. The dash design gives the driver a sporty cockpit-type feel while treating both the driver and the front passenger to expansive outward visibility. A sweeping character line flows down from the instrument cluster and bisects the centre console waterfall.
Surfaces throughout the cabin employ soft-touch premium materials. New interior trim for 2021 in all grades gives a sophisticated, higher-tech look with linear dark, wood inlay or patterned metal depending on the model grade.
Long-distance seat comfort, a Camry hallmark, has been combined with ratcheted seat design for 2021. Exquisite stitching on the front- and rear-seat surfaces, one example of the high level of craftsmanship is found throughout the vehicle.
New for 2021, the XLE grade features a textured herringbone seat pattern. Ventilated front seats are available on the XLE V6 and XSE V6.
Interior colour choices, depending on exterior colour, include Ash, Macadamia, or Black. The sport-oriented XSE grade also offers an exclusive Cockpit Red interior for a touch of exotic sports car flavor.
High Power, High Efficiency, Low Cost of Operation
The 2021 Camry offers a choice of three powertrains: 2.5-litre Dynamic Force four-cylinder, 3.5-litre V6 and next-generation Toyota Hybrid System (THS II).
The Dynamic Force 2.5-litre engine is a strong but smooth operator, yielding an impressive 203 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 184 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 5,000 rpm (206 hp and 186 lb.-ft. for XSE grade, which uses a dual-outlet exhaust). The Camry XSE AWD grade has 205 horsepower with dual exhaust.
The Camry’s four-cylinder engine uses a very high compression ratio (13:1) and Toyota’s innovative D-4S fuel injection, which employs both direct injection and additional port injectors.
The engine is chock-full of Toyota’s most advanced technologies, including Dual VVT-i with VVT-iE (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent system by Electric motor) and laser-clad valve seats. A variable cooling system, variable oil pump, and a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system all contribute to the engine’s high thermal efficiency and fuel economy.
The 2021 Toyota Camry is one of the few midsize sedans to still offer a V6 engine, and this one is a gem. The 24-valve, DOHC 3.5-litre engine is equipped with the D-4S direct injection system, along with a specially-developed VVT-iW (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Wide) variable valve timing system for the intake, with VVT-i on the exhaust.
The VVT-iW system can switch the engine to the Atkinson cycle, which reduces pumping losses by delayed closing of the intake valves. The bottom line: it goes fast but sips gas.
The output is outstanding, with 301 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 267 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,700 rpm.
Direct Shift 8-speed Automatic
In all Camry gas grades, both the 2.5-litre engine and the 3.5-litre V6 are teamed with the Direct Shift eight-speed automatic transmission to deliver the performance.
Close mid-range ratios improve passing performance, while the wide range of torque converter lock-up yields for a more direct driving feels while contributing to enhanced fuel efficiency. Control logic optimizes precise matching of engine torque on downshifts for smoother transitions.
Toyota Hybrid System
The Camry Hybrid powertrain is the most efficient and powerful offered since the Hybrid debuted for 2007.
The super-efficient Toyota Hybrid System (THS II) combines the output of the 2.5-litre Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine and an electric motor (MG1) while using that motor and a second motor (MG2) for hybrid battery charging.
In the Hybrid, the gas engine employs an even higher 14:1 compression ratio and is tuned to produce 176 horsepower and 163 lb.-ft. of torque. Paired with the 118-horsepower electric motor, the total Hybrid system net output is 208-horsepower.
The hybrid system, however, gives the Camry Hybrid performance similar to the four-cylinder gas version. Sequential Shiftmatic technology allows the driver to “shift” the electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT).
It mimics a quick-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission via paddle shifters (on SE, SE Upgrade, and XSE grades) or with the console-mounted shift lever.
The Lithium-ion (Li-ion) hybrid battery pack is installed beneath the rear seat and does not reduce passenger room or trunk capacity. The battery’s position also contributes to a lower centre of gravity.
Along with the traditional Camry Hybrid NORMAL, ECO and EV drive system modes, a SPORT mode allows for an increase in power from the hybrid system for improved acceleration response relative to throttle pedal input.
The clever Auto Glide Control (AGC) feature helps to enhance fuel efficiency by calculating efficient coasting logic. AGC can be activated only when the vehicle is being operated in the ECO drive mode.
When activated, AGC limits the loss of vehicle speed through engine braking, acting more like a neutral gear to allow longer coasting. An AGC indicator light illuminates on the multi-information display when AGC is in operation to alert the driver of reduced engine braking.
The base Toyota Audio system for 2021 gains a new, dramatic looking and easy-to-use 7-in. floating touch screen display. The system features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The full-featured system includes AM/FM, hands-free phone capability, plus advanced voice recognition and on the SE Upgrade and above Sirius XM with a 3-month All-Access trial.
Audio Plus with Remote is available on the LE Upgrade, SE Upgrade, XSE and includes Safety Connect (1-year trial), Remote Connect (1-year trial), and Service Connect (10-year trial).
Higher grades such as the XLE, XLE V6 grades feature Premium Audio with Remote which adds Embedded Navigation with map update (3-year trial) and Destination Assist Connect (1-year trial).
All 2021 Camry models have 10 standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology.
All Camrys also come equipped with a standard backup camera. A bird’s eye view monitor is available on the XSE V6 and XLE V6 grade.
For more information, visit toyota.ca.