Competes with: Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia K5, Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy
Looks like: Minor styling tweaks keep an aging model looking fresh
Powertrains: Non-hybrid models again have a choice between a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or 3.5-liter V-6, both paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive is available. Hybrid models use a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, continuously variable-style automatic transmission, electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.
Hits dealerships: November
Toyota’s popular Camry mid-size sedan is celebrating its 37th birthday and getting a little bit of “work” done. The 2021 Camry and Camry Hybrid get minor cosmetic updates, new multimedia screens and the next generation of Toyota’s safety system.
Related: 2020 Toyota Camry: What’s Changed
Outside, exterior updates are minor. For 2021, Toyota distinguishes the sport-oriented SE and XSE models from the lower LE and XLE trims with a bolder, redesigned lower bumper and honeycomb-style grille, as well as side vent inserts and accents. The L trim is gone, so the new base model is the LE. The performance-tuned Camry TRD, which was new for 2020, carries over with its more aggressive design. Non-hybrid LE trims get a new 17-inch alloy wheel design, while XLEs get a new 18-inch alloy wheel design.
Some new exterior colors also join the lineup. Blueprint replaces Blue Streak Metallic, while a new color, Ice Edge with a two-tone Midnight Black Metallic roof, is new for the Camry TRD. Also newly available on XSE trims is a two-tone Supersonic Red with Midnight Black Metallic roof.
The big news is an updated multimedia system. Base trims get a 7-inch touchscreen that floats up above the dashboard rather than the embedded screen before. Standard features include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility. A 9-inch touchscreen is available. Other interior updates are minimal and include a 10-inch color head-up display on higher trims, new interior trim choices (dark wood inlays or patterned metal), an upgraded optional JBL stereo, and a new herringbone seat pattern for the XLE grade.
Engine and Transmission
Powertrains carry over for the 2021 model year, but all-wheel-drive and hybrid model availability increase. The Camry got AWD for 2020, and it returns for 2021 on gas four-cylinder models with wider availability, now a stand-alone option on LE, XLE, SE, SE Nightshade and XSE trims. XLE, XSE and TRD models with the 3.5-liter V-6 are front-wheel drive; LE, XLE, SE, SE Nightshade and XSE trims using the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine have the option of AWD. Both engines work with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Camry Hybrid also returns for 2021. It again pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, continuously variable-style automatic transmission, electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. It’s again available on LE, XLE and SE trims and newly available on the XSE for 2021. Toyota says the battery pack is again installed beneath the rear seat so it doesn’t reduce passenger room or trunk capacity.
All model-year 2021 Camry models again get Toyota’s Star Safety system with automatic emergency braking as standard equipment, but Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 Plus — an upgrade to the automaker’s Safety Sense 2.0 system — debuts on the 2021 Camry.
The system’s pre-collision system with pedestrian detection is now able to detect bicycles in daytime and low-light conditions, and it has a new intersection support function: When making a left turn, the system can detect an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian and sound visual and audio alerts. It also enables automatic braking and steering assist if necessary. Other Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 Plus features include lane departure alert and assist, automatic high beams and road sign assist. Lane-centering steering, previously unavailable on the Camry, is also new for 2021.
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Toyota says the Camry’s adaptive cruise control has also been updated for smoother stop-and-go operation as well as smoother passing. Also new to the Camry is the rear seat reminder, which uses door opening sequence logic to remind you to check the backseat for an item or child, is standard on all trims.
The 2021 Camry TRD now comes standard with a blind spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert; these are now stand-alone options on LE, SE and SE Nightshade trims. Both safety systems are again standard on XSE and XLE trims for 2021.
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