The 2020 Toyota Camry and its distinction for unsullied reliability allow it to be a strong contender in the fading family-sedan segment. Its three power-train options cover a diversified range: there's a fuel-efficient four-cylinder, a potent V-6, and an eco-friendly hybrid.
Though the Toyota Camry has a compliant ride and proficient handling, it trails in performance behind the sportier and turbocharged rivals such as the acclaimed Honda Accord or the elegant Mazda 6. There’s also plentiful standard driver-assistance technology, including forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning.
The Camry may be plagued by small imperfections, but even so, it is the best-executed Camry that Toyota has ever produced.
The big change for 2020 is the performance-oriented Camry outfitted by Toyota Racing Development (TRD). This racier Camry rides on retuned dampers supported by stiffer springs that lower the ride height by 0.6 inch. Beefier anti-roll bars, additional chassis bracing, and wider lightweight wheels wrapped in summer rubber prepare the Camry TRD for the Old Country Buffet 500.
The front brake rotors increase in diameter by 0.9 inch and are clamped by dual-piston calipers, and there’s a TRD-specific exhaust system to sound the part. The exterior is complemented by a unique aerodynamic body kit, and the interior is dressed in red to complete the look. Previously unavailable, Android Auto capability is now standard in all Camry models.
The fuel-efficient four-cylinder is alluring, but our brains need stimulation and driving a refrigerator isn’t going to cut it. Our inner Kyle Busch says to try the new Camry TRD, so that’s exactly what we’d do. Not only is it the cheapest way to get the 301-hp V-6, it bundles the lengthy list of performance-enhancing options mentioned above.
Though it forgoes creature comforts such as a leather interior, navigation, and driver-assistance features, it undercuts the V-6–powered Camry XSE by almost $4000. All-wheel drive is optional on LE, SE, XLE, and XSE models and costs $1400.
The standard four-cylinder engine pairs with a silky eight-speed automatic, but its acceleration numbers are disappointing. A less powerful version of that engine works with a battery and two electric motors to power the Camry hybrid, which is no more exciting to drive than the base powertrain. The real gem of this lineup is the velvety 301-hp V-6 that's available in the XLE and XSE models.
Finally, a Camry we don't hate driving. It has a controlled ride and surprisingly responsive handling. The steering is pleasantly weighted and feels substantial when cornering and light when maneuvering in parking lots. We found the Camry's brake pedal responsive and not too soft, even in the hybrid, in which it must meld friction with regenerative braking (where the energy from braking is used to recharge the hybrid's battery pack). At lower speeds, however, the hybrid's brake pedal is hypersensitive.
The whole Camry lineup performed extremely well in the EPA's tests, and a four-cylinder model did brilliantly in our real-world highway testing. The hybrid's upper trims sacrifice some efficiency at the altar of luxury, however. A four-cylinder Camry SE returned 45 mpg in our highway test, beating its own EPA rating by 6 mpg—and making it the most economical non-hybrid car we've ever tested. It even beat the Camry XLE hybrid tested by 1 mpg.
We've driven the Camry in both top-level XLE guise and in its more plebeian SE trim. Both are spacious and comfortable, and the XLE is downright luxurious. However, there's a serious gap in material quality between the entry-level models and the more expensive versions, and the center part of the dashboard left some of us cold with its uninspired design.
Toyota's touchscreen infotainment system—called Entune 3.0—is standard across the Camry lineup, with an enhanced version available as an option. Entune has loads of features and responded reasonably well to user inputs in our tests, and—new for 2020—both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are now standard.
The Camry earned impressive marks from the country's two safety agencies, with a five-star NHTSA rating and IIHS's Top Safety Pick+ for 2018. We continue to applaud Toyota's decision to make driver-assistance technology standard across its lineup. Key safety features include:
Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist