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2021 Toyota Camry Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.2

The 2021 Toyota Camry has some of the best performance chops among midsize cars, with an energetic V6 engine option, good gas mileage, and a well-mannered yet engaging ride.

  • "The Toyota Camry TRD model is unlike any other in the lineup. It has the potent V6 standard and a suspension that has been stiffened to the point of being nearly jarring on rougher roads. The result is a Camry that loves to corner and hug turns. It is more rigid thanks to components like rear cross bracing. … The TRD is a surprising departure for the Camry, but if you’ve always wanted a Toyota sedan with racy looks and a screwed-down feel, give it a try." -- Autotrader
  • "The Camry is buttoned-down for the most part. Typical pavement bumps, whether large or small, are soaked up nicely." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "The … Camry feels tauter than the previous-generation car, and the steering is more precise." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Base engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder with between 202 and 206 horsepower and 182 and 186 pound-feet of torque, depending on trim and drivetrain
  • Available engine: 3.5-liter four-cylinder with 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: eight-speed automatic

The four-cylinder engine is sufficient for regular driving situations, although a few critics think it feels a bit sluggish. If you want a little extra punch, consider upgrading to the V6, which helps the Camry go from zero-to-60 mph in around 5.7 seconds. The automatic transmission makes refined, timely shifts.

  • "In terms of engine choice, the base 4-cylinder is a knockout, delivering excellent power and response along with exceptional fuel economy. Its lighter weight also allows for a more natural steering feel than in the 301 hp V6-powered model. Sure, there’s obvious appeal in having that much power, but you don’t really need it, and that steering advantage arguably makes the 4-cylinder the better car to drive." -- Autotrader
  • "The standard four-cylinder engine pairs with a silky eight-speed automatic, but its acceleration numbers are disappointing. … The real gem of this lineup is the velvety 301-hp V-6 that's available on the XLE and XSE models as well as the TRD variant." -- Car and Driver
  • "The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. Press on the gas at a stoplight and the Camry moves off with no lurchiness or pregnant pauses, making for a pleasant, innocuous driving experience." -- Edmunds (2019)

MPG Estimates

The EPA has not evaluated the 2021 Camry as of this writing. The nearly identical 2020 Camry earns good gas mileage ratings for a midsize car.

  • LE and SE, four-cylinder, FWD: 28/39 mpg city/highway
  • XLE and XSE, four-cylinder, FWD: 27/38 mpg
  • LE, SE, XLE, and XSE, four-cylinder, AWD: 25/34 mpg
  • XLE, V6: 22/33 mpg
  • XSE, V6: 22/32 mpg
  • TRD, V6: 22/31 mpg

Handling and Braking

The Camry strikes a good balance between being comfortable and fun to drive. The LE and XLE trims are modeled more for comfort and have a softer suspension, while the SE and XSE have stiffened suspensions for a bit more agility. The TRD is the most performance-tuned of the bunch.

  • "We're also happy to say that we no longer hate driving the Camry. 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." -- Car and Driver
  • "The current-generation Camry feels like a totally different car compared with Camrys of old, showcasing a degree of poise, precision and composure that has never before been associated with this nameplate. Though there are LE and SE trim lines that differ in steering and suspension tuning, their dynamic differences aren’t that noticeable, and both maintain a fairly comparable balance between comfort and handling precision. The SE just sharpens things up a bit." -- Autotrader
  • "For as long as we can remember, the Toyota Camry has been comfortable and compliant, but not exactly invigorating to drive. It was essentially the vanilla ice cream of family sedans. That all changed with last year’s remake. A double-wishbone rear suspension, lower center of gravity and stiffer body structure with a 30-percent increase in torsional rigidity translate to a more dynamic and ultimately fun-to-drive experience." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
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