2020 Toyota Camry XLE AWD – The Statue of Reliability


2020 Toyota Camry XLE AWD

2020 Toyota Camry XLE AWD – Toyota introduced the 8th and current generation Camry during the 2017 North American International Auto Show, aka NAIAS. The production began mid of the same year. Toyota’s midsize sedan has been on the market since 1982. Growing from a compact to a midsize sedan, Camry became a bestseller and one of the most reliable products of the arguably most respected car manufacturer in the world. Do you not believe what I say? Have a look and see yourself, what percent of taxis in all major Canadian cities is a Camry.

This week, we had a chance to review the 2020 Toyota Camry XLE AWD, which we explain how it stands against the competition, and why you should choose it or not.

Toyota introduced its 8th generation Camry at the 2017 North American International Motor Show

The last decade saw the decline of the most traditional form of the vehicle since the 1970s, called sedan. However, almost all Japanese and Korean manufacturers kept sedans in their model ranges whereas some manufacturers decided to stop making sedans and completely focused on their SUV lineup. In the last few years, manufacturers decided to add an All-Wheel-Drive system to their sedans to get more market share. Toyota also joined the AWD Sedan club with its latest Camry.

Exterior & Interior

Unlike the older generation Camrys, the latest gen is designed much more dynamic and it does not look like an old man’s car. As soon as we saw the Camry in person, we realized that it is a completely new direction for Toyota, as they wanted to inject more sport design into it. Even though it is not the most sporty version, it definitely does not look like a boring sedan, while they were still able to keep an elegant silhouette.

A very distinctive look – huge grille and body lines go through the headlights

Akio Toyoda, the President of the Toyota Motor Corporation, issued a companywide decree three years ago for “no more boring cars.” Mr. Toyoda gave designers more freedom than ever to back up his statement.

There are reasons why the president of one of the most successful automobile manufacturers has to make such a statement: Despite its globally known and accepted reliability and durability of its vehicles, Toyota, at least until a few years ago could not demonstrate the same ability in design and design consistency. With the current Camry, we can say that things are changing on the design front too.

Rear design elements match very well with the front end, sporty but still elegant

When you get inside the Camry, you will see exterior design elements that are also implemented in the interior. Unlike the previous gen, it is a very dynamic design with lots of different lines, angles and textures. Toyota decided to use soft-touch plastics and leather everywhere that you can reach and see. In fact, this is probably one of the nicest interiors in this segment, unless you go with premium brands.

Camry’s interior is a great combination of dynamic design elements and comfort

In the XLE trim, Camry has multiple types of plastics including piano black, gloss plastics, matte plastics, and leather on the dashboard. Every essential feature has a physical button instead of a digital screen. The air conditioning is not integrated into the infotainment system, which is a great feature for long-term ownership. The overall button layout is very good, and it is a user-friendly interior. Regardless of the trim, it comes with an analog speedometer and RPM gauge, with a customizable digital screen in the center.

Toyota Camry has an adequate amount of rear legroom, but it is the best when it comes to rear-seat headroom

One of the best features of mid-size sedans is the passenger accommodation as it is on par with much bigger SUVs. Toyota Camry is no exception and it offers generous rear-seat legroom and headroom. Although it is not class-leading when it comes to legroom space, it is definitely above average and it offers the best rear headroom in this segment. Even if you are taller than 6’2″, you would still have plenty of space in the rear. The seat cushions are slightly on the stiffer side, but definitely very comfortable and we had no fatigue in our long drive test.

Camry has 428 litres of cargo space with a wide trunk opening that makes very convenient to put your luggage inside

Last but not least, it has 428 litres of cargo space. The cargo capacity won’t change even if you choose the hybrid version, as Toyota placed the batteries under the rear seats. The trunk has a wide opening and it is easy to load/unload.

Engine & Drivetrain

Toyota offers several different powertrain options with the 2020 Camry. As it is a part of the latest Toyota New Global Architecture family, all engine options are readily used in other Toyota models. The base engine is 2.5L that produces 205 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. If you go with the higher trims, there is a V6 option as well as a Hybrid version is available. This is an important point because Camry is one of the last alternatives in this segment that still comes with a V6 option, whereas almost all of its rivals downsized to 4 cylinder engines and they rely on forced induction to get similar power. However, if you want an All Wheel Drive Camry, you only can get the 2.5L engine, which we explain the details below.

There is only one engine option available if you choose All Wheel Drive – 2.5L engine pumps out 205 horsepower

Okay, let’s get back to the 2.5L engine in our tester. Although it is a naturally aspirated platform, we are surprised how torquey it is especially in the midrange. Toyota is one of the early adopters when it comes to the dual-injection system many years ago, which they call it D4S, which means the engine has both port fuel injection and direct injection. This not only improves fuel economy and offers a better torque curve with direct injection, but with the help of a port fuel injection system, it requires no additional maintenance like a regular direct injection engine. The only thing that we did not like much of is the engine sound, especially in the high rpm range. This is not a performance-oriented engine, and as a result, the engine doesn’t sound performance inspiring.

The Camry AWD comes with only one transmission option, which is an 8-speed torque converted automatic. It is designed, engineered and tuned for a smooth driving experience, and it does a great job as a daily driver. It is almost as smooth as a CVT, but with regular gears. Though there is no paddle shifter in the XLE trim, you can switch the gears through the shifter. Upshift and downshifts are fast enough, and it is a great match for the 4 cylinder engine.

Camry offers a smooth and comfortable driving experience

Toyota Camry recently joined the “All Wheel Drive Sedan” club, a club that was a niche segment as we only had Subaru Legacy, and Nissan Altima. So there are not many AWD mid-size sedans out there as of 2020 unless you go to the premium segment. What makes Camry unique in this segment is, it is the only option that does not come with a CVT transmission.  Toyota took the AWD system from the RAV4 into the Camry’s underbody to create the Camry AWD, as they are all members of the TNGA platform. Although it adds approximately 170 pounds, we think it is a great addition for harsh Canadian winters.

We didn’t have a chance to see the limits of the AWD system in bad weather/road circumstances, but it is very capable when cornering. For daily driving, you would not feel if it is a front-wheel-drive or all-wheel drive. Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD system can send more power to the rear, in case the front tires lose traction. However, when the wheelspin stops, and you go at a steady speed on the straight line, the coupler stops sending power to the rear which provides better fuel economy. Speaking of fuel economy, our tests show that Camry AWD consumed 8.5L / 100 km on average, and 7.5L / 100 km on the highway, which is pretty impressive for an AWD car that weighs more than 2 tons.

Driving Impressions & Features

As we mentioned above, Toyota did its best to create a mid-size sedan that offers a smooth and comfortable ride. They also implemented the latest infotainment technologies to keep up with the competition. Camry comes with a 7″ infotainment system, which looks slightly small by today’s standards but it works fine. At least, there is almost no input lag. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available on the 2020 Camry, which is one of the most essential “tech” features nowadays. Like the rest of the interior, all essential features like the menu button, tune and volume knobs have physical buttons. The XLE trim comes with a JBL Premium Audio system and it is very good for this price range.

7″ screen is a little bit smaller than the competition but the infotainment system is very easy to use with no input lag

Not everything is perfect. There are a few things that could have been better. For instance, at the top “AWD” trim, we wish there were memory & ventilated front seats and heated rear seats were available in this particular trim, at least as an option. Adaptive Cruise Control works well, although Lane Keep Assist could have been better as there is no lane centering feature. So you won’t get a “Semi-autonomous” driving experience like some others in this segment. Other than that, I think this is a nice package that has almost everything available in the mid-size sedan class.

If you are coming from compact sedan/hatchback, this would feel significantly bigger when you first drive it. In the city and stop & go traffic, you may feel its size even more especially when you try to maneuver and park in tight spaces. However, 2020 Camry shines when you take it to the highway. There is no excessive road noise, and suspension tuning is well balanced. It is not stiff, but feels very stable at higher speeds. 2.5L engine doesn’t feel slow at all, and still good on gas. We had a chance to take the Camry from Toronto to Brockville, and we would like to include our travel impressions below.

Travel Impressions – Brockville Ontario

Returning from a business trip to Ottawa (yes business trips still occur despite the capable technologies like Zoom) we visited the historic Brockville at the St. Lawrence River, the Thousand Islands Region.

The Brockville Court House with the statue of General Isaac Brock, after whom the city was named. He died on the battlefield at Queenston Heights near Niagara Falls, ON during the War of 1812 fought between British Canada and the United States.

Although I drove between Toronto and Ottawa several times until now, I did not have a chance to stop in Brockville. But this time, I did it. Brockville, formerly Elizabethtown, is on the 401 and is only one hour from the Nation’s Capital and about three hours from Toronto. The historic downtown is only a few kilometers from the highway. On a late Saturday afternoon with the cool and windy weather, the city felt abandoned, but you can still feel that this city was also hit by the coronavirus lockdown. I promised myself a real visit for around spring 2021 to take a walk on the Waterfront.

Not surprisingly, the congregation of First Presbyterian Church in Brockville, Ontario goes back to 1811, following the mass emigration of Loyalists in the aftermath of the American Revolution.

Street Art at the Waterfront, Brockville

2020 Toyota Camry XLE AWD

Brockville is the Eastern gateway to the Thousand Islands Region and a centre for fresh water scuba diving. 2020 is a lost year in tourism like many other places

For more information about Brockville, please visit http://www.brockville.com

Pricing, Specs & Conclusion

We would describe the 2020 Camry as the “Statue of Reliability” because it is one of the few alternatives that come to mind when you are looking for a reliable vehicle that gets you from A to B. Unlike the other alternatives in this segment, Toyota decided not to cut the corners by choosing a regular automatic, instead of “boring” CVT transmission, and they have been using the Dual Injection system that basically requires no maintenance, as other rivals just have a direct injection instead. Toyota still has a very solid and reliable platform on the 2020 Camry, but the only difference is, they were able to make it look and drive much better than the previous generation.

Camry would be our first choice for long-term ownership in the mid-size segment

Base trim Camry (front-wheel drive) starts at $26,620 and if you want the AWD version, the starting price climbs to $29,850. It is a very competitively priced alternative in the mid-size segment, considering the AWD version starts just under the $30k mark. Our tester unit, the XLE AWD trim, the total comes up to $40,290.70.

For pricing and specifications, please see the window sticker of our tester below.

For more details, please visit www.toyota.ca

Article and Photos by Varol McKars and Dan Gunay