Toyota Camry is the best-selling midsize sedan in America. For the last 19 straight years.
Offering many various trim levels appealing to buyers’ luxury, sporty, and even extra sporty (Camry TRD) needs, the Camry is more popular than ever before.
One demographic, though, that often gets overlooked in the automotive world is the all-wheel drive sedan segment. Thanks to Toyota, this market is better than ever.
I recently had the opportunity to evaluate a 2021 Camry XLE All-Wheel Drive (AWD) for a week. Enjoyable to say the least.
2021 Camry XLE AWD
Toyota Camry now has five trim levels available in both front-wheel drive (FWD) and all-wheel drive. You can find AWD Camry LE, SE, SE Nightshade, XLE and XSE for sale at your local Toyota dealerships.
The last year Camry had an all-wheel drive was 1991. Time to make a triumphant return to the public.
My test vehicle for the week was a 2021 Toyota Camry XLE AWD in Predawn Gray Mica with Ash gray interior.
Camry all-wheel drive XLE is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission. This produces 202 horsepower and 182 lb.-ft. torque. Front-wheel drive is statistically the same at 203 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. torque.
This is one smart all-wheel drive system. In fact, it was patterned after current RAV4 technology. Your Camry AWD can send up to 50 percent of available engine torque to its rear wheels when wheel slippage is detected. This is ideal for maintaining traction in snowy, icy, rainy, or muddy roads and terrain.
This is referred to by Toyota as “Dynamic Torque Control AWD.” Maybe we should just call it “AWD” for short.
Plus, when the roads are clear and dry, Camry operates in front-wheel drive mode to maximize fuel efficiency.
Work smarter not harder. Well, work hard when it needs it. Oh, forget it, you know what I mean.
As Ace Ventura would say, “Aaaaaaaaallrighty then!”
Camry XLE MPG
Normally when you switch between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, fuel economy takes a small dip. This is also the case with 2021 Camry XLE AWD.
Front-wheel drive Camry XLE is 27 city / 38 highway / 31 combined. AWD for the same trim is 25 city / 34 highway / 28 combined.
I achieved a combined mpg of about 31 during my evaluation. I tried to drive it with a combination of highway, city and country road terrain to give a wide and varied experience. I would consider this a success for fuel efficiency.
Fuel tank for Camry XLE AWD is 14.4 gallons compared to FWD tank of 15.8 gallons.
Toyota Camry ride comfort
When I began my evaluation, I had a preconceived impression that a Camry AWD would have less acceleration power than a traditional FWD. A little slower and a little more sluggish.
Fortunately, I was wrong.
As I learned from my research, Camry XLE AWD is only 160 pounds heavier than FWD. Therefore, you would not expect much difference in ride quality between the two.
I found my evaluator Camry to have solid acceleration and a smooth ride both at city and highway speeds. I was surprised how quickly it got up to full speed merging on to highways. This will be helpful when driving in more congested traffic when you have tight windows to pull out as well.
Rear multi-link suspension was soft and pleasant. Camry hugged corners going around tighter curves and did not rattle my spine going over speed bumps at lower speeds.
Minimal wind noise was not an annoyance for me at all.
2021 Camry XLE Interior
Having owned a 2018 Camry XLE (front-wheel) for three years before my 2021 Venza, this one felt like home. Same interior color too.
Interior cabin feels open and spacious.
Thanks to several optional upgrade packages, my tester Camry came with leather seats that can be both heated and cooled.
I also was treated to full, rich, crystal clear sound with 9 JBL speakers (with subwoofer and amplifier) as part of the Navigation Upgrade Package.
One new feature this is polarizing for many Camry owners and fans is the raised “floating” multimedia screen. This is a new one for 2021 models but follows the pattern set by many popular models like RAV4, Corolla, and Highlander. Personally, I find it less distracting while driving because I do not have to look as far down to see various pieces of information.
Camry Exterior styling
What a beautiful car. Sleek flowing lines extend from front to back of Camry XLE.
Two noticeable exterior changes for 2021 Camry involve wheels and the front end. Redesigned 18-inch gray machined-finish alloy wheels are a nice improvement from 2020.
Also, the front end has been modernized with a three-sectioned horizontal accent grille. Bright chrome accents surround the grille and add to a more luxurious vibe.
VIDEO: Take a full tour of 2021 Toyota Camry XLE AWD in my video review.
Camry XLE AWD comes standard with full LED headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights with auto on/off feature.
This is one sharp looking vehicle.
Camry XLE Price
A 2021 Toyota Camry XLE FWD has a factory MSRP of $29,870. In comparison, Camry XLE AWD starts at $31,270. An upcharge of $1,400 seems fair and reasonable for the additional traction and peace of mind.
Of course, your pricing increases as you add in options and packages.
Several option packages are available to potential buyers.
Driver Assist Package includes a useful 10-inch color head-up Display, bird’s eye view camera, intelligent clearance sonar with rear cross-traffic braking, and ventilated (cooled) front seats.
Navigation Upgrade Package adds in dynamic navigation and JBL sound system.
You may appreciate the heated steering wheel you get with Cold Weather Package.
Panoramic glass roof is another option I might recommend if you enjoy full light extending all the way to the rear seats.
Time for your Toyota Camry comments
Thanks for reading everyone. Feel free to bookmark my Torque News / Toyota News page to follow along with my “everything Toyota” column.
Do you own a Toyota Camry and what has your experience been so far? How many miles do you have on it?
Would you drive a Camry all-wheel drive and how would you use it? Is it more beneficial for colder climates or would you use it anywhere?
See you next story when I compare 2022 Tundra specs vs Ford PowerBoost.
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