2021 Toyota Camry is first to get Safety Sense 2.5 Plus
One of America's most popular sedans is getting a safety-minded tech infusion, along with other small improvements.
Craig ColeFormer reviews editor
Craig brought 15 years of automotive journalism experience to the Cars team. A lifelong resident of Michigan, he's as happy with a wrench or welding gun in hand as he is in front of the camera or behind a keyboard. When not hosting videos or cranking out features and reviews, he's probably out in the garage working on one of his project cars. He's fully restored a 1936 Ford V8 sedan and then turned to resurrecting another flathead-powered relic, a '51 Ford Crestliner. Craig has been a proud member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).
Toyota's Camry has been America's best-selling sedan for 18 consecutive years. Babies that were driven home from the hospital when this model began topping the sales charts can now vote. To help maintain its sales crown for yet another turn of the calendar,
has just announced a slew of updates for its venerable Camry, tweaking the model range, enhancing the car's design and, perhaps most importantly, adding even more tech.
Updated looks across the range
Peering at the images seen here, it's tough to tell what's new initially and, truth be told, there aren't any major visual changes. Comfort-focused LE and XLE models are dressed up with more defined lower air intakes. The former gets new 17-inch alloy wheels, the latter rolls on redesigned 18s. Inside, XLE models feature a new herringbone seat pattern for an extra touch of luxury.
If you want a little spice in your Camry, sportier SE and XSE grades are still an option. For 2021, they feature a bolder lower fascia design complete with honeycomb inserts. Also, brand spankin' new for the upcoming model year is an XSE hybrid model, which offers incredible fuel efficiency and greater style.
The 2021 Toyota Camry gets a nip, a tuck and a sprinkle of new tech
Interestingly, one thing has been eliminated for 2021. The base L grade is no more. The Camry LE will now serve as the entry-level model. Altogether, 17 different variants of this car will be offered, three models with a V6, five with the four-pot engine and front-wheel drive, another five with that same powerplant and all-wheel drive, plus four different hybrid grades.
The sporty Camry TRD model has been further refined as well. Introduced for 2020, its design pretty much stands pat, save for a newly available, exclusive two-tone paint combination, Ice Edge with a Midnight Black Metallic roof.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 Plus
When it comes to driver-assistance tech, the 2021 Camry is the first model to gain Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 Plus, which offers several new features. The pre-collision system with pedestrian detection can now recognize cyclists in the daytime and pedestrians in low-light situations, in addition to other vehicles. This system also features something called intersection support, which can improve safety in around-town driving. When turning left, it can detect oncoming traffic, sound an audio or visual alarm and even brake automatically in certain situations to prevent a nasty head-on collision. Beyond all that, Toyota engineers added something called emergency steering assist, which can help stabilize the vehicle in its lane of travel during evasive maneuvers, such as when avoiding a cyclist or another vehicle.
Toyota's updated adaptive cruise control system has further been enhanced with a feature that makes it easier to pass other vehicles. If you're stuck behind slower-moving traffic, you can activate the turn signal and as you begin to steer into the other lane it will automatically start accelerating up to the preset speed to make overtaking more seamless.
As you might expect, Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 Plus also features lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Automatic high beams and road sign recognition are bundled, as well.
A rear-seat reminder feature is also coming to the Camry for 2021. As with similar systems from other automakers, it's designed to prevent you from forgetting anything in the car, be it a package, laptop bag or something far more critical, like a pet or sleeping child.
Rounding out this sedan's driver-assistance tech, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is standard fare on XSE and XLE models. On lower end LE, SE and SE Nightshade grades, it's now available as an option. As for the sporty TRD model, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and heated side-view mirrors are now standard equipment.
It's what's inside that counts
New for the latest model year is a pair of floating infotainment screens. The standard touch-enabled display measures 7 inches, though the up-level offering clocks in at a more generous 9 inches. Having tested that larger display in the 2021 RAV4 Prime plug-in SUV, it is quite nice, with ample screen real estate, which makes icons large and very finger friendly. For added flexibility, even the base infotainment system supports Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa compatibility and even Android Auto.
Minor interior changes to the Camry include some new trims. Once again, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat is standard across the model range while ventilated front chairs are offered on XLE and XSE models, something that can be a godsend in sweltering summer weather.
More of the same
When it comes to nuts-and-bolts enhancements, there's not much to report. The Camry's base engine remains a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with, depending on model, up to 206 horsepower. For drivers that want a little more juice, a smooth-running 3.5-liter V6 is once again on the menu, brandishing 301 hp. Both of these engines are matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission, though all-wheel drive is only offered with the base I4. A North America-only combination, AWD expected to account for around 15% of Camry sales.
Of course, a
is once again available. Its powertrain is centered around a 2.5-liter engine, which is augmented by a pair of motor-generators. Here, total system output clocks in at 208 hp. The hybrid Camry should deliver performance that's similar to what the base engine provides, though you're probably not getting a gasoline-electric vehicle for maximum driving engagement. Fuel efficiency is what counts here and this Camry does not disappoint. In entry-level LE guise, expect an estimated 51 miles per gallon in the city, 53 mpg on highway trips and 52 mpg combined. SE, XLE and XSE hybrid models are slightly less efficient. They're rated at 44/47/46 mpg, respectively.
The current Toyota Camry is a fine midsize sedan. Refreshed looks and additional tech for 2021 should help this family-friendly four-door maintain its sales leadership. Production is slated to begin in October and examples should start arriving at dealers shortly after that. Pricing has not been announced yet, but it will likely be very similar to the 2020 model, which starts around 25 grand and change, including destination fees.
Watch this: Five things you need to know about the 2020 Toyota Camry TRD