Dedicated performance cars are great for seeking out thrills on the road, but they’re not very practical as everyday cars. Commuting to the office in a Porsche 911 may impress some of your coworkers, but it doesn’t have much space for cargo if you have to swing by the grocery store on your way home. Luckily for auto enthusiasts with a pragmatic side, there are plenty of cars out there that are both versatile and fun to drive.
For instance, take the 2024 Toyota Camry. With its various options, this sedan has the potential to either be a basic and affordable commuter vehicle, or a thrilling car with impressive performance dynamics and a flair for style. Let’s take a look at the engine, drivetrain, and suspension choices for the Camry. With so many different elements to mix and match, there’s a Camry that’s right for just about every driver. Can avid enthusiasts find a trim that’s up to their standards?
Three Engine Options
Similar to other mid-size sedans, the Camry offers four-cylinder, six-cylinder, and hybrid engine options. Let’s take a closer look at each of these powerplants.
The 2024 Camry’s base engine is a 2.5L I-4 that provides up to 206 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. Various drive modes make it easy to adjust the car’s settings for optimal performance in different situations. Normal mode is well-rounded for everyday driving, while Eco prioritizes fuel economy over performance. Sport mode, on the other hand, puts driving dynamics front and center. While this engine is the better choice for drivers who are mainly concerned about budget, it’s certainly not the most thrilling option in the lineup.
If you’re looking for performance first and foremost, you’ll want to opt for the Camry’s V6. This 3.5L engine churns out up to 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, giving you the power for swift acceleration and high-speed thrills. This powertrain’s availability is limited to upper-tier trims like the XLE, XSE, and TRD, so on top of the extra power you also get unique design elements and more comfort and convenience tech onboard, making your time behind the wheel even sweeter.
It should come as no surprise that the maker of the Prius provides plenty of options to drivers looking for a fuel-efficient hybrid. The Camry has five different hybrid trims, running from the affordable LE to the sporty XSE that features a sport-tuned suspension and paddle shifters, as well as unique styling elements. The hybrid models also use the I-4 engine, but pair it with a 650-volt electric motor, bumping the total combined system net horsepower up to 208 and torque to 163 lb-ft. The fact that it gets up to 52 MPG for combined city and highway driving is the cherry on top. In addition to the three drive modes that come standard on the Camry, the hybrid also features an EV drive mode, which allows you to run entirely on electric power for a limited period of time.
Non-hybrid Camry models use a Direct Shift eight-speed automatic transmission. Thanks to the vehicle’s low center of gravity and relatively light weight, the system provides a smooth and stable ride at higher speeds that’s both enjoyable and fuel efficient. Some trims also feature paddle shifters built into the steering wheel, providing the extra control of a manual transmission without having to make the extra effort using a stick shift and clutch. The hybrid Camry uses an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission that essentially has infinite gears, allowing it to adapt seamlessly to any situation.
Front Wheel Drive vs. All Wheel Drive
Most versions of the Camry use a front-wheel drive system that’s efficient, in terms of fuel consumption, space, and overall vehicle weight. All-wheel drive is an available option on some trim levels. It can sense when the front wheels are slipping and send some of the torque to the rear wheels to give the driver better grip in slippery conditions, whether that’s a rainy or snowy day on the pavement or a rural gravel road.
There are three available suspension setups on the Camry. The standard option, which comes on budget and more luxurious trim levels, uses an independent MacPherson strut suspension up front and a multi-link suspension in the rear. Front and rear stabilizer bars and front strut tower bracing provide even more stability, helping to keep the driver in complete control at all times. The SE and XSE trims have all of that, plus sport-tuned shock absorbers and springs for a smooth but stiffer ride, which provides more control at high speeds and during sporty cornering. The TRD trim features TRD track-tuned front and rear coil springs, which are even more optimized for a sporty ride.
For the best combination of performance features plus an assortment of exclusive extras, choose the Camry TRD. Designed by Toyota Racing Development, this trim comes standard with the V6 engine, paddle shifters, and a track-tuned suspension system. It also features dual-piston front calipers that enhance your braking power, giving you even more control over the vehicle in a wider range of circumstances. The calipers are also painted red, adding a pop of color and showing other drivers that your car doesn’t just look sporty, it’s the real deal.
The TRD comes with 19-inch matte-black alloy wheels. These pair nicely with the touch of red from the calipers and improve steering responsiveness. While all-season tires come standard, summer tires are available, giving you the option to get a better grip on the road for peak performance. The cat-back dual exhaust is also a mix of aesthetic and practical. The polished stainless steel tips add character to the rear of the car, and you’ll get a more exciting sound every time you accelerate, making for a more immersive driving experience. The back of the car also features a gloss-black pedestal rear spoiler that improves aerodynamics and adds to the TRD’s sporty style.
While all versions of the Camry feature front and rear stabilizer bars, the TRD has thicker underbody braces that make it even more rigid for better handling. Its unique coil springs lower the car slightly for a better center of gravity that improves handling. The exclusive track-tuned shocks make for more agile handling and precise steering.
You Get a Camry, and You Get a Camry
The Camry may have a reputation for being a practical commuter vehicle or family car, but thanks to its range of options, it also has the potential to be an exciting choice for driving enthusiasts on a budget. There are thirteen different trim levels of the Camry, eight that run on gas alone plus five hybrids, and they run the gamut when it comes to price, style, and included features. Available add-ons like all-wheel drive expand the lineup even more, giving drivers many ways to make the Camry their own.
Any trim with the V6 under the hood is going to deliver a good time behind the wheel, but it’s clear that the TRD is the best option if performance is your main priority. It certainly won’t turn the humble Camry into a GR Supra, but it can definitely provide a thrilling ride at highway speeds. Plus, it has the looks to match, with plenty of bright red accents on the inside and out that are sure to appeal to fans of the classic racing aesthetic.