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2020 Toyota Camry, 2021 Avalon Gaining All-Wheel Drive Option

2020 Toyota Camry, 2021 Avalon Gaining All-Wheel Drive Option

Midsize sedans may not be the most popular market segment these days, but one trend in midsize sedans is offering all-wheel-drive variants. This is an area Toyota originally never intended to enter with the current generation Camry, but they have changed their minds.

Starting with the 2020 Camry, buyers will have the option of adding all-wheel-drive. This is the first time in 28 years any Camry variant has offered all-wheel-drive. Toyota will follow-up with adding AWD to the 2021 Avalon as well; a first-ever for that nameplate.

While buyers will have all-wheel-drive as a decision point, it isn’t going to be ubiquitously offered across all Camry and Avalon trim levels. Camry buyers will have to choose between LE, XLE, SE and XSE trims, while Avalon buyers will have to select XLE or Limited trims.

The biggest limiting factor is the fact that Toyota has engineered the all-wheel-drive system to work exclusively with both sedans’ 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine only. This means buyers cannot opt for all-wheel-drive when either car is equipped with the optional 3.5-liter V-6.

Why the limitations? Well, this generation was not originally engineered to get all-wheel-drive. Toyota says the flexibility of its TNGA architecture (which underpins both Camry and Avalon) is just so flexible it allowed them to piece together all-wheel-drive just for the North American market based on demand.

What that really means is engineers pulled the engine, transmission, transfer case and rear differential from the RAV4, which is also based on the TNGA platform. Engineers also brought over a modified version of the multi-link rear suspension found on the RAV4.

Toyota says the system can send up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear during slippage. Otherwise the system can disengage to preserve fuel economy figures.

Pricing for both all-wheel-drive sedans will be announced closer to launch. Toyota will formally reveal both sedans at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show.


About Nick Saporito

AutoVerdict Senior Editor Nick Saporito began writing about cars at age 13. Nick ran a couple of automotive enthusiast sites for several years, before taking some time off to focus on his career and education. By day he's a marketing executive in the telecom world and by night he hangs out here at AV. You'll find him focusing on tech, design and the industry's future.
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  1. Andrew_L
    Too bad its for the 4 only and not the V6
    Unfortunately, with CUVs guiding platform hard points, this likely means mainstream cars will remain tall and a bit ungainly. I think the era of long and low is gone except for premium cars.

    But flexibility beats nothing for sure.
    This is the future -- the core or lead vehicle that a platform will be developed for will be the volume CUV, from which other high-margin vehicles can be spun off. That's the opposite of what used to happen, when a CUV was a raised sedan platform.

    Its a subtle difference, but I think it actually might bode well for more interesting variants. Toyota sells hundreds of thousands of Rav4s, so that covers a lot of the development overhead. It seems like it might be easier to make a business case for using the same architecture to create lower volume specialty vehicles -- say, a high-style coupe, or an AWD high-performance wagon. Yes, they will be FWD/AWD based, but vehicles like the FocusRS or GolfR show that these kinds of platforms can still create interesting, fun-to-drive vehicles.
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