Toyota blesses Camry with AWD
15. 11. 2019 | 12:11
The best line in Toyota's press release announcing the availability of all-wheel drive for the Camry and Avalon: "The company appreciates the loyalty, patience and perseverance of all those customers and dealers who sent letters, emails, comments and texts asking for a modern AWD version of America’s favorite sedan." That's a courtly way of saying, "All you howler monkeys can shut it down. You're welcome." It's been 28 years since the demise of the Camry AllTrac left buyers with front-wheel drive only. That changes soon, thanks to Toyota's new TNGA flexible architecture that allowed engineers at the North American outpost to perform a little mix-and-match under the skin and restore engine torque to the rear axle.
Even though the new Camry and Avalon weren't designed to adopt AWD, the two sedans share their platforms with the latest RAV4, which offers two AWD systems. The short story is that boffins at Toyota Motor North America Research and Development in Saline, Michigan, married Camry and Avalon uppers with the engine, transmission, transfer case, and rear differential and suspension from the four-cylinder RAV4, and the prop shaft from a Highlander. The more involved story is that, to do so, those boffins had to rework the sedans' floors, and install electric parking brakes and saddle-style fuel tanks, among other things. In spite of that, engineers managed to retain the same rear seat and trunk floor height as in FWD models, so there's no change in comfort or space for occupants and cargo.
The Dynamic Torque Control AWD remains disengaged when not needed, to improve fuel economy. When the system detects slippage, an electromagnetic coupling hooks up in an instant to send as much as 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels. The extra equipment adds 165 pounds to the AWD Camry compared to the front-driver, while some trickery in the first-ever Avalon AWD allowed it to retain "weight similar to FWD V6 siblings."
Now come the caveats. The standalone option will be available only on four-cylinder versions of both sedans; the RAV4 that donated its engine to the enterprise doesn't come with a six-cylinder. Hybrid trims are excluded from the AWD party, making the 2.5-liter four-cylinder a new engine to the Avalon lineup. The Camry AWD can be had in LE, XLE or SE trims putting out 202 horspepower, and on the XSE trim that gets 205 hp and dual exhaust. The Avalon XLE and Limited, both with 205 hp and twin pipes, can be had with AWD.
The real shame is that neither sedan will be able to get anyone through this winter: The Camry AWD goes on sale in early spring; the Avalon won't show until next autumn as a 2021 model.