By Theodore Opara
TOYOTA is introducing the new all-wheel drive Camry and Avalon models to help drivers get a better grip on rough roads. It’s the first AWD Camry since 1991, and the first-ever Avalon with AWD.
The Toyota-developed Dynamic Torque Control AWD system will be available as a standalone option for the Camry LE, XLE, SE and XSE grades and on Avalon XLE and Limited grades.
In recent years, market demand for AWD passenger vehicles has increased significantly, due in no small part to the rising popularity of SUVs and crossovers. Midsize sedan customers outside the luxury category, however, have had relatively few AWD choices. Now, Toyota gives them two more with Camry, America’s best-selling midsize sedan for 17 years, and Toyota’s flagship sedan, Avalon.
Notably, the Camry AWD and Avalon AWD are North America-only models developed in the U.S. and assembled exclusively at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky. Both the Camry AWD and Avalon AWD get a high-efficiency 2.5-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine teamed with an eight-speed Direct-Shift automatic transmission. Most Camry AWD grades have 202 horsepower, while the Camry XSE AWD and both Avalon AWD grades have 205 hp with dual exhaust. The new AWD system balances added traction with exemplary fuel efficiency.
The Camry and Avalon AWD models underscore Toyota’s commitment to the sedan category, a space that some brands have been leaving while Toyota has been expanding choices. Both the new-generation Camry and Avalon sedans offer hybrid models, and recently both added their first-ever TRD (Toyota Racing Development) performance versions.
Toyota previously offered an AWD Camry in 1988-1991, called the AllTrac. The company said it 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.
Smarter All-Wheel Drive: To many car buyers, “all-wheel drive” may mean one thing, but there are many different AWD technologies on the market. Toyota found an ideal type of AWD for Camry and Avalon in its new-generation RAV4 compact SUV introduced for 2019. The Dynamic Torque Control AWD system provides effective traction for inclement and slippery weather while minimizing AWD’s typical drag on fuel economy. Admittedly, the system name is a mouthful; Camry and Avalon models equipped with it will carry a simple “AWD” badge on their trunk lids.
The Camry and Avalon AWD system can direct up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, in response to acceleration from a start or slippage at the front wheels.
Notably, when AWD isn’t needed, such as on long highway stretches, the electromagnetic controlled coupling on the front of the rear drive axle can disengage the propeller shaft from the differential to prioritize fuel efficiency. The AWD is designed to re-engage in an instant when needed. AWD operation is transparent to the driver and passengers. On that note, the Camry and Avalon AWD models match their FWD counterparts in critical passenger space, trunk room, ride comfort, cabin quietness and vehicle agility.