Toyota is making fast, high-performance versions of its popular Camry and Avalon sedans, swimming against the tide of consumer demand for SUVs and crossovers.
The Japanese automaker said Friday it plans to release the new versions of the mid-size Camry sedan and full-size Avalon — better known for hauling families or ride-share passengers — under Toyota's TRD badge, which stands for Toyota Racing Development, Toyota's in-house performance tuning shop. Toyota already offers TRD trims on some cars, trucks, and SUVs. For example, the TRD Pro trim is available on Toyota's popular Tacoma mid-size pickup truck, and there is a TRD Special Edition of the Toyota 86 sports car.
But in a bid to keep its sedans exciting when consumers are running toward taller vehicles, Toyota is bringing them to the track.
Toyota has made sporty cars throughout its history, such as the Supra sports car which the company reportedly plans to bring back in 2020.
But its passenger cars, and many of its SUVs, are perhaps better known for being well-built, reliable and capable vehicles good for commuting and hauling groceries. The Camry, for example, has long been one of the top-selling vehicles in America. But more than one reviewer has called the ubiquitous vehicle "boring." Even the company has acknowledged its less-than-exciting image.
Toyota assured that it is taking the idea of a TRD sedan very seriously.
"Track-tuned means exactly that," Toyota said Friday. The automaker said Toyota's TRD engineers developed the cars through extensive testing at facilities in Arizona, Texas and Japan. The cars come with V6 engines, automatic transmission and sport-tuned suspensions. Brakes will be larger for better stopping power.
It will also have an aerodynamic body kit, which includes features such as a lid spoiler, and rear diffuser that help push the vehicle closer to the road and improve speed and handling.
Both vehicles will be available in Fall 2019, the company said.