The Toyota Camry is a bona fide legend when it comes to affordable, reliable, drama-free transportation, and especially in the case of the current model, even the base trim comes well equipped. But what if you want a more stylish exterior, a few luxury touches, and the best driver assist features Toyota has to offer? The Japanese automaker provides five basic trims to choose from, and we’re here to spell out exactly what those trims get you. Shall we?
2021 Toyota Camry LE
At around $26,000, the base Camry LE provides few frills but just about everything you need. Notably, Toyota includes all of its essential driver assist features—limited speed range adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane keep assist with lane tracing, automatic high-beams, road sign assist, and rear-seat reminder are all standard.
The entry-level Camry also features LED headlights and daytime running lights, LED taillights with black accents, and a dark gray front grille. Camry LE models ride on 19-inch wheels and sport color-matched side mirrors and door handles.
Inside, you get fabric upholstery with an eight-way power driver’s seat and six-way manual passenger seat. Auto up/down functionality is included for all four windows. The base infotainment setup is a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus six-speaker audio, and a 4.2-inch instrument cluster display is also standard.
2021 Toyota Camry SE
The Camry SE, priced at around $27,500, gets you all the same features as the LE plus some sporty touches. (Toyota breaks down the Camry lineup into two pillars—traditional luxury and sporty—with the former using “LE” in the name and the latter getting “SE. “) The SE’s LED headlights gain black accents, and styling benefits from a black front grille with sport mesh insert plus sport side rocker panels. There’s also a body-color rear spoiler, and the LE’s single-exit exhaust gains a new finisher with dual chrome tips.
While not luxurious, the interior provides a few niceties. Open the door, and you’ll find the base model’s fabric upholstery replaced with leatherette. The SE adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, too, and single-zone automatic climate control.
If you’re feeling dark, the Camry SE Nightshade provides blacked-out trim to differentiate itself from the standard SE. This special edition adds black side mirrors, black window trim, black door handles, a black rear spoiler, and black Camry badging.
2021 Toyota Camry XLE
Think of the XLE trim as a non-sporty base model with several extra luxury and convenience features (like an LE Xtra, or plus). And a much higher price: This model is a little shy of $31,000. There’s a bright metallic grille up front, 18-inch wheels, heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators, door handles with touch sensor locking and unlocking, plus keyless entry.
You’ll notice most of the changes once you step inside. Just on the seating front, the XLE adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power passenger’s seat, and adjustable rear headrests. Dual-zone automatic climate control with rear-seat vents is also included. Other luxe touches include wood-tone interior trim, ambient interior lighting, a 7.0-inch instrument cluster display, and a 9.0-inch infotainment setup.
There are driving improvements, too. The XLE adds improved stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, an electric parking brake, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and dynamic guidelines for the standard backup camera. XLE models also feature a drive mode switch that allows drivers to choose between Eco, Normal, and Sport.
Buyers have an additional powertrain option with the XLE. Whereas the LE and SE are offered in four-cylinder FWD and four-cylinder AWD configurations (as well as a hybrid setup), the XLE can be had with any of those options or Toyota’s 306-hp V-6. If you opt for the more powerful engine, you’ll also get a JBL nine-speaker premium audio system, a panoramic moonroof, sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, and a 10-inch head-up display.
2021 Toyota Camry XSE
Starting at around $31,400, the Camry XSE combines most of the luxury features of the XLE (upgraded interior, extra safety features, keyless entry, etc.) with the sporty aesthetic of the SE. Instead of the XLE’s 18-inch wheels, though, the XSE rides on 19s. Up front you’ll notice the same gloss black grille as the SE, and the profile shows off the XSE’s sport side rocker panels. The rear displays a dual-exit exhaust system with quad chrome tips. Interior touches include the SE’s leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters (the XLE lacks paddles), and patterned metal trim in place of the XLE’s wood-tone trim.
Opting for a Camry XSE V-6 adds all the same niceties as the six-cylinder XLE. That means the upgraded audio system, big moonroof, head-up display, and illuminated vanity mirrors are all included.
2021 Toyota Camry TRD
Essentially, the Camry TRD (Toyota Racing Development) is a more sport-focused Nightshade SE with the V-6 as standard. It lacks most of the luxury touches of the XLE and XSE, but it’s the least expensive way to score the Camry’s most powerful engine. Prices start at around $33,000.
The TRD is visually differentiated from the rest of the range with black heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators, black window trim, matte black wheel center caps with the TRD logo, a TRD rear spoiler, and a red TRD badge. A TRD cat-back dual exhaust changes up the soundtrack a bit, too.
The TRD’s interior is dressed up in red. There’s a TRD instrument cluster with red accents, red contrast stitching throughout the cabin, and TRD floor mats with red detailing. You’ll also notice a fixed rear seat (instead of the 60/40 split in other trims) and aluminum sport pedals.
So Which 2021 Toyota Camry Model Is Best?
Our money would probably go toward a Camry SE. Toyota includes all the crucial safety features with the entry-level LE, but we appreciate the SE’s design flourishes, leatherette upholstery, and automatic climate control. If you have a little more cash to spend, go for an XSE to score the upgraded infotainment system, improved driver assist tech, and better interior materials.