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Toyota tackles winter weather with AWD Avalon and Camry sedans

New all-wheel drive mid-size sedans share components with RAV4 crossover

Published: November 17, 2019, 9:30 PM
Updated: November 26, 2019, 11:59 PM

Toyota Camry AWD

Toyota has developed the latest iteration of its mid-sized sedans exclusively for North America, adding all-wheel drive as a stand-alone option on pretty much all trims of Avalon and Camry.

Toyota Camry AWD

Sharing the RAV4’s Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform and Dynamic Torque Control system, the new sedans key in on the recent desire for AWD vehicles, of which few are mid-sized sedans. It will be available on Camry LE, XLE, SE and XSE and Avalon Limited.

There was never a discussion about AWD for the sedans when they were developed for the 2017 and 2018 model years (Camry and Avalon, respectively). The decision to add all-wheel drive was made and developed after the latest generation was already on the road.

Toyota Avalon AWD

This marks the first AWD iteration of Avalon, while the Camry welcomes the drivetrain for the first time in nearly 30 years (last shown on the 1991 Camry AllTrac). The cars will be built at Toyota’s Kentucky complex, solely for the North American market, and be identified with an AWD badge on their trunk lids.

The system can direct up to 50% of engine torque to the rear wheels when needed, but also has the ability to electronically disengage the propeller shaft (adapted from that of the Highlander) from the differential on long dry highway stretches, prioritizing fuel economy. The system engages immediately on its own when it detects slippage from the front wheels.

Toyota Camry AWD

It all works seamlessly and fits seamlessly, too, with the AWD versions showing no change from their front-wheel drive counterparts in passenger and cargo space, ride comfort, cabin isolation and vehicle agility.

The effort did require floor structure, parking brake and fuel tank modifications, though the engine, transmission, transfer case and rear differential come directly from RAV4. The compact crossover’s rear multi-link suspension also had to be modified and then tuned to deliver a ride more in keeping with a mid-sized sedan.

Toyota Camry AWD

The modifications added just 75 kg to the overall weight of the Camry, and minimally to the weight of Avalon.

The 2020 Camry AWD will be available in spring 2020, while the 2021 Avalon AWD will come along next fall.