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Toyota Camry gets new XSE grade, roster of mid-cycle updates for 2021

Toyota has given the Camry a new standard 7.0-inch infotainment touch screen.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The eighth generation of the Toyota Camry has been on sale since 2017. The 2021 Toyota Camry will feature a host of upgrades including new safety features, fresh infotainment technology, and a different face.

For 2021, the Camry will be offered in 17 different varieties. Seventeen. Different trim levels are available depending on the buyer's engine and drivetrain choice. The list of trim levels includes LE, XLE, SE, SE Nightshade, XSE, and TRD. The Camry L grade has been discontinued.

Camry XSE with the hybrid powertrain is new for the 2021 model year. It is positioned as a more premium version of the Camry SE Hybrid trim level, without the level of sportiness of the Camry TRD.

2021 Toyota Camry XLE

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

2021 Toyota Camry XSE Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The three available power plants include a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 3.5-liter V6, and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine. The smaller gasoline-powered engine achieves 203 horsepower (202 horsepower in AWD variants) and 184 pound-feet of torque. The V6 gets 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid system has a total output of 208 horsepower.

There are a few exceptions, however. The Camry XSE gets 206 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque as well as a dual-exhaust outlet. It's XSE AWD counterpart gets 205 horsepower.

The gasoline engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission while the hybrid as a six-speed auto.

The V6 is offered in Camry XLE, XSE, and TRD models. The Four-cylinder with front- or all-wheel drive comes in Camry LE, XLE, SE, SE Nightshade, and XSE variants. Hybrid buyers can choose from the Camry LE, XLE, SE, or XSE.

The Camry LE and XLE will be better differentiated from Camry SE and XSE models for 2021. This is a similar design approach as in the Avalon lineup. The gas-powered LE also gets new 17-inch alloy wheels while the XLE gets redesigned 18-inch alloys.

The Camry TRD sees its Blue Streak Metallic paint option replaced by the Blueprint color. Additionally, that model has an exclusive color - Ice Edge, which is paired with a two-tone Midnight Black Metallic roof. Camry XSE is now available in a two-tone Supersonic Red paint scheme with Midnight Black Metallic roof.

The in-cabin tech of the Camry remains pretty much the same as the 2020 model. However, models now come with either a 7.0- or 9.0-inch infotainment touch screen that is similar to the one in the Toyota RAV4. It has smartphone-like capabilities and customization options as well as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa capability.

As for looks, Toyota has slightly updated the interior with new dashboard and trim appointments that vary by trim level as well as an available herringbone seat pattern for Camry XLE.

Additionally, Toyota has upped the ante on the popular Camry TRD, giving it standard blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert technologies as well as heated exterior mirrors. Those two safety technologies are now standalone options on Camry LE, SE, and SE Nighshade. They are standard elsewhere.

All models adopt Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ as standard equipment.

The 2021 Toyota Camry goes on sale later this year.

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Nuts & Bolts


The material Jaguar Land Rover is adding to its vehicle interiors is called Econyl.

Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

As automaker work toward more sustainable business practices, Jaguar Land Rover is working with Econyl nylon to develop high-quality interiors made from ocean and landfill waste. The automaker promises that next-generation Jaguar and Land Rover models will feature floor mats and trims made with Econyl fiber from recycled industrial plastic, fabric offcuts from clothing manufacturers, fishing nets from the farming industry, and those abandoned in the ocean– known as 'ghost nets'.

Econyl nylon was created by Aquafil. It's already been sued in the high-end fashion, sportswear, and luxury watch industries to create handbags, backpacks, swimwear, and watch straps. In one year, the company recycles as much as 40,000 tons of waste, making it in to the nylon. For every 10,000 tonnes of Econyl raw material produced, 70,000 barrels of crude oil are saved and 65,100 tons of carbon emissions equivalent are avoided.

Jaguar Land Rover Econyl interior Jaguar Land Rover has committed to including more sustainable materials in its interiors.Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

Turning to sustainable materials isn't a new idea. For years Ford has been incorporating all manner of materials into its vehicles including tomatoes, soy, and coffee chaff from McDonald's. General Motors recently showcased a breakdown of how recycled materials are used inside their automobiles.

Bentley's facility in Crewe, England is collecting rainwater for use in its office building allowing the company to not have to draw from the local water system.

Each year automakers release their sustainability report, which champions all the ways that the company is moving forward in its resources conservation plans. This year's GM report sets forth numerous goals. Among them, by 2030, 50 percent of the parts used in General Motors vehicles will be made with sustainable materials. Additionally, GM's Spring Hill plant in Tennessee will run solely on solar power by 2022.

FCA made big strides in 2019. Their 2020 sustainability report touted their 40 percent reduction in water use and 27 percent carbon footprint reduction per vehicle.

Jaguar Land Rover Econyl interior Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

This week Polestar announced that its Precept concept vehicle is headed into production. When the Precept debuted a few months ago, the company bragged about its sustainable interior.

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Cadillac will give the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing carbon fiber seats.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac continues to tease its long-awaited Blackwing sedans. The company is using the Blackwing monknier to designate their top-performing models of the CT4 and CT5.

Those models will also wear the "V' designation and be given the full name Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and CT4-V Blackwing. They will both be 2022 model year vehicles.

2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing testing This CT5-V Blackwing was spotted testing at Virginia International Raceway, Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac has slowly been leaking out details of the models, even as the market moves away from sedan sales. We know now know that Cadillac CT-5 Blackwing will feature racing inspired seats. According to the automaker, "The carbon fiber seat back will feature a precision book-matched design and laser-etched V-Series logo. The seats will also include other customer-centric innovations and features that will be announced at a later date."

Cadillac also confirmed that the model is a limited edition.

We already have seen a picture of the cars' interior. That photo showed a new performance steering wheel that is crafted with leather and cut-and-sewn stitching. It features a 12 o'clock red racing stripe, carbon fiber trim, and a V-Series emblem. That emblem is designed to envoke nostalgia for Cadillac's championship-winning heritage on the track. Cadillac has designed the wheel with driver ergonomics as a priority.

The new models will feature V-Mode and a Performance Traction Management system that can be accessed on the left- and right-hand side of the wheel, respectively.

Additional buttons on the steering wheel are more typical to the General Motors lineup. They feature heated steering wheel, follow distance, cruise control, phone call/Bluetooth, and volume controls.

Each V-Series Blackwing model will feature a specially tuned chassis, vehicle control technologies, and engines. The models will be offered with a manual transmission.

The CT5-V Blackwing will be available starting in summer 2021. Expect pricing to be around the $60,000 mark.

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