Winter Driving

Toyota adding all-wheel drive option to Camry and Avalon but not in time for this winter

Toyota is adding an all-wheel drive option to the Camry for 2020 and the Avalon for 2021.

Photo courtesy of Toyota

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Toyota buyers will have less skids and twists to deal with when they add the new all-wheel drive (AWD) option to their new Camry or Avalon.

Recently, the demand for all-wheel drive has increased dramatically as the option becomes cheaper for consumers and more widely available. Toyota has listened, bringing to market the first AWD Camry since 1991 and the first-ever Avalon with the equipment and technology. Back then, the technology was option was called AllTrac.

2020 Toyota Camry XLE AWD All-wheel drive can help vehicles maintain traction in inclement weather.Photo courtesy of Toyota

This version of AWD technology made its debut in the current Toyota RAV4 generation when it was introduced in 2019. Toyota's Dynamic Torque Control AWD system provides torque when needed, where needed, allowing a computer to do the calculating while drivers remain assured and confident behind the wheel.

One of the quibbles with older AWD technology is that it significantly reduced a vehicle's fuel efficiency. Toyota wishes to assure customers that it's AWD system "balances added traction with exemplary fuel efficiency."

Buyers can get the Dynamic Torque Control AWD system as a standalone option on the 2020 Toyota Camry LE, XLE, SE, and XSE trims levels and on the 2021 Toyota Avalon XLE and Limited grades.

2020 Toyota Camry XLE AWD Which ones are AWD? Looking at the badging on the trunk lid.Photo courtesy of Toyota

All-wheel drive will be available on 2020 Toyota Camry models just in time for the snow melt - early spring. Toyota's Cold-Weather Package, which adds heated seats and mirrors on the LE, heated seats, mirrors and steering wheel on the SE, and heated steering wheel on the XLE and XSE, can be added to any Camry AWD model. The 2020 Toyota Camry starts at $24,295. No pricing is available for the all-wheel drive option, yet.

The Avalon AWD will be a model year 2021 sedan and go on-sale next autumn. Both XLE and Limited AWD grades will receive a standard heated steering wheel in addition to the system. Pricing for the 2021 Avalon will be available closer to the product's launch.

AWD models can be spotted on dealer lots by checking for "AWD" badging on the trunk lid of the vehicle.

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The Passport was lightly modified for competition.

Honda

Honda recently announced a line of off-road-oriented trims and packages for its vehicles. Called TrailSport, the trim brings rugged appearance upgrades to the Honda Passport and will eventually offer more performance upgrades for other vehicles in the automaker's catalog. To further prove its mettle in the off-road space, Honda built a 2022 Passport rally truck to compete in the American Rally Association race series. The truck debuted over the weekend in Michigan and had a reasonably successful run for its first time out.

2022 Honda Passport Two Honda engineers handled driving duties.Honda

Importantly, the Passport's drivetrain and suspension were left untouched for the rally. The 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6, nine-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, and suspension in the rally vehicle are the same components that you or I would see if we bought a new Passport today. Honda did add a transmission fluid cooler, but even then, it's the unit that everyday buyers can get with the available towing package. The SUV's interior was stripped and modified for safety and performance.

2022 Honda Passport Honda is pushing deeper into the off-road with its TrailSport trims.Honda

Honda did upgrade the Passport's wheels and tires for the event by fitting 17-inch BRAID Winrace T rally wheels and Maxxis RAZR M/T or A/T tires. The automaker also made modifications to the SUV's underside with custom 1/8-inch thick aluminum oil pan and rear differential skid plates. High-density panels protect the fuel tank and other sensitive components, while Carbontech XP12 brake pads and high-temp racing brake fluid slow things down.

2022 Honda Passport The Passport's interior had to be stripped and modified for the event.Honda

The ARA National and Regional Championship Series events feature modified street vehicles that travel at speeds well in excess of 100 mph. The courses include gravel, dirt, mud, and snow, and cover hundreds of miles. The Honda Passport rally vehicle was first driven by two Honda engineers and ran in the top ten out of 42 teams. Honda says that a tire de-bead eventually slowed the team, leading to a delayed finish.

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The Bronze Edition model builds on the XLE trim.

Toyota

The Toyota Highlander entered its fourth generation for the 2020 model year, which brought sleek style, updated tech, and a premium-look interior. A new XSE trim joined the lineup for 2021, and for 2022, Toyota is adding a new hybrid-only Bronze Edition trim.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition adds useful features, such as a hands-free power liftgate.toyota

The new Bronze Edition Highlander builds on the XLE trim with:

  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Digital rearview mirror
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Memory driver's seat with 10-way power adjustments
  • Hands-free power liftgate

Toyota notes that the Bronze Edition previews features that will show up with the greater 2022 Highlander release. Among them are the new Wind Chill Pearl color, which replaces Blizzard Pearl from the previous model, and height/tilt passenger seat adjustments.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Highlander is a supremely comfortable SUV with room for the family.Toyota

The Highlander carries on into 2022 with a standard 3.5-liter V6 that makes 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. A Highlander Hybrid is available, which mates a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors. Combined system output is 243 horsepower. With the V6 on board, the Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition is available for Highlander Hybrid models.Toyota

All 2022 Highlander models get Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, road sign assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts, lane tracing assist, a sway warning system, and automatic high beams. Those features and the Highlander's excellent crash testing scores were good enough for the SUV to earn a Top Safety Pick + designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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