Coming to Malaysia, can the 2021 Toyota Camry facelift beat the Accord?

CY Foong · Nov 19, 2020 04:00 PM

The D-segment sedan market is not as huge as before but it is synonymous with 2 models for nearly 30 years. The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are dubbed the “towkay-mobiles” with the Camry generally seen as the ultimate uncle car between the two.

Frenemies?

However, the latest Accord has grown to be more mature and comfort-oriented while the current Camry has become sportier. Eh? What has the world come to?

With Toyota launching the facelifted Camry for the American market back in June, we predicted that the facelift model could be launched in Thailand in mid-2021 or late-2021. As such, the Malaysian launch would begin shortly after as the Malaysian-spec Camry is imported from Thailand.

Without further ado, what will be expected from the 2021 Toyota Camry facelift?

Are you sure this is the facelift?

It might not look like much but what you’re looking at is indeed the Camry facelift. To be precise, this is the American-spec Camry XLE which is the variant that would most likely resemble the Malaysian-spec Camry.

The changes in the exterior are very minor with a redesigned front-end that has a more prominent lower air intake, resembling the Toyota Avalon.

For those unconvinced that it’s a facelift, here’s a little comparison with the pre-facelift Camry that’s currently sold here. The front foglamps could be added to the Malaysian-spec Camry facelift.

At the back, the Camry facelift retains the same rear-end design as the pre-facelift Camry. No complaints overall for this 'beautiful monster'.

Is the interior the same as before?

Step inside the Camry facelift and the first thing you’ll notice is the brand-new floating-style infotainment display. Apart from that, everything else is the same but this display does give the Camry a modern look that matches its exterior.

The infotainment display is available in two sizes for the US-spec Camry facelift which are 7- and 9-inches. It also comes with support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The Malaysian-spec pre-facelift Camry currently comes with an 8-inch infotainment display but no support for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay which is a huge shame for a car this size and at such a price.

Surely the facelift would add this feature. Even the upcoming Vios facelift will come with support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. If Toyota can fit it into a cheaper B-segment car, it shouldn’t be a challenge for the more expensive Camry.

Has the Smart Entry become smarter?

One of the major complaints about the outgoing pre-facelift Camry would be its Smart Entry system. Even if the name might sound smart, its execution isn't.

Seeing that you're paying nearly RM 200,000 for one, it is quite unacceptable for the Smart Entry to only be featured on the driver's side. At that price, buyers would actually consider something of the Conti variety.

The facelift would rectify this issue with an upgrade that makes the Smart Entry accessible through other doors.

Will there be any changes in the powertrain?

The Dynamic Force engine in the pre-facelift TH-spec Camry

While Malaysia got the aging 2.5-litre 2AR engine (184 PS/235 Nm), the Thai-spec of the pre-facelift Camry got a much more modern 2.5-litre Dynamic Force engine (209 PS/ 250 Nm).

The 2AR engine in the pre-facelift MY-spec Camry

However, it's very likely that Malaysia could retain the aging 2AR engine in the facelift Camry.

On the bright side, the 2021 Camry facelift will retain the same dynamic TNGA chassis. So, you would still enjoy a Camry that's surprisingly fun-to-drive.

Any improved safety features?

The pre-facelift Camry that’s currently sold here comes with an older version of the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) ADAS suite. That means its adaptive cruise control isn’t capable of stop-go traffic unlike in the Corolla Altis.

However, we expect the facelifted Camry would come with an improved TSS that features Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) with Stop & Go as featured in the Corolla Altis.

Should I wait for this or go for the Accord?

To be frank, we have compared the Camry and the Accord and what we found out was very interesting.

The Toyota Camry drives very well – better than the Mazda 6 – to the point you might forget that it’s using an older engine underneath. It’s a better driver’s car and the Camry facelift would also share this sentiment but with improved safety features and most importantly, proper smartphone connectivity.

However, if you are someone who prefers being chauffeured around briskly with ample room, the Honda Accord might still be the better choice between the two.

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