FUN FACT: When I was a 16-year-old dumbass I had a TRD badge on the trunk of my first car, an automatic Toyota Corolla, because I was REALLY INTO CARS and had seen The Fast and The Furious way too many times. (I'm not proud of any of this.) But now Toyota thinks actual TRD tuner models can lure in the youths.
Today Automotive News reports that following the success of their Toyota Racing Development edition trucks, Toyota is set to do TRD editions of their other passenger cars in a bid to attract younger, more performance-minded buyers.
Where will they start? With a TRD Camry, of course. Because nothing screams "performance" and "excitement" and "sex" like a souped-up Camry. Also, because NASCAR. From the story:
"I think we'd probably start with Camry and see if there is a little magic we could work with some of the TRD equity that we have," Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota Division, told Automotive News on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show last month. "Camrys are out there during season racing every Saturday and Sunday in NASCAR. So I think there's a logical fit there."
You could see this TRD Camry in showrooms by the end of this year, but more likely in 2016.
As cynical as I am about a TRD Camry, I get where they're coming from. Toyota's TRD Pro trucks are incredibly popular, especially with younger buyers, and the average age of the "sporty" four-cylinder Camry SE buyer is just 45, significantly lower than the typical Camry LE buyer, who is somewhere between 57 and dead.
I've long felt like Toyota has never properly leveraged the TRD brand or even their NASCAR involvement on their street cars; it has the potential to be their AMG or even Honda's Type R, not that Honda goes in for those anymore.
It's also, you know, something. It's Toyota trying. President Akio Toyoda has made it his goal to add some spark to the brand, and while they have the Scion FR-S and several impressive performance-minded Lexuses — and if you had told me 15 years ago that Lexus would be the strongest Japanese competitor to BMW I would have asked you for a hit of the drugs you were on — they could always use more.
Then again, while the TRD trucks are hardly the Raptor-fighters we dream about, they do add some moxie into trucks that were already fun and capable to begin with. Even though the Camry V6 is surprisingly quick, the rest of the car is a snoozefest; can TRD really make it, or a Corolla, worth driving? They don't have much to work with on the base end.