Blacked-out from-the-factory customized looks are popular these days and Toyota knows it. Its Nightshade Edition family now consists of 10 models, including my review vehicle this week, the Camry Nightshade Edition, returning for the 2021 model year. Based on the SE grade, it’s designed for drivers looking for more aggressive looks, as opposed to a sedan equipped with all the creature comforts.
You can opt for three colors: white, silver or this one, Midnight Black Metallic. The Nightshade Edition rides on 18-inch Black Alloy wheels with black mirror caps. Other blacked-out features include the massive statement making black front grille with a sport mesh insert. You’ll get BI-LED combo headlights with black accents up front, but I’d wish for full LED headlamps across the lineup in this day and age. You do get LED daytime running lights. Other blacked out Midnight Edition exterior features include the color-keyed sport side rocker panels, black exterior door handles, window mouldings and black painted power outside mirrors. The tail end is sporty as well, with combo LED tail lights, a black rear spoiler and rear badging, and a single exhaust with dual chrome tips enhances the look. Up top you have a black shark fin antenna.
The Nightshade Edition’s black cabin features linear dark interior trim, silver door handles and trim pieces along with glossy piano black accents and two-toned sport fabric SofTex-trimmed seats. The comfortable 8-way power’s driver’s seat has lumbar support, but the passenger must make do with a 6-way manually adjustable seat.
Once in the driver’s seat, the big shocker for me is that you don’t get standard push-button start in here. It’s old school key-into-the-ignition. However, push-button start is available as an option.
From the leather-trimmed tilt and telescopic steering wheel you see a gauge cluster, with somewhat antiquated-looking analog dials on either side of a 4.2-inch digital driver display with nice graphics.
The center console of my test vehicle is minimalist, home to a leather-wrapped gear-shifter, auto brake hold and an electronic parking brake. There is a place to put your phone, but no wireless charger. The console bin is nicely padded on top. Single zone climate is standard.
A standard 7-inch, responsive, touchscreen with a backup camera w/ gridlines is surrounded by glossy black. It’s paired with a basic 6-speaker sound system. Standard tech includes Bluetooth, 2 USB ports up front, plus Android Auto, Apple Carplay and Amazon Alexa compatibility.
The 60/40 split rear seat is roomy with nice leg- and head-room. Passengers get a drop down center console with cup holders and front seatback pockets to put stuff. But you won’t find AC vents or USB ports back here. Cargo space is ample for a midsize sedan at 15.1 cubic-feet.
The SE Nightshade AWD is not available with heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel or wireless charging.
A 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters delivers up to 202-horsepower (@6,600 rpm) and 182 lb.-ft. of torque (@4,400 rpm) on the AWD model. Note that fuel capacity drops from 15.8 to 14.4 gallons with the AWD. Fuel economy is 29 mpg combined. If you’re looking for more performance, the 2020 Camry TRD with its V6 engine that I reviewed last year boosts power to 301-horses, but you lose some fuel economy.
Ride and Drive
The SE Nightshade isn’t about performance, but acceleration feels good with the AWD. It’s an enjoyably smooth ride on the highway, but it’s not the quietest ride out there, a subjective observation that warrants a test drive since everyone is different. The SE Nightshade’s sport-tuned suspension and AWD is a terrific plus. But if you want a truly engaged ride, you’ll want to spend a bit more for the TRD model which I consider the, sportiest, best-handling Camry ever.
Standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ comes with Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/Steering Assist, Auto high beams and Road Sign Assist. Blind spot monitoring with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert is optional for $1280.
If you’re going for moody and menacing looks, the Toyota Nightshade fills the bill. But if you’re looking for a convenience-loaded Camry, with a larger multimedia touchscreen and creature comforts like heated seats, you’ll need to ditch the blacked-out looks for a higher trim. You can’t, in this case, have both.
2021 Toyota Camry SE Nightshade Edition
- What I liked most: It’s looks.
- What I would change: Every 2021 model year vehicle in America should have push-button start, especially one near $30K.
- MSRP: Base price $28,585, as equipped $29,580.
- Fuel Economy: 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway, 29 mpg combined.
- Official Color: Midnight Black Metallic.
- Odometer reading when tested: 372 miles.
- Weight: 3,530 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Temporary Spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 192.7” long/ 72.4” wide/57.1” high. (AWD)
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.4 gallons with fuel filler on the driver’s side.
- 2021 Toyota Nightshade Edition in a few words: The Toyota Camry shows its menacing side.
- Final Assembly Location: Georgetown, Kentucky.
- Manufacturers website: Toyota
- Warranty: 3-year/36,000-mile Comprehensive/5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain/ 5-year/unlimited-mileage Corrosion Perforation/ToyotaCare – Complimentary maintenance plan with the purchase or lease of every new Toyota. For 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first, every new Toyota will be covered for all normal factory scheduled service, as well as 24/7 roadside assistance.