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2020 Toyota Camry TRD performance model. Photo: Toyota

This week I'm driving a high-performance Toyota Camry, which sounds like an oxymoron, but hear me out.

The big picture: The Camry has long been a practical, reliable choice — it's spacious, quiet and comfortable.

  • My mother drove a beige Camry, which was pretty much ubiquitous in her Florida retirement community.
  • In recent years, though, Toyota has been trying to inject some excitement across its vehicle portfolio, both in terms of styling and driving characteristics.

Toyota takes it to the next level with its TRD performance line, which stands for "Toyota Racing Development" and is inspired by Toyota's racing heritage.

  • For the first time, the Camry is getting the full TRD treatment, combining a track-tuned chassis and a 301-hp V-6 engine.
  • Hard-core enthusiasts will quibble that it's not really a performance car because the engine is not unique and, well, it's a Camry.

All I can say is it's the sportiest Camry I've ever driven.

  • Its bolder stance includes aerodynamic features like side skirts and a trunk lid spoiler.
  • And the engine is tuned to sound more aggressive.
  • I'm not a fan of the latest Camry interior, but the TRD dresses it up with accents like red stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel and even red seatbelts.

Toyota doesn't skimp on assisted driving features, even in models like the Camry TRD, which is meant to be driven aggressively.

  • It includes automatic braking and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance technology as standard features.
  • Other systems, including help for backing out of parking spaces, are also available.

The bottom line: The Camry TRD starts at $31,040, which is a lot of fun for a reasonable price.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."