Keeping people engaged is tough. Blame TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, or any other form of social media, because people just can’t concentrate on anything for more than 30 seconds. It’s the same thing with cars. The majority of shoppers make their decision about a vehicle in a matter of seconds with just one look. One look, that’s all it takes these days. Against the gorgeousness that is the Mazda6, the aggressiveness of the Kia K5, and the high-end lines of the Hyundai Sonata, the Toyota Camry doesn’t have the same it factor. The Nightshade Edition looks to change that by turning down the lights.
If you’re into the all-black theme, the Camry Nightshade definitely works. The midsize sedan’s lines look good in black. And it’s not like the rest of the platform needed a lot of work. The Camry also feels darn nice at this price point, bringing up the question of why anyone would pay more for unnecessary extras.
The Nightshade Edition is only available with the SE trim. It seems a little odd for Toyota to only offer the all-black package on one of the lower trims and without the V6 engine, but the accountants and money crunchers must know something I don’t. Either way, the Nightshade package brings 18-inch black wheels, black exterior mirrors caps, a black shark-fin antenna, a black rear spoiler, black window trim, and black exterior door handles. The rear Toyota emblem and rear badges are also finished in black.
The package results in a cool-looking Camry. It’s also reasonably priced at $28,180. Hey, if you want an all-black Rolls-Royce, you’re looking at adding another zero at the very least. Say what you will about this being a Camry and all, but it’s an affordable way to get the blacked-out look that you crave oh so much.
For all-weather capability, Toyota is also in the minority by offering the Camry with all-wheel drive, which you can spec with the Nightshade Edition. So, the model really does attempt to hit both of the current automotive trends.
The Camry Nightshade is all about making a serious impression at first glance. This isn’t the boring Camry your dad drove in the ‘80s. This sedan really does look sharp. The front end might be a little too busy, with six vents and a Y-shaped grille, but it’s a statement piece. The rear end is far more subdued, but the vents below the taillights and the dual exhaust outlets look sporty. Not nearly as tough as the Camry TRD, but sporty.
It’s strange. I’m not the biggest fan of the whole all-black thing, because I’ve owned a black car and it was an absolute nightmare to keep clean. I had to wipe it down every day. But the test car was finished in silver over the black exterior elements and it looked great. Just enough black, but not enough to where you’ll regret the decision after parking it under a tree.
The Nightshade Edition doesn’t bring any special interior elements, but you wouldn’t be able to tell because the cabin is all-black. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Without any colors or design elements, the interior feels a little drab. While higher trim levels feel downright luxurious, the lower-end SE trim doesn’t feel nearly as nice. There are hard plastics, the seats have an odd mix of synthetic leather and cloth upholstery, and things just feel a little down.
That’s not to say that things are all bad. The Camry is downright spacious. You could use this car as a daily driver or for ride-sharing purposes and not find anything to complain about. As a midsize sedan, it really is roomy for up to five people. There’s also plenty of cargo space, as the trunk offers up to 15.1 cubic feet of room.
For the price tag, I suspect a lot of people will be fine with the compromise of dull interior materials for space.
Toyota may offer the Camry with AWD, but you’ll hardly notice it. The system doesn’t help in handling and if you live in an area that only gets a little bit of snow, you’re better off sticking with front-wheel drive. It’s not like you’ll be driving spiritedly, because the Camry’s standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine isn’t the most exciting motor in the class. With 203 horsepower, it’s built for fuel economy and, I presume, longevity.
You don’t buy a four-cylinder Camry for performance. You buy it because you know it will start every day, outlast your marriage, and get you to where you want to go without getting anyone to roll coal anywhere near you, a serious problem if you decided to purchase a Prius. The four-cylinder engine in the Camry isn’t intrusive, nor is it particularly exciting. It exists and moves the car on the road while getting up to 32 mpg combined with FWD and 29 mpg combined with AWD.
On the off chance that you decide to purchase a Camry with AWD and not a Corolla Cross or RAV4, you’ll be happy to hear that you can actually tackle some inclement weather. Up to 50% of the engine’s available torque can be routed to the rear wheels. Donuts and drift modes take a backseat to traction. In regular driving, the AWD system remains hidden, only coming out when you need — just like your accountant at tax time.
Not all cars are exciting. Not all cars have to be exciting. Against the onslaught of never-ending SUVs, you wind up rooting for cars like the Toyota Camry. Once the king of the industry, the Camry now gets outsold by the RAV4 and Honda CR-V. The Camry won’t light a flame under your rear end and you won’t arrive at your destination with a ludicrous grin, but you’ll always get to your destination, comfortably and drama-free.
If AWD and a blacked-out design for a sedan stop you from purchasing an SUV, then they’re alright in my book. Just like the notes from my driving log, the Toyota Camry Nightshade Edition is alright.