Sedans are still the vehicle of choice for millions of buyers, and thank goodness buying a sedan doesn’t have to mean a sentence in car purgatory. Lots of sedans on the market are coming out with exciting new designs, safety features, technology, hybrids, and innovations for convenience like no other time in history. The two most popular midsize models come from Toyota and Honda, and there is an intense battle between the 2021 Toyota Camry vs 2021 Honda Accord to see which model will claim the top spot this year.
For 2021, Toyota is continuing to offer the new TRD trim, which puts a little more spring into your athletic shoes, has bigger tablet-like screens in the dash, and makes an overall refresh for the front-end appearance. Honda is doing much the same for the 2021 Accord, with a new look for the grille and larger touchscreen in the center stack, though the sporty trims available can’t quite compete with the Camry’s low-riding TRD. However, credit has to go to the Accord’s design for the more stylish fastback look that gives the Accord much more appeal.
Overall, these two sedans are both great vehicles that have been duking it out in the market for dozens of years as competitive rivals. Each year offers buyers the benefits of that rivalry in lots of new options that make life driving a sedan much more fun and comfortable. Which car is the better buy this year? Comparing the two sedans will reveal which car has the best to offer you in a narrowing field of sedan choices.
Start with the Basics
In terms of pricing, fuel efficiency, and space, the 2021 Camry and Accord are virtually neck and neck. Pricing for the 2021 Camry starts at $24,970, while the 2021 Accord begins at $24,770, a difference of exactly $200. However, the top-trim Camry XSE V6 will run you $35,545 while the equivalent Accord Touring starts at $36,700. Fuel efficiency numbers are close as well, with the Camry at 28/39 MPG and the Accord at 30/38 MPG, which will most likely average out to the same over time if you combine city and highway driving. Even the dimensions are so close that the two have practically the same footprint.
Starting with the interior, the Camry’s legroom in front is 42.1 inches, and in the back, it’s 38 inches. Accord’s front legroom is 42.3 inches, and the back has 40.4 inches. However, the Camry offers 38 inches of rear headroom against 37.3 inches for the Accord. Further, there is more than meets the eye. Several features you find standard on Camry trims will require extra add-ons for the comparable trim on the Accord or simply not be available. It’s a ploy to get buyers to see numbers that draw them in for the snare, but later they discover they aren’t getting all the features they could have for a lower price elsewhere.
Add a Little Sport to Your Life
Toyota added the TRD trim to the Camry lineup in 2020, and it continues to be available in 2021 with what promises to be a little extra verve in your sedan life. It comes standard with the 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out a delicious 301 horsepower and a pleasing hum under the hood. The ride height is lowered, it has more powerful brakes, the suspension is sport-tuned (which makes it stiffer for handling curves at higher speeds), and it’s fitted with wider wheels. The body of the TRD is also reinforced for better performance, it gets a wing spoiler, and when you hit the gas, you’ll hear the engine sound through the performance exhaust. This is a vehicle that will definitely add spice to your commute.
We give props to Honda for designing a newer look for the Accord for 2021. It definitely has a sporty appearance with the sleek fastback that tapers the vehicle like a true sports car. Unfortunately, the “sport” trims available for the 2021 Accord don’t actually add performance like the 2021 Camry TRD. You will get 19-inch wheels, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes just 252 horsepower, chrome exhaust finishers, a spoiler, paddle shifters, and sport pedals. In general, other than the engine and larger wheels, the extras for the sport trims will not boost performance. While the Accord is no slouch, it just can’t stand up to the 2021 Camry TRD. For about the same price, you could have the Camry with a lot more beefy action than the largely cosmetic extras in the Accord.
The Good Stuff
Sometimes you just want fun options to make your drive less dull. When you have to look at the same scenery day after day, it’s nice when you can do it in a comfortable car that has a few extras to keep life interesting. Both the 2021 Camry and 2021 Accord have features to make life easier, but they also include a few that are just nice to have because you want them. Nobody needs a moonroof, but it’s nice to have. You don’t really need leather seats, but they sure do look nice when you open the door. Each of these sedans has upper trims with lots of fun features, but which one has the better trim to buy?
For the 2021 Camry, the uppermost trim is the XSE. It comes standard with that lovely V6 engine and sport-tuned suspension like the TRD, so you get the benefit of the performance behind the wheel. You’ll also get LED lights all around, wireless phone charging, powered and heated seats, leather trimming, a head-up display, push-button start and keyless entry, and the JBL audio system with the nine-inch screen that interacts with all your tech. It goes without saying that Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Alexa, Sirius XM, Bluetooth, and WiFi are all part of the package.
Turning to the Honda Accord, the uppermost trim is the Touring, which also comes standard with its more powerful 2.0-liter engine and the larger 19-inch wheels. Like the Camry, it has wireless charging, powered and heated front seats, LED lights all around, and push-button start with keyless entry. You will also get a comparable audio system with much of the same excessive amount of tech – including wireless charging, but with a smaller eight-inch screen. Rain-sensing wipers are also on the list, which the Camry does not have. But the Camry has a more valuable surround-vision camera system that the Accord lacks. This particular match-up would be fairly close overall, but the deciding factor is that the Camry XSE offers equal or superior features to the Accord Touring at a noticeably lower price.
Performance and Hybrids Abound
With sedans dropping like flies from the automobile market, Toyota and Honda are two of the best games in town if you’re looking for a midsize sedan that offers a little pep without a painful price tag. Not everyone can afford a European sports car (or the high mechanic’s bills that come with it), but almost anyone can buy a 2021 Camry TRD and enjoy hugging the roads with over 300 horsepower on tap. The 2021 Accord has a great new look and lots of desirable features, but if you want performance, the Camry is the way to go.
Those who may be seeking better fuel efficiency would do better with the Camry, too, since the Camry offers four hybrid trim levels, while Accord only offers two. Even with the gas-powered models, both the 2021 Camry and the 2021 Accord will get equally good fuel efficiency – although the Camry does it without resorting to a continuously variable transmission like the Accord. You can’t really go wrong with either, but the 2021 Camry does have some decided advantages. We think that a test drive of the Camry TRD will make you agree with us that Toyota is likely to maintain its dominance of the midsize sedan segment for the upcoming year.