2021 Toyota Camry vs. Sonata Comparison

Going beyond the traditional clean-cut exterior, sedans now offer more than just a way to get from point A to point B. Designed with a purpose, the 2021 Camry offers a new sleek style that's not like your average sedan. For example, the XSE and TRD trims serve striking looks like the available two-tone roof, rear spoiler, and 19" black wheels. Certain Sonata models also have upgrades that create a sleek look like the available Sport front and rear bumper fascia, shocking color options like Glowing Yellow, and chrome accents.

Where the Camry really stirs up the typical sluggish sedan stereotype is with its TRD grade. Toyota Racing Development (TRD) vehicles offer power and performance. The Camry TRD, XLE V6, and XSE V6 boast a 301 HP 3.5-Liter V6 engine while the Sonata N-Line has a lesser 290-horsepower turbocharged 2.5L 4-Cyl engine.

Even if you don't want all the extra bells and whistles, these sedans are the perfect commuter car that offer great fuel efficiency. The Camry base model LE FWD has an EPA-estimated mpg rating of 28/39/32 (city/highway/combined) plus hybrid engine options for more savings at the pump. The Hyundai Sonata base model SE has a slightly lower EPA-estimated mpg rating of 28/38/32 (city/highway/combined).

In this head to head, we'll compare the 2021 Camry vs. 2021 Sonata in key categories such as performance, safety, and reliability.

Published Date: 02/17/2021

2021 Camry splashing through a puddle

Performance

  • The Camry TRD is built for racetrack-ready performance.
  • Whether you want more pure power with the Camry TRD which has 301 horsepower, or more fuel efficiency, the Camry does it all.
  • Boost your commute with an EPA-estimated 51/53/52 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating with the Camry LE Hybrid.

As mentioned before, the 2021 Camry is not like your ordinary commuter car. Under the hood is the potential for powerful performance and big EPA-estimated MPG ratings.

Options for Everyone

The Camry TRD with track-tuned front and rear coil springs, shock absorbers, and stabilizer bars provide a smooth ride and improved high-speed stability. Not to mention, the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) designation is no easy feat. With it comes an enhanced driving experience that the Sonata can't compete with.

Take, for example, the 301 HP engine that's standard in the Camry TRD. The Sonata does have one comparable option, the higher-end Sonata N-Line with a 2.5L turbocharged 4-Cyl engine, but it still only has 290 horsepower.

The Camry XSE V6 and Camry XLE V6 also have 301 HP without the other specialized TRD track-tuned front and rear coil springs, shock absorbers and stabilizer bars. Looking at a more level playing field, the Camry LE is no slouch with 203 HP and 184 lb.-ft. torque. The Sonata base trim SE only has 191 HP and 181 lb.-ft. torque.

Aside from robust power, the Camry also has available AWD for better driving in adverse weather conditions. On the other hand, the Sonata does not offer AWD on any trim.

Additionally, the Camry is built for fuel efficiency as well. With the XSE Hybrid you can enjoy both a sporty and efficient ride with standard sport-tuned suspension and an EPA-estimated 44/47/46 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating.

If you're looking for even better gas mileage, consider the Camry LE Hybrid which has an EPA-estimated 51/53/52 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. The 2021 Sonata Hybrid Blue model has a pretty comparable EPA-estimated 50/54/52 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating.

2021 Camry using sensors to park

Safety

  • Feel protected with a whole suite of active safety features standard on the Toyota Camry.
  • The 2021 Sonata offers most of the same driver-assistive features aside from Road Sign Assist (RSA).
  • You can also get available Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) starting on the Camry LE.

Both Toyota and Hyundai know that safety is important, making advanced safety technology available at the base level.

Standard Safety Features

Every 2021 Camry model comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+). For the Camry LE, SE, and SE Nightshade Edition this includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Road Sign Assist (RSA), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).

As for comparable TSS 2.5+ features, the 2021 Sonata (all trims) has Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), High Beam Assist (HBA), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection (FCA-Ped), and Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go.

For extra reassurance while changing lanes, the 2021 Camry also has available Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) on the LE, SE, and their hybrid engines too. This feature comes standard on the Camry XLE, XSE, and TRD. The 2021 Sonata has Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA) and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA), but it is not available on the base model Sonata SE. It comes standard starting on the SEL.

People walking to one red and one white parked 2021 Camry

Reliability

  • The 2021 Toyota Camry received a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating from the NHTSA.
  • Both Toyota and Hyundai have complimentary maintenance and roadside assistance for extra reassurance on the road.

Both Toyota and Hyundai have been around a long time and as such have been recognized by both consumers and experts for their excellence.

Awards and Accolades

The 2021 Toyota Camry is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2020 Top Safety Pick+. The 2021 Sonata only received the 2020 IIHS Top Safety Pick designation when equipped with LED projector headlights.

Also evaluated by the NHTSA, the 2021 Toyota Camry received a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating and a 5-Star Overall Front Star Rating. The Hyundai Sonata also received a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating but only got 4-Stars for Overall Front Star Rating.

No vehicle wins such awards without good reason. To keep your investment going the extra mile, Toyota also has ToyotaCare standard. ToyotaCare is a maintenance program that covers normal factory-scheduled maintenance for 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. ToyotaCare also comes with Roadside Assistance that lasts for 2 years and unlimited miles. Hyundai offers 5 years of Roadside Assistance for unlimited miles and Hyundai Complimentary maintenance for 3 years or 36,000 miles.

interior of 2021 camry

Interior

  • The Camry comes standard with lots of connectivity features that the Sonata does not, like Amazon Alexa and SiriusXM® compatibility.
  • Add Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging to the Camry LE or SE for another way to keep your devices at 100%.
  • You won't have to fiddle with the keys when you add the available Smart Key System to the Camry LE or SE.

Available LED cabin lighting, premium materials, and floating touchscreen can all help to create a more executive environment. The 2021 Camry does that while also driving you into the future with wireless connectivity options.

Connectivity and Convenience

Excitement comes standard on every Camry, including Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. You can also try out SiriusXM® with a 3-month All Access trial subscription. While the Sonata also has standard Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay® compatibility, it makes no mention of Amazon Alexa integration. Additionally, SiriusXM® is only available starting on the Sonata SEL or higher.

Another tech touch the Camry offers is Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging. This feature is available as part of an option package on the Camry LE and SE. You can get Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging standard on the Camry XLE and XSE. For the Sonata, Wireless device charging (for Qi-supported devices) is not available on the base model Sonata SE. It is, however, an option on the SEL and comes standard on the SEL Plus and higher.

Drivers will find comfort starting on the base grade Camry LE which has a standard 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support and 6-way power adjustable front passenger seat. The seating options for the Camry just get better from there. Comparably, the 2021 Sonata SE comes standard with a 6-way manually adjustable driver’s seat and 4-way adjustable passenger seat. The Sonata SEL and higher grades have standard power 8-way adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support.

Be one with your Camry when you use the Smart Key System. This feature works on front doors and the trunk and allows for Push Button Start. It also enables a remote keyless entry system and remote illuminated entry. This is available as part of an option package on the Camry LE and SE. The similar Proximity Key entry with push button start on the Hyundai Sonata is not available on the base model SE but does come standard on the SEL and higher.

Two people unpacking the 2021 Camry

Conclusion: Camry vs. Sonata

  • The Camry has the TRD trim for those looking to fulfill their need for speed.
  • Get the available Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) starting on the Camry LE. This feature is standard starting on the Sonata SEL.
  • Both the Camry and Sonata are highly ranked by both safety ratings and consumer reviews.

It's not hard to see these two vehicles are formidable contenders. They both have great safety features, hybrid engine options, and have won numerous awards over the years. However, there are some differences.

With the Camry TRD you can have a sporty look and a special design built for control and speed. The Camry TRD, XSE V6, and XLE V6 take horsepower up a notch with 301 HP compared to the 290 HP for the Sonata N-Line.

While both vehicles offer similar active safety features, only the Camry has Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) available on the base model. The same feature for the Sonata is only available starting on the SEL. Plus, the 2021 Camry received a higher NHTSA Overall Front Star Rating than the Sonata.

If you're looking for a safe and reliable car with trim options for any drive, the 2021 Toyota Camry is the sedan you need.