The Toyota Camry is a sensible, drama-free mid-size sedan that’s at least trying to appear “sporty.” What do you need to know before you buy a Toyota Camry? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.
As it turns out, more and more shoppers are buying the “sporty” sedans. No, not Hellcat Chargers, but just cars that “look” and “feel” sporty. Not to be left out of the fray, Toyota has updated their best-selling beigemobile to not only look “sporty,” but you can also get a “sport-tuned suspension.”
But enthusiasts won’t be fooled by the beigemobile in kinda-sporty clothing. Toyota is building this thing to sell to the masses and stay at the top of U.S. sales charts, so even if the styling gets a catfish- face update, the ride, handling, power deliver, and general ownership experience is designed to be conservative and drama-free. The Camry is dipping its big toe in the “sporty” department, but the rest of it sits firmly in the Let’s Just Get You To Work Without Any Problems category.
So the Camry isn’t an enthusiast’s choice, but among mid-size sedans it does offer Toyota’s reputation for reliability, fuel efficiency and value. So there’s that.
The seventh generation Camry, called the XV50, launched in 2012 with new styling inside and out, a lighter, more rigid chassis, updated powertrains, and new infotainment options.
Rear cross-traffic alert became available in 2013, and 2014 brought some trim level changes.
But the big update came in 2015, when Toyota refreshed the XV50 with new sheetmetal, new front and rear fascias, updated suspension tuning options (sport-tuned, folks), an updated interior, a quieter cabin, and more available safety options.
New for 2016 is, well, not much. There is a new “Special Edition” trim level, but that’s about it.
The Camry’s main trim levels are: LE, SE, XSE, and XLE. The LE is the base model, the SE promises sportier styling and features, the XSE builds on the SE with even more “sportiness,” and the XLE is the premium model offering luxurious comfort features.
There’s also a hybrid version of the LE and XLE trims, and for 2016 there’s a “Special Edition” trim, which is basically an LE with special 18-inch wheels, a unique interior, and some other exterior appearance items.
Choosing a Camry really depends on what you value most. Usually mid-size car buyers are looking for comfort, safety, fuel economy, and respectable ride and handling. If comfort is paramount, the XLE, with its leather seats and automatic climate control, is the way to go.
On the safety front, all Camrys come with 10 air bags, electronic stability control, brake-override, electronic brake-force distribution, and brake assist. But if you want even more safety, the technology package, available on XSE and up, offers pre-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic high beam control.
If you want better handling, the SE and XSE promise a sportier suspension tune (updated dampers and springs, a strut tower and trunk braces), but the 18-inch wheels on the XSE may tarnish the ride quality and let’s be honest, it’s not gonna be 3-series in the twisties.
Since we’re enthusiasts, we’d never buy a Camry, but if we had to for some ungodly reason, we’d probably spring for the 200 horsepower hybrid LE. The way we figure, if we’re buying a car as boring as a Camry, we’d better be getting insanely good fuel economy. While the 179 horsepower base four banger does fine at 28 MPG combined, the hybrid LE gets 41 MPG combined. While that’s not Honda Accord Hybrid territory, it’s still pretty solid for a car costing less than $27,000— that’s about $3,500 more than the base Camry LE, but over $2,500 less than the Accord.
For that coin you’re getting projector beam headlights, a backup camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, power seats, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, 10 airbags, push-button start, Bluetooth. All in with $835 destination charge, we’d be looking at $27,625 for our steelie-equipped, cloth-seated fuel sipper. [Build Your Own]
MSRP: $23,070 - $30,140 Top Speed: ~130 MPH (V6 estimated)
Acceleration: ~6.0s to 60 [V6]
MPG: 43 city/ 39 hwy / 41 combined [hybrid LE]
Engines: 2.5L I4, 2.5L hybrid I4, 3.5L V6
Max Horsepower/Torque: 268 hp/248 lb-ft [V6]
Curb Weight: ~3,240-3,565 pounds IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick
Transmissions: 6-speed automatic, CVT Automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, FWD
Photo credit: Toyota