In another era, the road and showrooms were dominated by sedans and they were the bread and butter of the car sales industry. But today, the landscape has changed and instead of sedans, more drivers are seeking out pickups and SUVs as their mode of transport. Despite the shifting times and preferences, the four-door sedan remains a mainstay on our roads and highways with an estimated 2.4 million sedans sold in just the last year. And Toyota makes one of the most popular models, the Camry.
While it’s not going to be the belle of the ball during fashion week, the 2017 Camry sedan is less jagged looking than other recent Toyota models and is the best-selling sedan in America for the past fourteen years. This year’s model is a carry-over from the year previous with several new electronics features, including Toyota’s Entune Audio Plus multimedia system with navigation and JBL audio as well as a Qi wireless phone charger mat.
Part of maintaining a dominant position in the mid-sized car market is being able to strike a balance. The vehicle needs to deliver when it comes to utility and comfort and reliability while still offering a stylish look that appeals to the individual. The Camry may not break new ground with its design but it also avoids some of the errant design choices of other sedans.
From the side, the Camry offers two upswept lines that help give the profile a much more aggressive stance than most mid-sized sedans.
Overall, the seating is supportive with a slight premium sense thanks the to ‘ultrasuede’ upholstery. With better than average support, the front seats cup the occupant while allowing excellent outward visibility. The back seat is one of the largest in this car segment and offers plenty of room for adults to stretch and easily get in and out of the vehicle.
For the most part, Toyota gets this right with the Camry. Major controls and dials are placed and sized well to create easy access and adjustment. And the contrast-color stitching offers a touch of elegance while the thick and leather-clad wheel makes steering a joy. The included paddle shifters are also a welcome touch. But some of the choices for interior materials are confusing and disappointing. Semi-gloss silver accents don’t work next to flat-black and some of the gauges look similarly ‘inexpensive’.
The Camry’s already well-sized trunk can be expanded with rear seats that fold forward to help with transport of odd-shaped objects. And Toyota adds additional storage within the Camry which is useful for most families with children. Where else are your kids going to stuff dirty tissues and half eaten apples? Special nod for Camry’s trunk lid springs, which help open the trunk with some flair.
The XSE model version of the Camry has dual-zone climate control and a touchscreen display for navigation and audio control. The Camry also has charging pad for smartphones and other small digital devices that physically fit and support wireless charging. The Entune App Suite also enhances connectivity, providing access to internet radio and other convenient applications. What’s missing? Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which is an obvious and disappointing omission in a modern vehicle.
Camry’s crash test scores are at the top and Toyota offers new driver assistance systems like blind-spot monitoring and a radar-based cruise control. Toyota also offers lane-departure warning, and pre-collision braking. The Advanced Technology Package bundles all of these for about $750 – a well-worthwhile expenditure. The Camry scores highly with the NTSA’s crash tests as well as those done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Power & Performance
The standard engine in the Camry is a 2.5-liter engine which delivers 178 horsepower. But for those of you who need a bit more get up and go, Toyota offers a 3.5-liter V-6 with a bit more pep and adding another 90 horses to bring the spec up to 268 horsepower with 248 lb.-ft. of torque and six speeds. The 6-speed automatic transmission responds well and rarely lags. With an EPA of 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, the Camry offers a respectable 24 mpg overall with its V6 engine.
Ride & Handling
The Camry features electric-assisted power steering which is light to the touch and offers a lot of boost but not a lot of road feel. Overall, the Camry’s handling is solid but leaves a little bit to be desired when compared to the Honda’s Accord. The suspension in the Camry is only just slightly springy, but it’s enough to notice.