By Drew Johnson
Wednesday, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 10:22 am
 
The latest sixth-generation Toyota Camry was all new for 2007 and carries into 2008 relatively unchanged. But then again, Toyota doesn't have much of a reason to change its popular mid-sizer since it was the best selling car in America last year. Leftlane decided to check out the 2008 model to see if the Camry really lives up to all of its hype.

There is no question that the Camry's exterior styling is the most influential in Toyota's lineup -- just look at the all-new Corolla and Matrix -- but its rounded lines make it seem like a much bigger car than it really is. Compared to other cars in this segment, the Camry's styling appears the most conservative and doesn't really take any risks. On the other side of the coin, the Camry's styling won't offend any potential buyers and gives the car some added mass appeal. Not to say the Camry is a bad looking car, it just doesn't seem to have the character that most other cars have and could easily be lost in the crowd. The sharply pointed front headlights do at least give the indication of aggressiveness. The rear of the car continues with the plain vanilla styling but does add a bit of flair with a deck lid line reminiscent of BMW's "Bangle-butt."

The Camry's interior continues with the exterior's conservative design theme but functions very well. The two-tone dash does a good job of breaking up the sea of plastic and the use of white and silver accents on radio and HVAC controls -- which are all within easy reach -- gives the cabin a fresh look. The Camry has a more up-scale feel than the other cars in this class, thanks to a handsome center console. Gauges are Lexus-quality and very easy on the eyes. The Camry's driving position is good but we found the seats to be uncomfortable due to a large lumbar support that didn't have any kind of adjustment. The Camry's fit and finish is very good and is exactly what you'd expect in a Toyota. The quality of the materials was also very good, with almost every surface being soft to the touch. Overall, it's hard to find any faults in the Camry's interior, but it's also hard to find anything that really stands out as something we like. Once again, probably the reason Toyota sold 400,000 Camrys last year.

On the road, we were underwhelmed by the Camry's performance. Our LE model came with Toyota's 2.4L engine -- rated at 158 horsepower and 161 lb-ft of torque -- and struggled a bit to carry around the 3,300 lb Camry. According to Toyota, 0-60 takes a leisurely 9.5 seconds. Under acceleration, the engine is also quite loud and buzzy yet works well with the five-speed automatic transmission. But once you get the Camry up to cruising speed, the cabin actually becomes surprisingly quiet -- even when traversing less than perfect stretches of highway. The Camry's suspension is tuned more toward comfort than sport and allows the car absorb bumps without any fuss. Steering doesn't provide much feedback but is nicely weighted. The Camry's brake pedal felt a little on the soft side but did an adequate job of rubbing off speed.

Overall, the 2008 Camry is a nice package that should appeal to anyone who just wants to get from point A to point B. What the Camry lacks in excitement and performance it makes up with efficiency and dependability. But with most cars in this segment now designed with at least a little sportiness in mind, it makes us wonder if Toyota will miss out on younger buyers in the coming years.

Prices for the 2008 Camry start at $18,570 with our LE test model going for about $20,000. The range topping XLE V6 starts at just over $28,000.