There's a reason the Toyota Camry is a ubiquitous sight on the highways and byways of the United States: it's one of the better-rounded midsize sedans available, with a spacious interior, comfortable ride and efficient engine options like a 43-mpg hybrid powertrain. Exciting it is not, but for buyers who place a premium on practicality and reliability, the Camry is an option well worth considering.
For the most recent model year, the Camry gains a Special Edition model and showcases audio and Navigation packages with either 6.1-inch or 7-inch touch-screen displays.
Quiet, comfortable and understated, the Camry features a commodious, well-built interior with an attractive dashboard rendered in soft-touch materials. Passenger space is ample, especially for those riding in back. All Camrys are outfitted with Toyota's Entune infotainment system, which includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen for the audio system in addition to apps like Bing, Facebook Places and Pandora. An optional navigation system adds a larger 7-inch display.
The standard Camry is offered with buyer's choice of two engines: an entry-level 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 178 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque, and a stout 3.5-liter that's good for 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. Both shift through a six-speed automatic transmission, which helps return fuel economy of 25/35 city/highway mpg for the four-cylinder and 21/30 mpg for the V6.
Toyota also offers a Camry Hybrid model that pairs with a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder with an electric motor for a total system output of 200 horsepower. With the help of a continuously variable transmission, the setup is good for 43/39 mpg for models equipped with 16-inch wheels; opt for snazzier 17-inch rims, and mileage falls to 41/38 mpg.
While all three engines are adequately powerful - the V6 actually provides a sports car-rivaling zero-to-60 mph time of under six seconds - the Camry's numb steering and copious amounts body roll mean it doesn't score many points for driving enjoyment. A sport-focused SE trim level with special suspension tuning is moderately more engaging, but still far from the best-handling model in the segment.
Though it isn't a canyon carver, the Camry impresses with a cushy ride, hushed cabin and supportive seats that make long road trips a relaxing experience.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Camry is available in four trim levels: LE, SE, XSE and XLE.
The LE comes standard with automatic project beam halogen headlights, daytime running lights, body-colored door mirrors, 16-inch steel wheels with plastic hubcaps, High Solar Energy-Absorbing (HSEA) glass and bright chrome trim on the upper radiator grille and the trunk lid. Inside, the Camry LE comes with a rear-view camera, Bluetooth connectivity, imitation wood trim, A/C, power windows and locks, cruise control, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat and cloth upholstery. A 7-inch color touch screen mounted in the center stack runs Toyota's Entune Audio system.
The SE stands out with black trim around the headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a body-colored rear spoiler, a chrome exhaust tip, a sport-tuned suspension and a model-specific front grille. SE models also get SofTex upholstery, a leather-upholstered three-spoke steering wheel, silver trim on the dashboard and a configurable thin-film transistor (TFT) screen integrated into the instrument cluster.
XSE models equipped with the four-cylinder gain LED daytime running lights, a noise-reducing front windshield, 18-inch alloys, trim-specific trim around the headlights, Ultrasuede upholstery and dual-zone A/C. V6-powered XSEs add a power tilt/slide moonroof, rear reading lights, Qi wireless charging capability, a Homelink universal transmitter and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Four-cylinder models gain Toyota's Audio Entune Plus entertainment system, while V6 models benefit from Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite. As the name implies, the system adds navigation and lets the passengers download compatible applications.
Four-cylinder XLE models gain 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone A/C and leather upholstery on the seats and on the door panels. V6-powered variants feature LED headlights and a Smart Key System with a push-button ignition. The entertainment options are the same as the ones offered on the XSE.
Four-cylinder XLE and XSE models now also come standard with Toyota's "Connected Navigation Scout" GPS link.
The Camry Hybrid is offered in three trim levels: LE, SE and XLE.
LE features the same equipment as the non-hybrid LE but it adds a TFT screen integrated into the instrument cluster, Toyota's Smart Key System, metallic-tech trim on the dashboard and dual-zone A/C.
The Hybrid SE and XLE trims are identical to their non-hybrid counterparts. The LE and the SE feature Entune Audio, while the XLE boasts Entune Audio Plus that adds features like Sirius XM Satellite Radio capability.
Optional features for both the Camry and the Camry Hybrid are plentiful and can be bundled together in myriad combinations. Buyers can choose from heated, power-adjustable leather seats, a smart key system with push-button start, an auto-dimming rear view mirror with a compass and an alarm system, a navigation system and a JBL premium audio system with 10 speakers.
The Special Edition bundles popular interior equipment into a handily-specced package. This includes Qi wireless accessory charging, a power til/slide moonroof, unique blue appointments, a smart key system and standard Entune Audio Plus with the "Connected Navigation Scout" app.
Regardless of trim level, the Camry offers ten airbags: dual front, side, knee, seat-cushion and rear-side airbags, to be exact. ABS, traction and stability control systems are standard, as is a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and seats designed to lessen the likelihood of whiplash round out the Camry's safety features.
Optional safety features include a blind-spot warning system and rear cross traffic alert, which warns the driver of objects in the Camry's path during backup maneuvers.
Before pulling the trigger on a Camry, those looking for a mid-size sedan should also consider the Volkswagen Passat, which boasts a spacious interior and an optional diesel motor that returns over 40 mpg. The capable Nissan Altima is also worth a look, as is the sleek and value-laden Kia Optima.
Meanwhile, the Camry Hybrid can be cross-shopped against the stylish, 44-mpg Ford Fusion Hybrid and the feature-packed Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.