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.
After receiving upgraded interior materials for the previous for the previous model year, the Camry gains a new SE Sport trim level that adds a sunroof, upsized wheels and a power-adjustable driver's seat to the driver-focused SE model.
Also new is the Hybrid SE Limited Edition, which combines the standard SE's sporty attributes with the Hybrid's efficiency.
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 five different trim levels: L, LE, SE, SE Sport and XLE. The Camry Hybrid is offered only with LE, XLE and SE Limited Edition trims.
The L trim, despite being the bargain basement model in terms of price, still offers power windows, A/C, a six-speaker sound system with a USB port that supports iPod connectivity, power mirrors, the a 6.1-inch "display audio" system and 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.
Stepping up to the LE adds keyless entry, phone pairing via Bluetooth and a backup camera.
The sportiest of Camrys, the SE brings 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather-trimmed sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, color-keyed front and rear underbody spoilers, sport side rocker panels, a color-keyed rear spoiler, chrome-tipped exhaust and a sport-tuned suspension. The SE Sport builds on those features with a wunroof, power-adjustable driver's seat and 18-inch wheels.
The XLE includes integrated fog lamps, color-keyed power heated outside mirrors, a power moonroof, unique 17-inch alloy wheels, dual zone front automatic climate control, a larger screen for the backup camera, leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic four-spoke steering wheel with a Multi-Information Display and voice-command controls.
Optional features 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.
Hybrid SE Limited Edition
For buyers who want frugality and fun, Toyota has rolled out a new Hybrid SE Limited Edition trim. Available only for a few months, it starts with the XLE model and adds several aggressive design cues from the Camry SE, including front and rear fascias, side rockers, rear spoiler and 17-inch wheels.
Inside the Hybrid SE Limited Edition receives a leather-wrapped, four-spoke steering wheel, silver accents, and front and rear seats from the Camry SE.
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 revamped 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, 47-mpg Ford Fusion Hybrid and the feature-packed Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.