|The Really Important Stuff|
|Engine||2.4 L I4|
|Power||154 hp @ 5700 rpm|
|Torque||160 ft-lbs @ 4000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy City/Highway||21/30|
|Curb Weight||3108 lbs|
|Base Price When New||$20,165|
|Market Value (Excellent Condition, 100K miles)||$6,981|
It’s easy to see why the Toyota Camry spent so many years as the best-selling mid-size sedan in America. Every aspect of the Camry’s design incorporates elements from its up-market competitors. The presence of features like steering wheel audio controls, one-touch windows, and speed-proportional power steering distinguish it from similarly-priced models. Comfort is one area in particular that sets the Camry apart. The seats are markedly ergonomic, and the ride is more cushioned than one would expect from anything less than a luxury car. Toyota’s meticulous engineers have created a suspension that offers great ride comfort with little accompanying compromise in handling. The interior is well-insulated from road and wind noise, which is still audible, but muffled.
While certainly not on a par with a BMW or Audi, the Camry’s driving experience leaves little to be desired. Steering is precise and direct. The power assist provides just the right weight. This, combined with the poised handling, gives me the confidence to push the car a bit closer to the limit than I would normally be comfortable doing in a large family car. The Camry I drove was equipped with the standard 5-speed manual transmission. Its clutch has a particularly long travel, which is great for smooth shifting. With the available 5-speed automatic, this car would lose most of its edge in the realm of driver engagement. In my opinion, that's not worth sacrificing for the one additional highway mpg you gain by opting for a slushbox.
There are a few downsides you'll have to live with if you decide to make your garage home to a Camry. The best way I can describe the 4-cylinder engine is "adequate". It's not going to knock your socks off, but it gets the job done. Additionally, the styling is far from striking. Seen on its own, the Camry is pleasant to look at, but it doesn't stand out from the crowd. This model has become so common that you can't drive a mile in most towns without seeing at least twenty of them. It is the quintessential mundane family car, in the eyes of the public. But somehow I find myself drawn to its unassuming image. Maybe I just like the idea that no one will ever suspect how much fun I'm having.
- Dare I say it? This economical mid-size is actually enjoyable to drive!
- Your left leg gets some exercise while you transport your family in comfort
- Excellent gas mileage
- Reliable (It's a Toyota. Enough said.)
- Copious legroom and trunk space make it super-practical
- The 4-cylinder isn't very powerful
- This isn't a car you can brag to your friends about
The Bottom Line: It's an affordable mid-size that takes design notes from much pricier models.