More than ten million Camrys have been sold worldwide since the first Camry model launched in Japan in 1980. The Camry has been the bestselling car in America for the past four years, and 2005 was the eighth time in the past nine years that it has achieved that distinction. Clearly, a lot is at stake when Toyota decides to redesign the Camry, but from what we’ve seen of the all-new, 2007 model, the Camry will continue to bring home the bacon for Toyota.
Camry owners like their cars’ reliability, build quality, refinement, and comfort, but during consumer research, many of them told Toyota that they wished their cars weren’t so boring to look at and to drive. Hence this seventh-generation model has more curves in its sheetmetal and, Toyota promises, a little more spring in its step, thanks to an optional 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 268 hp. It’s the same engine that debuted last year in the new Avalon and more recently in the new RAV4, and it’s mated to an all-new, six-speed automatic transmission. The standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine carries over with major upgrades including a slightly higher compression ratio. It makes 158 hp and is mated to either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
The Camry is no bigger overall than before, but the wheelbase has been stretched from 107.1 inches to 109.3 inches. All trim grades have upgraded wheels, with sixteen-inchers replacing last year’s fifteen-inchers as standard equipment. The sporty SE model, which can be equipped with either engine, gets seventeen-inch wheels. The SE also gets a full body trim kit and a V-shaped brace behind its rear seats to increase torsional rigidity. Side curtain air bags are standard on all models. Stability control is optional, but at least it’s offered on all models, even the stripper CE.
America’s most popular family sedan will finally receive Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain as an option. Unlike Honda, which based the Accord’s hybrid powertrain on a V-6 engine, Toyota is using a four-cylinder, but it’s the Camry’s standard 2.4-liter four, not the 1.5-liter found in the Prius. The Camry Hybrid’s gasoline engine produces 147 hp, while its electric motor provides 45 hp. A continuously variable transmission is standard. There’s also an “Eco” button that decreases air conditioning output to aid fuel economy, if the driver is willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort to sip less gasoline. EPA fuel economy estimates for the Camry Hybrid are 43 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway. A standard Camry equipped with the four-cylinder engine, by comparison, is rated at 25/35 city/highway when equipped with a manual transmission. Camrys with V-6 engines get 22/31 city/highway.