I drove the Camry immediately after spending some time in a new, fully loaded Ford Taurus Limited. While the Taurus is a newer, more glamorously styled car with more bells and whistles than the Camry, which looks kinda stodgy by comparison, I had only to spend a few minutes in the Camry to discern the major differences between these two upscale family sedans. These differences can be described in two words: continual improvement.
When you drive the Camry, you are reminded that Toyota continually improves, tiny step by tiny step, its vehicles. Unlike the Taurus, which Ford ignored for years and only recently paid any real attention to, Toyota never took its eye off the ball with the Camry. Toyota has relentlessly tweaked and refined and improved the Camry for decades now, and the results show. The Camry is simply a far more refined vehicle to drive and to be in. The powertrain is smoother, quieter, and more satisfying to operate. All of the controls are nicely damped and feel great. The car drives with a sense of purpose. I'm trying to describe intangibles here, but if you drive these two cars back-to-back, you'll see what I mean. And if you're in the market for either one of these cars -- the 2011 Ford Taurus or the 2011 Toyota Camry -- I do think you should drive them back-to-back.
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
The Camry XLE makes the Ford Taurus I drove last night feel like a sports car in corners, so understeer prone is the Toyota's chassis and so devoid of feeling is its steering. The Camry has a silky-smooth powertrain, though, that offers plenty of passing power at the stomp of your foot. As Joe mentioned, its overall feeling of refinement is superior to that of the Taurus. Still, it's not hard to find weaknesses in assembly quality in the Camry's cabin trim. The interior generally uses very nice materials and is nicely comfortable and spacious, though. I agree 100 percent with Joe when he encourages prospective owners to test-drive both cars, not to mention the Honda Accord and the Dodge Charger. Each has a very different feel.
Remote start, a $529 option, was a pleasant surprise from a Toyota product and came in very handy on a wintry Michigan morning. Options I was less keen about include the simulated woodgrain inside and the TRD wheels, which look quite out of place on this Camry (they'd look cool on a Scion tC, though).
- Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor