Yep, that's the same basic 3.5-liter V-6 used in the Lotus Evora. Smooth, powerful, comfortable at any speed or rpm. Of course, the Camry doesn't compare well otherwise with a mid-engine sports car, but within its own segment it does considerably better. Enthusiasts love to rag on the plain-Jane Toyota four-door, but really, it doesn't drive all that differently from any other front-wheel-drive, mid-size car. There isn't a single one that offers what I'd consider really good steering (the marginally mid-size Suzuki Kizashi comes the closest) and all suffer due to the amount of torque traveling through the front wheels.
Where the Camry really falls down is in the styling department. The exterior maladies are well known, and the interior, though well assembled, has all the character and charm of an east German apartment complex. And this was in a fully loaded model costing nearly $37,000. Considering all the technology and style one can buy in a Ford Fusion or a Hyundai Sonata, I'd say the Camry has some catching up to do. Granted, "catching up" is a relative term for a perennial bestseller, but that number-one spot is not a birthright.
- David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
I happened to visit my mother on the weekend I had the Camry, and it gave me a good chance to compare the latest Camry with her seven-year-old model. While the seven-year-old car has aged fairly gracefully, it's apparent that Toyota has taken care to continually improve and refine what is one of the most popular cars in America. Of course, this Camry XLE test car is fully optioned, having navigation, a backup camera, XM radio, special wheels, and remote start, among other optional features. Still, several of those options could be deleted and the Camry would still be a very polished vehicle. The V-6 and six-speed transmission are well matched, allowing the driver to call up extra power for accelerating and passing with little drama and no delay. The interior is comfortable, the controls are easy to use, and the trunk is quite spacious. The Camry isn't a car for enthusiasts, but its enduring popularity proves that Toyota is doing something right here. With the Camry, Toyota is sending a message to the American car buyer that this is a car that will provide them with practicality, reliability, and excellent resale value. That's not a bad recipe for success.
- Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor