Essentially, the Camry offers three different engines. The base powerplant is a smooth-revving 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 160 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque in the sedans. (Unless you live in California and certain Northeastern states, that is, where an ultra-low-emissions version that makes 151 hp and 161 lb-ft is sold.) Camry Solara coupes have a slightly lower power rating for their four-cylinder engines: 157 horsepower and 162 lb-ft. There are also two V-6 engines. The first, fitted in LE and XLE sedans, is a 3.0-liter that produces 210 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque. SE sedans are available with a 3.3-liter V-6 that makes 225 horsepower and 240 lb-ft. The higher-output engine is the only V-6 offered in Solara coupes and the only engine fitted in the Solara convertible. Whichever V-6 you choose, it will be mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, with the slick five-speed manual limited to the four-cylinder engine.
Behind the Wheel
Above all, what the Camry provides is a pleasant, innocuous way of getting from point A to point B. Whether you choose a four-cylinder or V-6 model, or go for the sedan, coupe, or convertible, all Camrys ride beautifully and have quiet, elegant powertrains. Naturally, the four-cylinder engine needs to be worked harder than the rich V-6 for best results, but that's no hardship because the five-speed manual is so slick and the five-speed automatic transmission has well-spaced ratios and nearly imperceptible gearshifts. The V-6 engines, too, are superbly refined, and provide decent passing performance, especially in 3.3-liter guise. Again, the automatic transmissions are exceptional.
The story isn't quite so good for enthusiast drivers. Although Toyota offers a slightly more aggressive suspension tune on the SE sedan, it's still a bit dull to drive fast-safe but not inspirational. Even the SE Sport Camry Solara coupe is more boulevardier than back-road hero. But most Camry owners won't care about that, because they are after a great highway ride, and the Camry provides that. Only some steering kickback on bumpy roads interrupts the isolation.
One of the beautiful things about owning a Toyota is that you won't be spending much time at a dealership service department, due to the vehicles' legendary reliability. Toyota isn't the most generous with its warranties, offering a 3-year/36,000-mile comprehensive coverage allied with a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, but you likely won't need them anyhow. All models fair well in the IntelliChoice Cost of Ownership analyses, but there is clear variation between trim levels and body styles, making it essential to compare the figures before purchasing.
Always a smart choice, the Toyota Camry provides the refinement, packaging, and value to satisfy the motoring needs of mainstream consumers. What it may lack in passion, it makes up for in quality, convenience, and polish.