The Toyota Camry midsize sedan has been America’s best-selling car for as long as we can remember, in a competitive category that includes such strong entrants as the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, and Hyundai Sonata. Last restyled for 2015, the Camry has changed little for the 2017 model year.
Upper trim levels of 2017 Camry models gain standard equipment over previous models, including premium audio and navigation capability.
Often deemed ordinary in appearance, the Camry is actually a handsome car, with a few bold flourishes. Most controversial is the current grille.
Camry shines brightest from within its spacious, thoughtfully developed interior, fitted with abundant storage possibilities and sound-deadening materials. Seating appears geared for grownups, even if that choice limits versatility and cargo space.
Of the four trim levels, Camry LE and Camry XLE occupy the plainer end of the spectrum, while Camry SE and Camry XSE get a sportier look. Editions with the letter X get extra luxury, but even base model are well-equipped, with a 6.1-inch touchscreen.
Most Camry buyers choose the (less expensive) mild-mannered 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission helps extract acceptable performance, making the hard-working four-cylinder suitable for most families and commuters.
An optional 3.5-liter V6 available on Camry XLE and Camry XSE models develops 268 horsepower. And with 248 pound-feet of torque, the V6 delivers confident response in any driving situation, and more smoothness.
A Hybrid (battery/gasoline) powertrain is also available, issuing a combined 200 horsepower and earning a startling 40-mpg EPA estimate in combined driving. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine works with an electric motor and nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. Rather than a regular automatic, Hybrids use a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Toyota is a leader in hybrid technology.
Although the Camry has scored well in crash-testing, it trails some rivals. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it a 5-star overall rating, despite 4-star ratings in side-impact and rollover testing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2016 Camry Good scores on all tests, plus its most prestigious Top Safety Pick+ award. Optional forward-collision mitigation technology was rated as Advanced.
Safety options include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane-departure alert.
2017 Toyota Camry comes in four trim levels; Hybrids in three. Each has 10 airbags.
Camry LE ($23,070) comes with the four-cylinder engine, cloth seats, 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, heated power mirrors, power front seats, air conditioning, keyless entry, and a rearview camera. An Entune 6.1-inch touchscreen audio and infotainment system includes a CD player, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and six speakers. Camry SE ($23,840) features suede-like imitation leather upholstery, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, 17-inch graphite-finish alloy wheels, a sport suspension, rear spoiler, and a sport mesh grille.
Camry XLE ($26,310) comes with leather upholstery, along with power lumbar support, keyless ignition, and 17-inch Super Chrome alloy wheels. Entune Audio Plus brings satellite radio, HD radio, smartphone navigation integration, and newly standard Qi wireless charging.
Camry XLE V6 ($31,370) substitutes the V6 engine for the four-cylinder.
Camry XSE ($26,310) gets sport leather Ultrasuede upholstery, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights and running lamps, and 18-inch machined alloy wheels. Camry XSE V6 ($31,370) has the V6 engine, adding a universal garage-door opener, auto-dimming mirror, sunroof, acoustic windshield, and dual exhaust outlets.
Camry LE Hybrid ($26,790), Camry SE Hybrid ($27,995), Camry XLE Hybrid ($30,140) are equipped as above.
Bold, if not necessarily beautiful, the current Camry’s front end is hard to miss, with its big lower grille segment that widens toward the base. Thought by some to resemble an open-jawed fish, the grille is most prominent with lighter body colors.
Viewed from the side or rear, the sedan is handsomely refined and understated, set off by mere hints of boldness. Black plastic behind back windows is the only detail that doesn’t quite fit.
Swept-back headlights have clear lenses. Upper trim levels incorporate LED daytime running lamps. SE and XSE bodysides conclude with a lip-type rear spoiler.
Interior styling is functional as well as appealing, spacious and accommodating up front. Pushing the dashboard farther ahead than is customary helps give the cabin an open, airy aura, while cubbies and storage spots abound. Soft-touch surfaces help make the cabin feel welcoming.
Big knobs and buttons fill the center stack, augmented by a 6.1- or 7-inch touchscreen. Intuitive virtual buttons ease the control choices, while large buttons also surround the screen itself. Base-level infotainment is quite good, though USB ports are lacking.
Seats are firmer and more contoured in sportier SE and XSE trim levels. Lateral support isn’t much better than in an LE or XLE, but seats provide a better fit.
All trim levels get 60/40-split folding rear seats, though they don’t fold totally flat. Back seats are more adult-centered than in some sedans, appropriately padded and contoured for comfort. Because of the traditional roofline, adult heads have adequate clearance. Three grownups fit in back, though shoulder space is limited. Measuring 15.4 cubic feet, the trunk has ample space for suitcases.
Even the base Camry LE is ideal for daily commutes and everyday tasks. No one is likely to expect scintillating performance from the four-cylinder engine, but it’s thrifty. Selecting the V6 provides a sizable leap ahead in acceleration, but also in price. If you’re not sure, we recommend the four-cylinder. Both engines mate with a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic. We noticed sluggish downshifting in the mountains with four-cylinder engine.
Toyota made a number of body and suspension modifications for the 2015 model year, giving the current Camry a greater sense of control, without impairing its smooth ride. While cruising, and at higher speeds, the suspension copes well with bumps and road roughness. On uneven surfaces, even a softer-suspended Camry model absorbs the worst spots, rebounding after each assault in a well-controlled manner.
Toyota’s Camry Hybrid achieves world-class fuel-efficiency; but regular-engine models fail to lead the midsize pack. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder has been EPA-rated at 24/33 mpg City/Highway, or 27 mpg Combined. The LE Hybrid has been EPA-rated at 42/38 mpg City/Highway, or 40 mpg Combined, but upper Hybrids dip to 40/37 mpg City/Highway, or 38 mpg Combined. Thirsty of the group, the V6 version, is EPA-rated at 21/30 mpg City/Highway, or 24 mpg Combined.
Most buyers will consider the four-cylinder perfectly adequate, if a trifle sluggish at times, delivering a quiet, refined ride. The V6 inspires confidence, but has a higher price tag and lower fuel economy. For buyers who place substance ahead of style, any Camry makes a comfortable family car or non-pretentious daily commuter.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.