Sep 30, 2016
Inside the New Toyota Camry
The Toyota Camry outsells its competition – and each model year improves upon its history. From updated performance to features, here’s what you need to know about the new Toyota Camry.
Outselling the competition doesn’t always mean you have curb appeal. In the very recent past, the Camry became saddled with the world’s worst moniker: boring. Fortunately, a full redesign for 2016 exponentially increased its street cred. The 2017 edition certainly looks contemporary. The SE editions have a more aggressive design with a sporty mesh grille. LED headlights have been added to the roster, but these are reserved for higher editions.
Standard Performance Features
Emphasizing fuel economy, the Camry is offered with a 178-horsepower four-cylinder engine. This powertrain generates 170 lb.-ft. of torque. Although you may find a few more horses elsewhere, this engine is in line with its competitors. You can’t expect sporty driving, although the SE and XSE editions add a sport tuned suspension with the hopes of convincing you otherwise. This spacious car has great fuel economy, and that’s really the point. Here’s how the base edition stacks up against some competitors:
- Toyota Camry, 24 city/33 highway
- Chevy Malibu, 27 city/36 highway
- Honda Accord: 23 city/32 highway
Alternative Performance Features
The V-6 kicks out 269 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque, while still managing to earn 30 mpg highway. Available as an option on the XLE and XSE, it adds to the price, but many driving enthusiasts will prefer it. The hybrid edition offers a healthy 200-horsepower net power outlay. It is rated 42 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. That’s significant enough that some will not mind paying extra to enjoy the hybrid’s advantages. As for the competition, you may want to look to the Malibu hybrid, which earns 45 mpg/combined.
Size and Trim
The Camry is built for five, and the cabin is truly spacious enough to accommodate adults in all four outboard seats. Camry engineers discovered that they could create more space by tweaking the headliner for better headroom. For better legroom, they sculpted cutaways in the seatbacks and altered front panels. Customizable Optitron instrumentation is standard on all editions. Also, every Camry has an eight-way power driver’s chair and a four-way power front passenger seat. The XLE and XSE add power-heat to the front row. An interesting omission: the moonroof is optional on all editions and standard on none. While the base edition is simple, the higher editions add more quality materials and design features. Here’s a quick fix on the fashion:
- Cloth, wood-grain trim LE
- Leather, wood-grain trim, XLE
- Sport fabric with Soft-Tex, silver trim SE
- Sport leather with Ultrasuede, silver trim, XSE
Every Camry starts you off with a generous helping of dash tech, but you may want more than the basic package with Bluetooth streaming audio and a 6.1-inch display. A USB port and Siri Eyes Free are also base features. With a larger touchscreen, you enjoy more luxury options:
- HD Radio
- Entune App Suite (Pandora, Facebook, etc.)
- Gracenotes album covers
- Navigation with split-screen display
- HD Radio Predictive Traffic
- Doppler Weather Overlay
- JBL Audio system with GreenEdge speakers
- Qi-compatible wireless charger (XLE/XSE standard)
Tech Pros and Cons
Toyota makes a point of telling you that the App Suite is subscription free. That’s something to watch for when you are evaluating Camry rivals. At the second-tier level, you can get an exclusive, the Connected Navigation app. This operates through your smartphone but it behaves like any other navigation system. At the highest level, you can enjoy exclusive cache radio. This rewinds live radio and lets you hear your favorite song again.
On the other hand, Toyota is simply not offering Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. That’s surprising, given that the rest of the automotive world is rushing to put these integration systems onto their roster. Likewise, you won’t find a WiFi hotspot. By comparison, the Chevy Malibu offers the Apple and Android features, plus it has OnStar WiFi subscriptions even at the base level.
The 2017 Toyota Camry can hold firm on pricing because it is the best-selling car in the United States. That doesn’t just reflect its class. It reflects all vehicle sales, except for pickup trucks, and Camry has held this position for 14 years. Yet, despite adding more features this year, the 2016 prices haven’t changed for 2017.
The LE four-cylinder edition has an MSRP of $23,070. This rises to $31,370 for the top range XSE V-6, which comes packed with luxury options. If you like the Camry Hybrid, that starts at $26,790 and caps off at $30,140 for the premium XLE. These prices don’t reflect dealer markup and fees.
To help you weigh the pros and cons, here’s a quick look at competitors that start out cheaper:
- Accord LX, $22,355
- Hyundai Sonata, $21,950
- Chevy Malibu, $21,680
American-Made, Award-Winning Sedan
Does it matter anymore if a car is made in America? Well, if that does matter to you, the Camry once again makes a case for itself. The best-selling sedan maintains a spot on the Cars Magazine’s American-made index. The list has shrunk over the years, and there are only a few vehicles that qualify. To make the list, the Camry must be manufactured in a U.S. plant, and the majority of its parts must be sourced from North American industries. The Camry has many other awards on its shelf. Most recently it has earned these accolades:
- Best Midsize Car for the Money, U.S. News and World Reports
- Best Retained Value, Edmunds
- Best Buy Award Finalist, Kelley Blue Book
- Top Safety Pick Plus, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
- Five Stars, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Able to claim top safety scores from both the federal and private crash testers, the Camry definitely offers peace of mind. While the sedan’s eight airbags beat many competitors that still have only six, the Chevy Malibu edges past with ten. Still, only Toyota has front whiplash-lessening seats.
You can get some crash avoidance features including a blind spot monitor, but you’ll need to pay more for the XLE and XSE first. There’s also a lane departure alert, forward collision alert with auto braking assistance, and radar-enhanced cruise control. These aren’t particularly cutting edge. The Honda Accord, for instance, has an exclusive blind spot camera on the passenger side.
Choosing a good sedan isn’t that difficult with the competitive choices out there. The Camry just happens to be the closest thing to a sure thing. Buyers can definitely count on quality, durability, and longevity.