It’s been called vanilla, boring, bland, but what the Toyota Camry really is, is a fabulously designed and rendered sedan that gives a driver everything needed and most of what could be wanted - in an unassuming but handsome package that’s as state-of-the-art as most people could want.
It also sells oodles (it’s been one of the top selling cars for years now) and, judging by the Toyota logo and the number of old Camry still on the road, it’ll probably run forever.
That, to me, makes it an automotive masterpiece.
Sure, I’ve called the car vanilla, and I suppose it still is in some ways - in that it’s not yummy like butterscotch or a fantastic driving car like an Audi A6 or even, well, the Hyundai Elantra Sport reviewed here last week. I meant that crack originally as a minor put down of what I considered to be a boring car, but over the years that I’ve reviewed cars (including more than a few Camrys) the Camry has grown in looks, driving feel, and features - so much so that this current version (which will be replaced for 2018 with an even newer one) really is pretty much all one could want in a car. And it’s even decent to drive!
Do I smell the ozone of a pending lightning strike at my head?
Okay, if you’re an enthusiastic driver, the Camry might let you down a tad, but you might also be surprised at just how capable - and even fun - the vehicle is. Toyota Canada‘s sample wore the XSE V6 trim level, which adds to the Camry’s already fine mix Toyota’s nearly ubiquitous 3.5 litre V6 engine, a power plant the company says cranks out 268 horses. That might not sound like a lot in an age when you can get 400 nags from a V6. It’s definitely enough, however, and it hauls this midsize sedan along very well indeed.
The four cylinder engine is fine, but the V6 makes the car a lot more interesting to drive.
Camrys also feature a nicely-shifting six speed automatic transmission - with paddles, too, on some models (the LE and XLE trim levels don’t get the paddle shifters). Paddles might not seem like a big deal but once you’ve used them you may discover you like them a lot. I love ‘em, even if they’re mounted in a non-sporty car, because they give you better control of the tranny - for example, to downshift when going down hills - while allowing you to keep both hands on the steering wheel, where they belong.
All Camrys are front wheel drive - no all-wheel drive or wagon versions are available currently - but that’s more the state of the marketplace than an oversight by Toyota.
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