2017 Camry Hybrid New Car Test Drive
The Toyota Camry reigns as America's best-selling car, despite zealous competition from the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, and Mazda6. Redesigned for 2014, the current-generation Camry got a thorough freshening for 2015, including body stiffening and more sound insulation.
Little is new for the 2016 model year except for a new Camry Special Edition. Smartphone navigation has been added to the Entune Audio Plus system.
The Camry is refined, modern, and surprisingly bold in appearance. Cabins are roomy and refined, though trim elements in the base LE model look a bit barren.
The Camry XLE, in particular, delivers a sophisticated experience, blending the familiar smooth ride with greater control and stability. For more invigorating responses, the Camry SE and XSE ride on 18-inch wheels and tires and a firmer suspension, while losing little in ride comfort.
Three powertrains are available. Standard is a 178-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which trails in performance compared to its rivals. The 3.5-liter V6, developing 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, is stronger and more satisfying, capable of 0-60 mph acceleration in less than 6 seconds, which is pretty quick.
Toyota also offers a fuel-efficient Camry Hybrid gas-electric car, and it's a smooth, sophisticated machine, very pleasant to drive.
In the highly competitive family-sedan category, Camry stands tall in terms of features, including up-to-date, lag-free infotainment systems with intuitive menu selections. Even the base Camry LE comes with Entune audio/infotainment, six speakers, touchscreen, voice recognition, USB port, Bluetooth phone/audio streaming. Midrange models step up to Entune Audio Plus, featuring a new Connected Navigation Scout GPS Link App.
Active safety features include Lane Departure Alert, a Pre-Collision System with automatic high beams, and a Blind-spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Adaptive cruise control is available.
Camry has mixed results in crash-testing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it a Good score in each category. Coupled with an Advanced score for frontal crash protection, the Camry earned Top Safety Pick+ honors. Testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration resulted in a five-star overall rating, but four-star for frontal and side pole collisions. Those figures place Camry below the scores for Honda Accord and Subaru Legacy.
The 2016 Camry comes standard with a four-cylinder engine. Only XSE and XLE have a V6 option. Camry LE ($23,070) is equipped with air conditioning, power driver's seat, Entune touchscreen audio/infotainment, rearview camera, 16-inch steel wheels. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination.)
Camry SE ($23,840) features a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch graphite-finish alloy wheels, black headlight bezels, a rear spoiler, and a black mesh grille. Inside are SofTex simulated-leather upholstery and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. Camry Special Edition ($25,715) adds to SE a sunroof, keyless entry/starting, Qi wireless charging, Entune Audio Plus, blue interior accents, and 18-inch wheels.
Camry XSE ($26,310) and XSE V6 ($31,370) adds 18-inch wheels to the SE, along with leather-trimmed Ultrasuede seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and LED headlights. Camry XSE V6 also gets a universal garage-door opener, sunroof, and wireless charging.
Camry XLE ($26,310) and XLE V6 ($31,370) include dual-zone automatic climate control, heated leather power front seats, driver's power lumbar support, and 17-inch Super Chrome alloy wheels.
Camry Hybrid models are similarly equipped.
Ten airbags are standard, with front-passenger knee bags and rear side airbags.