By on April 16, 2010

When in Baltimore, do as the Baltimorons rent a Camry

We stumble into the BWI car rental center at 1:30 AM. All the counters are closed; not a soul in sight. I call the Alamo 800 number: “go walk out into the parking garage, someone’s there”. “What are you looking for?” asks the droll lot attendant. “A comfortable bed, actually”. “Well, the nearest car is a Camry; might as well take that”. Good call.

I left the Baltimore area in 1971. When I used to come back to visit in the nineteen eighties from California, I was always amazed at how everyone seemed to still drive big domestic sedans, which were practically extinct in the Golden State by then. Of course its been in the making for some time, and it obviously reflects my West-coast centric perspective, but it still strikes me as somewhat astonishing to see endless Camrys having replaced the big Chevys, Olds and Fords in the driveways of infinitely identical Colonial-style houses hereabouts.

But loading the whole family’s luggage in the vast trunk, and heading up the Beltway at 2 AM with tired travelers sprawled comfortably in the enormous back seat, the Camry’s tomb-quiet and plush-riding role in life is perfectly revealed: it’s the 1970 Chevrolet Impala, the best and most popular car of its time, reincarnated and updated. And if the new Hyundai Sonata wants to compete for this title, its trunk and rear seat leave it handicapped at the gate.

Evolution results in the same forms manifesting themselves, if the conditions are similar. That’s why Australians drive big Holdens; or they did, until the Camry took hold over there too. The Camry is supremely adapted to the typical American way of living and driving, which just happens to not by mine, unless I’m in Baltimore. Then it all comes back, in a silent rush, until it’s disturbed by flashing lights. Damn; the serenely still Camry has lulled me to well over seventy in the fifty-five marked Beltway. And Maryland has always had a rep for stiff enforcement.

But its not the invisible Toyota they’re after; soon a whole flotilla of lit-up cop cars are zipping by, heading for much bigger fish to fry. Baltimore: one minute you’re on the potholed set of The Wire; the next you’re gliding past blooming Dogwoods in Stepford. The Camry is equally at home in both: its supple suspension swallows the ancient cobblestones in Fells Point as effortlessly as the mussels at Berthas slide down our gullets.

The 169 hp 2.5 liter four’s muted growl on brisk acceleration is the only deviation from Bertha’s melted butter sauce smoothness. Since for its intended role, it’s faster (0-60 in 8.4 seconds) than heavily-patrolled Marylanders are likely to ever know or care, the growl will be rarely heard.

The six-speed automatic that appeared last year along with the new four are practically siamese twins, always seeming to know what the other is about to do. It’s almost impossible to trip them up, which is saying something these days. It’s as smooth and better than most of the competition as the Impala’s 350 V8/THM350 combo was in its day. And it’s at least as fast, as well as about twice as fuel efficient. Baltimore likes a helping dash of progress with its traditions.

The Camry’s simple and logical controls are your best friends at 2 AM when you don’t want to even waste a second before heading off in search of a real bed. Simple, intuitive; the radio even has two big knobs on either side and six preset buttons, again, just like yore. But where is the alarm clock? Do Camrys have a wake up call feature? And the climate controls are equally jet-lag proof. The Camry makes you feel like you’re in your hotel room before you’ve even gotten there.

The interior material quality isn’t going to leave rich memories, especially the subtle but noticeable difference in hue between certain grained plastic pieces whose job it is to create the impression of an unbroken vista. But the gaps and fit were all up to snuff, and the overall effort gets a passing grade, especially compared to our last rental, a Charger.

Since I assumed the steering was electric, I was pleasantly surprised, especially compared to the Corolla’s strange and unnatural feedback sensations. Looking at the specs, it appears that its not electric: do I get to change my mind? For a hydraulic unit, the overused word Novocaine is still the best. Did I think to lift the hood and check? Does anyone ever lift the hood of a Camry?

My brother’s six-year old Camry with 140k perfectly trouble-free miles joins its brand new stablemate at the curb in front of my parents house. Sometimes we ride his, sometimes in my rental. Is there a discernible difference? Hardly. Camry evolution has slowed down, as it’s reached a seeming plateau of development. But then there are times I almost can’t tell a new brick colonial from an old one. The Camry has become highly traditional. And it wears like a brick.

The neutral and soothing qualities of a Camry make it the perfect choice for a family reunion: everyone should be obligated to show up in one. No bragging or proving your eccentricity. No fighting about whose car to take or ride in. The Camry is the great equalizer, and it’s become the equivalent of the Golf in Germany: the classless car. Of course, in English, that expression takes on new meaning.

Travel, reunions, hotels and rental cars have their place. The Camry is the Marriott of cars; quiet, comfortable, easy to use, and soothing after a long and full day intense sensory inputs. The difference between a brand new 2011 and a well used  2005 is like whether your particular Marriot room was last renovated in ‘o5 or this year. The bed is comfortable either way, and once you shut your eyes, you can’t tell the difference. And as pleasant and comfortable it may be, you’ll always be glad to be back in your own bed, familiar lumps and all.

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75 Comments on “Review: 2011 Toyota Camry LE...”


  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Great review. I think MT or was it C&D did a comparo of family sedans a month ago and Camry got first place. :)

    I have the 2009 version of this car, so I can’t comment on the drivetrain of the new one, but:

    The Camry has a really tight turning radius, great for parking!
    Opening the door handles doesn’t have that solid, smooth feeling as I would like, and after two years of ownership, the interior door grab’s two plastic sections are falling apart, with a big gap between the sections when you squeeze on it to grab it. :) The seats are pretty comfortable, and have huge side bolsters near your torso where the airbags are.

    Oh well, the new version is prettier, has a better engine set-up, and USB!!!!!!! I hope the next Camry is alot better, and not decontented, though it may already be too late in the design process for Toyota’s change of heart to really change anything. I hope they have pockets or cupholders on the bottom of the rear doors like the 2009 Corolla, too.

    • 0 avatar
      Audi-Inni

      For the life of me, I don’t understand how the Accord keeps winning accolades and comparos. The one I drove was underpowered (so much so, it had difficulty keeping speed up interstate hills–in North Carolina, no less) and the interior and materials just don’t compare (the seats weren’t comfortable either). But having driven the old Impalas, I think the Camry is way ahead in comfort, quality and dynamics. It excels at nothing, per se, but is competent at everything. Oh, and it’s waay better looking than the Accord, too.

    • 0 avatar

      I will probably never buy Asian, but after being in the new Sonata http://www.epinions.com/content_504784391812 and going to test a Camry with my aunt who needs a new car, the Camry won me over with its interior space.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      @Audi-Inni:

      Given your handle, I’m surprised you didn’t prefer the Accord. It’s by far the more involving drive. In many ways, I’d say the Accord plays BMW to the Camry’s Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      deni0872

      I rented a ’09 Camry for a drive to Montreal from Toronto. About an hour into the trip I wanted to return home to exchange the Camry for my 10 year old VW Passat.
      The Camry is a very competent car, in the same way my Kitchen Aid coffee grinder or the beer fridge in my basement are competent.

      Don’t get me wrong, the ride was smooth and the car comfortable. The Camry’s large interior was suitable for Americans’ need for space (why not, when gas is subsidized?), noise penetration was satisfactory, and any engine noise was well insulated.

      However, if this was the pinnacle of family sedan evolution, then we may need some help from the Man above if things are to get any better.
      The fit and materials quality were no better than my aged chariot, seats were too flat and made no attempt at bolstering, and cost cutting was noticeable in certain areas (e.g. closing the door , dash plastics).
      Most importantly though, I think I WAS driving my Kitchen Aid toaster (yes, matches with the coffee grinder). The Camry might as well come with a drip-fed line of Ambien….SNOOZE! Compared to the (decade-old) Passat, the Camry’s steering is overly assisted, there’s zero feedback from the wheels, and the car exhibits no sense of confidence. Caught in a sleet/snow storm on my return from Montreal in the Camry, passing tractor trailers was a white knuckle experience, whereas, my Passat tracks decisively and inspires passing at high velocities in similar situations. I wasn’t expecting an M3 for a family sedan, but if this is what makes for America’s best selling car, then I think we may lose the next big one.
      I forgot to mention the fish-like front end. Too bad, since the rest of the exterior has solid proportions. BTW- what’s with the Asian design philosophy that all car front ends should resemble a grinning guppy (i.e. new Mazda 3, Yaris, most Hyndai’s, etc, etc….)?

      The fact is that nowadays nearly all cars are good, capable and reliable (compared with years past). So between commuting to the office and shuttling our kids to soccer practice, why not choose a car that is more responsive and fun to drive? Wouldn’t want these traits to get in the way of talking on our cell phones or eating that 2nd burger while driving.

  • avatar
    b1msus93

    I don’t like the grille and think it’s ugly, but it’s obviously a good car.
    How does Sonata compare?

    • 0 avatar

      I had a Camry V6 as a press car recently, and attended a Sonata drive yesterday. I’ve proposed to Ed that I write both cars up together.

      On the reliability front, the 2007 V6 had an early problem with transmission shift flaring, but since then the Camry in all three variations has required few repairs, judging from responses to TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey. I should also note that no owners reported issues with UA, though many have now had the recalls performed.

      About the survey:

      http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    ajla

    Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      +1 my first thought on reading this was: “The more things change the more they stay the same.” Detroit kind of lost the plot. This could be a review of a 1970 Impala like Paul said. I honestly believe it Detroit’s build quality had improved each decade instead of cratering then recovering, the American companies would have kept their customers.

    • 0 avatar
      JeremyR

      I’d rather have neither, actually. My next car purchase will likely be a small, fun-to-drive hatch, a category offered by neither Toyota nor Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      The Scion xD certainly qualifies and is a Toyota product, if not Toyota badging.

  • avatar
    salhany

    “Neutral and soothing” indeed. It had been a while since I had been in a Camry, but I was just in one (the generation before the one reviewed here) on Monday and I was stunned at how good the highway ride was, and how quiet it was. I wasn’t driving, so I can’t comment on the driving experience, but for being such a ubiquitous mainstream family car I was shocked at how well it rode and was assembled.

    You can see why Toyota’s sold roughly a billion of them. The vast majority of drivers want little to no fuss when driving and the Camry aptly fits that bill.

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    I recently rented a Camry SE for a trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon. The car was truly excellent. Roomy, good handling, comfortable and a fantastic engine/transmission pairing. On that trip it got an honest 30 mpg and I was by no means light footing it. I can see why it sells so well.

    It is a darned good time to buy one, too.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You’re right about the cabin ergonomics. Toyota gets these spot-on in just about every car: they’re invariably in easy reach, big enough to use with gloves on and visually distinct. Even Lexus gets this right, and that’s hard to do in that market-space.

    What they’re not, though, is elegant. But that’s ok: I’ll trade the perfectly crafted rows of identically-shaped buttons with tiny script or illegible pictograms (Accord, Fusion) for the Camry’s lowest-common-denominator.

    Bitch as people will about playskool design, most people don’t like to have to study the controls of the car in order to figure out what to do. Toyota mostly gets this; many other marques mostly do not.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    Paul Niedermeyer asks, “Does anyone ever lift the hood of a Camry?”

    I don’t think so. I get my Toyotas (Ravs and Sienna) serviced at the dealer everey 5K miles (reasonable price, excellent service and free cookies). Among their other attractive attributes would appear to be an enormous windshield washer reservoir. It’s never run dry on any of them, so I’ve never even had to lift the hood for that.

    After we’d owned our ’01 Sienna for 5 or 6 years, it occurred to me that I could not remember what the engine bay looked like. I had taken a pro-forma look when we bought the car and hadn’t opened it since. So, I opened it up and looked. Not only was it there, where it was supposed to be, the thing still looked NEW. I shut the hood and haven’t looked in again, since.

    I tested a 2.4L/5speed Camry last year and I’ve also driven my brother-in-laws on a couple of occasions. I was very impressed with its get-up-and-go. An extra few hp and another gear? Gilding the lily!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I changed the oil on a 1st gen. Camry back around 1987 … I think I had to lift the hood to add oil … it felt unnatural, forbidden and dirty (like farting in church) … and even to this day, I get shudders from that lingering feeling of having somehow violated the laws of God and nature…

  • avatar
    Ach

    I’m not sure what changes were made for 2011, but a friend’s 2009 V6 Camry LE is louder, with a a harsher ride, than my 2010 Fusion Sport, with less comfortable seats as well. Between the crappy plastics, the high beltline (relative to the Fusion, at least) and the dated center stack, it always makes me appreciate my Fusion (which I’m not crazy about either, to be honest, but it was only a 27-month lease) a little more.

  • avatar
    Rada

    My father owns a 1999 LE model. Once he forgot to change oil, and drove about 10-15K miles. Nothing happened. That was long time ago, and the car still runs pretty much like new.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      10-15k? Hah – my dad’s 94′ Camry was lucky to get an oil change every 20-40k and last I heard it died at 450k miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I would agree that 10-15k oil change intervals are all too common: Stephanie’s Subaru is over 10k right now, but I’m not exactly panicking. It’s never burned a drop in 130k miles.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I haven’t been a Toyota fan in a long time but I have to admit that driving my sister’s 2009 Camry (she coincidentally lives in the Baltimore metro area) is a pleasant enough experience. The four cylinder engine and five speed automatic transmission work well together; it never wants for power and the materials/fit and finish are quite good. Boring? pretty much, but most people seem to want reliability, safety and a reasonable price and that does spell a Camry.

    As an aside to Paul’s other comments last week regarding Baltimore’s curb-side classic scene, he’s right, little of interest there at all. Mostly beige or silver Toyota’s, Honda’s and BMW’s and that’s pretty much all she wrote.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      rpol35, I can echo your comments. I have made a few run’s in a relative’s 07 Camry. It is hard to imagine at first that it is a 4. It is a very nice, inoffensive car. Not really my style, but it is not unpleasant. This is precisely the kind of car that GM used to win people over with up to the 60s.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Camry nice. Camry good.

    Functions as transportation should.

    Yet, the conveyance lacks the panache possessed by the friend’s 1963 Impala we cruised McHenry Ave with back in 1977 and 1978.

    White exterior, red interior. Two-door with I believe a 283 and an auto tranny and metal everywhere and sure, it wasn’t a record setting twisty turny road eater-upper but driven reasonably it conveyed our nubile bodies from here to there and was quite dependable and the babes looked at it (and the two incredibly hunkish males perched upon the pedestal inside).

    It is difficult to describe the differences between that Chevy of yore and today’s Camry…. other than the obvious ones, of course.

    In the late 70s the age of that Chevy was not as subjectively great as it is today.

    It was a visceral thing. Subjective. It was a feel. An attitude. Of course, times were different also and then there was relative age. In my early 20s and I believed the future held promise, a promise that never materialized despite following all the “rules” of arriving early, staying late, doing more than what you had to, just following the “rules” but the rewards never followed.

    Oh well.

    At least there was always food so that beat the “opposition” dwelling afar in areas of famine and despotism and tyranny etc.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    It may drive pleasantly enough, but i can’t stomach the looks of this car. I still think it’s one of the ugliest cars on the road today. My mother bought a ’10 Camry LE 3 months ago and hates the car. Serves ger right for not test driving more models.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Having also rented a Camry (a 2008 model though), I have to agree with Paul. As an automotive appliance, it does its job perfectly well. Smooth, unflustered, and I’m assuming reliable. It was easy to drive, got me from A to B and did everything it should. But as a car-person did I want one? No, I find my microwave is more interesting. But for the car buying masses it’s absolutely perfect.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Marriott of cars? That may be overstating it a bit. I think it’s more somewhere between a Fairfield and a Courtyard – depending on options. Nice, but nothing fancy. After all the Marriotts offer feather pillows. You might be talking Lexus there.

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    I got an absolutely horrific Sebring sedan as a rental in Vegas a year or so ago and had to exchange it for something…anything. The Sebring really is as craptacular as everyone says.

    Anyway they gave me a new Camry as a replacement and the car is exactly as described here. Boring, inoffensive, and incredibly well executed. There’s a reason Toyota sells so many of these hideous things and it’s not just because of the perceived reliability.

    If someone’s looking for a “box of car” it’s hard to do better than a new Camry.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    The car is just too ugly for me. I had a Camry rental a few years back. It was lifeless and boring. The interior screamed cheap, especially the dot matrix radio display. I was happy to see it go. I know why Toyota sells many of these. They are disengaging and many people like that. I would never buy one.

  • avatar
    carve

    BMW gave me one as a loaner a while back while my car was in for maintainence. I was excited to try it out, but my wife’s 1998 Accord LX 4-cyl/5-spd was nicer to drive & be in in every way. What a very disappointing lump that Camry was.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    I have a ’00 328Ci with five speed manual. I commute 44 miles to and back from work:

    My next car will be either a 4banger slushbox Camry exactly like this one or… a Prius.

    I want quiet. I want anonymity. I want parts that last an eternity.

    I want brake pads, rotors, bushings and filters and wiper blades to be cheap and plentiful, like the girls were when I was young.

    I want insurance to be cheap. I want people to let me merge unnoticed. I want the car to be unnoticeable in public garages and parking malls and side streets and at the outdoor long term parking at the airport.

    I want a huge trunk for those holiday trips to grandpa’s farm.

    For everything else, I will still have the old 1000cc Japanese Universal Motorcycle, a small dirt bike and the old e46 to ride with my kid and to thinker with on cold winter nights.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      I want quiet. I want anonymity. I want parts that last an eternity…

      Sounds like you’re looking for something other than a Toyota. Don’t worry. Death comes soon enough. Right after taxes.

    • 0 avatar

      You are so right, I drive a Mazda3 hatch, I love it for it’s driving dynamics but I live in NYC, the hatch ( S model) is equipped with very hard suspension, 205-50 /17 tires, very low and stiff and since many streets in NYC look and feels more like a dirt road, you suffer most of the time, some potholes can break a suspension easily.

    • 0 avatar
      Accazdatch

      Christ.

      I wouldn’t wish that horrible of a fate of people I wish I want dead.

      Its a horrible HORRIBLE blight on our highways. These gutless, obese, grey and Silver slushboxes, driven by people who dont give a damn or have a clue.

      Anonymity… just saying you want a Toyota should put you in line for severe mental psychotropic drugs / horse tranqs

      Might as well just rollover dead.

      Driving is a pleasure.
      Either for work or weekend routines.
      Sentencing yourself to driving a Toyota, is as bad as someone marrying their mother (no inherent disrespect meant).

      May god help you

  • avatar

    I drove my dead cousin’s Camry for 6 months. I wanted to hate it, but wound up falling in love.

    Shut your brain off, arrive at your destination – no break downs, great fuel economy. Wonderful transportation appliance.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Toyota’s ability to consistantly make the Camry the most competent, stress-free automobile in the US at moving its occupants from point A to point B is nothing short of astonishing.

    A comparison between the Camry, Accord, Taurus, and Impala would go a long way to explaining the fortunes of each manufacturer.

  • avatar
    bodyonframe

    I almost fell asleep reading this. Appropriate for the car I guess. I’m reading the comments and the best they can say for it is that is is headache free A-B transportation (and maybe that’s exactly what Toyota wants). I just have never understood this vehicle’s appeal and I still don’t. Theres nothing obviously wrong with it. (SUA mayhem aside). There’s also nothing obviously great about it. Just like dating don’t you need a few wild ones just to have lived? Do Camry owners reach the end of life and wish they could do it again? (driving wise) I have no idea where I’m going with this but since its a new model review I figured I would again search for an answer why so many people buy these things. I’m not inherently against it (not that I would ever buy one) I just don’t see why this is better than any other car X (but it’s sales are better than all other car X’s.)

  • avatar
    TG57

    “My brother’s six old Camry”

    …might want to make that “My brother’s six-year-old Camry”

    Anyway, it’s nice to see a review of the Camry on TTAC where the author appreciates its virtues instead of deriding it for not handling like a BMW.

    As much as I am an auto enthusiast, when it comes to owning and driving cars myself it benefits me more to have something comfortable and durable than it does to have a corner carver. 97% of the roads around here are straight, flat, and full of terrible expansion joints and potholes, so it’s pretty much the perfect environment for my ’02 Lexus ES (basically a 2002-2006 Camry with curvier sheet metal and a nicer interior).

    Just like the current model Camry, it’s not flashy, it’s not special, but it’s comfortable enough, smooth enough, quiet enough, roomy enough, and powerful enough to get me from here to there in a relaxing and semi-luxurious environment. The doors make a nice solid sound when you pull them shut, and all the panel gaps are still tight and even after 99k. No, it doesn’t accelerate to 60 in five seconds or pull “x” Gs in a corner, but it does what it needs to do and it does it all very well. That’s pretty much the extent of what I ask from a daily driver, and I think that’s why the Camry (and ES) have remained so popular through the years.

    I bought my ES used so I didn’t pay the unreasonable premium over the Camry they have when new. It’s worth it for the nicer interior, and as a bonus the Lexus dealer gives you free cookies when you take the car in for service.

    • 0 avatar
      musicalmcs8706

      I completely agree with what you said. Even though I “only” have a 2005 Impala LS, it does have leather, bench seat up front, and a few other niceties, but nothing over the top. It’s reliable, drives relatively well, and is comfortable. Plus it can hold a lot of stuff or people. Which is greatly appreciated as a college student who graduates this spring and will be moving.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    As a big fan of Homicide: Life on the Streets, I always thought it was borderline hilarious for the plainclothesmen to roam around Baltimore in rental fleet white Chevrolet Cavaliers. It always looked so completely undignified. And I always thought it was quite telling that Frank Pembleton drove a Toyota Camry in private. Ah, Pemblenton, Bayliss, Gee… Those were the days, the best tv-drama ever made.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 on H:LOTS, and the reference to the Cavaliers. The writers even allowed the detectives to vent how much they hated those cars.(I believe they occasionally threw some mid-80s K-Cars in the mix, too.) Pembleton and Bayliss arguing in their Cavy, while being towed back to the station, was a classic TV moment.

      As for the Camry… there are days when I want to Drive, and days I need to drive. The Camry is the perfect appliance for small-d driving days, which are most of them.

  • avatar

    I’ve been driving a 1997 Camry V6 for the last 13 years: comfortable, fast and reliable; a great car and unjustifiably pooh-poohed by professional car writers.

    However, just to let you all know, I have at last found a replacement: a 2010 Toyota Prius. Far ahead of the previous Prius and on par with my beloved Camry.

    Except it gets 50 MPG instead of 25 MPG.
    So I just managed to drive the 120 miles from my house to Santa Cruz and back on just 2 gallons of gas. In comfort. How about that?

    Consider this old Camry driver a convert to something new, though not too far from home.

  • avatar
    George B

    I rented 2008 Camry last summer. It was the color of dry dirt and about as exciting. Savings due to excellent highway fuel economy were somewhat offset by the cost of caffeinated beverages necessary to stay awake. On the other hand, I drove it for 16 hours one day and didn’t have a sore back after the drive from Columbus, OH to Dallas, TX. Noticed that my rental had about 40k miles and was more than a year old. Do rental car companies keep Camrys in their fleets longer than other models?

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      “Do rental car companies keep Camrys in their fleets longer than other models?”No. In the present poor economic climate, rental car companies are keeping everything a lot longer than they used to.

    • 0 avatar
      slyall

      I work for Hertz and we seem to have alot of 08 and 09 Camrys still in the fleet with upwards of 40k, some even 50k, most other models are retired much earlier.

  • avatar
    mrcrispy

    Honda’s are just as well built, safe and reliable, but a lot more exciting to drive and they actually try to give some personality to the car, whether its in the instruments, the handling, or a ride that doesn’t feel like a boat. Nissan carries this even further.

    I guess one person’s boring is another’s comfortable, and I can see why Camry/Corolla’s sell well, because most people will choose ride comfort+space over handling/road feel.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack99

      That’s the part that confuses me. I’ve driven both Accords and Camries in the past from different years. The Camry historically has always been rather bland n’ boring for me. The long record of solid reliability is there. The Accords managed in my personal experiences to offer the same level of comfort with a little more character in the driving. Acceleration isn’t exactly your typical under 6-second mark as you’d find in a muscle car. But the driving/turning dynamics on the open roads definitely have a funner feel. Plus let’s not forget that the Accord offers all the legroom you’ll ever need. Not sure about the Camry though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s bearing on the full-size segment by now.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      There’s no similarity between the driving involvement of a Camry and Accord. But whereas Honda used to own the best-ergonomics prize decade after decade, they’ve given it up to Toyota for the time being.

      I’d put the Camry down with the Sonata as a snoozer of a drive. The Fusion is significantly better to drive, better damped, and quieter too.

  • avatar
    kadena

    “We stumble into the BWI car rental center…” Rented a car 2 wks ago at the same place. A 5 mile bus ride from the airport. Looks like a new building. Every car rental counter looks the same. The garage is all the same for every company. Rental car companies must have hard time showing that they are different from the competitors. Did not get a Camry. Reserved and Aveo or Cobalt. Got a 2010 Fusion 4 cyl. Two thumbs up after 5 days and hundreds of miles.

    I can understand why a blandmobile like a Camry is just what a rental customer wants. Or even an owner. Comfort and room do not go out of style. Almost no hills to practice being Baruth. Cities are too crowded. Cannot drive with enthusiasm. Interstates are bumper to bumper. The 2 lane country roads I visited were bumper to bumper too. A sports car would be too low to see much in traffic. But seeing in traffic is an advantage for a higher car. I doubt I would have gotten much more out of a BMW or sporty car than the Fusion I rented.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    When my girlfriend and I were shopping for a car for her last year, we looked at an ’07 Camry LE, along with the previous gen Accord, and a Milan. I’ve test driven loads of cars, and there are very few that I hated driving more than that Camry. Uncomfortable front seats. Uncomfortable rear seats. HORRENDOUS plastics that were already coming apart on our two year old tester. Steering that communicates with the front wheels via pony express. The Camry isn’t an A-B appliance, its a hateful, soul crushing monster with on-center slop so bad that the constant corrections required just to keep the damn thing in a straight line won’t let you relax behind the wheel for one second. The last gen Accord is an infinitely better car than the new Camry.

    We ended the test drive after about ten minutes, and said no thank you. Climbing into my A6 never felt so good. Seats! Steering! Throttle response! Somebody CARED when they built this!

    If I had to have a Camry for a daily driver, I would shoot myself.

    She bought the Milan, a V6 with leather and every option for several thousand less than that piece of crap 4 cyl Camry with cloth would’ve cost.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      Spot on 100%, except you forgot to mention the Accord from TWO generations back is also much better. I had a Camry rental a while back, and my wife’s 98 Accord 4-cyl 5-spd was better in damn near every way.

  • avatar
    chicagoboy

    The Camry is a car whose time is over. It as an ok choice for people looking for a reliable car but today most cars are reliable. Mr Neidemeyer is inordinately proud of his camry having a 140000 miles. I drive a lot as part of work and I have a malibu with 95000 miles over the last 2 years .I have several friends with various high mileage cars.My wife has a Sonata with 170000 miles without any problems. So there really is no reason anymore to suffer a Camry for the sake of reliability. I have driven rental Camries and they give me motion sickness. This really is a cappy car for th money

  • avatar
    Disaster

    Hate that grill. Hate the plastic hub caps that Toyota puts on it’s base cars. But at the end of the day, it is all about knowing the car will start and get you where you need to go. Toyota wins that contest in spades.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I acquired a new Ford in 2007, and a new Toyota Camry in 2006, although it is a 2007 model. The Ford has isues. A problem with headroom. Now that the powertrain warranty is expired, the transmission is doing some strange things. Once in a while, it jerks. I have learned to let off the gas pedal when the transmission jerks, wait a few seconds, then slowly press it. This is a real problem on the freeway. So far, it is not getting worse. And, I have a problem with the seats. A few hours in this thing and I am putting my hand behind my lower back while driving with the other hand because my back hurts. When I took it back for warranty work, the dealership experience was nearly confrontational. Plus, the paintwork on the plastic bumpers has turned dull, and not even wax fixes that. When the car is waxed, it looks funny since the sheet metal shines, but the bumpers are dull. Soon, I will be trading this in on a Honda. I have never owned a Honda, but loved the Accord I rented for a few weeks last summer.

    On the other hand, my Camry is a gem. It is a J model, which means it was built in Japan. Yes, it has plastic hubcaps and a 4 cylinder, but the seats are great. The paint job puts the Ford to shame. A few weeks ago I waxed it, and it looks as good as a new model. Mine is 3.5 years old. My only complaint is I bought the CE model, and the CE did not come with keyless entry. I did not notice this until I picked up the car. Toyota, I will never forgive you for that cheapness. Gas mileage is great. The steering is great. The brakes are great. The michelin tires cost an arm and a leg to replace. It has never needed anything except tires, oil changes, and wiper blades. I found the Toyota service department rude. Recently, they tried to hold my vehicle from me after an oil change because I would not sign the bill of sale on my way out the door which was full of legal stuff that absolved them of any responsibility for damages resulting from their work. That Toyota dealer blacklisted me for life. Funny, that was the dealer I purchased the car from. I will purchase my next Toyota somewhere else.

    Bottom line is would I buy a Toyota again? Yes, but I think the Camry will be with me for many many years. Ford? Nope. Honda? Although I only drove it for a few weeks, it puts the Fusion to shame, and drives better than the Camry. Getting back into the Ford after several weeks in the Accord felt like stepping a back by 10 years. However, the Camry seems better built. The fit and finish on my 2007 Camry was better than the nearly new Accord rental.

  • avatar
    Nicodemus

    “That’s why Australians drive big Holdens; or they did, until the Camry took hold over there too.”

    Nup..Holden Commodore outsells Camry by a long way in Aus in fact Camry is usually only about number 5 at best. Come to thing of it Camrys are 4 cylinder in Australia.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    As long GM supplied them, rental cars were the worst thing TTAC could say about a car. Now, Toyota supplies them and rental car status is Nirvana. Another paean to the purveyors of boring cars from TTAC. Sorry guys, your bias is getting harder and harder to maintain.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Camry – rental car. Agreed.

    If the Accord ever starts showing up in rental fleets in Camry-like numbers you’ll know it has lost its mojo over the Camry.

    Residual values are not emotional.

  • avatar
    NickR

    What amazes me when I read a review of the 2.5L Camry or 2.5L Fusion is when I convert the litres to imperial. That works out to 150 or so cubin inches, or roughly the same as the old Iron Duke 4. Engines have come a long way.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Yup, a looooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg way from that might 92hp and 123lbft of torque of the TBI Iron Duke circa 1982 that was in my Celebrity. My father swore off 4cyl after that car and went out and bought a 307V8 powered Oldsmobile. Right now he has an old but well maintained S10 Blazer with the Vortec 4.3V6. We’ll see what his next ride is like. The old 4 banger has come a long way.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    For years, I have been buying, and paying dearly for, the pleasure of driving (used) European cars. I am a gearhead, and the pain and suffering of maintaining a BMW or Saab always seemed worth it.

    But, like others have said, I have heard the siren song of shiny new parts and guaranteed reliability.

    Sold the old Saab and bought a new Accord sedan mit 5 speed manual. The Camry review is spot-on…but too isolated, too barge-like for me to swallow. The Fusion drove well, much better than the Camry, but the interior is awful – bad ergonomics and crappy materials. I couldn’t look at it every day. The Accord, at least with the stick, is a lot of fun. Smooth, revvy engine (and it sounds good! – for a 4), great steering feel and feedback, firm ride, firm seats, 30 mpg, and I know I can keep it for the next 15 years if I want to.

    So, the Camry is competent. But if you want fun with your room and reliability, the Accord is where it’s at.

  • avatar
    nikita

    I drive a 1999 Camry LE V-6 with 210,000 miles on it and it is everything described in this review. A test drive in a new Hyundai and the old Camry is still more refined.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Worth mentioning: the 2010 Camry has a whole host of suspension upgrades, in addition to the aforementioned powertrain improvements. I had the chance to drive both the ’09 and the ’10, and I can report the upgrades are most welcome. Where the ’09 was wallowy and underpowered, the ’10 was far more dialed in, and it felt darned powerful, particularly with the sequential shift transmission.

    Not to say the Camry is a disciple of the church of BMW all the sudden, but it does prove Toyota can strike a nice balance between isolation and capability when it wants to.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    If ever there was a car more deserving of rental car status this would be it. The outside of this car is so nauseatingly dull and boring with it’s plain as toast sides to the frumpy Bangle like rear end to the pig like snout. The base and LE grade model, which are the most common versions, have the cheapest, flimsiest plastic hubcaps I have felt. If you listen close enough you can even hear them pang over bumps going through the drive-thru! The dull light gray interior, cheap plastic on the dash, flimsy to the touch A-pillars and painted silver trim are not remotely confidence inspiring. One 2008 and another 2009 rental have so far suffered thumps in the suspension, warped brake rotors, broken center console storage doors that won’t stay shut and worn door armrest material. Yup, the perfect rental car!

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    I just cant stand that big zit on it’s nose. The interior reminds me of something designed with a Avon salesperson in mind. Replace the Yoda logo with a bowtie and the dash would pass for last generation Impala. I’m sure it’s an exciting car to drive if the accelerator should stick. It’s becoming obvious Toyota is the next GM. I can just imagine a small fleet of these parked in the Hertz rental lot at the airport. Whatever happened to those nice cheap little cars they made ?

  • avatar
    capdeblu

    If anyone out there is in need of a low price used car that will not let you down. This is your car. Now is the time

  • avatar
    sme

    Last brand of cars on earth I would buy.  The new GM of old, so to speak.

  • avatar

    the camry is a rental car simply for the fact that the price really is unbeatable in the segment. the le was about 20,000 dollars.


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