By on May 2, 2013

Do not adjust your screen, Solo is back. (photo courtesy: Mike Solo)

Hello TTAC! For those who wondered where I went, I’m back from my global tour with the USAF. I am back in my native West Texas, attending Texas Tech University in pursuit of a Mechanical Engineering degree. As a break from finals, I test drove the best selling car in the US, with a decidedly continental Captain Solo slant. Thus far, I have consumed two overpriced lattes and wandered around Lubbock for 45 minutes in an attempt to organize my thoughts and come towards an unbiased conclusion about the baffling Toyota Camry.

I’m filled with competing emotions of loathing, rage, and acceptance. I loathed the way it drove, I raged at how the car failed to respond, and came to accept that Toyota did not design the Camry SE for me, but for the demographic lurking in the suburbs of sprawling cities whose main focuses are safety from anything that could harm them, and ignorance in the art of driving.

Toyota designates their sporty models with the badge of “SE”, to separate these offerings from their more pedestrian LE and XLE offerings. The SE’s dual exhaust tips hinted that the crisp lines offered more on tap than the general white goods Camry seen plodding along the commutes of America. The latest redesign of the Camry sports crisp, almost Euro inspired lines. Which results in fewer curves, making the rather large previous generation look bulbous. So, in the great vein of middle-class middle-sized sedans, the Camry looks like a car.

The Camry plies the middle road with no-risk styling, modernizing lines seen on a cabin birthed back in 2001. And the field left Toyota behind: the Fusion, Sonata, Optima and even the Mazda6 advanced the mid-sized segment. They look beautiful, futuristic, elegant, and attractive. Mr. and Mrs. Suburbia can drive something with distinction formerly relegated to the premium classes. Take note Toyota, before it’s too late.

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The interior speaks more of the same: functional, useful, and up to date, with nothing distinguishing. Gone are the slick glass panels, now in matte black plastics. Then I detected misaligned buttons, plastic flash seams on the door panels, and mismatched fabric colors. They stand out like a hipster on Wall Street. Never in a Toyota product have I seen build quality issues like these! While minor and common in Chrysler offerings, if quality control Fail crops up in plainly visible areas, where else has Toyota gone astray?

Luckily the stereo’s touchscreen interface uses an adequate speaker system to speak to serene commuting levels. On bumpy roads, touching it without a ‘double-click’ is challenging. The tiller contains numerous buttons to mitigate this problem, all stereo controls (among others) are accessible here. Sadly the buttons protrude heavily into the sporting zone, threatening to change radio stations should you thrash at the wheel in an attempt at sporting prowess.

One major cost-cutting maneuver lies plain once you adjust the climate control. Both fan and temp settings must be adjusted continuously, as Toyota has not installed automatic climate control on the SE, unlike most of its rivals. The fan has a great range (with over 10 settings, wahey!) but once the cabin cools, position 1 wheezes cool air while 2 forces air hard enough to demand splitting the flow between your feet, the dash, and the windshield in order to get a comfortable, cool waft through the cabin. My kingdom for a superior rheostat!

So far, the Camry’s given nothing to inspire rage and loathing on levels not seen since Fox canceled Firefly. But one turn of the wheel brought all these emotions to the surface in a petrolhead rage.

I have not felt steering this bad since the days of British Leyland. The typical numb on-center feel and lack of feedback give immediate and distinct impressions of “toaster on wheels”. Or maybe “outdated and dumb Cylon”. Entering a corner, the steering firms up in a progressive but ultimately futile attempt at sport sedan prowess. I pitched the Camry SE into several hard corners and was rewarded with phenomenal understeer. Any lifting of the throttle in an attempt to tighten up the line resulted in eHarmony levels of rejection. The Toyota plowed ahead like a clueless tourist in Times Square, complete with abundant squealing.

The most recent Camry national advertisement has a typical couple exclaiming the sporty SE is “Grounded to the Ground!” Yes, the tires give ample grip, only noticeable in the minute the car is gripping. Then next comes the aforementioned squealing understeer: this is driving Novocain with track tires.

“But Capt Mike! It’s not a sports car!” you say.

Of course not. Yet in situations where steering feel warns of problems (hydroplaning, ice, collision avoidance) the Camry SE gives lifeless to the point of useless. Beating at the steering column with a wiffle bat and screaming like Yvette Fielding in ‘Most Haunted’ are more entertaining than trying to make the Camry hustle. It doesn’t move, flow, or have chassis alacrity all its rivals exhibit. If Toyota went for safe, they made boringly unsafe instead.

To its credit, in situations needing only straight ahead mindlessness, the Camry does demonstrate remarkable body control and damping. Never upset by rough surface, nor jounced by sudden bumps, the sportiest Camry remains calm, composed and quiet. The V6 pumps out a nice sounding, rev willing 268bhp coupled to a competent shifting 6-speed auto. The shift paddles behind the wheel respond quicker than most systems I’ve driven, yet lag behind the wonderful DSG and PDK systems of Audi and Porsche. (Given the asking price, no surprise there?) Shifts are smooth, and on downshift, the computer actually rev matches! It’s almost sporty: except when shifting, you are still holding onto that wheel and not an actual gear change lever…which kills my inner child.

Brakes? Yes. It has them. Progressive feedback, stops quick, anti-locks engage at the right time. The stability control only intrudes when your attempts at carving corners fails in a squealing mess, yet doesn’t kill all power like some systems that entirely remove the driver from throttle control.

So as I sit here at J&B Coffee across from Texas Tech, surrounded by hipsters, cowboys, students, and apparently a drag queen, have I come to a conclusion about the Camry?

Yes. Toyota built a sequel hoping people will line up like Twilight fans.

Fans completely devoted to something mired in mediocrity, while its competitors, namely the Ford Fusion, and the Kia Optima/Hyundai Sonata twins went for full reboot. Would I recommend the Toyota? 10 years ago, yes, but today, there are far better alternatives, purchased for less and are on-par in reliability. So I plead to Toyota: remember the Supra? The Celica? The 1st and 2nd-gen MR2? You CAN do exciting and beautiful, you just need to rediscover that passion and verve before you become the next GM circa 2005.

 

 

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124 Comments on “Review: 2013 Toyota Camry SE V6...”


  • avatar
    Summicron

    Well, very energetic flailing you’ve done, but the Camry is for grown-ups.

    • 0 avatar
      Mykl

      Grown-ups can’t appreciate a nice handling car?

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        Well, I have friends of my generation in many different social niches and I have never heard the phrase “canyon carving” among them. Reliability, safety, convenience, gorgeous or plain, comfort…etc., these I hear.
        Canyon carving as an essential requirement of a middle class family sedan, no.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          As said in the review plenty of other cars match or exceed the Camry on your “grown up” criteria of space, fuel economy, reliability, styling etc. Only a serious loyalist would say the Camry is one of the three best midsize cars today (not even #1).

          • 0 avatar
            fredtal

            Everyone I know who owns a Camry or Accord does so because they had terrible reliability with other cars, mostly American. So yea it’s going to take some real convincing to get them out of their safe, reliable and comfortable cars.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Fredtal – I understand that bad experiences make people stick with what they know. But why does anyone have the Camry when three cars that quickly come to mind have comparable reliability – Accord, Altima and 6. Those three are also (depending on the car) more fuel efficient, better styled, higher quality interior and better to drive. So stay with something that is known to be reliability but Toyota is not the only manufacturer that makes reliable cars.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            @Fredtal Yes, but even for those people, why on earth wouldn’t they buy the Accord?

          • 0 avatar
            fredtal

            @dtremit Personally I never thought the Accord was much better, at least in basic trim. I have ridden in the full boat leather edition and it was more luxurious then the Camry.

          • 0 avatar
            rmigoya

            fredtal- What you write is so true, since I am 20 I have owned Camry’s and Accord’s due to experiences with unreliable cars.

        • 0 avatar
          Mykl

          Sure, but when the competition offers the same level of “grown upedness” yet also handle better and are more enjoyable to drive, why not mention it?

    • 0 avatar
      Capt Solo

      I don’t think you realize I am a grown-up, far, far older than the normal college student.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      So Canadians aren’t “grown-ups”? (Where the Camry and Corolla lag behind in sales against a no. of competitors.)

      For the previous generation Camry, complaints about the cheap interior, fit and finish (panel gaps, etc.) and lifeless steering were commonplace in reviews.

      Seems like Toyota really hadn’t changed much for the current Camry except giving it a more spiffy looking interior/dash at 1st glance.

      Toyota has really been trying to squeeze every last drop out of its platforms and drivetrains, basically giving its “new” models different sheetmetal (in the case of the Camry, not much different) and interiors.

      While good for the bottom line, this will eventually hit Toyota down the line.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I don’t like the Camry, or Toyota products in general.

    And first, thank you for posting the quality control issues; that’s something you generally won’t find somewhere else. But, quit whining about how unengaged and non-sporty it is. It’s a FWD sedan, period. It has a purpose and you just missed the point entirely.

    I drive a car everyday that would make the Camry probably feel like a Ferrari. 25 miles down the interstate through pot holes, broken bridge joints, maniac Northerners passing through to Florida, etc. A big floaty unengaged car is perfect for the commute.

    If I want to pretend to play race car driver, or just want something more fun to drive, there’s a pick of cars sitting back in the garage for that. My point being, different cars for different purposes.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      He drove the SE model, so driving dynamics are more salient that if it was just the LE.
      Also many other midsize cars happen to do the “mundane” items as well as the Camry AND be better at driving. So it isn`t one or the other, you can have both.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      “maniac Northerners passing through to Florida, etc.”

      Hee hee… sounds like our maniac FIBS passing through to Door County.

      Love the money they drop, though.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Just last week I rented a Camry LT with leather trim and 4 cylinder engine. I didn’t understand the Camry hate. Didn’t see anything obvious with fit and trim. I thought it to be comfortable and in control, but then I drove it with a light foot well because “it’s not a sports car”

    • 0 avatar
      carrya1911

      …and yet Toyota is deliberately marketing the Camry SE as a car with a “sporty” feel.

      Thus it seems to me to be perfectly reasonable to point out the discrepancies between Toyota’s advertising and the reality of the product they are putting out whether it is the actual nature of the car or the build quality.

      If Toyota’s marketing campaign was “We’re selling a car with absolutely no steering feel and handling that’s as stupid as most drivers but it’ll probably be reliable for at least 200,000 miles and won’t hurt when you run over potholes! So come on down and buy a car that you won’t have any emotional response to whatsoever!” then writers would be daft to expend precious electrons worrying about the lack of steering feel, handling, features, quality control, etc.

      Yet their marketing isn’t “We sell boring and unimaginative!”…

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        “itll probably be reliable for at least 200,000 miles and wont hurt when you run over potholes”

        Exactly. That’s all we ask and we know where to find it. Anything else Toyota claims for it is just standard marketing overreach that has been de rigueur for car ads since there were car ads.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          That is all you ask. Others have higher standards and want dynamics and styling in addition to space, fuel economy, reliability.

          Altima, Accord and 6 are all better than Camry in most categories.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            “Altima, Accord and 6 are all better than Camry in most categories.”

            Well, they arguably have more (blechh) “styling”.

            But I don’t have much skin in this as even Camrys are getting styled away from anything I can comfortably get into or see out of. I’ve bought my last sedan of any kind.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Do you agree that they are comparable in reliability and offer the same if not better fuel economy?
            Styling is in the eye of the beholder but the Camry is not exactly unstyled with its sharp edges , it just isn`t beautiful or handsome, nor consistent.
            So the question needs answering, why should the Camry be in the top 3 of midsize car sales when multiple vehicles are better on objective and subjective measures.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @mike978

            That’s easy… Toyota and Honda each hooked hordes of us in the 70’s & 80’s and haven’t subsequently done anything bad enough to lose us, except occasionally to each other. And as our BMIs grew we tended to settle into Accords and Camrys.

            It’s not just infants that do imprinting, you know.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            I fully accept that there is a push and pull – people need to be pushed out of their existing brand (the domestics did this “successfully” in the past) as well as the pull of good alternative product.

            The pull is certainly there and I agree if you are a current Toyota driver then there is no push. However when I am spending money, especially $20K+, I like to look around and not just blindly stay with the same brand. It is disappointing that people are not seeking out the best car, just an acceptable one. But it is their money.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            “Altima, Accord and 6 are all better than Camry in most categories.”

            Yeah, because everyone knows Mazda & Nissan are the epitome of reliability. Mazda is a third tier brand and for a reason and I don’t find that new 6 very attractive at all. The Accord is a solid car, but has a new, unproven CVT.

            The Altima has a CVT and Nissan has NEVER ranked close to Toyota in reliability.

            As for fuel economy, I got 36 MPG driving a Camry LE I4 to SF and back and cruised at 70 the whole way, exceeding EPA estimates. I also did the same trip in the new Altima (Giants Games)and got only 33.2, respectable, but below the EPA numbers for the so-called “superior” cars that you mentioned.

            The Camry isn’t perfect and there are things about it I’m unhappy about, to which I’ve let Toyota know several times. But this review is trash and completely unobjective. I especially love the bit about the Sonata/Optima being “more fun to drive/attractive”, especially since the Camry he and you have no trouble bashing drives better than both of them, even the Camry LE. I’ve driven literally everything in this class back to back and the Camry is not even close to being terrible.

            As for styling, aside from the base LE with hubcaps, the Camry is a good looking car. I like it far better than the bloated Fusion and the Koreans

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Were the photos of interior fit and finish issues “trash” too?
            Also I haven`t said it is terrible, just that many cars are better in objective measures – safety, EPA fuel economy etc.

            As for saying the 6 is unattractive, well it takes all sorts but you are definitely in a minority, which is fine, but worth pointing out.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            There are measures the Camry beats those others in as well. The Camry is smoother and quieter than the new Accord, which while quieter than the old one, is still noticeably louder and while may have better handling, isn’t as solid over the bumps as the Camry.

            The Altima doesn’t come with as many standard features you get on the Camry, such as Display Audio, Bluetooth streaming Audio, and the center console area on every single Altima I’ve been in can be moved to side to side and has sloppy fit and finish.

            Interior quality – yes this particular Camry has it bad, but is not something you wouldn’t see in competitors. As for materials, base model LE Camrys feel lacking compared to base model Accord and Altima (but Camry LE comes with more equipment than Altima S), but Accord EX-L and Camry XLE are pretty much even. The materials in the higher trim Camrys actually do change in some areas and are better. Toyota also updated the 2013 Camry headliner to be the same used as the new Accord’s and the LE and SE models without leather gain more padding on the door panels.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Valid points and thanks for the information about the recent upgrades after one model year. Good to see them trying to keep up in some areas.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            The current Camry (as well as the current ES) is not smoother than the new Accord.

            A common complaint of both in reviews have been their less compliant ride due to Toyota stiffening the suspension to give the pretense of a “sportier” ride.

            And Mazda’s reliability has improved where it is now pretty good.

            There’s a reason why the Camry has been finishing last or near the bottom in comparison tests.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            Hyundai Shill:

            They are very much smoother than the Accord, I’ve driven them all.

            And it’s placement in tests is due to reviewers like the OP who except it to out corner a Corvette and who are blinded by things like the Fusion. And yet hilariously, the Camry still beats your beloved Hyundais in those same tests. Ouch.

      • 0 avatar
        fredtal

        I think you put way too much belief in advertising. It’s sole purpose is to get you in the show room. Not to inform you about the product.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          “Yet their marketing isnt We sell boring and unimaginative!”

          I wish it were “We sell state of the art safety and reliability in a package that will never draw a suspicious look from any gated community.”

          • 0 avatar
            andyinatl

            Ah, but then you’d have to provide that safety, of which Toyota doesn’t have much. It surely has bunch of airbags and steel rods in doors. But there’s not much in way of “active” safety. Sure it’ll keep you alive if you plow it into someone’s rear bumper after dozing off. But if you can’t detect that your front tires are about to lose contact with road surface due to hydroplaning it’s a big FAIL mark on safety. Toyota has always been touting itself as big on safety, but in reality it’s everything but.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @andyintal

            “cant detect that your front tires are about to lose contact with road surface due to hydroplaning”

            Guess I can’t speak to that since I’ve only once, in 40 yrs of driving, encountered hydroplaning….. when I was 19 in ’75 Ford 1/2 ton company truck.

            Scared me enough to forever after slow down in circumstances that might cause hydroplaning. Could there be a connection?

          • 0 avatar
            andyinatl

            Sometimes when you drive at night, it’s hard to detect a puddle covering road surface. Being able to “read” road surface through your steering wheel may mean the difference between slamming into concrete wall on highway and slowing the car down just in time. It may also help when driving in icy conditions. It could also give confidence to drive at reasonable speed on the highway in rain. There are way more positives to steering feel than negatives (if any).

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            yeah…driven the snow belt all my life…it’s not just steering feel that informs you, don’t underestimate ass and middle ear.

          • 0 avatar
            andyinatl

            You are very correct on those items sir.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I will attest to how cheap some of the interior trim looks/feels on my gf’s 2012 SE (4cyl). The worst offender being the plastic pieces that drop from the dash to the center console. Every time my knee hits it it creaks. It has painfully fake looking stiching cast into the ABS plastic, and has enormous gaps surrounding it. I thought the handling was plenty firm and with little roll, for a Camry. In fact I think I’d prefer the creampuff LE’s ride. I drove her SE for 2 days straight from Canton Ohio to St. Augustine FL, and found the drive relaxing and the car remarkably efficient for how peppy the 4cyl was. We got 33 mpg consistently with some A/C use and driving 75 mph most of the way there and back. Seats were a bit hard and I felt it after the long drive. Huge trunk fit all of our stuff. In the twisty mountain roads of the Smoky Mountains, the lifeless steering was a bummer, but the rev matching 6spd auto was neat. I didn’t go very quick at all given the fact that my gf is unappreciative of such shenanigans. One more thing, the A/C is incredible on this car. Easily rivals American HVAC in how much cold air it puts out immediately.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    The “misaligned” Blind Spot Monitoring button was actually just in the on position. When the feature is off, the button would be flush with the one next to it. I’d imagine it is just like the sonar button on my 4Runner. There isn’t a dash indicator light, but I can tell when the sonar is on or off by the position of the button rather than trying to look at my knee for the indicator light. The traction control button beside it operates differently. There is a dash light for the traction control, so it doesn’t toggle between flush and recessed like the BSM button.

    • 0 avatar
      Capt Solo

      No, that was in the fully out position, and its a different color black than the other buttons. I cycled it to make sure it wasn’t my imagination. Its on a red XLE at Gene Messer Toyota in Lubbock if anybody cares to verify.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I thought the title of best selling car went to the Accord. The Camry is currently below the Honda and falling in sales as time goes on. Better cars do exist but do most consumers really care about “canyon carving”?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      YTD the Camry is still ahead but huge (for Toyota) incentives are now being spent and it has been beaten at least twice this year. March it was Altima (albeit by 100 units) and now Accord. The midsize market is much tighter than it used to be.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    After reading this I just had to say to myself, that guy just needs to grow up. I have a 2012 Camry SE, with the 2.5 and I get 31 mpg, love the ride and haven’t had any of the issues with fit, finish and how to use the AC. I spent 4 years with a GTI and although I missed out on the issues that scar people for life and turn them into VW haters, I don’t miss the car. Son, there’s a lot more to life and driving than just trying to be the next Dale Earnhardt on the freeway. You get older and appreciate a smooth ride, quiet interior and gadgets that even I can figure out with ease. I don’t miss the hard seats, hard ride, required premium gas, and pricey scheduled maintenance that you better NOT miss if you know what’s good for you. That’s why Camry and Accord sell so damn many cars – there’s a hell of a lot more of folks like me than you. Stick to STI’s and EVO’s – I’ll smile and be glad when you and your highly modded, slammed, fart canned and spoilered punk ass goes by, cause I was young and dumb once too.
    Damn – I sound just like my dad 35 years ago!

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      “Damn I sound just like my dad 35 years ago!”

      Don’t we all?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I know what you mean by “growing up” when you get older and have other responsibilities.
      So I ma looking at getting a mid-size sedan later this year, but the point you and others miss is that it is perfectly possible to get a mid-size sedan that does everything the Camry does AND more.
      You can get better fuel economy, better driving dynamics and better styling.
      Altima, Accord and 6 are three examples of this. Why people persist in buying the Camry in such large numbers disappoints me. I understand most will be current Toyota owners and will just go back to their dealership. Fine if you are happy, but surely it is better to look around and get more for your money.

    • 0 avatar
      andyinatl

      The fact we all get older doesn’t mean we have to settle for second rate cars. I’m now at 35 and my desire for the GTI has waned completely. I am not attracted by shiny low sitting coupes anymore. But heck, Accord would be better than Camry any/every day of the year and twice on Sundays. But that would be too stiff for me, as i’m on a hunt for the perfect condition, one owner under 100K miles Volvo S90. Had one few years ago and stupidly sold it thinking i wanted better driving car. There are not a lot of cars with better ride than that Volvo….

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        There’s something relaxing and assuring about the S80 (I presume you mean S80 and not S90). The 2013 Altima I drove soaked up bumps fairly well, as did the 2012 Passat. In fact, the Passat had the best chassis in terms of driving-engagement. In a few days, I’m going to find out how comfortable the 2013 Malibu is as a highway-cruiser…

        • 0 avatar
          FuzzyPlushroom

          The S80 is relaxing and assuring if you know you won’t have to cover any trips to the dealership. The S90, on the other hand, also rides well (at least in my opinion) and is really just an updated 960 – keep up with it and it’ll keep up with you.

      • 0 avatar

        Getting older means getting over 60 y.o. At that age you settle for an inferior car unless you are rich and adventurous. Accord also is for those who are over 60 – numb steering and cost-cutting chassis. Generation that discovered Accord and Camry are now getting older. Remember Buicks and Oldsmobiles? You might be laughing at those who were driving them but now you are one of them (not you particularly but you will be there one day too – I meant baby boomers). Except Buick and Olds are replaced by Toyotas and Hondas.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “I sound just like my dad (45) years ago!”

      Ha ha! Couldn’t agree more – Funny how I grew up driving Impalas and still do for all the reasons you just gave! No apologies from me, either.

      I LOVED my dad’s cars so much…but my 2012 Impala LTZ does have a spoiler, so that makes me cool, too!

  • avatar
    Mykl

    I didn’t realize that there were so many people who TTAC who don’t like driving. I really do appreciate the Camry for what it is, but making the claim that it should be immune to criticism because there are people who prefer a numb driving experience seems wrong to me.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Melodramatic Camry bashing has been a requirement for being interested in cars for almost as long as I’ve been interested in cars.

    Admitting that the unwashed masses’ choice is in any way an acceptable car would put the lie to you being a better informed and more unique snowflake, and all that jazz.

    So in the spirit of such things, Oh noes! Hard plastic! Steering not sporty enough! Toyota you sux and diesel hatchback instead plz.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      It shouldn`t be a requirement to complain unnecessarily. But it is obvious that many other midsize cars do the job as well if not better than the Camry.
      take the “mundane or sensible” aspects of reliability, safety, fuel economy and space. The 6, Altima and Accord would on balance all beat the Camry on the sum of these four areas.
      Then all three beat it for driving dynamics and as for styling surely you would agree at least one (if not all three of them) are better looking.
      then the question becomes why spend $20K + on the Camry when you can get more for your money.

      I have replied a lot on this topic because I am amazed that so many people defend Camry. If a car is being unfairly criticized because it is conventional wisdom then yes it should be defended. But the Camry is being criticized on objective (as well as subjective) measures.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I agree. In this case, he’s not holding the car to some higher standard. All of these quibbles would be valid when comparing this car to its direct competitors by average customers. It doesn’t come off as unabashed hate at all.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        The only thing amazing is your effort in literally every topic the Camry comes up in to bash it. You’d get a lot more respect if you just flat out admitted you hate the car and the people that buy them, like other self-proclaimed “enthusiasts”

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        I believe I read that even though the Camry has been the best selling car overall since something like 2002, the Accord actually been the best seller retail in a majority of those ensuing years.

        I doubt Honda has the capacity to out produce Toyota and Toyota does appear hellbent on retaining its title – in the 1st qtr pushing over 25% of Camry product fleet. I do not doubt that the Accord will be #1 retail for 2013.

    • 0 avatar

      Comment of the day, Dan.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “SE – Sport Edition” Toyota Camry is like slapping a spoiler on a Buick LeSabre. It doesn’t make any sense, although it only offers the pretense of sportiness, not actual sportiness.

    I respect the V6 for its power but loathe that the average American wants the same Novocain ride that was available when Oldsmobile sold a million units a year.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    The way i look at it, there’s car for every season of one’s life. When i was younger, i preferred stiffer riding cars that were great in the turns. Now that i’m approaching middle of the average US lifespan, and seeing as I love to take long trips, i’m looking for something with soft ride. I’m not ready to trade the ride for quality though, as all those misaligned seams, hard panels and plastic flash seams would bother me to no end. It’s just me, but i’d rather have gently used luxury car with some issues in its life (i call them quirks) then brand new econobox…. To each their own though, and there are obviously a lot of people that don’t mind paying for Fischer Price interiors as long as car keeps driving with minimal or no issues for 200K miles.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    All you guys are making intelligent comments. There’s no war here. Buy whatever testdrives and specs-out the best for you. Ganbatte!

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      It sort of seems like there’s a war when it comes to the Camry, but not among the enthusiasts. It’s more like a war between enthusiasts and the general public. It’s like many of us literally lament the fact that people are buying Camrys. Like, how **dare** that Camry be so successful when it’s so…so boring and uninspiring? But sometimes it goes like that. GM, Ford, Hyundai/Kia…they all produced utter crap for years, and they’re still paying for it. That’s what they get. And if someone wants to purchase a Camry out of loyalty, he should be able to do so without drawing the ire of every BMW fanboy in the country. It’s possible, even, that many people like the Camry for qualities that none of us can see. I, for example, can’t think of a single metric at which the new Malibu isn’t bested by a competitor, and yet I like it the most out of all of the midsized sedans.

      I will, however, concede to one point of this common argument, and that is the fact that the Mazda6 has been unfairly ignored…

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        You’re so impeccably fair and rational, I worry for you.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The trouble is that the automakers see the success of the Camry and want a piece of it. Which leads to a general “dumbing down” of the entire car market. See the current Passat and Jetta as exhibit A of this. And sadly it works, because the average American really does want a rolling sofa. Screws it up for those of us who don’t though.

        I agree that making the Camry a squishmobile is fine – but I also agree that if they are going to market a 286hp “sporty” version, Toyota should at least TRY to make it drive decently. The interior is simply what I expect from a $25K car these days.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    I don’t get all of the Author needs to grow up comments. He is reviewing the SE model which is supposed to be sporty. The LE models are for people who want the cushy ride and numb steering. It is fine to offer those models because there is a big market for them.

    But, if you are going to offer a sport edition, make it sporty and not a body kit. That is my take from it. There are people who want to buy a sporty mid-sizer from Toyota. It doesn’t have to be a kidney bruiser, but something better than this.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Coming from this Chevy Impala-lover, I like the new Camry’s styling. No issues with this car, but I haven’t driven one. Honestly, the only time I have ever driven a Camry was an older rental in fall, 1996!

    I do see an interesting “issue” with these, though: The rear “skirts” for lack of a better word, the lower rear fender panel that is part of the huge bumper cover. On the highway – and I see plenty of them – I notice the “skirts” vibrating at speed and once in a while I see one visibly flapping!

    Is this a cheap-out issue? Not enough bracing behind the plastic? I wonder.

    Aside from that, I find the styling refreshing from previous iterations.

    I guess my choice of ride isn’t so bad after all…

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Some of the things that give a vehicle sporting pretensions are some of the very same things that keep a car from being as reliable as it could be. I think Toyota knows this. Hence, the uninspiring SE.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      How does that explain Mazda 6 and Honda Accord?

      • 0 avatar
        reclusive_in_nature

        We’ll not know for about a decade. Then, we can count and see how many of those are still on the road compared to the Toyota.
        Still, if I had to own one of three and be forced to put 300,000 miles on the odometer before being allowed to own another vehicle I’d chose the Toyota. The majority of American consumers would make the same decision.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          The majority of American consumers (as shown by retail sales) are choosing the Accord over the Camry. If I had to make the decision I would choose the Accord, certainly as reliable with better fit and finish, higher quality interior, better driving dynamics and a consistency in its styling.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            For 300,000 miles, the proven mechanicals of the Camry would be an important consideration. I suppose an Accord Sport with the 6 speed would be worth the DI risk. Combining CVT with DI would be too much of a leap into the unknown for me though. Honda has been selling CVTs for years in Japan, but how many of them have been in cars that weigh 3,200 lbs and have 182 ft/lbs of torque? I’d also like to know why Honda can’t give their cars away in Japan now. Did they ruin their reputation selling CVTs and DI?

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            CJ – looking at the Japanese figures it looks like they had massive growth in Kei cars and a big (counter balancing) decline in “regular” cars. Maybe something was reclassified. Overall their net sales in Japan are pretty stable. I did ask Bertel sometime late last year when this trend became apparent. Maybe he has more information.

    • 0 avatar
      chaparral

      Like what, exactly? A turbocharger might make an engine last 200,000 miles instead of 350,000. s

      A 700 lb/in spring doesn’t operate under any more stress than a 300 lb/in spring. Nor does a 30mm swaybar operated under more stress than a 17mm one. Bilstein shocks last longer than Monroe Sensatracs. 360 degree hard rubber bushings can’t rip apart like ones with voids. The difference between acceptable and awful power steering is in some stationary valves; reducing power-assist to a decent level won’t change the car’s reliability.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    To be honest with you, the Camry SE V6 is a car I would purchase. My only reserve is that I’m worried about the Camry–and the Prius’s–poor front-offset collision ratings.

    But yes, there are better offerings, the rival Accord being one of them…

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      Duck, man!
      Sticks & feces in 5..4..3..2..

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        No need to duck but the question for Kyree is why would you buy the Camry when you accept readily that there are better cars. Surely when spending $25K you want the best – reliability, safety, space, fuel economy, quality materials, driving dynamics etc.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Good question. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s not a total train-wreck of a car like some people make it out to be, and there are traits about it that I like–that rim design being one of them . Plus, I drove it and didn’t find an issue with power-delivery or handling, at least not compared to the average car. I would actually be happy to own a Camry SE V6.

          I guess I’d better go into hiding now that I’ve said that, no?

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            I agree with you, it is not a train wreck of a car. It is perfectly acceptable. I also like the wheel design on the SE.
            I think the main divide here is that we all agree there are better cars out there, so some of us are wondering why people just stay with Camry in spite of that.
            Inertia, ignorance (meaning they don`t follow autoblogs or magazines so are not aware of what is out there), loyalty all play a part. At the end of the day people buy what they want too and it does seem that the Camry has hit a limit of around 400K a year and they need to increase incentives and fleet sales to stay there. Quite why they are so aggressive in staying number 1 is a surprise to me (as is Nissan’s determination to get there too).

  • avatar
    ajla

    Toyota Camry Eurosport.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I’m unsure how the Camry doesn’t receive the same complaints as the corolla, their both extremely uninspiring and extremely boring. My day always seems to get bad after getting behind that Camry/Corolla inevitably going 15 under the speed limit in a long stretch of non-passing roadway.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Here’s the problem as I understand it Mike. You’ve described in near closeness to similar writings about Buick circa mid-’90s where the automotive world fought valiantly to get the mark from its near Octegenarian demise. Toyota is rumbling very, very closely to this wall of Grampa’s Car and like Buick, will find it extremely hard to back away from the abyss.

  • avatar
    PolestarBlueCobalt

    I love my cars grounded to the ground. that is why the Camry SE is the best car in the world. It has all the stuff guys like. like the Rims and sleek body.

    The corolla S also handles the best. Those body kits and spoiler make it much faster than a normal Corolla.

    And that is why you see big buff guys driving Camries. Always the SE trim. I laughed so hard at that commercial, but I’m sad to say it worked.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Great review, Cap’n Solo. Keep it up and welcome back.

    It was just last week I forced myself to go to a Toyota dealer and inspect the Camry. This, following visits to the Honda and Mazda dealers to inspect the Accord and 6. I am on a waiting list to drive an Accord Sport 6MT – “when they get a free one”. Well, as I told the saleslady, “free is good for me!”

    The interior of the Camry is pure dross, as you say. Fake real stitching where none is required, and zero attention paid to fit and finish. You are dead on.

    I had no desire to ask for a test drive, and you provided all the answers I need, anyway. All the owners slagging you above are lazy people who couldn’t be bothered to cross shop, and then got mad at you for pointing out the obvious. It’s all supposed to be a secret, don’t you know, and people defend their choices with outrage at the critic because to agree would imply they made a bad choice.

    Leaping around and yelling, uttering inanities about poor Nissan and Mazda reliability, while praising Camry’s numbnuts ride and handling are just manifestations at being caught out on the reality of things. Emotion, not logic prevails.

    Hope you test a lot more cars for TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      He pointed out that the Emperor has no clothes – Mike is lucky to be alive!

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      All this from a clown who hasn’t even driven one. Aren’t you so high and mighty?

      Do tell – what is it that you drive, oh smart one?

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        For TTAC silverbacks, I prefer oldfatandrich.
        More artful and oblique.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        @84 Cressida:

        “All this from a clown who hasn’t even driven one. Aren’t you so high and mighty?
        Do tell – what is it that you drive, oh smart one?”

        Hello, you got me there, no doubt about it. Not only haven’t driven it, wouldn’t want to after that disaster of an interior. Same way I haven’t driven an Altima, I just hate the looks.

        I drive an 08 Legacy GT, and I don’t have any qualms in saying it would flay any Camry ever made, except for straightline V6 powered ones until 90 mph, when the white-knuckled Camry driver would back off.

        Of course, the day after I wrote my first remarks, the Honda dealer called up (Friday morning) and I got my drive in a Sport 6MT. Posted my remarks here:

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/comparison-review-2013-honda-accord-sport-vs-2013-ford-fusion-se/#

        To sum up, the Accord has a constant head-bobbing ride, obvious understeer, and an obnoxiously loud engine when you rev it up. Otherwise, I liked it, especially the gearshift.

    • 0 avatar
      Capt Solo

      I’ve been writing for car magazines since 2007, and this sir, is the best comment I have ever gotten. Thank you.

    • 0 avatar
      tdavis1338

      When I purchased my 2007 Altima, I cross-shopped the Accord, Camry and Mazda6.

      I eliminated the Accord because I knew that it was being redesigned, and the prices on 2007 models did not reflect this.

      I test drove a Camry LE, and the fit and finish were sub-standard. THe engine was also loud (in an agricultural way).

      I test drove the Mazda6, but couldn’t get comfortable in the seats with my bad back.

      That left the Altima, having the best balance of ride, handling and comfort of the group.

      I just bought a 2013 Altima SV (at least as much for the dealer experience as the car) and the above is even more true than in 2007, as the car is much improved.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Your rationale for not getting the Accord doesn’t hold since it is a model. Altima does have very good deals now.

        • 0 avatar
          tdavis1338

          My rationale for the Accord applied to my 2007 purchase. For my recent purchase, I had already experienced a friend’s new Accord, and did not care for the (to me) excessively wide center stack that seemed to restrict the foot-wells uncomfortably. The handling also seemed more vague than that of the Altima. While I don’t expect a family sedan to have sports car handling, I don’t like total isolation from road feel either.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      You didn’t miss out by not driving the Camry.

      My in-laws have an ’07 Camry LE with 55k miles and an ’09 Accord LX with 68k miles. Both purchased new.

      We drove the Camry to the Florida Keys over Xmas last year and drove the Accord around Central Florida a fair amount where they live.

      The Camry not only has numb steering, indifferent interior quality, and big flat relatively unsupportive seats. The brakes are so awful as to be almost a liability in Miami traffic, and the 2.4 liter 158 hp Four has hardly any high RPM power, which when coupled with the laggardly automatic transmission, make merging onto crowded freeways more stressful than it should be.

      In comparison, the Accord has communicative steering, excellent brakes, better seats, an airy interior courtesy of relatively thin A-pillars, and an engine/automatic transmission combination that are much better matched to the needs of merging onto the freeway. Plus, the Accord’s VTEC Four sounds genuinely happy to zing up to the 7000 rpm redline when merging onto a freeway from a short onramp.

      As far as reliability? The Camry’s been at the dealer multiple times for various recalls, and currently has issues with leaking coolant. The Accord hasn’t been giving them any grief.

      After driving the Camry, I longed for my E46 330i at home. After driving the Accord, I thought “you know, owning one of these if I ever get tired of German cars would be alright. Just make mine a stick shift with a sunroof”.

    • 0 avatar

      +1. I could not force myself to take Camry as a rental car during my vacation in Hawaii and asked manager to replace it with a decent car or I will go elsewhere. It was airport Hertz btw – they were clueless but friendly.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I wonder if this Camry steers like my sister’s 1992 Plymouth Acclaim.

    Damn thing has no steering feel whatsoever. I feel like the wheel is connected to nothing, like the freewheeling metal tiller in your average carnival ride.

  • avatar
    brid1970

    Reviewer, my thoughts exactly, including the demise of interior quality. I’ve driven a lot of Camry’s and have been happy to have them seen in my driveway. But this one….well those body lines don’t seem to know which way they want to go, and so it’s unlikely that it’ll ever make it closer than the front curb. Small wonder that even the bland Altima has been rubbing Camry’s nose in the dirt lately.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Sorry to hear/see the QC lapse with the interior pieces. I haven’t personally seen such, but obviously it happens.

    The Camry is the Impala of 40 years ago. It has taken its place as the ‘go to’ car for many people. It’s not my cup of tea, but if I’ve ended up with one as a rental (or borrowed my brother’s ’98 LE), I have no complaints and know what to expect…decent mpg, lots of room, and above all reliability. Point A -> Point B = no worries.

    Obviously hundreds of thousands want that too.

    $30k and the need for a family sedan? Make mine an Accord.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The worst part of the Camry interior for me are those stitched vinyl flaps on either side of the center stack. Not only do they serve no purpose other than to put stitching where none is required, they aren’t finished on the sides and you can see that they are actually just glued to the plastic underneath. You can pick at the edge of the vinyl where its glued to the side of the plastic panel. So poorly done.

  • avatar
    Toshi

    Splitting the wobble/kicking a presumed easy target.

    See DetNews and the Chrysler 200 for the prime example of this: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/detnews-fires-auto-critic-over-chrysler-200-review/

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    What a stupid article. In a few years you’ll probably be complaining it doesn’t have a V6. Btw, the SE is the #1 Camry model, and the Camry is still the #1 selling car in the USA. I’m waiting for the McDonalds reply now!

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Actually, the Accord outsold it last month.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      True the SE is the best selling spec level, around 40% from what I read. A big increase from the previous generation where SE take up was more like 10%. As Mike Karesh said in his reviews of the Camry when it first came out, on TTAC, Toyota reduced the price differential so that more people would buy an SE. This was apparently done in order to make the car people see more often the “sporty” looking one.

      P.S. The Accord is the #1 retail selling car – i.e. the car actual people pay for. Camry is #2 I assume, although by the end of this year who knows.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Thanks Mike – in particular for noting the quality problems.

    The days where Toyota crushed its competition on quality and value are unfortunately over. I test drove a 2012 SE last year and found a number of assembly defects both interior and body panels. There was also a materials problems in that some of the interior surfaces on the demo units seemed already scratched.

    Camry’s are not meant for driving enthusiasts but they are meant to lead the pack on quality and not remind me of Korean cars of the last decade.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    A few points…

    TTAC is for car enthusiasts so it is understandable and desirable that any review answer the question “how is it in the corners?”. If I strictly saw my car as an appliance, I would not be reading TTAC any more than I would be reading The Truth About Refrigerators.

    Most car enthusiasts have (or will have or have had)family responsibilities and limited budgets, so it is very useful to have a guide to vehicles that are practical, yet also enjoyable to drive.

    Finally, a vehicle that accelerates, turns and stops in a responsive and stable manner is a vehicle that is easy and safe to drive and therefore of value even to the non-enthusiast.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      I never understood why so many people who seem to despise any sort of “fun” car and love their blandmobiles read TTAC.

      Even in the world of family sedans, there are plenty of fun choices.

      – The Accord’s always been a great pick for practicality along with some driving verve.

      – I had a 2012 Maxima as a rental last fall, which was enjoyable to drive, had a great exhaust note courtesy of the VQ V6, and a CVT that didn’t suck, especially when hammering it.

      – The Hyundai Sonata (2011+) is another great option in the world of family sedans. The electric steering lacks feel, but otherwise that car’s pretty decent to drive. Good brakes and body control, plenty of power from the standard 200 hp Four, and probably one of the best Bluetooth streaming audio systems that I’ve encountered. It puts Ford’s system to shame.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I own a 12 Camry LE Hybrid, and I love it. I think the Camry Hybrid is the ultimate car. 0-60 seconds faster than any Ford Hybrid. Typical Toyota. I have never had a warranty claim on this Toyota, and it averages 41 MPG. Accord is also a good car, but I would wait till the CVT is proven with high miles.

    The Camry is the #1 choice if you care about things like resale value. Next year, I will be trading it in on another, and resale on Camry is tops. My last Detroit purchase was an 08 Ford that was a disaster. No one would offer me KBB resale, and the repairs were endless. I bet the new “exciting” Fusion with the 1.6L motor will have wonderfull resale.

    The Camry is top selling because Detroit is still building tons of trash. Have you picked up a recent Consumer Reports and checked the “Used Cars” to avoid? Nearly every Detroit vehicle is on that list. That does wonders for resale.

    As far as handling, everything nearly handles the same. All you Detroit types whine about handling in an attempt to cover your unreliable trash.

    And, I find it amazing that Detroit spends more time having their operatives post Toyota smear comments on every possible web site than having engineers fix the reliability problems. Thank god for Consumer Reports.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Resale does matter if you change every 2 years, which is atypical behavior.
      I saw somewhere the Accord getting the award for highest resale.
      As for every car now handles the same – Avenger, Camry, Fusion, Accord and Mazda 6 – are you really telling me they all handle “the same”. If so maybe you need to find a non-enthusiasts site.
      Also remember none of the three cars I mentioned earlier in the comments were Detroit so don`t fall back on the old Toyota defense of anyone criticizing them musty prefer “Domestics”.
      I am glad you are happy with your Camry, as I have said before it is a reasonable car, but it is commonly accepted by those who look at objective facts that there are better, Japanese, cars.

    • 0 avatar

      If all cars handle the same then what brought you to TTAC? What was wrong with Fusion – CR recommended Fusion and considered it as one the most reliable cars on the market. Let me assume that you are making up owning the Fusion.

      And another question – if Camry is so reliable why do you care about resale value – there is no reason to sell such a wonderful car. Regardless of resale value you will save tons of money by just keeping Camry for like 300,000 miles if not more. Any new car purchase is a waste of money – in the form of depreciation, sales tax, higher insurance costs and need to face dealer.

  • avatar
    Marko

    “So I plead to Toyota: remember the Supra? The Celica? The 1st and 2nd-gen MR2?”

    Supra: IS-F, arguably LF-A?
    Celica or MR-2: Scion FR-S


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