Ace of Base: The End of 2016
Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be a great choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.
It’s the end of the year, which means the internet is awash with anodyne Best Of pieces, designed to distract readers from the fact that journalists are deep into their third consecutive forty-ouncer of Mohawk vodka and too blitzed to write original material in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. This piece may qualify in that vein.
Let’s coast over to Mr. Cain’s handy sales charts, shall we? Hmm. Which nameplates are expected to occupy the podium once all the deals are tallied for 2016? Can we do an Ace of Base on one of those? *swigs vodka straight from the bottle* Hmm. F-Series? Nope. Already done that. Silverado and Ram are similar propositions; no help there. Ah! The first actual car on the list. It’s the … oh, crap. Alright, let’s get this over with.
The Toyota Camry gets a lot of flak from enthusiasts – some of it deserved, some of it not – and it’ll never rank very high for folks who value sportiness and driving pleasure over sensible shoes and a balanced spreadsheet. Still, both segments of customers deserve a catering, and the Camry suits the latter demographic very well.
The base model Camry, an LE trim stickering for $23,070, is powered by a 2.5-liter inline-four making 178 horsepower and matched to a six-speed automatic. Doesn’t sound like much? Consider that, at about sixteen seconds flat, my old 1989 Lincoln Mark VII can only barely match this four cylinder Camry in the quarter mile. Seeing a base family sedan with a Baby-On-Board sticker keep up with my 225 hp brute in a suit plays hell on memories of what used to pass for speed.
Buttons for cruise control and audio adjustments will be found on a Camry LE’s steering wheel, one which adjusts for both reach and rake. Heated power mirrors and a large infotainment touchscreen are also definite niceties at this price point. Health and safety aficionados will appreciate the LE’s backup camera and airbags in sufficient quantity to equal the number of hydrogen atoms found in butane. Sixteen-inch steelies keep a lid on tire cost come replacement time. Very sober, very sensible, and very well equipped for $23,070.
Some of the B&B noisily made the observation that a loaded Camry makes a better proposition than a base Lexus ES 350 and – absent of badge snobbery – they’re not wholly incorrect. The Camry, in all its trims, sells in vast quantities because it’s quiet, competent, and inoffensive. However, if forced to buy a sub-$24,000 Camry, this author would choose the SE trim, a mere $770 walk from the base LE and bringing with it larger alloys, a color-keyed rear spoiler, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a few other treats.
While Toyota is not taken to piling cash on the hood, a new, flamboyant Camry has been teased and will likely bow at Detroit’s 2017 NAIAS in two weeks’ time. It logically follows that customers could stand a better chance of scoring a few extra Simoleons off the current model, potentially making the base Camry LE an even more attractive deal.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve some vodka that needs drinking. Happy New Year, everyone.
Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.
The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less, especially when a new model is on the horizon, so do your research and bargain hard.
Whatnext on Dec 28, 2016
I could never figure out why anyone would pay extra for a spoiler. It's a useless appendage that does nothing at the speeds most people drive, ruins the lines a car was born with and collects dirt. It's just one small step above the luggage racks that were de rigeur at GM in the 1980's.
R129 on Dec 28, 2016
Maybe I just live on a different planet than everyone else, but I have driven both the current Camry LE and the pre-refresh version, and I found it to be a truly unpleasant automobile in which to spend time. Maybe the SE is a little better, I don't know, but at least it doesn't have those awful plastic wheel covers. Having driven nearly all of them at one time or another, I would take any other mid-size (or full-size in rental speak) sedan over the Camry as a rental car. The interior materials are laughably bad. Almost every surface you come in contact with is hard plastic, but my favorite part is the little change compartment to the left of the steering wheel that feels like a toy from Kmart. The steering wheel vibrates as the 4 cylinder engine roughly idles. It handles decently, but not enough to make up for the oddly punishing ride that is incapable of soaking up bumps. The only reason I see to choose this car over the competition (if you are actually buying one) is its reputation for reliability, or the super aggressive lease incentives that Toyota usually offers.
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