Toyota Camry LE test drive

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I drove the Camry XLE last year when it came out.
But I had the opportunity to drive the popular LE recently at the same time I was driving the new Malibu.
The Camry doesn’t have a striking shape and they are so many out there that it is pretty much invisible in the streets.
But it does look nice. The profile is pretty upscale.
Although the front end still looks like it is made of plastic and the wheel covers (Even the XLE alloy wheels) look pretty cheap.

The interior is really nice. the car I drove was very well finished and everything felt and looked very solid.
It is a very peaceful place to be. Especially in the lighter color.
And that is pretty much the mission of this car. To take you where you need to go in a quiet, peaceful, relaxing and civilized manner.

The engine is always quiet, and silent at idle.
The steering is very light but never loose. And the suspension is smooth and quiet.
Everything is really made for you to relax. And that is also what many people don’t like about the car. If you really enjoy the driving part of the trip, you might prefer a Passat. Or even the new Malibu.
These people also complain of a lack of personality. But I thing being smooth and quiet is a type of personality.
And that’s what this is.

The back seat is also everything you’d expect. Comfortable and roomy.

This pretty much what the whole experience is: what is expected.
And obviously, this is what hundreds of thousands of buyers want every year. Year after year.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
People dream about fast, exotic or even European sedans. But when it is time to sign their name on that dotted line, they all become much more conservative. All of a sudden, reliability, comfort, smoothness and resale value all take the front seat.
And that’s where the Camry wins.

The model I drove retails for $$20 685. Carsdirect offers it for $18 011.
That is a lot of car for $18 000.

For my taste I would prefer the Malibu or the Passat.
The Malibu does have much more presonality in the design, inside and out, and the driving experience.
Same with the Passat which makes the driving experience even more special.

But if you are in the market for a family car, and don’t really want to stand out, you can’t go wrong with the Camry.

Conversation 17 comments

  1. And that’s why I visit. Where else can I read “quiet is a type of personality?” And have that same sentence be respectful?

  2. Maybe you can’t go wrong with the Camry, but I surely would go crazy! Actually I tested an SE and have had a few LE rentals. The SE had the most annoying tranny. It hunted around quite a bit, a had a delayed reaction when I’d gun it. When it did engage, it pulled the car hard – unfortunately also to the side a bit due to some torque steer.

    As for the LEs, they are okay and good rentals. Wouldn’t want to own one, but I can see why grandmas like them. One other thing I’ve noticed on all of the new Camry’s is the poor gap-fits in many areas of the dash, plus cheap feeling/looking plastics. Yes they sell, but I think the buyers kid themselves with “wow, if Toyotas are this bad, just think how bad a GM must be.”

  3. Toyota’s have traditionally been quiet, comfortable, and reliable; that is the reason for the companies success. However, they are making a mistake by not paying enough attention to their designs, especially when trying to appeal to younger buyers. And, at recent L.A. auto i got the opportunity to sit in the Camry’s rivals and i have to admit it’s interrior looked cheap comparison to the Accord, Malibu, and Altima. I’ve owned two previous Toyota’s in the past and this was very disappointing to see.

  4. yeah me too. All other reviewers are busy being macho and acting suave that they know their motoring that they hate to come out and say Toyota builds respectable cars. But at the end of the day they go home in a Toyota.
    Case in point: Jeremy Clarkson when not fantasizing about a Gallardo drives, out of all cars, a Toyota Landcruiser!

  5. I have a Toyota now and have had several, but the Camry rental I had last month was the dullest and least attractive of all. handling not all that good and comfort lacking. I’m not much for the big sedan, but never this one.

  6. The Camry is a proven performer and has been consistently reliable year in year out.

    As Vince stated thats what a lot of people like and buy to the tune of 400k per year on average so they(Toyota)must be doing something right.

    I like the car but the like others have said the lately the quality of the interior plastics have been lacking.


  7. I’ve driven many Camrys, many in this insipid beige/beige cloth interior combination. Mostly rentals. I’ve grown to really dislike them. The smell, the plastics, the switchgear, hate it all. Everyone needs a primary car to be sensible, practical and safe. But there are many cars with these attributes that aren’t so generic and bargain basement. While I’ve never had any breakdowns or serious failures in one, I haven’t had any issues in any car I’ve rented with the exception of a Hyundai with a faulty alternator that nearly cause me some problems. The Camry’s center dash design looks horribly cheap and the buttons illuminate like a 90s cell phone. Every angle and proportion appears to be designed to accommodate the aesthetic sensibilities of dorks on every continent. I will agree that this car is very easy to drive and that’s a compelling reason to consider one if you don’t test-drive anything else. But once you drive an Accord, Mazda 6, Fusion, Malibu, Altima, A3 2.0, Passat, Aura or even the G6, I don’t know how anyone could plunk down twenty-something thousand dollars for a Camry.

  8. One word comes to mind when I look at or drive a Toyota Camry, dull. If I am going to pay good money for a car it might as well be a looker, or the best I can get for the money. In that department all Toyota’s come up short. I have to agree about the cheap old fashioned looking interior, bad.

    Their designer’s are either told to keep it ultra conservative, or they’re a bit talentless, either way they need a change.

  9. I recently drove a few Camrys on business trips and I was appalled at the lack of fit and finish in the interior. They’re were large gaps all over the place. Also, that glowing center stack gets old really quick and there’s no way to turn it down without turning down the whole dash. The tranny is lost when the gas is stepped on suddenly. I don’t know, I was kinda expecting more; even considering it on my shopping list. But after driving it for a for a few weeks, I’ve changed my mind.

  10. The chevy malibu i an all around better buy; Sorry toyota fans but u guys lost this one. And also check the resale values on the 07 camry XLE V6 and the 07 Aura XR. You’ll be amazed. GM’s on its way up, lookout.

  11. A few things i remember from being in this car for about twenty minutes this past summer:

    -I kept ramming my shin into the intrusive dash while in the passenger seat

    -I could wiggle the HVAC knobs half an inch side to side (try it)

    -There was a sharp ridge where two pieces of plastic came together in the door closer “assembly”


    Me no like.

  12. I have to say, the 2 Camrys I drove were perfectly put together.
    No rattles and no gaps either.

  13. Pros:
    stylish looking
    comfy seats
    roomy interior
    resale value

    low grade plastic from recycle
    overboosted steering
    dull Handling/suspensions
    tranny lag

  14. Different strokes for different folks, but the Toyota-philes are going to scream bloody murder when GM actually starts taking away some of their customers with the new Malibu. Will they ever be able to admit the GM can actually do something right? (And no, I don’t own a GM car. But they’ve gotten a heck of a lot better, in quality and appearance, so I just might next time)

  15. …the Toyota-philes are going to scream bloody murder when GM actually starts taking away some of their customers with the new Malibu.

    Not likely. Toyota, Honda, and Nissan owners usually don’t give a shit what GM does or doesn’t do, and they tend to be less xenophobic than GM buyers. But the new Malibu seems to be a very nice car. I’ll test drive one as soon as I can. Should prove to be a great mainstream car.

    Will they ever be able to admit the GM can actually do something right?

    Who knows, but they might ask you the same question about your opinion of Toyota cars.

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