Toyota sedan stands out while blending in

Steady as she goes, Captain. Few cars are as steady as the Toyota Camry. This stalwart of the midsize sedan segment is a steady performer and top seller. And too often, the Camry gets little fanfare or praise because it’s been so good for so long. So it’s the perfect car for former Wheels editors Jimmy Dinsmore and Dave Mikesell to review.

JIMMY: Without a doubt, the Camry is a solid car. Known for reliability and low maintenance, it’s popular for a reason. And for that reason, it’s also conservatively designed and engineered. Toyota would be a fool to make drastic changes to it.

There are numerous trims to choose from and also two gas-powered engines, including a 4-cylinder and V6. I drove the V6 Camry XSE and it was plenty powerful. The six-speed transmission was adequate while uninspiring, but the rest of the power and performance were better than most of the vanilla sedans found in this segment. Dave, I like vanilla as much as the next person, but do you think the looks of the Camry deserve a better label?

DAVE: How about unpretentious? Modest? Humble? In this category at these price points, you’re not going to get bowled over. Still, that large lower grille makes a statement. The lines sweep front to back and headlamps extend toward the front wheel wells. The raked rear window pitches downward to a short trunk that gets a rear spoiler on some trims. The simplicity of the exterior masks the beauty of what is inside.

JIMMY: Anyone who has read my reviews knows my appreciation for a quality interior. You spend all your time inside a car, so it needs to be nice. The Camry sells so many cars partly because the interior is tremendous. There’s no wow factor, but there’s nothing to be critical of either. Plus, the cabin is quiet and free from road and engine noise. The back seat has ample leg and head room for passengers. And the infotainment does its job. The Toyota Entune system pairs well with smartphones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s little cutting edge technology in the Camry, but what’s there is easy to use and presented on a seven-inch touchscreen. Dave, what did you think of the comfort and overall space?

DAVE: The Camry’s midsize placement belies the roominess within. Seating is supportive. Only three large adults shoulder to shoulder in the back seat could quibble. Trunk space is decent at 15.4 cubic feet for gas-only models and 13.1 cubic feet for hybrids. The rear seat folds down for longer items.

JIMMY: The Camry comes with four trim levels: LE, SE, XSE and XLE, with hybrids available in LE, SE and XLE. The top two trims offer the most standard features. The XSE comes with the advanced technology trim, which includes a handful of features like voice recognition, pre-collision warning, dynamic radar cruise control and an advanced sound system. It seems like the best value with a price of $34,165.

DAVE: Jimmy loves the V6 and I’ll give him that is quite the perk in a Camry. I drove the XLE Hybrid and the gas-electric combination adds roughly $4,000 to the price tag, depending on the trim. The upside is the fuel economy, with my tester EPA-rated at 40 mpg/city and 37 mpg/highway. The base 4-cylinder gets 24 mpg/city and 33 mpg/highway. And that beloved V6? It checks in at 21 mpg/city and 30 mpg/highway. You would have to drive a lot of miles in a hybrid to make up the cost difference — a lot of miles. But it’s a feel-good choice to have in this popular sedan.

JIMMY: Dave, there’s not just one reason why the Camry is such a hot-selling car. It’s kind of the total package. With comfort, convenience, driveability, fuel economy and fair pricing, what’s really not to like about it? Call it vanilla if you want, but who doesn’t like vanilla?

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. David Mikesell is a freelance automotive reviewer based in Indianapolis.

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