2007 Toyota Camry XLE V6 Review
TOYOTA CAMRY XLE V6
Leader in a Tight Race
By Steve Purdy
This new Toyota Camry is a nice car all around. The sixth generation of this front-wheel-drive, white-bread sedan, best-seller for most of the past decade at around 400,000 units/year, is keeping Toyota ahead of the curve when it comes to both content and design. In terms of style, I don’t think “white-bread” quite applies any more.
Styling of the Camry, until the current generation, has been almost painfully plain. But look at this one. The rear view hints at a Bangle-Butt BMW. The front swoops and sways with fresh shapes accentuating the large Toyota logo at the tip of its nose. Both headlights and taillights slope like eyebrows in a smile. I know styling is rather subjective, but in my considered view this is a vast improvement. The Toyota marketing department must be pleased in that the most important reason buyers turned away from the last generation Camry was uninspired styling. Sleek styling sometimes means aerodynamic effeciecy and Camry has a coefficient of drag of just .28, nearly a sports car number.
Our Barcelona Red Metallic XLE V6 test car this week, built in Georgetown, KY, shows a base price of $27,520. Included in that base price is the V6 with six-speed automatic transmission, 16-inch alloy wheels, disc brakes all around, ABS, at least nine airbags including one for the driver’s knees, tire pressure monitor system, integrated fog lamps, halogen automatic headlights, power and heated outside mirrors, dual exhaust with chrome tips, sliding center arm rest, power driver and passenger leather seats, dual zone climate control, rear vents and ionizer, cruise control, JBL premium 8-speaker, digital sound system with MP3, Bluetooth and in-dash, 8-disc CD player, power tilt/slide moon roof with sunshade, reclining rear seats with center armrest, wood interior trim, power windows with driver’s side express up and down, keyless entry and start, power locks, tilt and telescoping steering wheel with controls, manual rear sunshade, and auto-dimming rear view mirror with reading lamps and compass.
Now that’s a lot of stuff. Think back a few years. Can you think of a sedan with that much standard stuff. Of course, the XLE is top-of-the-line, but that’s still a lot of stuff for a basic Mom-and-Pop sedate sedan. The Basic Camry CE with four-cylinder engine can be had for $18,470 with 4 cylinders, a 5-speed stick and impressive array of standard features.
Options on our test car are few, led by the $1,200 navigation system with JBL premium audio 4-disc, in-dash CD/MP3/Bluetooth/Satillite (XM or Sirius). Heated seats add $440. Smart Key system with push button start is $450. Vehicle Stability Control with Traction Control adds $650. And the carpet/trunk mat set is another $199. With the delivery charge of $580 our bottom line is $31,039. Compare that to comparably equipped cars of similar size and power and you can see why Camry continues to lead the class.
It’s not really that sedate either. The V6 is a 3.5-liter, 24-valve, high tech engine making 268 horsepower. It goes fast and it goes quickly when you ask it to. The 6-speed automatic transmission with manual mode can get between 22 and 31 miles-per-gallon. We averaged about 24.6 mpg this week with mostly city driving and I must admit to pushing it hard. With an 18.5-gallon fuel tank we have about a 400-mile cruising range. The hybrid version with CVT is available for $26,200. That one gets 40 and 38-mpg, city and highway respectively.
My week with this loaded Camry was a pleasure, indeed – substantially the result of a pleasant cabin. The car has a light, airy and gentle feel. It looks and feels larger than it is. I can sense it would be an easy car to live with for the long run. Doors, both front and back, are big enough for easy in and out. Seats – leather in this case – are generous and comfortable. Light wood trim, good quality materials and well-chosen colors contribute to a feeling of ease. The center stack with navigation screen, audio and info controls are surrounded by a light blue plastic with a distinctly retro feel. Controls are logical and I was easily able to manage them all without once having to refer to the book. Tactile quality is best described as light and easy. I was surprised to find, however, that a couple of the large plastic pieces that form the dash didn’t fit well. Uncharacteristic for Toyota, I’d say.
Handling characteristics are advanced substantially beyond the last Camry as well. Conventional geometry and structure underneath is well balanced and tuned to the needs of its market - firm, but not offensively so, and soft enough without being sloppy. Wheelbase is 2-inches longer and track is 1-inch wider without change in exterior dimensions. The Camry chassis is simply a well-balanced and well-thought-out design. I can push through our clover-leaf freeway ramp confidently at a quick pace, wag the steering wheel back and forth with ease and ride the rough patches without hesitation.
Warranty is 3-years/36,000-miles comprehensive and 5-years/50,000-miles on the drivetrain and body rust through.
This mid-size sedan segment is one of the most competitive in the market today. The Detroit three, the Japanese and Koreans, and soon the Chinese, are after those folks who just want a competent, dependable, well-equipped car within which they can pack a few friends. The competition will continue to be stiff with fresh new GM and Ford products. Right now it’s nearly a dead heat – lots of great choices for buyers.
Toyota has been leading this race and it’s getting tighter. It’s a fun race to watch for us car lovers.
© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved