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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE CAMRY VEHICLE The best-selling Camry sedan still is a sound choice for families, taking on a significant redesign just last model year. Contemporary styling, cabin function, and impressive technology remain top reasons to go with this stalwart vehicle.

I drove a 2016 Toyota Camry with the 178-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission with sport-tuned suspension. Available in a host of trims – the base LE, XLE, SE, the all-new Special Edition, and XSE – standard equipment in my Special Edition test drive included the following: unique sport fabric seats; an eight-way power driver’s seat; a leather-trimmed steering wheel; eighteen-inch alloy wheels with gloss back accents; moonroof; Entune Audio Plus with a larger seven-inch touchscreen; Bluetooth connectivity; Qi Wireless charging; backup camera; multi-information display; push-button start; chrome-tipped exhaust; . Price as described without option came to $25,715.

Last year’s improvements brought sportier and more sculpted exterior styling and improved materials for the cabin. Main competitors include the Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion, Mazda6, Honda Accord. I have also driven the Camry Hybrid model that can deliver 40 miles-per-gallon combined.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Toyota makes sure the Camry can accommodate all interests and budgets with a host of trims and options, from quality interior fabrics such as the improved SofTex upholstery and Ultrasuede to Entune add-ons ( Toyota’s multimedia system that connects smartphones). As far as room is concerned, the second row is roomy enough for a baby seat without the front passenger feeling cramped and my five-year old could click in without any issues; overall, all five passengers have generous shoulder and leg room. In regards to my Special Edition model, I didn’t find these additional features significantly elevated the experience, which included blue contrast stitching on the black upholstery fabric, gloss black accents on the alloy wheels (arguably best feature), and some minor badging.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2016 Toyota Camry sports such safety highlights as a first-in-class ten airbag system, Smart Stop Technology and Vehicle Stability Control. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) lists the Camry model year as a Top Safety Pick with ratings of “Good” in all areas of testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2016 Camry a 5-Star Safety Rating.

Cost Issues: With a base starting price of $23,070 for the Camry LE, highlights include a backup camera, a 6.1-inch Entune touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity and Siri Eyes Free. The 2016 Nissan Altima has a base starting at $22,500 and the base 2016 Mazda6 Sport trim at $21,495.

Activity & Performance Ability: Comfort and quietness seems to be the Camry’s best traits with decent enough acceleration for the four-cylinder engine. However, the Optima and sportier Mazda6 can make the Camry and other economical, mid-size sedans seem mild and archaic – these competitors are capable of more notable pickup due to smarter performance mechanics like the Mazda6’s high-performance SKYACTIV technology. I recommend hitting speeds of 70 miles-per-hour on your test drive to see how you really feel about each vehicle. The Camry Hybrid system offers immediate response with an EV Drive mode tapping into pure electric propulsion at lower speeds; regenerative braking captures and stores energy in the compact battery pack with the exclusive Hybrid System Indicator showing real-time fuel economy, energy flow, and cruising range using vivid graphics at the Multi-Information Display.

The Green Concern: The gas-powered Camry’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder gets 25-city and 35-highway for 28 miles-per-gallon combined ; the bigger 3.5-liter V6 gets 21 miles-per-gallon city and 30 highway; and the Hybrid 40 miles-per-gallon combined.

A solid choice in any trim or performance system, the 2016 Toyota Camry will keep drivers satisfied from price to performance – yet drivers expecting a little more zest from a mid-size sedan without extra cost should consider test driving the Mazda6 and Optima.

©2016 Katrina Ramser

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