On the Road -Toyota Camry XSE [VIDEO]
Some people used to describe the Toyota Camry as a car for people who don’t care about cars. That wasn’t entirely fair. It wasn’t entirely wrong either.
That’s because, well, let’s face it. The Camry was never going to inspire an owners club, a racing series, a line of designer driving gloves or serve as Bruce Willis’s ride in Die Hard 19. No, the Camry was a transportation device pure and simple.
The design of the Camry was perfectly adequate, the interior design was perfectly adequate, the handling was perfectly competent, the power was perfectly adequate. There was nothing about this car to offend anyone. There was also nothing about this car to inspire anyone.
Well, Toyota got tired of being everybody’s favorite metaphor for boring.
So they apparently took the design staff, force fed them tons of sugary donuts and Boston cream pie and when they were suitably buzzed, handed them pencils and said, “draw us a car.”
The result is a swoopy, scoopy hot rod that you would never mistake for a Camry, with a drivetrain that takes it up a notch as well.
And if you’re Toyota, that’s just fine because the Camry is still the best selling mid-sized sedan in America, but now you don’t have to smile like the mother of the nerdy math whiz. You can smile like the mother of the quarterback who is the math whiz.
Inside, the shapes are futuristic, with dramatic angles that make the driver’s seat feel like Capt. Kirk’s command chair.
The trunk, by the way, is not quite large enough to swallow Rhode Island, but it is close.
Power on the L models comes from the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an underwhelming 203 hard-working ponies and a softer suspension setup. But the car does feel peppy…yeah that’s the word…peppy and mileage is a combined 31 per gallon. Handling is biased toward comfort, but the Camry will never let you get yourself in trouble by overcooking it into a curve…nor will it make you want to try. It even comes with a more subtle front end
That’s why you want to think about the S series cars. Out XSE model had the 3.5-liter, 301 horsepower V6 and a nose that makes it look like the love child of a Formula 1 race car and an F-16.
And the suspension on our test car is firmer than any Camry I’ve driven since dinosaurs walked the earth, and the car is now actually fun to drive, and not just a transportation module.
0-60 comes up in 5.8 seconds, and economy with the new V6 isn’t bad either at 22 city – 32 highway.
But, all this goodness comes at a price. Base for our XSE is $35,800 and with a few cool options, our test car was out the door for $38,220.
Admittedly, that’s a lot for a Toyota Camry, but only if you are thinking about the old plow horse it used to be. But in this case, you pay more for Secretariat, and that is a horse of a different color.
That’s our road test, I’m Roger Gray and I’ll see you on the road.