2007 Toyota Camry

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Review: 2007 Toyota Camry

By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

Top-selling car is more desirable, but remains mainstream transportation.
Pros:
  • Slicker styling
  • More power
  • New hybrid version
Cons:
  • More practical than fun
  • Touchy hybrid brake pedal
  • Rather small hybrid trunk

Toyota intends to keep its midsize Camry the top-selling car in America with its redesigned sixth-generation 2007 model.

Toyota must stay sharp with its front-wheel-drive Camry sedan because rivals such as Hyundai offer high-quality cars with more features and a longer warranty for less money. Such features count a lot in the mainstream auto market that the Camry long has dominated.

The new Camry thus is larger and roomier, with more power. In keeping with its heavy emphasis on gas/electric hybrids, Toyota offers the new Camry for the first time as a hybrid.

High Hybrid Fuel Economy
That hybrid provides an impressive, estimated 40 mpg in the city and 38 on highways, but is the second most expensive Camry at $25,900. (The top-line $27,820 XLE V6 with an automatic transmission is the most costly.)

The Camry has the same overall length of the 2002-2006 model, but its wheelbase is up from 107.1 to 109.3 inches for a better ride and more interior room. Its track has been increased, with wheels moved to the far corners of the body for a sportier appearance and improved handling.

Sleeker Styling
The new Camry looks sleeker because Toyota wants to attract more younger buyers to it. And there is a sporty SE version with special interior trim and unique front and rear fascias. The SE has larger 17-inch (up from 16-inch) wheels and chassis modifications that include a firmer sport suspension. Improving torsional rigidity are underbody stabilizing braces and a V-shaped brace between the trunk and cabin. Brakes are larger, and the SE sits a bit lower.

The Camry covers all wallet sizes by coming in a variety of trim levels (CE, LE, SE, XLE and Hybrid.) All are well-equipped and cost from $18,270 to $27,820.

Powertrain Variety
The standard 2.4-liter 158-horsepower 4-cylinder engine has added a few horsepower and been upgraded for enhanced performance and smoothness. It can be had with a 5-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic. Fuel economy is an estimated 24 mpg city and 34 highway with the manual and 24 and 33 with the automatic.

Also offered is a new, smooth 3.5-liter V6 with 268 horsepower—up from 210—that works with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It provides 22 city, 31 highway.

The Hybrid has a combined 187 horsepower and uses a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Its drive system varies power between gas and electric—or combines both, if necessary.

Fast Hybrid
The Hybrid drives mostly like a conventional Camry and is pretty fast, with a good 65-75 mph passing time. It even has a slightly faster 0-60 mph time (7.7 seconds) than the 4-cylinder version, along with a quiet interior.

However, Hybrid drawbacks include rather heavy steering and a touchy brake pedal because the brake system is tied to Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system. The Hybrid's trunk also is smaller, although usefully shaped. It has a fold-down rear seat to increase the cargo area—despite the battery pack in the trunk.

So far, the Camry is the third hybrid vehicle in Toyota's lineup (excluding models from the automaker's higher-line Lexus division). Other Toyota brand hybrids are the Prius sedan and Highlander SUV.

Midrange Popularity
Toyota has had much success with hybrids, so the new Camry Hybrid should do well. Still, most Camry buyers probably will continue to opt for the midrange LE trim level with a 4-cylinder engine and automatic transmission.

All new Camrys have anti-lock brakes, front-seat side and side-curtain airbags—and, for the first time, a driver knee airbag.

The Hybrid has a standard traction/anti-skid system, which is optional for other trim levels. Only the SE lacks a split-folding rear seat because of its V-shaped brace, although it has a center pass-through area from the trunk.

The XLE V6 has standard leather upholstery, which costs extra for the SE and 4-cylinder XLE versions. A new keyless entry system is standard for the Hybrid and optional for the XLE V6.

All trim levels have a reduced turning radius for better maneuverability and larger tires for better grip and road feel. But the SE is the only Camry that can be considered fun to drive. The other models feel rather soft when driven even moderately hard.

Camry Emphasis
Toyota's emphasis with the Camry still is on practicality, comfort, reliability and refinement, not driving kicks.

Performance with the 4-cylinder and automatic transmission is average, but the considerably faster V6 versions are more costly. However, most Camry buyers don't seem to mind the 4-cylinder performance.

Roomy Interior
There is plenty of room in the generally upscale interior, particularly in the enlarged rear-seat area. Redesigned front seats have more fore-aft adjustment for taller occupants, and a more-forward cowl enhances the sense of openness and room.

The steering wheel now telescopes, besides tilting, and larger gauges can be easily read. Slimmer audio and climate controls are easier to use. Cabin storage is good, and an information display provides outside temperature readings, estimated range, average speed, average fuel consumption and a trip odometer.

A new dual-zone automatic climate control system in XLE and Hybrid versions reduces airborne mold spores, microbes, fungi, odors, germs and bacteria inside the car. But the navigation system (optional for SE, XLE and Hybrid versions) complicates some audio functions.

The large cargo area can be made more spacious in Camrys with 60/40 fold-down rear seatbacks.

Given the Camry's sparkling track record, it's no surprise that the improved 2007 version continues to be a perennial "best buy" among midsize sedans.

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BB02 - 7/23/2014 9:31:02 PM