2009 Toyota Camry


Review: 2007 Toyota Camry

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2011.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Rating: 10

Bottom Line:

Toyota is the most successful automaker on the planet, and it's in no small measure because of its top-seller, the Camry. A sixth-generation Camry that debuted for 2007 improves on all of Camry's charms and adds substantially richer looks, to boot.
  • Substantial new looks
  • Better fuel economy than predecessors
  • Nice new interior details
  • Toyota quality concerns
  • No warranties' update
  • Lots of people will have a Camry

The car that's bought new by more Americans than any other, year in and year out, is even better now.

The Toyota Camry sedan, the best-selling auto in the United States, debuted as a new, sixth-generation vehicle for 2007 and has more upscale styling than before, a roomier interior, new features, the most powerful V6 ever and a first-ever gasoline-electric hybrid model.

I guess it's a no-brainer, then, that Camry will continue to be a hit in the U.S., possibly closing in on annual sales of a whopping 500,000.

Fuel-conscious buyers will like that despite improved power in the 4- and 6-cylinder Camry engines, fuel economy ratings for the 2007 Camry models didn't decline.

In fact, though the new 3.5-liter V6 in the Camry generates 58 more horsepower and 28 more lb-ft of torque than the most powerful V6 in the predecessor Camry, the government fuel mileage rating is higher with the new V6. Specifically, the government gave a new-generation Camry with V6 a rating of 22 miles a gallon in city driving and 31 mpg on the highway when it debuted. The V6 is offered only with an automatic transmission.

Four trim levels in addition to hybrid model
There are four trim levels of 2007 gasoline-only Camry—CE, LE, SE and XLE—and one trim level for the Camry Hybrid.

Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price at introduction of the new models was less than $19,000 for a base CE with 4-cylinder engine and manual transmission. This was lower than the corresponding price for a base, 2006 Camry.

But before consumers celebrate, be aware that not all Camry model prices declined. Indeed, the top gasoline model — the luxury-appointed XLE with V6—now has a starting price of more than $28,000 compared with around $26,000 for the predecessor model.

And the Camry Hybrid starts around $26,000 (see separate test drive review on this model).

Good-bye to timid styling
Toyota officials admit that previous Camry cars had mild, unprovocative styling that made the vehicles blend in, rather than stand out, on the roads.

They hope consumers recognize a bolder look for the new-generation Camry.

Wheels now are 16-inchers on the base Camry, up from 15-inch wheels before.

The sporty Camry SE comes standard with 17-inchers and a most-powerful-ever 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter, high-output V6 that's borrowed from the larger Toyota Avalon sedan.

While the wheelbase of the 2007 Camry is 2.2 inches longer than that of the 2006 Camry and the track is increased 1.2 inches, the new car's size, overall, looks about the same as its predecessor's.

Research showed that current Camry owners weren't looking for an appreciably bigger car. They just felt their car was a bit too "ordinary."

New interior, new features
Test driving all the models, I immediately noticed how much quieter this new Camry is compared with its predecessors and how much better the new seats feel.

The interior, updated for a modern look and more user-friendly buttons and knobs, has a sense of quality and luxury.

I appreciated that all Camrys now have steering wheels that both tilt and telescope, which makes it easier for big and small drivers to get comfortable.

Another surprise: Rear seatbacks in the Camry now fold down to allow for additional cargo space in all but the SE model and Camry Hybrid.

There are thoughtful touches. For example, cloth seats in the XLE model are coated by a protein that comes from silkworm cocoons in order to reduce possible skin irritation. This same material is used on women's bras in Japan.

The Camry XLE and Hybrid models come standard with a Plasmacluster ion generator that produces positive and negative ions designed to reduce odors and airborne germs as well as mold growth in the vehicle.

Beginning with the 2007 model year, all Camry audio systems added standard MP3 playback capability and an input jack for portable audio devices such as the Apple iPod.

New or revised engines
All Camry powerplants are new or revised for 2007. Even with more power, they all carry higher fuel economy ratings than they did in the past.

The base, 2007 Camry with 158-horsepower 2.4-liter 4 cylinder and 5-speed automatic transmission was just a tad buzzy in aggressive test driving. But the engine worked competently in everyday driving, and there was no stressing to merge into traffic or pass other vehicles.

In fact, I wondered if the jump up to a Camry V6, given today's gas prices, really is necessary.

But buyers of a new Camry with V6 get that smooth-running, well-managed, 3.5-liter engine from the Avalon that's responsive without being brawny.

They also can get the first-ever 6-speed automatic in a Camry—and this transmission provides for "sport shifting" without a clutch pedal. It worked admirably in a test SE and made the Camry feel like a more expensive car.

Toyota quality issues
Toyota has been in the news lately for publicized issues with oil sludge buildup in some Toyota engines in earlier vehicles, including Camrys. There's also the fact that safety recalls involving Toyota vehicles spiked in 2005 and 2006, so discussion rages about whether Toyota's longstanding quality reputation is bulletproof.

Certainly, the new-generation Camry hasn't been out long enough to show if it has the kind of reliability that consumers have come to expect from Toyota.

But Toyota officials insist they're working to retain Camry's quality awards.

In fact, the Camry's Chief Engineer Kenichiro Fuse said "a greater proportion" of the budget for the sixth-generation Camry "was dedicated to ensuring significant improvements in quality than any project in the past."


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