The Toyota Camry is America’s best-selling car, with nine-and-a-half million sold since its debut. So what is it about this American-built roomy five-seater that has us so hooked?
By Tara Weingarten
THE BIG PICTURE
We Americans love our comfort. We like spacious legroom, and luxuries like well-made audio systems. We want reliable transportation that requires little maintenance and we don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it. That’s why the 2013 Toyota Camry has had such success. Lots of car, good price.
The 2013 Toyota Camry has great contemporary looks, solid safety features, excellent fuel efficiency, and cool technology. If you’re in the market for a hybrid, check out 2013 Camry Hybrid. It comes in two trim levels — the LE and XLE — and gets fantastic fuel economy (43 city / 39 hwy for the LE model) in a roomy mid-size sedan.
HOW DOES IT DRIVE?
I drove the Toyota Camry LE model, which runs on 87 octane gasoline (the cheapest kind – yay!) and the XLE Hybrid, which is Camry’s top of the line. Both handle very well, and feel stable both on curvy mountain roads and at highway speed.
Brakes are excellent, as is the steering, which feels direct and connected. The entire ride feel is smooth, similar to the ethereal quality that Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, provides to its owners. Traveling over the pockmarked streets of Los Angeles, the Camry says, “no biggie.” Bumps and potholes are reduced to slight annoyances instead of jarring experiences. The base level L model comes with 16” wheels standard, the XLE has 17” wheels included.
Fuel economy on all six models is very good, and in the case of the LE and XLE Hybrids, excellent. The entry-level Camry L sees 25 mpg city / 35 mpg hwy. The top-of-the-line XLE gasoline model gets the same numbers. In the XLE Hybrid, those figures jump to 40 city / 38 hwy. But you’ll pay $2,675 more for the hybrid version. Your commute will tell you whether the numbers make sense to pop for the hybrid.
AN INSIDE JOB
It’s here that the 2013 Toyota Camry does its handiwork. The sedan’s best asset is its interior roominess and comfort. For families that spend long hours in the car, a ride in the Camry won’t make you fatigued.
And let’s say your eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Though I don’t yet need reading glass, I do appreciate the large letters on buttons for windows, the side mirror settings, and on the dashboard for the audio system and climate controls. The leather-wrapped steering wheel offers hands-free Bluetooth connectivity for the phone, as well as buttons for the sound system, so you’ll never have to take your hands off the wheel to make a call or change the radio station.
My XLE test car has a leather-look dashboard with contrasting stitching. It has the same appearance as the leather-covered dashboards available in luxury brands. The ultra-glossy metallic-tech-grain trim on the doors, gear shift knob and parts of the dashboard is elegant and modern. Door handles are chromed, for a luxe look.
The XLE trim level also comes with two 12V chargers up front, so you and a passenger each can charge cell phones. Sun visors for driver and passenger have sliding extensions — an excellent feature as the sun sets, and one that many automakers don’t think about including. And backseat riders don’t get left out of the fun. They get A/C vents, which aren’t always offered.
My only gripe with the Camry’s interior is the cloth seating in my XLE Hybrid tester. It felt a bit cheap, and the pattern was bland. A little excitement with better touch-ability would have been appreciated.
How do 10 airbags sound to you? The thought of all of them going off at once elicits visions of a pinball game. But in the event of an accident, how reassuring it is to know that all sides of the car’s interior are protected.
To help in the event of a skid or spin, Toyota’s Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control technologies take over the braking system and find traction for the car to move ahead in a safe manner. Whiplash-Injury-Lessening seats are designed to minimize the possibility of injury in a rear-end accident.
Optional safety features include a Blind Spot Monitor, which alerts you when a car, person or object appears in your blind spot. The backup camera shows you what’s in your way as you backup. And the Safety Connect system offers emergency roadside assistance, automatic collision notification to the authorities in the event of an accident, and will locate your vehicle, should it get stolen
GIZMOS AND TECH
Entune is Toyota’s proprietary telemetrics technology that connects your smartphone mobile device, such as an iPhone or Android, to your navigation and audio system. Using the Bluetooth in your car, or through a cable, you can hook up apps like Open table to make a dinner reservations, get current sports scores, buy movie tickets, check local traffic conditions, and use Bing to find local stores, gas stations, and points of interest.
It's hard to argue with success. Practical, reliable, full of creature comforts, fuel efficient, and made in America. A family favorite.
Comfortable ride and spacious cabin
Entune technology let's you buy movie tickets, use Pandora music and make a dinner reservation with voice recognition..
Less than gorgeous seating fabric