2014 TOYOTA CAMRY WILL REMAIN POPULAR

ToyotaCamryHybridPage

By Tom Crosby

The Toyota Camry has dominated the mid-size sedan market, having been the best selling car for 15 of the last 16 years.

The 2014 Camry continues to be the major market player, having entered its seventh generation since 1983 with a 2012 makeover that enhanced its leadership position.

Four Camry models have different features, – entry-level L, LE, top-of-the line XLE and sporty SE.

Our test drive was the XLE hybrid (also offered in LE trim), which was surprisingly quick, yet was gas-consuming stingy. Among $3,003 in options was a $1,050 navigation and Entune Package.

Virtually every Camry buyer will want this because of its rich voice communication and electronic information features like Bluetooth and ties to numerous apps such as Bing, Pandora, Open Table and real time info like traffic, movie times, weather, stocks and sports.

Outside, the Camry’s profile is clean and refined, with minimal chrome – windows, grille and badging only – and a front muscular look with a low air dam between fog lamps under a protruding front fascia.

Inside, occupants will find ample room in all seats – an improvement made in 2012.

The padded and stitched dashboard is a nice visual touch and two-tone leather strips brackets recessed EV and USB outlets under the dashboard with flip down cover as part of Toyota’s high-tech outreach to buyers.

Brushed aluminum and some chrome add interior style to the Camry’s pleasing interior with typical Toyota strong fit and finish.

Cold weather dwellers will appreciate the Camry’s non-frost windshield and robust climate controls.

Gauges and controls are easily reached and readable. Some data on the dashboard screen can be confusing, like audio settings and searches.

Knick-knack space is fine, with a deep sliding center armrest but trunk space is hindered by metal-hydride battery pack and spare tire. Rear seats don’t fold flat; there is a pass-through.

Performance is a Camry strong suit. A suspension system with independent MacPherson strut in front and independent dual link in rear, both with stabilizer bars, absorbs road imperfections for a comfortable and refined ride.

Handling was responsive and precise on 17-inch alloy wheels in any of the three driving modes – Eco (which reduces rpms when not needed), Normal and Sport (which keeps rpms higher with the continuously variable transmission for extra acceleration).

The Camry hybrid has sparked competition among manufacturers with the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord hybrids nipping at Camry’s heels for sales.

LIKES: Mpg, looks, power, handling, ride
DISLIKES: Cargo space
BOTTOM LINE: Hybrid sedan wars still have Camry number one

FACT FILE: TOYOTA CAMRY HYBRID XLE

  • Base price w/destination charge $28,480
  • Curb weight 3,441 lbs.
  • Wheelbase 109.3 inches
  • Length 189.2 inches
  • Width 71.7 inches
  • Engine specs 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder, DOHC
  • AC magnet synchronous motor
  • Horsepower 200 hp combined gas/electric
  • Torque 156 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm (gas)
  • 199 lb.-ft. @ 0-1,500 rpm (electric)
  • Transmission Continuous variable transmission
  • EPA Rating 40 mpg city and 38 mpg highway
  • Range 17-gallon tank, unleaded fuel
  • Performance 0-60 in 7.6 seconds