2017 Toyota Camry: No.1-selling mid-size builds on its rep for comfort and quality

By Mike Blake - Carlisle Events
Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Toyota Camry, first launched 35 years ago as a narrow-body successor to the Carina, has been the best-selling passenger car in America for the past 14 years. The seventh-generation mid-size remains essentially the same as last year, but builds on its rep as the top purveyor of roominess, comfort, quality, safety and performance in the segment.

For 2017, Camry adds value as standard amenities now include the Entune™ Audio Plus multimedia system with a 7-inch touchscreen and Connected Navigation App & JBL® Audio for XLE and XSE trims. The Hybrid trims now also come standard with Qi Wireless Smartphone Charging for compatible phones. And for an extra dash of style, the bold Blue Streak Metallic color, which was on the 2016 Camry Special Edition, is now a regular production color available for the sporty SE and XSE grades.

Assembled in America and packed with American-made amenities, the Base Camry LE comes standard with projector-beam halogen headlamps with auto on/off feature; Daytime Running Lights (with on/off feature; color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with manual folding feature; 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers and P205/65R16 tires; washer-linked intermittent windshield wipers; High Solar Energy-Absorbing glass and bright chrome upper grille and rear trunk garnish.

My top-tier XLE gained such exterior extras as dual chrome-tipped exhaust; sport-tuned suspension, smoked chrome upper grille and rear trunk garnish; Piano Black sport mesh lower front grille; LED Low and Hi Beam Headlights with auto on/off feature; 17-inch alloy wheels with super chrome paint & P215/55R17 tires; power tilt/slide moonroof with one-touch open/close with jam protection, driver and front passenger illuminated vanity mirrors, and rear-seat reading lights; and acoustic noise-reducing front windshield.

Inside the Camry XLE, you get a backup camera; multi-function in-key remote keyless entry; cruise control; power door locks with shift-linked automatic locking feature with anti-lockout feature; power windows with driver and passenger-side auto up/down, jam protection in driver and passenger position and retained-power features; rear window defogger with timer; a Smart Key System on front doors and trunk with Push Button Start and remote illuminated entry; leather-trimmed multi-stage heated front seats with seatback pockets; 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support; 4-way power-adjustable front passenger seat; leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic 3-spoke steering wheel with audio, and Bluetooth hands-free phone voice command controls; dual-zone auto climate control with air filter and rear-seat vents and more.

With sleek and bold architecture, a tall, wide and confident lower grille, and tail lamps that wrap around into the tapered rear quarters for a sophisticated appearance, Camry continues with mid-size dimensions of 190.9 inches in length, 71.7 inches in width and height of 57.9 inches on a wheelbase of 109.3 inches. Ground clearance is 6.1 inches, and my test Camry XLE with the larger of two engine choices, had a curbweight of 3460 pounds.

Camry offers three engine choices. The economical 178 hp/170 lbs.-ft. of torque 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine powers the LE and SE trims, and is coupled with a standard six-speed automatic transmission, for an EPA rating of 24 mpg/city and 33 mpg highway. The larger engine that powered my test ride is a 268 hp/248 lbs.-ft. of torque 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 with chain-driven camshaft and Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence. With the six-speed automatic, this powertrain has an EPA estimate of 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway, and my week of mixed-use driving averaged of 24.4 mpg. The third engine option is a Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain that nets 200hp and is EPA estimated 42 mpg/ city, 39 mpg/highway, 41 mpg combined fuel economy.

My 3.5-liter test engine accelerated impressively in all ranges and was a quiet competitor on the track with a 6.2-second zero-to-60mph sprint and a 14.6-second quarter-mile.

Inside, Camry seats five comfortably, and interior dimensions are unchanged, with 38.8 inches of headroom up front and 38.1 in the second row, legroom of 41.6 inches in row one and 38.9 for row two, and shoulder room of 58.0 and 56.6.

Awarded a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, when equipped with the Pre-Collision System that includes automatic emergency braking, Camry focuses on safety with the Star Safety System™ that includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, 4-wheel Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology; 10 standard air bags: dual-stage advanced SRS front airbags; front and rear seat-mounted side airbags; side curtain airbags and a driver’s and front passenger’s knee airbag; and such design features as an energy-absorbing collapsible steering column, front and rear energy-absorbing crumple zones and side-impact door beams.

Available in LE, SE, XSE, XLE and three Hybrid trims, the 2017 Camry in LE trim starts at $23,070 with a 2.5-liter engine; the SE starts at $23,840; the XSE starts at $26,310 and my test XLE also based at $24,310 with the smaller engine. The Hybrid trims start at $26,790.

My test XLE in Crème Brulee Mica paint, went with more power, and the 3.5-liter engine upped the ante by $6270. The Technology Package with Safety Connect®, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Entune™ Premium JBL® Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite and 50 State Emissions added $2475; body side moldings added $209; all-weather floor liners added $139; door edge guards added $125; door sill protectors added $199; mudguards added $85; and a remote engine starter added $499. With delivery, processing and handling fees of $895, by test Camry XLE stickered at $35,996.

Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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