August 24, 2006
Completely redesigned for 2007, the Toyota Camry features an all-new V6, a more powerful four-cylinder engine, and a Hybrid version. Overall length remains the same, but the 2007 version has a longer wheelbase and is slightly wider and lower, with new exterior styling and interior design.
The new V6 is a 3.5-litre that produces 268 hp and replaces the 3.0-litre and 3.3-litre versions available in 2006, while the 2.4-litre inline four now makes 158 hp, up four horses over 2006. Both use variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) and are related as Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEV). The 2.4-litre comes with a five-speed automatic or five-speed manual; the V6 mates exclusively to a six-speed automatic with sequential manual mode.
The new Hybrid uses a 2.4-litre inline four mated to Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) electric motor, and uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
All models feature anti-lock brakes, side and curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag, front seatbelt pretensioners and all-position three-point lap and shoulder belts.
The Camry line-up starts with the LE, which comes with the 2.4-litre with five-speed automatic, CD/MP3 player, air conditioning, 60/40 folding rear seatbacks, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, cruise control, 16-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers and heated power mirrors. Two option packages can be added: an LE B package of 16-inch alloy wheels with locks, splash guards, power driver’s seat, dual illuminated vanity mirrors and self-dimming rearview mirror with compass; or an LE C package, which builds on the B package with garage door opener and power sunroof.
The sportier SE uses the 2.4-litre with five-speed manual (the five-speed automatic can be added as an option) and adds a sport suspension, strut tower bar, front sport seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, rear bench seat with pass-through but no folding seatbacks, three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels, side skirts, rear spoiler, sport-style grille, chrome tailpipe and fog lamps. An optional SE C package adds power passenger seat, leather seats, garage door opener, power sunroof, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, self-dimming rearview mirror with compass, and with the automatic transmission, heated seats.
The LE V6 uses the 3.5-litre with six-speed automatic; it has the features of the four-cylinder LE, but adds eight-way power driver’s seat, 16-inch alloy wheels, splash guards and chrome tailpipe. An optional LE V6 B package adds stability control, traction control, garage door opener, power sunroof, dual illuminated vanity mirrors and self-dimming rearview mirror with compass.
The SE V6 also uses the 3.5-litre with six-speed and builds on the four-cylinder SE, but adds self-dimming rearview mirror with compass and garage door opener. An optional SE V6 B package adds JBL audio with six-disc CD, eight speakers and auxiliary input jack, Bluetooth capability, steering wheel audio controls, power passenger seat, heated leather seats, power sunroof, dual illuminated vanity mirrors and anti-theft system.
The XLE V6 adds JBL six-CD changer with eight speakers and auxiliary input jack, Bluetooth capability, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated leather seats with four-way power passenger adjust, 40/20/40 reclining rear bench seat with pass-through but no folding seatbacks, multi-information display, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, simulated woodgrain trim, anti-theft system, Smart Key system with pushbutton start, rear window sunshade, 16-inch alloy wheels, splash guards, power sunroof, and chrome grille and tailpipe.
The Hybrid comes in a single trim line, which includes JBL six-CD changer with eight speakers and auxiliary input jack, Bluetooth capability, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, 60/40 folding rear seat, multi-information display, Smart Key system with pushbutton start, garage door opener, 16-inch alloy wheels and LED taillights. An optional B package adds four-way power adjustable passenger seat, heated leather seats, power sunroof and dual illuminated vanity mirrors.
The new Camry is a tight, well-built package with sharp handling, although the base models would benefit considerably with an upgrade from the stock tires; the ride is very smooth and even washboard roads don’t knock it off course. The sporty SE, with its manual transmission and tighter suspension, is a welcome addition in a segment that seldom pays much attention to such a configuration. The interior is well done, with numerous storage cubbies and an elegant glass faceplate on the centre stack that glows blue at night. Rear legroom is good and it’s easy to enter and exit, but the very long rear door makes it difficult to open in cramped parking lots without dinging one’s neighbour. Overall, the Camry is well done and a lot of car for the money.
The four-cylinder can be buzzy when pushed, and while it’s enough engine for city driving, you never forget its size; the smoother, more powerful V6 is a better choice. The Hybrid features Toyota’s tried-and-true Hybrid Synergy Drive, but as with all hybrids, do your homework: all hybrids return the most savings when you adapt your driving habits to them.