First Drive: 2010 Toyota Camry and Highlander four cylinder models toyota green scene1 first drives
2010 Toyota Camry LE. Click image to enlarge

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Toyota Canada

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By Chris Chase; photos by Bill Petro

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Kingston, Ontario – It seems to be a given that any new car will be larger and more powerful than the one it replaces; after all, this is what the market demands. The real challenge for any automaker, though, is combining more space, safety and performance with continuing improvements in fuel efficiency.

And this was the purpose behind Toyota’s “More power, less fuel” event, held in Kingston in mid-June. Journalists were invited to drive Toyota and Lexus’ newest, most fuel-efficient models in a variety of conditions, including rush hour traffic and relaxed rural routes.

The event included the Corolla and Matrix compacts, with their 1.8-litre engines; the RAV4 crossover with the 2.5-litre engine that was new in 2009; the Venza, with its 2.7-litre four-cylinder; and we got to sample the 2010 Prius in a Hybrid Challenge event (covered in a separate article by Grant Yoxon). The 2010 Camry line includes a new four-cylinder engine plus new automatic and manual transmissions to go with it; the Highlander crossover also adds a four-cylinder to its powertrain choices, and the Tundra pickup gets a brand-new 4.6-litre V8 as its entry-level engine.

On the Lexus side, the company brought along its 2010 RX 350/450h (hybrid); the 2009 GS 450h hybrid; the IS 250/350, ISF and the brand-new IS C convertible; and the LS 600hL luxury sedan.

First Drive: 2010 Toyota Camry and Highlander four cylinder models toyota green scene1 first drives
2010 Toyota Camry LE. Click image to enlarge

Autos has covered most of the cars and trucks listed above in some way. Read on for impressions of the new four-cylinder-powered Camry and Highlander. The IS convertible and 4.6-litre Tundra will be covered in the near future.

2010 Toyota Camry four-cylinder

The 2010 Camry gets a new, 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine to replace 2009′s 2.4-litre. One notable addition to the line is a four-cylinder XLE model, marking the first time since the Camry’s 2007 redesign that the top-line trim could be had with four-cylinder power.

All four-cylinder Camrys get new transmissions, too. In LE and XLE models, a new six-speed automatic is standard, replacing last year’s five-speed. The SE gets a six-speed manual, which also replaces 2009′s five-speed; the new automatic is optional with SE trim.

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