2013 Toyota Camry LE
2013 Toyota Camry LE
2013 Toyota Camry LE. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

The 2013 Toyota Camry LE is a nice car.

It has nice seats. A nice ride. The controls make sense. It gets good fuel economy. It’s quiet. It has a longstanding reputation for bulletproof reliability. It has been the number one selling family sedan in the US for almost as long as Justin Bieber has been walking upright.

For those considering this vanilla institution of mid-size transport, these factual nuggets will be enough. Off to the Toyota store, then. Sure, there are some worthy competitors, but…. ah, why bother?

In fact, why even bother writing a review?

Nice car. Great value. Can’t go wrong. Did I mention it has roomy back seats?

The end. Check please.

Alright, alright. For those of you still interested, read on. And all kidding aside, I do think this seventh-generation Camry, introduced last year as a 2012 model, is a very good car. It goes about its business in such a non-intrusive, transparent manner you could be forgiven for even remembering you own it.

Hey, I just went to Sobeys… or Montreal, and can’t remember a blasted thing about the trip. But I feel relaxed and my back doesn’t hurt. Love this… ah, Camry. Yeah, that’s it.

My tester is a base $23,700 Camry LE with exactly zero options. How refreshing. This is one honest family sedan, and as Billy Joel said “Honesty is hardly ever heard”. Especially with press cars.

So what we have here is the least amount you can spend on a Camry. And after a week of tooling about the neighborhood along with daily one-hour commutes on highway and secondary country roads, I totally get the Camry’s appeal.

It is user-friendly personified, and at this price equipped with everything you’d want with the exception of heated front seats, which don’t show up until you fork out for the leather-lined $30,470 XLE or opt for the $2,115 Leather Package. No available heat in the base fabric seats might not be a good marketing strategy for Canuck-land.

The standard six-speaker audio sounds good and Bluetooth, USB, auto headlights and new-for-2013 back-up camera are standard. The LE has manually adjustable fabric seats that don’t offer much lateral support but certainly score well on long distance comfort. The multifunction steering wheel tilts and telescopes.

2013 Toyota Camry LE2013 Toyota Camry LE2013 Toyota Camry LE2013 Toyota Camry LE
2013 Toyota Camry LE. Click image to enlarge

Riding on 16-inch steel wheels shod with P205/65 all-season tires, this mid-size sedan delivers a compliant ride, which most likely is what Camry LE buyers look for. Naturally, handing limits are low but that doesn’t take away from the linear steering and general dynamic cohesiveness that gives the Camry an easy flowing on-road demeanor. It’s not sloppy. It doesn’t float. No surprises. No bad habits.

On the highway the Camry is quiet and secure, with the engine spinning a relaxed 2,100 rpm at 120 km/h.

Under the hood you’ll find a DOHC 2.5L inline-four that makes 178 hp and 170 lb-ft. It’s a smooth and willing unit, and mates well with the six-speed auto. Again, everything works as it should. The transmission shifts unobtrusively and avoids unnecessary “hunting” through the upper gears when traversing hilly terrain. There’s enough torque for confident passing and highway merging.

The Camry LE is rated at 7.0 L/100 km combined, and real-world driving confirms it to be one of the most fuel efficient in its class. I saw 7.5 L/100 km at the end of my test week. During our mid-size sedan shootout it trailed only the Honda Accord by an essentially insignificant margin.

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