2008 Toyota Camry Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 29, 2008

The 2008 Toyota Camry won't set hearts racing, but it's still one of the best choices for those looking for a reliable and roomy sedan.

TheCarConnection.com perused a wide range of published reviews on the new 2008 Toyota Camry to produce this comprehensive one. To help pick out the Toyota Camry’s strengths and weaknesses versus the competition, TheCarConnection.com’s editors have also driven and reviewed the 2008 Toyota Camry firsthand.

The top-selling 2008 Toyota Camry mid-size, front-wheel-drive sedan was thoroughly revised and updated for 2007, with exterior styling and interior changes. A 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 is available, but the standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which is good for 158 hp. The V-6 comes with a six-speed automatic transmission; the four can be ordered with either a five-speed manual or automatic transmission.

The 2008 Toyota Camry comes in several different models, ranging from a base CE up to the sporty SE and luxurious XLE. The SE grade gets stiffer suspension settings and some other performance improvements, and because of an additional rear brace, the backseat doesn't fold down as it does in the other models. Even in the SE, the ride is comfortable and well controlled, though it's downright soft with base four-cylinder models--don't expect sporty handling. The 2008 Toyota Camry has a very roomy interior, with plenty of legroom in back for most adults and enough space for five.

With a design that's understated but upscale, the interior of the 2008 Toyota Camry looks good and its controls are intuitive, but some of the materials seem a little cheap--especially at the top of the range, considering that prices can exceed $35,000 for a loaded XLE V-6--and several of our test cars have had unimpressive build quality. All trim levels come with A/C, power windows and door locks, and a CD stereo standard. A 440-watt JBL audio system (with Bluetooth technology) is available, as is a DVD-based navigation system, making the Camry--at least in features--feel like a luxury car when so equipped.

Review continues below

All Camrys come with a knee airbag for the driver as well as full-length curtain and front seat side-impact airbags, for seven airbags in total. Traction control is standard, but stability control remains optional, even on pricier, more powerful V-6 models. Other than that omission, the 2008 Toyota Camry does quite well in safety, including five-star results in the federal government's crash tests and "good" results from the insurance industry tests, except for a "marginal" result in the rear-impact test.

7

2008 Toyota Camry

Styling

The 2008 Toyota Camry inches toward stylishness, inside and out.

Last year brought a complete redesign of the Camry; Toyota gave it more character and made it a bit sexier than in the past. The 2008 Toyota Camry’s shape hasn’t changed much in a year, and reviewers across the Web think its styling is a step forward.

The Camry was "extensively restyled and upgraded for 2007,” Cars.com reports of the Toyota; 2008’s Camry is “unchanged but for some cosmetic exterior and interior choices." They go on to say that "the hallmark of this sixth-generation Camry is Toyota's effort to shake the stodgy, plain reputation the car had developed in some circles." Kelley Blue Book agrees regarding the Camry; Toyota’s latest is "a departure from the upright styles of previous generations."

The 2008 Toyota Camry is “a departure from the upright style of previous models,” Automedia says, one that “shares Toyota's shapely new sedan look with its larger stablemate Avalon and upscale cousin Lexus ES.” Motor Trend believes that “the sexier styling addresses the major complaint voiced by current Camry owners--too vanilla.” Automobile says of the Toyota, 2008’s edition is “inching its way from the bland,” though “its eyebrow headlamps, high shoulders, thick waist, and high rear deck are all overly familiar styling themes, so this car hardly represents some sort of design breakthrough.” A special SE sport edition “looks decidedly more athletic than the others,” Automedia concludes.

The 2008 Toyota Camry’s interior is “intelligently designed,” Automobile thinks. It’s also “more modern and stylish than before,” according to Automedia, which notes the clear gauges in the Toyota: 2008’s Camry is improved over the previous car, as “instruments are larger, more readable and better illuminated, with a different look for each model.”

8

2008 Toyota Camry

Performance

The 2008 Toyota Camry finally has a curve-hugger in the SE edition–and V-6 versions have strong acceleration—but other trims are ordinary performers.

Reviewers hail the 2008 Toyota Camry sedan as a competent, quick sedan—and give kudos to its new sport model.

The 2008 Toyota Camry offers both a 158-hp four-cylinder engine and a 3.5-liter V-6 model that has 268 hp. Edmunds notes that the V-6 “is available on all trims except the base model.”

Automedia feels the “upgraded 4-cylinder provides adequate power with good fuel economy” in the Toyota; 2008’s Camry has a V-6 engine that made reviewers across the Web sit up and notice. ConsumerGuide says, "in our tests a XLE V6 did 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds…the Camry does offer some zip in its V6 models.” Motor Trend calls the V-6 “burly,” and notes the 2008 Toyota Camry SE with the V-6 “should be capable of reaching 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds, a feat that'll make many moms and dads after-school superheroes.”

Edmunds outlines the transmission choices in the Camry: with the four-cylinder Toyota, 2008’s Camry offers “a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic, while the V6 sends its power through a standard six-speed automatic.” The automatic was a favorite at Motor Trend: “The new six-speed auto sets a fine example for shifting with speed and seamlessness,” they write.

Cars.com reports gas mileage is strong in the Toyota; 2008’s Camry has estimated fuel economy ratings of “21/31 mpg city/highway for the four-cylinder with manual or automatic, [and] 19/28 for the V-6."

Handling has never been a strong suit of the Toyota Camry; 2008’s version is somewhat striking in that it offers an SE version that “truly delivers on its sporty promise,” Motor Trend says. Other versions get lower marks. ConsumerGuide notes that "most models--SE excepted--are spoiled by marked cornering lean from their comfort-biased suspensions," and Car and Driver agrees: “The Camry’s chassis engineers prioritized creamy ride quality above all, and as a consequence it’s hard for us to perceive anything sporty about this car.” Cars.com thinks the “SE still rides more comfortably than the Honda Accord,” while other versions are even more “compliant.” Automobile observes that the 2008 Toyota Camry SE “doesn't have the sort of body control that begs you to throw it into the sweeping curves on the winding roads above Santa Barbara, but if you do so anyway, the chassis digs in and hangs on without too much protest, and the car loses grip predictably and controllably,” but feels that “all Camry models still suffer from numb and uncommunicative steering.”

8

2008 Toyota Camry

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Toyota Camry offers all the comfort and quality of some of its more expensive competitors, though interior trim isn’t perfect and space is down.

The 2008 Toyota Camry continues the brand’s long history of comfort and quality, but a few reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com pointed out issues with the new car’s interior trim.

ConsumerGuide feels "every Camry is a class leader in powertrain refinement and passenger comfort." However, Automedia points out some of the measures taken to preserve interior room of the Toyota; 2008’s Camry has slimmer front seatbacks and more travel for front seats, as well as “larger footwells and a half-inch more legroom better accommodate back-seat occupants, and the rear seatbacks recline in XLE models.”

Still, there’s less room in this Camry; Toyota trimmed a bit of space compared to past versions. “By the numbers, cargo and towing are what took a hit,” Cars.com says. “The trunk volume has decreased from 16.7 cubic feet to a maximum of 15 cubic feet in the CE and LE. The higher trim levels measure 14.5 cubic feet.” Toyota took “a major step backward to replace folding backseats in the SE and XLE with small pass-thru openings.” Motor Trend points out that “inside, passenger volume is down 0.4 to 2.1 cubic feet, but rear legroom is up half an inch,” and it feels “Toyota engineers have added room where it'll be appreciated and deleted space where it won't be missed.”

Edmunds commends the 2008 Toyota Camry’s "nice selection of cubbies and compartments to collect whatever personal effects that may be accompanying you."

There’s a generally high level of fit and finish inside the 2008 Toyota Camry, but it’s not perfect. ConsumerGuide reports of the Camry, Toyota’s "cabin materials are generally solid and serviceable, with soft-touch surfaces and inoffensive faux metal or wood trim." Car and Driver observes, though, “downsides to the latest Camry include some disappointing interior plastics, inconsistent fit and finish.”

7

2008 Toyota Camry

Safety

The 2008 Toyota Camry has great crash test performance and a respectable array of safety features, but stability control is an option.

The 2008 Toyota Camry rated fairly well among reviewers for its safety features and crash test results, though some complain about the lack of certain features in the standard equipment list.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the 2008 Toyota Camry earns five-star ratings for all front and side-impact tests. It also scores four stars in rollover protection. With the Camry, Toyota earns the top rating of “good” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for front and side impact protection as well.

With this Toyota, 2008’s Camry comes with a knee airbag for the driver as well as full-length curtain and front seat side-impact airbags, for seven airbags in total. Traction control is standard, but stability control remains optional, even on pricier, more powerful V-6 models. Cars.com observes, “That it's available on any trim level is a plus. That the Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Passat include it standard is a minus for the Camry and other midsize sedans.” Cars.com also praises the "driver's knee airbag," which is designed "to keep the occupant from sliding down and forward (submarining) in a collision."

ConsumerGuide points out that the 2008 Toyota Camry has an "emergency inside trunklid release,” which is a new feature required of cars so that people aren’t trapped inside them.

8

2008 Toyota Camry

Features

Features are a priority for Toyota; 2008’s Camry comes nicely equipped and offers lots of options.

Reviewers agree that the 2008 Toyota Camry offers a variety of features that bulk up the Camry’s luxury quotient—as well as its price tag.

The Toyota 2008 Camry offers the following trim levels: CE, LE, sporty SE, and premium XLE. Even on the base CE Camry, Toyota installs a full list of standard features, according to Motor Trend: “16-inch wheels, a tire-pressure warning system, a six-speaker CD audio system, power windows and door locks, cruise control, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic throttle control, and seven airbags.”

Kelley Blue Book reports that in the Camry, Toyota offers "additional major options for most of these models include a JBL premium audio system with Bluetooth, power moonroof, leather interior, heated seats, navigation system and the 'Smart Key System' with push-button start (on the XLE with V6)."

Edmunds praises the Toyota 2008 Camry and says "most buyers' needs should be satisfied by the assorted trim levels." However, they do note that "properly equipped, the Camry usually ends up more expensive than most midsize sedans."

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