2010 Toyota Camry Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
September 23, 2009

The 2010 Toyota Camry is competent in all respects but certainly not trendsetting, and it remains one of the smartest mid-size sedan choices.

TheCarConnection.com studied a range of reviews pertaining to the 2010 Toyota Camry to produce a comprehensive full review. TheCarConnection.com’s editors have also driven various versions of the Camry and report here with firsthand impressions of its strengths and weaknesses versus rival mid-size sedans.

The best-selling Toyota Camry sedan was last completely redesigned for 2007, and for 2010 it gains a number of improvements, including a new engine, slightly different front and rear styling, and better safety equipment.

The Camry now stands as one of the most conservative-looking sedan profiles, but Toyota makes an effort to dress it up a little bit for 2010 with a new grille, front bumper, and restyled tail lamps. Wheels are upgraded to 10-spoke 16-inchers on the XLE, while the SE still runs on 17-inch alloys but with a new design.

A 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 remains available, but the newly standard engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, making 169 hp. SE four-cylinder models get a more powerful version good for 179 hp. Four-cylinder Camry models come with either a six-speed manual or new six-speed automatic transmission, while the V-6 comes only with the automatic. The four-cylinder engine has plenty of power for most types of driving, but the V-6 is the choice for those who often travel with a full load or need strong high-speed passing ability. Both engines are surprisingly quiet and refined, and fuel economy is better than before with the four-cylinder, at 22 mpg city, 33 highway with the manual and 22/32 mpg with the automatic.

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With those two engines and a seven different models in all, ranging from the base (and quite stark) CE model to the sporty SE and luxurious XLE, the 2010 Toyota Camry can satisfy almost any mid-size sedan shopper’s need. Most Camry models have a rather soft ride, though the SE grade gets stiffer suspension settings and other performance improvements. Throughout the lineup (except the SE), don’t expect sporty handling.

The 2010 Toyota Camry has a very roomy interior, with plenty of legroom in back for most adults and enough space for five. Overall, the design is a little understated and conservative yet upscale; controls are intuitive, not needlessly complex. The only issue remains materials that seem unimpressive, especially at the top of the model range, where prices can exceed $35,000 for a loaded XLE V-6, and TheCarConnection.com has seen multiple test vehicles in previous model years with flaws and unimpressive build quality.

The safety feature set of the Camry is improved this year. Front side airbags, full-length side-curtain bags, and a driver’s knee bag are standard across the model line, and electronic stability control is newly standard for 2010. Crash-test results are solid for the Camry, with "good" results from the IIHS—except for a "marginal" rear-impact result—and five-star results from the federal government.

The base Camry model includes air conditioning, power windows and locks, and a CD sound system—enough to please the most frugal buyers, especially considering the sticker price is around $20,000. Newly optional on base and LE Camry models is an upgraded audio system with Bluetooth, a USB port, MP3, and streaming music capability. A 440-watt JBL audio system (with Bluetooth technology) is standard on the XLE, as are keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, heated mirrors, and a garage-door opener. A DVD-based navigation system, heated seats, leather upholstery, and a Smart Key entry system with push-button start are all optional on the XLE and SE.

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2010 Toyota Camry

Styling

The 2010 Toyota Camry is marginally different from its predecessor, but still characterized by move-along, nothing-to-see-here styling.

Toyota’s venerable Camry lineup, which has been the best-selling mid-size sedan in the United States for years, gets a minor face-lift for 2010. The current seventh-generation Toyota Camry debuted in 2007.

While the current Toyota Camry is rather aged, Toyota endeavors to breathe some styling pizzazz into the Camry with a slew of exterior changes. Chief among these changes, according to Edmunds reviewers, are “a restyled grille and taillights,” which come standard on each of the “four trim levels—base, LE, SE and XLE.” Despite the changes, TheCarConnection.com’s editors find that the 2010 Toyota Camry remains one of the most conservative-looking sedans around.

As the most popular mid-size sedan on the market today, the 2010 Toyota Camry isn’t for those who want to stand out. In fact, Left Lane News predicts that “wallflowers will delight in the Camry’s rather anonymous looks,” which blend in to just about any urban or suburban driving environment you can imagine. It’s not that the Toyota Camry is unattractive—it simply fails to stand out. Autoblog does characterize the Camry as “half-pretty,” while those seeking a more pronounced Camry can shop around for the Camry SE, which Cars.com says benefits from appearance changes that bestow the car with “sporting good looks.” Other reviewers, however, remain unconvinced, and Left Lane News hopes that Toyota will “get a little more daring with the next-generation model.”

Although the exterior won’t draw anything more than a passing glance, the Toyota Camry’s interior is much more noteworthy. Edmunds raves that “Toyota’s decades of experience in ergonomics shine through here—the main controls are large and logically placed,” and Automobile Magazine characterizes the interior as “intelligently designed.” ConsumerGuide further points out that the “gauges are large and legible,” and “the control layout is logical after [a] brief acclimation.”

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2010 Toyota Camry

Performance

A strong V-6 alone isn’t enough to give the 2010 Toyota Camry a sporting personality, but comfort-seekers will rejoice at the soft suspension tuning.

The Camry’s plain-vanilla performance characteristics are a perfect match for its largely forgettable styling elements. The only real disparity between looks and performance comes in the SE model, which gets sporty trim pieces but fails to deliver on the road. For Toyota, 2010 marks the introduction of a new-and-improved four-cylinder engine to the Camry lineup.

The 2010 Toyota Camry is available with three different engine options, two of which are new for this model year. Edmunds reviewers report that “a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine…replaces the previous 2.4-liter unit and comes in two versions (the SE gets the more powerful version).” The top-end powerplant remains a 3.5-liter V-6, an engine that ConsumerGuide calls “impressively strong in all situations.” The V-6 is capable of propelling the Camry from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds, which is rather quick for a mid-size economy sedan, thanks largely to its respectable 268-horsepower rating. Among the lower-displacement four-cylinders, “base, LE and XLE trim levels [get] a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that generates 169 hp, 11 more than the previous 2.4-liter four,” says Edmunds, while the Toyota Camry SE enjoys a 10-hp boost. Left Lane News provides the most succinct review of the four-cylinder, claiming that it “provides decent pickup above about 2,000 rpm, though it’s pretty lazy up until that point.”

Last year’s Toyota Camry offered a six-speed automatic for only the V-6, but for 2010 Toyota introduces the six-speed to every model in the Camry lineup. This includes both the manual and automatic transmissions, and for most four-cylinder Camrys, Edmunds says that “a six-speed manual transmission is standard.” The only exception is the Camry XLE, “which comes only with a six-speed automatic,” according to Edmunds. The auto is also the exclusive transmission option for the V-6. Few competitors offer six-speed transmissions on their base models, and Left Lane News asserts that the “six-speed automatic puts it in fairly elite company.” TheCarConnection.com’s research shows that the six-speed is rather smooth, and Left Lane News appreciates that it is “quick to kick down into fifth for highway passing.” The auto also features a manual-shift mode, but reviewers recommend leaving the transmission in drive.

One of the benefits of a six-speed transmission, aside from the obvious increase in usable power band at varying speeds, is increased fuel economy compared to a transmission with fewer gears. The 2010 Toyota Camry makes the most of the newfound sixth gear, returning an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and 33 mpg on the highway with the manual/four-cylinder combination. The automatic suffers a 1-mpg penalty on the highway, while the V-6 gets a 19/28 mpg rating. Though these numbers are all largely impressive, Left Lane News cautions that the automatic’s “highway fuel economy rating of 32 mpg trails the 34 mpg rating of a similarly equipped Fusion.”

The 2010 Toyota Camry doesn’t deliver much in the way of driving excitement, even in the supposedly sporty SE trim. Edmunds laments that the Camry has “all the character of a washing machine from behind the wheel,” while Cars.com reports that even the SE “leans and understeers, not feeling like a confident performer.” Where the Toyota Camry does excel, however, is in terms of ride quality; ConsumerGuide says “all models are comfortable absorbent,” and Car and Driver notes that “Camry’s chassis engineers prioritized creamy ride quality above all” other considerations. As a consequence of this comfort-first design mentality, ConsumerGuide says the Camry is “spoiled by marked cornering lean from [its] comfort-biased suspensions.” On the positive side, ConsumerGuide also remarks that the brakes “provide smooth and ample stopping power.”

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2010 Toyota Camry

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Toyota Camry is spacious and comfortable, but it's no longer that impressive in the details.

The Toyota Camry lineup has, in the past, been renowned for its reliability and quality, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the Camry’s lead in this area may be slipping.

Let’s begin with the positive—the Camry’s seating arrangement is still among the best in the class, thanks to generous dimensions and comfortable seats. The 2010 Toyota Camry offers available seating for five in “wide seats” that Edmunds says will “easily accommodate most body types.” Left Lane News is less subtle in their review, asserting that the “tall, chair-like seats [are] clearly designed for American-style girth.” Toyota doesn't have just the front passengers in mind, however, as Cars.com finds that the “rear seats are extremely comfortable” as well. In terms of dimensions, Automedia states that the rear benefits from “larger footwells and a half-inch more legroom,” along with “rear seatbacks [that] recline in XLE models.” The reviewers at Cars.com do offer one major criticism, however, noting that Toyota has taken “a major step backward” by replacing the “folding backseats in the SE and XLE with small pass-thru openings.”

Inside the 2010 Toyota Camry, driver and passengers alike will find plenty of space for their various gadgets. Edmunds is pleased to find “plenty of storage cubbies” inside the Camry, but Cars.com notes that, in the trunk, “cargo…took a hit” compared to previous-generation models. ConsumerGuide warns that the trunk’s “sickle-shaped lid hinges intrude and the trunk opening is too small for really bulky items,” while Edmunds reports that the “trunk capacity for all models is 15 cubic feet.”

In addition to a modest decline in versatility, the 2010 Toyota Camry exhibits more marked decreases in overall quality. Edmunds reviewers decry the Toyota Camry’s “spotty fit and finish,” while ConsumerGuide is surprised to find “unsightly seams, misaligned plastic panels, and assorted interior squeaks and rattles” on the normally bulletproof Toyota Camry lineup. Left Lane News reports similar flaws in materials quality, warning that “the silver-painted plastic trim is susceptible to scratches from everyday use, while the felt-like cloth upholstery is bound to be a shocker when winter rolls around.” Overall, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show an irrefutable decline in the Toyota Camry’s quality.

One area where the Camry’s declining quality most clearly manifests itself is cabin noise, which is louder in the 2010 model than in previous versions of the Camry. ConsumerGuide points out that “wind rush is most noticed at highway speeds,” but fortunately the “tire thrum annoys only on very coarse pavement.”

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2010 Toyota Camry

Safety

The addition of standard stability control to the 2010 Toyota Camry addresses TheCarConnection.com’s one major complaint with last year’s Camry.

The 2010 Toyota Camry builds upon the safety record of last year’s Camry, adding a few new standard features and improved sightlines.

The Toyota Camry has been subjected to all of NHTSA’s and the IIHS’s various crash tests, and the results are superb. Edmunds raves about the Toyota Camry’s “excellent crash test scores,” which include perfect five-star ratings from NHTSA in every impact category, as well as similarly high scores from the IIHS. In IIHS testing, the 2010 Toyota Camry earns the highest possible rating, "Good," in both the frontal offset impact and side impact categories.

In addition to class-leading crash-test scores, the 2010 Toyota Camry soldiers on with a long list of standard safety features. Like last year’s Toyota Camry, ConsumerGuide reports that the 2010 model gets “ABS, traction control…front side airbags, curtain side airbags, and a driver knee airbag.” The driver knee airbag is a particularly handy feature, as Cars.com points out that it is designed “to keep the occupant from sliding down and forward (submarining) in a collision.” In addition to the features carried forward from last year, Edmunds says that “stability control is now standard across the model range” for the Toyota Camry.

Drivers of the refreshed 2010 Toyota Camry will likely notice that the modest styling changes made to the Camry increase driver visibility, which was already pretty good. Left Lane News declares that the Toyota Camry affords “great visibility,” while ConsumerGuide notes that “styling slightly impedes visibility aft and to the right-rear, but sightlines are clear elsewhere.”

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2010 Toyota Camry

Features

With a wide range of trim levels and base prices, the 2010 Toyota Camry should, from a value standpoint, appeal to many mid-size sedan shoppers.

The 2010 Toyota Camry delivers on its value proposition, at least in the lower trim levels. The base Toyota Camry starts at just $19,395, but TheCarConnection.com’s editors find that a fully loaded Camry can run well into the $30,000 range, where it seems out of place compared to some of the other vehicles in that price category.

The Toyota Camry lineup begins with the base model, which debuts with “air-conditioning, auto up/down windows for all four doors, a six-speaker CD audio system” with auxiliary input, and little else, according to Edmunds reviewers. The Toyota Camry LE is similarly equipped, adding a power driver’s seat and keyless ignition to the mix. Overall, Left Lane News feels that the lower-end Camrys have “few ‘oooh, ahhh’ features beyond the electroluminescent gauges and power driver’s seat,” especially considering the price tag. The Toyota Camry SE is less a features upgrade than a supposed performance upgrade, and it boasts unique styling elements and larger wheels. At the top end of the range is the Toyota Camry XLE, which gets USB integration, although one Cars.com reviewer states that he “was not a fan of” Toyota’s MP3-player interface. Edmunds says that the Toyota Camry XLE also gets “an upgraded JBL-branded sound system,” which significantly outperforms the standard audio system, and “satellite radio,” among other features.

For those who crave a more upscale interior, the 2010 Toyota Camry can be outfitted with a number of high-tech options. Among these, Edmunds is partial to the “navigation system,” which ConsumerGuide says is “easy to program, but it absorbs and complicates some audio functions.” Other options, according to Cars.com, are a “backup camera…moonroof and smart key system with push-button start.”

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