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The Toyota Camry might be the longtime best-seller among mid-size sedans, but most would argue that it didn't get there with its looks. The Camry got a very minor facelift last year but carries into 2011 mostly unchanged since the current seventh generation's debut in 2007. Inside, too, the design remains a little understated and conservative yet upscale—although somewhat drab materials let the execution down.
With those two engines and seven different models in all, ranging from the base (and quite stark) CE model to the sporty SE and luxurious XLE, the 2011 Toyota Camry can satisfy almost any mid-size sedan shopper's need. That said, these combinations are always competent, seldom exciting.
A 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 remains available. Otherwise, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder makes 169 hp in most models but 179 in the Camry SE. Four-cylinder Camry models come with either a six-speed manual or 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. With either engine, the six-speed automatic is quick to react yet smooth-shifting. The auto also features a manual-shift mode, but with the Camry's relaxed driving feel you might as well leave it in Drive.
A Camry Hybrid model is also offered; it combines a 147-hp, 2.4-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine with an electronically controlled planetary-gear transmission setup and Hybrid Synergy Drive (with an electric motor system) to altogether make 187 hp. Considering the extra weight of the Camry, it delivers performance that's about on par with the four-cylinder Camry models, but with even better fuel economy.
The 2011 Toyota Camry has a very roomy interior, with plenty of legroom in back for most adults and enough space for five. Front seats are wide and soft but lack much support, while rear seats are extremely comfortable and have larger proportions than those in some other mid-size cars; adults will feel comfortable enough for road trips back there.
Base and LE Camry models can be optioned with 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. But beware, a fully loaded 2011 Camry can top $30k.
- Powertrain refinement
- Quiet interior
- Comfortable, just-right ride quality
- Fuel economy (four-cylinder)
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- Conservative, anonymous exterior
- Sub-par interior materials
- Lackluster build quality