- High-mileage Hybrid model
- Lag-free infotainment systems
- Great ride, refined cabin
- V-6 makes it responsive, confident
- XSE tops the lineup with a sporty note
- Rear seats don’t fully fold
- Base four lags rivals in performance
- LE interior trims still a little bleak
The 2016 Toyota Camry offers a controlled ride and plenty of interior comfort, making it pleasant for the driver and passengers alike.
The Toyota Camry is America's best-selling car, despite the fact that it competes against strong competition like the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, and Mazda Mazda6. With constantly evolving competition, Toyota saw fit to give the Camry a very extensive refresh last year, in only the third model year since its redesign. With so much change last year, this year sees only a new Special Edition model and the addition of smartphone navigation through the Entune Audio Plus system.
The Camry's look is modern, refined, and almost uncharacteristically bold. The front end is the most aggressive, with a wide maw, LED front running lamps, and available LED auto-leveling lamps for the low and high beams. The side sheet metal flows nicely and features a character line that slopes down to the front wheels. The taillights are connected by a chrome bar that runs across the trunk.
Inside, the Camry features more soft touch surfaces than in the past and they are thoughtfully accented by contrast stitching. The center stack has a high-tech look, and the area just ahead of the shift knob features an enclosed bin for personal electronics, with a USB port and an available wireless charging pad.
The 2015 update included more spot welds for a stiffer body, retuned shocks and springs, and additional sound insulation. On the road, those changes make the Camry a better-driving car. In the cushy Camry XLE especially, it all adds up to a sophisticated experience that retains its traditional smooth ride while adding more stability and control. The SE and XSE models—with their 18-inch wheels, unique shocks, firmer suspension bushings, and stiffer springs—are even more responsive, but they still ride quite well.
Powertrains were not changed last year. The base engine is a 178-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4. It can feel lackluster among present-day rivals, as it lacks direct injection or turbocharging, as well as the more accessible low rpm torque of those newer, higher-tech powertrains. The 268-hp 3.5-liter V-6 and 200-hp Hybrid, however, are more engaging. The Hybrid model, which features a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine and Hybrid Synergy Drive system, is covered in a separate report. The Camry V-6 and stands out as enjoyable, and delivers a 0-to-60-mph time of under six seconds.
The 2016 Camry performs well in crash tests and offers plenty of active safety features, including a lane departure alert, a pre-collision system with auto high beams, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control is also available.
Toyota offers the Camry in LE, SE, new for 2016 Special Edition, XLE, and XSE trim levels. These trims essentially consolidate the Camry’s equipment to a conventional lineup (LE and XLE) and a sporty lineup (SE, Special Edition, and XSE). With many of the latest infotainment features, the Camry's feature set is completely at pace with that of its rivals.
Infotainment systems are perhaps the heart of it. They work well, without the now almost expected lag and latency, and with intuitive menus. Even at the Camry LE level, you get an Entune touchscreen audio and infotainment system with a CD player, auxiliary audio input, USB port, voice recognition, Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, and six speakers. Mid-level models get the Entune Audio Plus system with the new Connected Navigation Scout GPS Link App, which uses the customer’s smartphone to provide navigation functionality through the head unit. Top models get an Entune Premium Audio system with audio playback capability, HD predictive traffic, Doppler map overlay, and the Entune App Suite, which lets you run Bing search, Pandora, Yelp, and others on the touchscreen through your smartphone's connection.
The base engine is efficient, but not as efficient as some rivals. It is EPA rated at 25 mpg city, 35 highway, 28 combined. The V-6 offers considerably more power at a minimal fuel-economy penalty. It is rated at 21/31/25 mpg.
The Hybrid remains the fuel economy leader of the Camry lineup with ratings as high as an astounding 43/39/41 mpg.