Last year the Toyota Camry was given a full redesign; yet if you aren't tuned in to the subtle exterior changes in new models, you might not even have been able to tell it apart from the previous year's model.
While some might wince at that description, subtle evolution has been the Camry's specialty for the past couple of decades. Exterior dimensions were kept the same, with only slightly different doorcuts and tweaks to the roofline and greenhouse. It would be a stretch to call the Camry an object of beauty from the outside, and it oozes practicality and space efficiency way more that shape, stance, flowing form, or characterful sheetmetal.
Compared to both the previous Camry and most of its mid-size competition, the 2013 model looks a little more upright and angular. Toyota sharpened the corners with last year's redesign (they call it 'aero corners'), and its both a step ahead for styling and aerodynamics. Squaring off the corners helps a bit with trunk space, too.
Toyota called this current Camry's design theme "Rational Tech-Dynamism," which "aims for a rational and advanced style with sporty exterior and a modern, luxurious interior."
For the most part, Toyota holds true on that design promise inside. Thankfully, they replaced the former interior that we saw as a 'Corolla-plus' layout with one that draws from those models higher up the Toyota pecking order—looking influenced in part by Lexus sedans, accented with some of the dash details from Toyota's newest SUVs, like the new 4Runner. Yet oddly, we see the slightly larger 2013 Toyota Avalon as having taken off in an entirely different direction—one that we like better than the Camry's.
Like most new models, the Camry gets a multi-layered dash appearance; Toyota says that the layered, stitched-leather look of the instrument panel was modeled after saddles, media players like the iPod played a role in the layout and tactile logic of the center gauge cluster as well as the audio and climate controls.
Within the Camry lineup, you'll find a few key appearance differences, and they're significant enough to affect your aesthetic appreciation. Sporty SE models get a split, winged air dam that we saw at times as Subaru-influenced; but XLE and hybrid trims come with a more wide-open (but louvered) air dam (with XLEs getting a little extra chrome in the upper grille).
To sum, the Camry doesn't push any boundaries; in fact, next to the Chevrolet Malibu it's now looking like the most conservative entry in its class, despite being one of the most recently updated. To some, it's a snooze, but we think it's refreshingly different for bucking a trend and taking function (and rear headroom and trunk space) over form.