Body and suspension changes made last year have added a bit more control to the Camry's driving character while maintaining a smooth ride. The body was made stronger through the addition of numerous spot welds, and Toyota gave the car stiffer spring and shock settings. The result is tighter vehicle control and a more responsive feel at low speeds while helping filter out bumps and harshness at higher speeds and in cruising. On a smoothly surfaced but violently heaving country backroad in the softest-tuned XLE, we were especially impressed by the way this plush-riding sedan soaks up the worst of it yet rebounds in a controlled way, all while avoiding the wallowing and floating of soft-riding sedans of the past.
Toyota also reworked the brakes last year, adding a two-stage master cylinder that does away with the long pedal travel and mushy, sudden engagement at low speeds that has plagued the Camry in the past. It feels more confident, and we hope Toyota deploys this in all their vehicles.
The Camry was always fairly quiet, but Toyota also added more sound insulation last year. We find wind noise to be well controlled, but most of our exposure has been on smoothly surfaced roads so we can't say how well the car filters out road noise. We'll update that with more impressions as soon as we can.
The engines have not been updated for a few years, but, for the most part, that's just fine. The base 2.5-liter twin-cam inline-4 with variable valve timing makes 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of peak torque, while the available 3.5-liter V-6 makes 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. Both of these engines are paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Neither of these engines includes direct injection (or turbocharging, of course), but the V-6 especially has great drivability and more than enough power for any situation, even with a full load of passengers and luggage. As for the 4-cylinder, it should be just fine for most drivers, and it's quite smooth, but it's a little sluggish off the line and often feels strained to pull off a leisurely pass or climb a gradual grade until the transmission delivers a downshift or two. It exposes the advantage of the more recently re-engineered powertrains in many of the Camry's rivals, frankly. Luckily the transmission responds promptly and decisively, in a way that the CVTs in some rival models can't.