The top-selling 2009 Toyota Camry mid-size, front-wheel-drive sedan was thoroughly revised and updated for 2007, with exterior styling and interior changes. A 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 is available, but the standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which is good for 158 hp. The V-6 comes with a six-speed automatic transmission; the four can be ordered with either a five-speed manual or automatic transmission.
The 2009 Toyota Camry comes in several different models, ranging from a base CE to the sporty SE and luxurious XLE. The SE grade gets stiffer suspension settings and some other performance improvements, and because of an additional rear brace, the backseat doesn't fold down as it does in the other models. Even in the SE, the ride is comfortable and well controlled, though it's downright soft with base four-cylinder models—don't expect sporty handling. The 2009 Toyota Camry has a very roomy interior, with plenty of legroom in back for most adults and enough space for five.
With a design that's understated but upscale, the interior of the 2009 Toyota Camry looks good, and its controls are intuitive, but some of the materials seem a little cheap—especially at the top of the range, considering that prices can exceed $35,000 for a loaded XLE V-6—and several of our test cars have had unimpressive build quality. All trim levels come standard with A/C, power windows and door locks, and a CD stereo. A 440-watt JBL audio system (with Bluetooth technology) is available, as is a DVD-based navigation system, making the Camry—at least in features—feel like a luxury car when so equipped.
All Camrys come with a knee airbag for the driver as well as full-length curtain and front seat side-impact airbags, for seven airbags in total. Traction control is standard, but stability control remains optional, even on pricier, more powerful V-6 models. Other than that omission, the 2009 Toyota Camry does quite well in safety, including five-star results in the federal government's crash tests and "good" results from the insurance industry tests, except for a "marginal" result in the rear-impact test.
2007 saw the debut of a completely redesigned Camry; Toyota gave it sleeker styling, along with a richer feel, which resulted in the most Lexus-like Camry yet. The 2009 Toyota Camry goes virtually unchanged, aside from some minor cosmetic bits.
TheCarConnection.com recognizes that the Camry has always suffered a reputation of being a bit dull. Autoblog reports, "The best thing about the Camry's half-pretty styling is the anonymity afforded by the glut of them on the road, and the car itself tries very hard to avoid offending anyone." Cars.com continues with that theme, adding, "The hallmark of this sixth-generation Camry is Toyota's effort to shake the stodgy, plain reputation the car had developed in some circles." The 2009 Toyota Camry is "a departure from the upright style of previous models," Automedia says, one that "shares Toyota's shapely new sedan look with its larger stablemate Avalon and upscale cousin Lexus ES." Finally, Motor Trend weighs in, commenting, "The sexier styling addresses the major complaint voiced by current Camry owners—too vanilla."
Autoblog remarks of the Toyota, 2009 edition, "Its exterior styling is more expressive than previous Camrys; one could even get away with saying the styling was a motivating factor in the purchase of a Camry," adding that "the front end has a suggestion of feline to its face, and the hood has some well developed surface detailing that plays light nicely." Furthermore, Automedia points to the SE edition, saying that it "looks decidedly more athletic than the others."
Automedia calls the 2009 Toyota Camry's interior "more modern and stylish than before," while Automobile Magazine describes it as "intelligently designed." "Large controls are logically placed," says Edmunds of the Toyota 2009 Camry, adding, "One of the few exceptions to the hyper-practical design dictum is the stylish ice-blue backlighting for the audio and climate controls."
The 2009 Toyota Camry may not be a sport sedan, but it's certainly not slow. Three engines are offered, and the 3.5-liter V-6 is a potent source of motivation.
The 2009 Toyota Camry can be had with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 158 horsepower, a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 268 hp, or Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which also powers the Prius. The V-6 "is available on all trims except the base model," Edmunds reports. The Hybrid model is covered in a separate review.
Motor Trend calls the V-6 "burly" and estimates that the 2009 Toyota Camry SE with the V-6 "should be capable of reaching 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds." ConsumerGuide goes one better, saying, "In our tests a XLE V6 did 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds." Automedia reports that the "upgraded four-cylinder provides adequate power with good fuel economy." But Edmunds sums it up by advising, "A more appealing choice for those who can spend more is the smooth and vigorous V6, which transforms the Camry into one of the fastest mid-priced sedans on the road, with barely any penalty in fuel efficiency."
The four-cylinder Toyota 2009 Camry offers "a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic, while the V6 sends its power through a standard six-speed automatic," Edmunds reports. The automatic is a favorite at Motor Trend: "The new six-speed auto sets a fine example for shifting with speed and seamlessness," they proclaim. The five-speed automatic, Autoblog says, "aims for fifth gear and takes a search warrant to find a downshift," adding that "the autobox is recalcitrant, if efficient."
However, the gearing of the five-speed automatic helps provide fuel mileage with the four-cylinder equal to that of the five-speed manual. Cars.com reports gas mileage is strong in the Toyota; 2009's Camry has estimated fuel economy ratings of "21/31 mpg city/highway for the four-cylinder with manual or automatic, [and] 19/28 for the V-6." That's not much of a price to pay for more than 100 extra horses.
A more sport-oriented SE version "truly delivers on its sporty promise," Motor Trend says. Other versions get lower marks. ConsumerGuide notes that "most models—SE excepted—are spoiled by marked cornering lean from their comfort-biased suspensions." Cars.com thinks the "SE still rides more comfortably than the Honda Accord," while other versions are even more "compliant." Automobile Magazine observes that the 2009 Toyota Camry SE "doesn't have the sort of body control that begs you to throw it into the sweeping curves on the winding roads above Santa Barbara, but if you do so anyway, the chassis digs in and hangs on without too much protest, and the car loses grip predictably and controllably." Car and Driver is a bit harsher, stating that "the Camry's chassis engineers prioritized creamy ride quality above all, and as a consequence it's hard for us to perceive anything sporty about this car." And of the SE, Car and Driver advises, "We'd avoid this trim level, because expecting the Camry to be a sports sedan is only going to end in disappointment." However, the brakes "provide smooth and ample stopping power," according to ConsumerGuide.
The 2009 Toyota Camry has always been known as a high-quality, comfortable car, but reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com find that Toyota hasn't upped the ante in terms of interior space or materials.
Automedia points out some of the measures taken to preserve interior room in the Toyota: 2009's Camry has slimmer front seatbacks and more travel for front seats. In addition, "larger footwells and a half-inch more legroom better accommodate back-seat occupants, and the rear seatbacks recline in XLE models." However, the reclining seatbacks come at the price of losing the ability to fold down the seatbacks in models so equipped, moving Cars.com to admonish Toyota for taking "a major step backward to replace folding backseats in the SE and XLE with small pass-thru openings."
While rear-seat occupants enjoy a little more space, there's less room overall in this Camry; Toyota trimmed a bit of the volume compared to past versions. Motor Trend points out that "inside, passenger volume is down 0.4 to 2.1 cubic feet, but rear legroom is up half an inch," and it feels "Toyota engineers have added room where it'll be appreciated and deleted space where it won't be missed." "By the numbers, cargo and towing are what took a hit," Cars.com says. "The trunk volume has decreased from 16.7 cubic feet to a maximum of 15 cubic feet in the CE and LE. The higher trim levels measure 14.5 cubic feet." Regarding the trunk, ConsumerGuide reports, "sickle-shaped lid hinges intrude and the trunk opening is too small for really bulky items." However, Edmunds commends the 2009 Toyota Camry's "nice selection of cubbies and compartments to collect whatever personal effects that may be accompanying you."
Granted, the 2009 Toyota Camry must maintain a high standard of quality in order to simply maintain the status quo for that model, but most reviewers mention a slip in build quality. ConsumerGuide says of the Camry, Toyota's "cabin materials are generally solid and serviceable, with soft-touch surfaces and inoffensive faux metal or wood trim," but adds, "Recent test examples have suffered uncharacteristic lapses in materials and workmanship." Car and Driver concurs: "Downsides to the latest Camry include some disappointing interior plastics, inconsistent fit and finish."
The 2009 Toyota Camry comes packed full of the safety features one would expect in a modern, family-oriented car, but other cars in the segment still include more.
Edmunds reports that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) "gave the Camry its highest rating of 'Good' for frontal-offset and side collision protection." In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2009 Camry Hybrid five stars, its highest rating, in both frontal and side crash safety. It scored almost as high in NHTSA's rollover avoidance test, earning four out of five stars.
Every Toyota 2009 Camry comes with "antilock brakes (with brake assist), front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag," according to Edmunds. Cars.com praises the "driver's knee airbag," which is designed "to keep the occupant from sliding down and forward (submarining) in a collision."
Traction control is standard, but stability control remains optional, even on pricier, more powerful V-6 models. Cars.com observes, "That it's available on any trim level is a plus. That the Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Passat include it standard is a minus for the Camry and other midsize sedans." Oddly, the Camry Hybrid is the only Camry to include stability control as standard. Also, ConsumerGuide points out that the 2009 Toyota Camry has an "emergency inside trunklid release," which is a new feature required of cars so that people aren't trapped inside them.
TheCarConnection.com finds reviewers agree that the 2009 Toyota Camry offers an impressive variety of features for a car with a base model that starts at less than $20,000. However, a fully equipped Camry can easily exceed $30,000.
Just about the only change to the Camry model line for 2009 is the demise of the "CE" trim designation. "The CE trim level has been dropped. The entry-level Camry is now simply the Camry," Motor Trend reports. Its standard equipment includes "16-inch wheels, a tire-pressure warning system, a six-speaker CD audio system, power windows and door locks, cruise control, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic throttle control, and seven airbags."
Upgrading to the LE version adds a "power driver's seat and remote keyless entry as standard," according to Car and Driver, also noting, "The SE is the sporty version, adding features such as a blacked-out grille, integrated fog lamps, a mild body kit, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a sport suspension."
Kelley Blue Book states that in the Camry, "additional major options for most of these models include a JBL premium audio system with Bluetooth, power moonroof, leather interior, heated seats, navigation system and the 'Smart Key System' with push-button start (on the XLE with V6)."
Edmunds praises the Toyota 2009 Camry and says "most buyers' needs should be satisfied by the assorted trim levels." However, they do note that "properly equipped, the Camry usually ends up more expensive than most midsize sedans."
- 2008 Nissan Altima
- 2003 Volkswagen Passat
Except in sporty SE trim, the 2009 Toyota Camry has perhaps the softest, most comfort-oriented ride among mid-size sedans. The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu, however, also emphasizes ride quality and comfort, and it has more distinctive styling, equivalent performance, and more impressive materials and quality. The Malibu also includes electronic stability control on all of its models except the base LT. The new-for-2009 Accord has—compared to the Camry—a stunning interior, especially in the more expensive V-6 models. The Fusion and Altima have a sportier driving feel but are a little smaller inside. The Volkswagen Passat is another good alternative to the Camry—especially with the base 2.0T four-cylinder engine—but beware of spotty reliability.