Reviews

2014 Toyota Camry Walk Around

The Toyota Camry looks svelte, with no lumpy cladding and almost no chrome. Although the surfaces flow with characteristic Toyota softness, strategically placed creases lend both definition and decision. Whatever you think of it esthetically, it works aerodynamically, charting an impressively low 0.28 Cd. Toyota calls it aero-corner design: Hips and shoulders tucked in.

Wheels help distinguish Camry trim levels. Camry LE uses wheelcovers over 16-inch steel wheels, Camry XLE uses 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, Camry SE uses 17- or 18-inchers, with two different five-spoke designs. All four styles successfully avoid cookie cutting, with the least-expensive Camry LE's 20-curved-spoke titanium-tinted wheelcovers ironically being the most ambitious and eye-catching, if not the classiest.

The roofline angles the windshield steeply. There's a nice character line under the windows slanting slightly up to the rear deck, where there's a small spoiler lip on the SE. Windows are outlined in chrome, but no more, except for a thin strip at the rocker level on the LE and XLE. Body-colored door handles on all models.

The face of the Camry SE is tweaked, for the better, with body color over the black mesh grille, and more aggressive air intakes in the valance under the bumper. Headlamps are outlined in black, angled, narrow and sleek, with a neat little notch in the line at the bottom.

Interior

Interior materials are different on different trim levels. Camry L, LE and XLE use a nice fabric, while the Camry SE uses a combination of fabric with SofTex synthetic leather trim. Real leather is standard on Camry XLE V6 and optional on the four-cylinder XLE, with leather-trimmed ultrasuede available on the SE and XLE Hybrid.

The fit of the front buckets is good on the Camry LE and XLE, with more bolstering on the SE. The Camry Hybrid has its own material, more like the SE. Trims are different too: LE is silver, XLE wood, SE silver grain, and Hybrid a metallic tech grain.

We found the driver's position comfortable, with thoughtful padding for the driver's right leg against the center console, and high armrests. Decent door pocket, great cubby forward in the center console, big glovebox with light.

Steering wheels differ on the different models, with LE a four-spoke urethane, XLE four-spoke leather, and SE four-spoke leather. They all work well enough, no inconveniences noted in driving all four models.

Camry LE feels quiet, solid and firm; but the XLE with optional leather and a grander display screen feels markedly uptown.

It's hard to make a dashboard not boring, because after all it is a board, but the Camry succeeds. The standard leather is overlapped in an arc with neat stitching, for a saddle-like effect; new passengers will compliment it and maybe run their hands over the seam. The little window for the clock up at the top looks like a hood scoop.

Instruments on most models are in 3D. The instruments themselves are the same, the only difference is in the rings around the gauges, chrome or satin.

The Hybrid's panel is the same only prettier. It has Optitron meters with white illumination, blue metallic printing, and white lighting pointer. Three gauges, with clear dials and numbers that glow up at you in crystal clear white. We like it. Cargo space in the Camry Hybrid is 13.1 cubic feet, a decent-size trunk.

Trunk space on all other Camry models is a roomy 15.4 cubic feet.

The manually operated climate control has big dials and easy buttons on the Camry LE. The automatic climate control on Camry XLE uses a 6.1-inch LCD touch-screen also used for radio tuning and navigation.

In pursuit of fuel mileage, the Camry runs a numerically low final drive ratio, to reduce the revs at freeway speeds and make the car quieter inside; at 70 mph you can't hear the motor. But you can hear the tire noise. Low-rolling-resistance tires are loud on the pavement.

There's the optional JBL Green Edge sound system, which uses up to 58 percent less power and is 27 percent lighter; and Entune, which does Bing searches and allegedly enables you to buy movie tickets while you're driving into the city on a crowded freeway in a hurry at night, and stuff like that. Safely and simply they say, and we say don't believe it. It can all be bundled with navigation and satellite radio and voice recognition, and controlled on the touch screen. Have fun, good luck, and don't crash.

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