Tom Crosby: 2016 Toyota Camry XSE continues as top ride
So far last year’s eighth generation makeover of the Toyota Camry sedan has been a success for the Japanese auto manufacturer. Its appeal quickly emerged during our test drive of the 2016 XSE V6 front-wheel drive mid-size sedan with quickness off the line, solid handling and a plethora of cabin pluses – both standard and optional.
Tweaks for 2016 include a Special Edition option this year and extra navigation features via a smartphone with the optional ($850) Entune Premium option for $850. It includes JBL audio with 10 speakers, Bluetooth, a 7-inch dashboard screen, advanced voice recognition, navigation and other features necessary for a connected cabin environment. Toyota touts a new Connected Navigation Scout GPS Link app to use the driver’s smartphone for navigation functionality included in the premium option. It is one of three essential options, the other two adding driver safety aids like blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, pre-collision alert with emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beam. Our adaptive cruise control’s radar became unavailable in a heavy rain.
The XSE is top trim among eight choices, including three hybrids. All use automatic transmission and there are choices between a four- or six-cylinder engine. Our V6 engine’s quickly responsive power helped negotiate around lumbering tractor-trailers on the interstate so we could stay out of their multiple blind spots. Steering was center-oriented and the ride on 18-inch machined alloy wheels with all-season tires using a sport-tuned suspension was smooth with excellent road grip. Inside, the cabin remained quiet at all speeds, front seats are heated sport leather-trimmed Ultrasuede and all seating positions have excellent head and leg room.
Upscale materials include high-contrast French stitching along the dashboard and brushed satin trim added to an upscale ambiance. There are numerous knick-knack spaces; rear seats fold for extra cargo space, and there is a temporary spare tire. The 7-inch dashboard screen displays sharp graphics and clear navigational directions. Gauges and controls are easily reachable and readable. There is a wireless charging pad under the dashboard for smartphones.
Outside, the Camry’s profile is sculpted, with minimal but stylish chrome – windows, grille and badging only – side molding and an aggressive, front muscular look with a large lower air dam between fog lamps. Our Ruby Flare exterior color was a $395 option. The Camry receives top or near top scores in crash safety tests.
LIKES: Ride, handling, cabin comfort, quiet, price
DISLIKES: Paint charge, safety options needed, radar limitations
BOTTOM LINE: Firmly solidifies its popular appeal
2016 TOYOTA CAMRY XSE V6
Base price w/destination charge: $32,205 ($35,397 as tested)
Curb weight: 3,480 pounds
Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
Length: 190.9 inches
Width: 71.7 inches
Engine specs: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder, DOHC,VVT-i
Horsepower: 268 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque: 248 lb.-ft. @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/manual paddles
EPA rating: 21 mpg city – 31 mpg highway
Range: 17-gallon tank, unleaded fuel
Performance: 0-60 in just over 6 seconds
Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.