Tom Crosby: 2017 Toyota Camry remains top sedan sold

Tom Crosby

When your sedan is the best selling car in the U.S., you don’t meddle with it much, so changes to the 2017 Toyota Camry were not major this year.

However, Toyota plans to start selling a revamped, eighth-generation 2018 Camry this summer, opening up a unique buying window for this model year as dealers work to shed their 2017 editions. (Base prices remain same as 2016).

For 2017, Toyota added to its top two trims – at no extra cost – the Entune® Audio Plus system that includes numerous tech and app interfaces, a 7-inch easily read touch-screen, advanced voice recognition, navigation and JBL® audio – upgraded in our test-drive with a $710 feature-rich option. Also added was Qi wireless charging for compatible smartphones.

The mid-size Camry has been around for 35 years and is the top sedan sold for 14 consecutive years because it exhibits these traits – performance, cabin comfort/space, reliability, top resale value and top crash safety ratings.

Our test drive was the XSE V6, just below the top XLE gasoline and XLE Hybrid trims, and above the LE and SE trims. There is also a four-cylinder gas or hybrid engine choice. All Camrys come with 6-speed automatic transmission with our XSE boasting manual paddles adding zip to already sporty acceleration.

Behind the wheel, Camry’s strong points are a refined, sport-tuned suspension providing a firm but cushioned ride with smooth acceleration and straight ahead steering bias with precise handling atop 18-inch wheels. Manual paddles can generate snappier performance among driving modes. Among several options on our test-drive were strong safety features like blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, dynamic cruise control and a pre-collision system. Camrys earn top safety government and insurance industry ratings.

The Camry doesn’t quite reach the visual equivalent of snazzy but its raked windshield, black-accent wheels, recessed fog lights, sharply edged headlights, contrasting black-mesh air intake, minimal chrome and side character molding create a stylish profile.

Inside, stitched leather and psuedo-suede upholstery, supportive seats with ample room for all occupants under a sunroof and ergonomically placed controls make for an agreeable ambiance. There are numerous knick-knack spaces. Using a compatible Smartphone, Entune® gives drivers real-time info on traffic, weather, movie tickets, fuel prices, sports, stocks and restaurant ratings. Trunk space is adequate above a spare tire. Visors are extendable. Rear seat fold down splits 40-60 with the front passenger seat (the 60% side) also folding down.

LIKES: Ride, handling, interior comfort, quiet, technology, visibility
DISLIKES: Options needed for top driver safety aids
BOTTOM LINE: Easy to understand why it is so popular

FACT FILE
2017 TOYOTA CAMRY XSE V6 Sedan

Base price w/destination charge: $32,235 ($35,113 as tested)
Curb weight: 3,480 lbs.
Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
Length: 190.9 inches
Width: 71.7 inches
Engine specs: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder
Horsepower: 268-hp @6,200
Torque: 248 lb.-ft. @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission: Continuous variable transmission w/manual paddles
EPA rating: 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy
Range: 17-gallon, unleaded
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.