Encouraged by The_Critic’s 5,000 mile review of his Altima, I figured I’d do the same of my Camry. Well, I’m a little late; it’s a 6,200 mile review. I bought the car on Mother’s Day weekend this past May. The miles have been piling on faster than I figured they would. I really enjoy the Camry, but I’ve never yet met a perfect car, one with no cons to go with the pros, and the Camry is no different. Many of the pros and cons are minor points, but to me, the difference is in the details, so I want to list them all. I will start with my dislikes: Dislikes 1) I bought the base model because of the deal they had on it, and stepping up to the LE model was a $1,300 affair that returned only keyless entry and a power seat. While I’m still fairly sure I made the right decision on trim level, the power seat would really be nice. The front of the manual seat is EXTREMELY low and I like a lot of thigh support. There is a manual adjustment to raise the seat, but it mostly raises the rear of the seat cushion, tilting the seat forward and reducing thigh support even further. My solution was buying some small wooden wheels at a craft store. Laid on their side, they’re about 5/8” thick, and I used them as spacers under the front seat rail mounts. This made all the difference in the world for seat comfort. I’m also in between seat rake adjustments. One detent is just slightly too far upright, and the next detent is just slightly too far laid back. I seem to be rather sensitive to seat adjustments, and power seats offer the slightest adjustments with a bump of the buttons, and I’ve come to appreciate that after having a few cars lately with manual seats. 2) The “oh s***” handles seem rather flimsy. They are damped so they don’t spring up with a thud after you pull them down, but they don’t feel all that sturdy. 3) There’s an aggressive fuel cut program in the PCM that cuts fuel to the engine above 1,100 RPM when you close the throttle, and the transmission will downshift as you coast to keep the engine speed above 1,100 RPM. This can be problematic, because if you coast down in traffic JUST to where the transmission downshifts, then get back on the gas, it’ll almost immediately upshift again (because the only reason for the downshift was for the fuel cut program). Fuel cut is only in speeds 4, 5, and 6. It does not cut fuel in the first 3 speeds. I wish Toyota would change that to cut fuel only in the top 2 gears, because you’re often in 4th gear when it wants to downshift into 3rd, then back up into 4th if you pick up the throttle. It’d be less annoying if it’d only cut fuel in 5th and 6th gears. 4) Although I really like the LED tail lamps, Toyota should have kept an amber turn signal segment. As it is, the LED stop lamp is red, and the incandescent turn signal segments are also red. With the brakes applied, the LED stop lamps are so bright it’s hard to see at a glance if the turn signal is also on. The Hybrid has amber turn signal segments; they should have used amber on ALL of the trim lines. Okay, the likes: 1) I really like the engine. The 2AR-FE is very refined, and during normal driving, you really can’t hear or feel it. With the 6-speed transmission, it’ll stay under 2,000 RPM all day long if you’re just putzing around, keeping up with traffic. The dual VVT-I seems to do its job, providing good low-end torque and good top-end power at the same time. So far, the engine hasn’t consumed any measurable amount of oil on the dipstick, and the oil just barely begins to darken in color after 4-5k miles. The two-stage intake manifold works very well, providing a noticeable kick in power above 4,000 RPM when you’re on the gas. 2) This “like” supplements the “dislike” above regarding the transmission’s aggressive downshift schedule. Many “cons” have a “pro” on the other side of the coin. On this side of the fuel-cut coin, engine braking is excellent, and it feels little different than my ’07 Corolla, which had a manual transmission. The brakes on this Camry should last forever! My other two vehicles (that don’t cut fuel on coasting) tend to roll down hills, requiring brake applications as you go down, but rarely in the Camry do I have to use the brakes other than when I intend to stop for a light or stop sign. Even in the ebbs and flows of traffic, I rarely have to touch the brake; it’s just like having a manual again, but without the clutch. 3) I also really like the lighting. Over the years, I’ve been a real stickler about automotive lighting, especially head lamps. This car uses H11 projectors on the lows and HB3 reflectors on the highs. The projectors have a VERY uniform beam spread, and a very well-defined beam shape as well. The upper cutoff is fuzzy enough to not be distracting (the projector lens is slightly dimpled), and the “squirrel spotters” add enough light above the cutoff so you can see reflectors on the road and road-side/overhead signs. Flip on the highs and it’s daylight all of a sudden. 4) Like most reviews of the Camry indicate, this car is supremely comfortable, and very quiet. With the Michelins aired up to a good pressure (38/36 F/R, 34/34 recommended), I think handling is actually fair-to-good. It doesn’t out-handle my former Corolla, but is easily on par with my old Cadillac STS. The ride is also notably quiet. The suspension soaks up bumps without a single clunk, bang, or rattle. I can’t say that about many newer vehicles I’ve driven and owned. On the road, this thing tracks as straight as a 747. The steering feel is light to the touch (which I like), and the brakes and gas are easy to modulate. Frankly, as someone who grew up on large cars (Crown Vics, etc), this is probably as “Crown Vic” as it gets for a modern 4-door sedan (let the flames fly). Most 4-door sedans today have gone the way of “Euro taut” and “great road feel”. I appreciate that this is an honest, comfortable sedan. 5) I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the fuel economy this car has returned. With an EPA rating of 22/32, I was expecting mid-20s, but I’m getting an honest 29.5 overall with this car. That’s overall, lifetime, and includes one trip to Virginia, and all of my commuting. My commute can probably be characterized as 50/50 city/highway. So I’m very happy with the fuel economy, and thought I’d take a bigger hit than I did when I traded the Corolla (I was averaging 34 MPG with that one). 6) There’s tons of storage space in this car, and I really like the center stack. The radio and HVAC controls are up high, at least mid-way up. Below the HVAC controls lies a large storage bin with a “garage door” cover. Press the cover, and it rotates up, like a solid wood garage door. In that cubby likes a 12-volt power source and the AUX input for the radio. Smartly, Toyota designed-in a small pass-through in the passenger side of the center column. If you leave the pass-through plug in place, you’d never know it was there if you weren’t looking. But pop out the half-dollar sized plug and you can now pass your 12-volt power and MP3 player cable through the small hole, without having to have the garage door open. I play Pandora from my Droid through the car’s AUX input and it works great. I can lay the phone in the seat or in the cup holder, but the center console still looks clean and uncluttered, with the cables passing neatly out the side where I can’t see them. 7) The base radio sounds fantastic. Lots of bass and good definition from the 6 speakers (driven via 4 channels). A friend has a Camry with the JBL system, and while I’d say it sounds a little better, I don’t think I’d have found the value in upgrading to the LE trim, and THEN upgrading to the JBL system, just to get the JBL. The base system sounds good as it is. Unfortunately, it’s just a single-disc player (my Corolla had a 6-disc changer), but I play enough music through my Droid anyway, I don’t hardly listen to CDs anymore. I can play an MP3/WMA disc, and the radio displays the artist and track on the display. Overall, I think the Camry is a comprehensive package. If you like Ford’s Panther cars or Cadillac’s larger FWD sedans, you’d probably like the Camry. It’s obviously not quite as big in the inside or out, but the driving dynamic is similar (quiet comfort), and the economy is fantastic. It doesn’t have the “road feel” that some other sedans do, but “road feel” sometimes translates as “harshness”, which is sometimes undesirable. It’s worth a test drive if you’re looking for a car with these qualities.