The 2019 Toyota Camry has done the seemingly impossible by proving a sensible mid-size sedan — one known primarily for dependability and value — can deliver some real surprises. In the case of the recently redesigned Camry, this includes bolder styling, a powerful V-6 engine option and steering that outshines its closest rivals, the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.
Dare we suggest the 2019 Camry has become a car you’d want to buy, not simply a vehicle to get the job done without any fuss? Not that there’s anything wrong with choosing a vehicle that has a great track record for reliability — except in the recent past, buying a Camry was like choosing a new dishwasher: Sure, you depend on it, but you’d never risk falling in love with either appliance (unless, of course, you really, truly hate doing dishes).
Be sure to check out our full review of the 2019 Camry courtesy Kelsey Mays via the related link above. But for a more abbreviated take on what we admire in this comfortable sedan, plus a few flaws that could use a fix, keep reading.
Here are eight things we like and four we don’t about the 2019 Toyota Camry:
Things We Like
1. Solid Standard Four-Cylinder Engine
If you’re looking to save money and keep fuel bills low, then consider the standard engine offered in the Camry. This 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers 203 horsepower to the front wheels and is coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. On the highway, the four-cylinder Camry returns an EPA-estimated 41 mpg at its most efficient.
2. Powerful V-6 Option
While the base motor is fine for routine driving, the optional 301-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 turns the Camry into a family sedan with sharp teeth. Mays called it a “beast” in our review; in this case, that’s meant as a glowing compliment.
3. Ride Control
Notice we didn’t say “ride comfort.” Don’t get us wrong, the 2019 Camry is comfortable for daily commutes or long road trips. We noted the ride is firmer than before, which might surprise some of the Camry faithful. Yet the trade-off in terms of overall control and suspension balance is worth it.
4. Playful Handling
You read that correctly: The steering in the 2019 Camry delivers some actual driving excitement. You’re not heading to a local racetrack to fling your Camry around corners — we get that. But during our time with the Camry, we noted it exhibits less understeer (the sensation that the car’s nose is pushing wide when turning hard into a corner) than its rivals, the Altima and Accord.
5. Touches of Luxury
The Camry can be a bare-bones commuter car if you want, or a near-luxury sedan that gets awfully close to cars wearing an Acura, Infiniti or Lexus badge if you’re willing to pony up the cash. Upper trim levels not only come with the more potent V-6 engine, they’re also loaded with goodies like leather seating, panoramic moonroof, heated front seats, wireless smartphone charging, dual-zone climate control and much more.
6. Solid Cargo Space
While you don’t get class-leading cargo room with the Camry, the sedan’s roughly 15 cubic feet of trunk space is competitive in this segment. The Altima rings in at slightly less, while the Accord offers a bit more overall cargo room.
7. Strong Safety Scores, Standards
The 2019 Camry gets top marks in crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The only reason it’s the hybrid model (which we tested separately) that gets the coveted Top Safety Pick Plus ranking comes down to that model’s unique headlights; the units used in other Camrys receive a rating of acceptable for their effectiveness. That’s still better than most of the Camry’s direct rivals. Standard safety equipment is impressive and includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control.
8. Look-at-Me Looks
The Camry is no longer a car that fades into the background. This is especially true in upper trim levels, which can be ordered with 19-inch alloy wheels and two-tone exteriors.
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Things We Don’t
1. Transmission Lag
Whether we were behind the wheel of a Camry fitted with the four-cylinder or the optional V-6, there is a noticeable delay from the powertrain when punching the gas pedal at cruising speed. This is more apparent with the base motor, though it doesn’t disappear with the 301-hp V-6. The transmission seems a half-step behind what the driver and engine are asking of it.
2. Cheap-Outs Are Obvi
We appreciate saving a buck here and there, we just wish lower trim levels of the Camry didn’t make this so obvious. Hard plastics and chintzy trim in entry-level models are much too easy to spot.
3. Moonroof Munches Headroom
If you’re tall, skip the fancy moonroof. This takes about an inch of available headroom. That could make a big difference for the vertically endowed among us.
4. Android Auto Still MIA (for Now)
Apple CarPlay is standard on all versions of the Toyota Camry, but Android Auto remains a notable no-show on this Toyota sedan. That changes for the 2020 model year, when Android Auto also becomes standard.
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