Toyota offers the Camry with an optional 3.5-liter V6 with 268 horsepower (hp) and 248 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque. The car techradar received to test was equipped with the base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 178 hp and 170 lb-ft, unfortunately. Both engines are paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of the base four cylinder. It delivers plenty of low-end torque, so the car doesn't feel dreadfully slow. There's adequate power for passing others on the freeway. While the more powerful V6 would have been more fun, the 2.5-liter has plenty of power for your average commuter while returning 25 and 35 miles per gallon in the city and highway.
The 6-speed automatic transmission Toyota uses was extremely smooth in normal drive and sport modes. I can't tell when the transmission is shifting during my regular driving, unless I am focused on it. Paddle shifters are available if you want to shift yourself, but I left the car in sport mode through most of my driving.
Smooth powertrain aside, the Camry XSE features a sport-tuned suspension for better handling, theoretically. I find the suspension too stiff, which resulted in some body aches and pains.
The car still provides excellent road feel with precise steering, but there's quite a bit of understeer (not turning enough) when pushing it on freeway on ramps. The Kia Optima drives better, with a much more comfortable ride.
Living with the car
I typically work with Diono (opens in new tab) for test-fitting child car seats in cars. However, the week I tested the Camry for review was during the holidays, so Diono wasn't available. Nevertheless, I have two younger kids and a Diono Radian RXT (opens in new tab) that I installed myself in the Camry.
My experience was not good, unfortunately. The Camry has lower LATCH anchors on the two outboard seats and top anchors for all three spots. I installed my car seat via the lower LATCH anchors easily, however, there's typically a 65-pound weight limit for these installations. When your child is older, the car seat needs to be belted in using the car seatbelt.
Due to the placement of the Camry's belt buckle, I was unable to install the Radian RXT securely. The belt buckle sits higher than the belt loop of the car seat, and held up with a steel plate. There was no way to twist the buckle to lower it, which Diono suggested during other car seat fittings.
Ultimately, with the belt buckle placement, I don't believe that the Camry can fit three car seats. You may have better luck with other car seats, but the Diono Radian RXT will not install with the vehicle seat belt.