Camry a long-distance driver’s dream
DRIVEN: 2019 TOYOTA CAMRY XLE
The eighth-generation Camry hit the road in the not-so-distant past and might be one of the ultimate family sedans for the long-distance driver on the road today.
The 2019 Camry is the latest take on one of the most popular family sedans in Canada.
Despite the trend of Canadian shoppers ditching sedans for crossovers at a rapid pace, Toyota figures the Camry isn’t going anywhere.
After all, it’s long been the sensible, logical and reasonable family-car choice for thousands of Canadians.
So, why is this one such a great long-haul cruiser? After a pair of five-hour highway drives in my four-cylinder, Xle-grade tester, I’ve got a few observations to help explain.
First, my tester landed at or very near the top of my list of ‘most comfortable family sedans’ in recent memory. The ride quality is excellent, nicely dialled in, very relaxed and very compliant.
At virtually all times it feels soft footed and nicely isolates drivers from the unpleasant sensations hurled their way from the road beneath. And despite the comfy ride, it’s not excessively squishy or floaty either.
Those after a sedan dialled in for a comfort-first ride that’s not far from flabby will find the feel compelling.
Further, while cruising, Camry’s steering is light enough to be used with minimal effort, but not quick enough to startle the car when an input is given. By and large, the steering matches the ride — easygoing, but not devoid of any feedback or feel.
I noted noise levels to be kept nicely in check and that’s even with a set of typically-noisier winter tires mounted to my tester.
Next up? Fuel mileage. My tester ran Camry’s latest highcompression, 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine that’s good for 203 horsepower.
Using D4S direct-injection technology and the Atkinson Cycle, this modern engine uses Toyota’s latest fuel-saving tricks to ensure maximum energy is extracted from every molecule of fuel.
The eight-speed automatic further supports excellent mileage, partly by way of very low cruising revs.
I was surprised at a measuredby-hand consumption of under seven litres per 100 kilometres during several lengthy highway drives at a good clip.
Even with minimal effort, drivers can expect thrifty cruising mileage and a full day’s drive before stopping to refuel.
Its engine is a good all-around performer and is decently punchy when called upon and virtually invisible when driven gently.
There’s also room to spare. Up front, your average-sized writer found no issues to note with space. Camry is easily boarded and exited and easy to stretch out within.
Rear seats offer generous space and adult-friendly rear-seat legroom, though headroom will disappear first for larger occupants.
There’s plenty of nearby storage and charging provisions for everyone to stay juiced up and organized on the go.
My tester’s cabin had a bright and light colour scheme with a strong sense of sculpting and contrasting colours and high-tech displays and various panels and tiers of controls and materials flowing into and layering upon one another.
Quilted seats finished in perforated leather rounded out the package. Not long ago an interior like this was the stuff of the bigdollar luxury sedan. The designers have earned their paycheck, here.
Feature content in my tester included a glowing JBL stereo, panoramic sunroof, a big and easy-to-use central command touch-screen interface, heated seats, automatic lights and high beams and automatic climate control.
Still, some shoppers will find this machine a few features short of its price tag. Despite my nicelyloaded tester’s $36,000-plus asking price (with the navigation package), I had no remote start or heated steering wheel.
Notably, all of the market’s latest outward-looking safety systems (radar cruise, collision warning, lane departure alert and the like) were included.
Each system works effectively, smoothly and consistently, meaning you’ll learn to trust them in quick order.
Just note that many of these systems disable themselves should even a small amount of snow build up on the external sensors.
Elsewhere on the safety front, brakes are relatively powerful and the ABS system engages with a smooth action for consistently straight stops on slippery surfaces.
Additionally, the headlight performance is at or above average in the segment after dark.
Camry’s trunk is wide and flat and generous, though I wish the folding rear seats had a bigger pass-through to fit wider, longer items. They don’t fold flat, either, though they do come close.
Ultimately, Camry is a nicely upscale sedan with more than adequate room for occupants to relax, unwind and socialize. It does its best stuff in the background, ensuring drivers have hours of comfy cruising with minimal fuel use.
Finally, a full suite of automatic and self-activating features provides all the equipment you’ll need for set-it and forget-it driv- ing.
Complaints, keeping context in mind, were few and far between. The big trunk loses some space due to the trunk lid arms which might crush your cargo, depending on how it’s arranged.
Sportier drivers won’t find much excitement to be had from this specific Camry trim grade and driving enthusiasts may wish to opt for a sportier trim grade and maybe the available V6 engine.
Still, this particular Camry XLE turned in a highly-luxurious drive, without the over-the-top price-tag and shoppers after plenty of space, comfort, driving confidence and excellent fuel economy should consider it a priority test drive.
Cross shop this one with comparable versions of the Buick Lacrosse, Honda Accord and Chevrolet Malibu.
Model: 2019 Toyota Camry XLE
Engine: 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, 203 horsepower
Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Features: JBL audio system, blind spot monitoring, heated leather, automatic climate control, push-button start, touch-screen navigation, wireless charging pad, automatic headlights, sunroof
What’s hot: excellent on fuel, very comfortable, plenty of space, big trunk, upscale interior
What’s not: engine gets noisy when pushed, sportier drivers will wish for better reflexes and performance, relatively expensive
As tested (Camry XLE with navigation package): $36,645
Those after a sedan dialled in for a comfort-first ride that’s not far from flabby will find the Toyota Camry’s drive feel compelling (XSE trim shown here).