Camry a long-dis­tance driver’s dream

The Casket - - Wheels - JUSTIN PRITCHARD com­mu­ni­[email protected]­ald.ca

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 driv­ing.

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.

The specs

2019 Toy­ota Camry XLE

2.5-litre, four-cylin­der, 203 horse­power front-wheel drive

eight-speed

Model:

En­gine:

Driv­e­train: Trans­mis­sion:

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

ex­cel­lent on fuel, very com­fort­able, plenty of space, big trunk, up­scale in­te­rior

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

What’s hot:

What’s not:

Toy­ota

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).

Justin Pritchard

Our tester ran Camry’s lat­est high-com­pres­sion, 2.5-litre, four-cylin­der en­gine that’s good for 203 horse­power.

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