- Comfortable and spacious interior with above-average rear seat space
- Good visibility
- Distinct luxury and sport trim levels
- User-friendly interior controls
- Excellent V6 engine
- Some competitors are more engaging to drive
- Middling four-cylinder fuel economy
The balancing act continues for the 2016 Toyota Camry, a perennial best-seller that's trying to move forward without abandoning its roots. With nimble, aggressively styled rivals nipping at its heels, Toyota's popular family sedan pivoted last year, debuting sleeker looks and a tauter sport-tuned suspension in certain models. At the same time, the Camry faithful demand traditional traits like an ergonomic control layout and a hushed, buttery ride. Serving these two masters will be a key to the Camry's ongoing success.
To sustain the momentum from last year's redesign, Toyota has introduced a Special Edition trim level for 2016. Based on the sporty Camry SE, the four-cylinder-only Special Edition ups the edginess quotient with flashy 18-inch wheels, smoked taillights, the SE's sport-tuned suspension and vibrant blue interior trim. But the company knows that not everyone wants tuner-inspired performance and styling flourishes, which is where the relatively staid LE and XLE trims come in. Outfitted with more conservative bodywork, a comfort-biased suspension and restrained interior decor, these Camry variants should reassure longtime fans that Toyota hasn't lost touch with its base.
There's a plethora of intriguing alternatives in this segment. On the athletic end of the spectrum, the Ford Fusion and Mazda 6 deliver still more smiles per mile without scrimping on fuel economy or features. The refreshed Honda Accord is a superb all-around choice, while the Hyundai Sonata is value-packed and more sophisticated than ever. But with its distinct sport- and comfort-oriented model lines, the Camry just might come the closest to being everything to everyone. Whether you're looking for the tried-and-true or the cutting edge, you owe yourself a drive in the Edmunds "A" rated 2016 Toyota Camry.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2016
Following last year's overhaul, the Camry mostly stands pat for 2016. Joining the lineup is a Special Edition model based on the existing SE that adds exclusive items like smoked taillights, a sportier gauge cluster and blue interior accents.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2016 Toyota Camry is a five-passenger midsize sedan available in LE, SE, Special Edition, XSE and XLE trim levels. The Toyota Camry Hybrid is reviewed separately.
Standard equipment on the base LE includes 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, keyless entry, a rearview camera, cruise control, an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar adjustment), 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, cloth upholstery, a 6.1-inch Entune touchscreen electronics interface, voice controls, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Siri Eyes Free and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
The SE builds on that with 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, sport-themed exterior styling and interior trim elements, cloth and synthetic leather upholstery, a leather-trimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters and a 4.2-inch color driver information display.
Optional on the LE and SE is an Entune Audio Plus package that includes an upgraded 7-inch touchscreen, satellite radio and HD radio. A sunroof is also optional.
The SE-based Special Edition trim gets the Entune Audio Plus package and sunroof as standard, and it adds 18-inch wheels, smoked taillights, keyless entry and ignition (including hands-free trunk opening), blue interior trim (including seat inserts and contrast stitching), unique gauges and Qi wireless smartphone charging.
The XSE doesn't come standard with the sunroof, keyless entry and ignition or the wireless phone charger, but it retains the sport-tuned suspension and adds 18-inch wheels of its own, LED running lights, leather and synthetic suede upholstery, heated front seats, a four-way power passenger seat and dual-zone automatic climate control.
A Convenience package is offered on the SE and four-cylinder XSE trims that includes keyless entry and ignition with hands-free trunk opening and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The XLE is equipped similarly to the XSE, but switches to the LE's comfort-oriented suspension tuning and goes without the sporty styling elements. It has 17-inch alloy wheels and full leather upholstery.
The sunroof is optional on the SE, four-cylinder XSE and four-cylinder XLE, while the wireless smartphone charger is optional on the latter two trims.
Note that the V6-powered versions of the XSE and XLE get a few additional standard features, including LED headlights, a noise-reducing windshield, the sunroof, the Convenience package, the wireless smartphone charger and an upgraded Entune touchscreen interface with split-screen capability and smartphone app integration. The latter is optional on all but the base LE trim, as is a navigation system.
Optional on the XSE and the XLE is a blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert system, a Technology package (lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision warning and braking system and automatic high-beam headlight control) and a 10-speaker JBL sound system.
The XLE can additionally be equipped with Safety Connect emergency telematics (see Safety section).
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The 2016 Toyota Camry provides one of the most comfortable and spacious cabins of any midsize family sedan. There's plenty of headroom and legroom up front and not much less in back, where even taller adults will be content to ride for extended periods. Moreover, a rear-facing child seat will fit in back with ease. The fixed rear headrests make it difficult to properly secure a front-facing child seat, though. Space in the trunk, at 15.4 cubic feet, is average for a midsize sedan.
From the driver's vantage point, most of the physical buttons are plenty large, easy to understand at a glance and glove-friendly. The sensibly designed climate controls deserve special praise for their simple, intuitive operation. On the technology front, the Camry gets a standard 6.1-inch version of Toyota's Entune touchscreen infotainment system, with an upgraded 7-inch touchscreen specified on multiple trim levels. The graphics aren't as crisp as the segment's best, but like the Camry's other control interfaces, these screens are relatively straightforward and easy to use.
Every 2016 Toyota Camry comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags, front knee airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a rearview camera.
The XSE and XLE can optionally be equipped with a blind-spot warning system that's paired with a rear cross-traffic alert system. The Technology package adds a lane-departure warning system and a collision mitigation system that warns the driver of an imminent collision and automatically applies the brakes if necessary.
Optional only on the XLE is Safety Connect, which adds automatic collision notification, an emergency assist button and a stolen-vehicle locator.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Camry LE stopped from 60 mph in an impressively short 116 feet. However, a pair of XLE V6 test cars stopped from 60 mph in 127 and 129 feet, which is on the long side for this class.
In government crash testing, the Camry received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Camry its best possible rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset impact tests. The Camry also earned a "Good" score in the side-impact, roof-strength and head restraint/seatbelts (whiplash protection) tests.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Every 2016 Toyota Camry trim comes standard with front-wheel drive, a six-speed automatic transmission and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque.
In Edmunds testing, a Camry LE with that powertrain went from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, which is average for a four-cylinder midsize sedan.
The XSE and XLE trims also offer a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. An XLE V6 sprinted to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds in our testing, a quick result for this class of vehicle with an upgraded engine.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the four-cylinder engine is 28 mpg combined (25 city/35 highway), a few mpg behind the four-cylinder Mazda 6 and Honda Accord.
The V6's EPA-estimated fuel economy of 25 mpg combined (21/31) is about average compared to rival V6 engines.
Thanks to numerous improvements last year, the 2016 Toyota Camry is more responsive to driver inputs than the previous versions, not to mention more composed when going around corners. This is especially true of the SE, Special Edition and XSE trims, which dial up the driver engagement even further with their sport-tuned suspensions. If true sportiness is what you're after, you'll still likely prefer rivals like the Ford Fusion and Mazda 6, but Toyota has closed the gap significantly.
Of course, the Camry has traditionally been known for its comfort and quietness, and fortunately those traits are still abundantly present. Even the sport-tuned trims have a supple ride, but if you want the creamiest suspension possible, the LE and XLE certainly deliver. Under the hood, the base four-cylinder accelerates well enough, but the optional V6 is the star of the show with its effortless and seemingly endless thrust. Either way, the six-speed transmission is quite refined and notably quick to downshift.
With its recently improved cabin quality and handling, the 2016 Toyota Camry is a compelling and competitive midsize sedan.