2013 Toyota Camry

First Drive

Advocate WHEELS editor

Fresh off a major redesign last year, the seventh-generation Toyota Camry has gotten interior enhancements and new safety features for 2013. The venerable Camry remains a top choice in the competitive mid-size sedan segment.

The Camry has been the best-selling car in America for 14 out of the past 15 years. Try to think of the best-selling anything else in America and see if it has held that title 14 out of the past 15 years. Since it was introduced in 1983, more than 15 million Toyota Camrys have been sold around the world.

The Camry is offered in four grades – L, LE, XLE and SE – and a hybrid version that gets 43 city miles per gallon is available. SE and XLE models get a choice of a 4- or 6-cylinder engine, while the L and LE get a 4-cylinder engine. The Hybrid version is available in LE or LXE trims. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard.

The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder develops 178 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft. of torque, and the 3.5-liter V6 produces 268 horses and 248 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,700 rpm. The 4-cylinder has EPA estimates of 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The V6 gets 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the road.

The hybrid uses Toyota’s Synergy Drive powertrain, with a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle gas engine and a small but high-torque electric motor for a combined 200 horsepower.

Our test Camry this week was the XLE trim with the 4-cylinder engine, which we found surprisingly satisfying to drive.

Turbocharging is a way manufacturers bring more performance to 4-cylinder engines, but we found the regular 4 in the test Camry performed well. Acceleration was good and the car didn’t seem like it was having any difficulty with highway cruising. Cornering was sure and steering was precise and on center.

One of the concerns with any vehicle that has been around as long as the Camry is that familiarity can breed boredom. But last year’s remodel alleviated many of those concerns for the Camry.

Toyota describes the exterior style as an “elegantly simple but modern form,” and we can go with that. Camry buyers want something familiar, comfortable, reliable and gas-friendly, and that’s just what they get. We’d say it’s worked out pretty well for Toyota thus far.

Camry connectivity features Bluetooth wireless in all models. The available Display Audio with Navigation and Entune seems a good deal at $1,050. It includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen, upgraded sound with satellite HD radio, auxiliary jacks and a USB port, and smart phone access to a wide range of apps.

The 2013 Camry gets an overall five stars in the government’s safety tests, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Camry its “Top Safety Pick” award. Ten airbags are standard.

The base price for the 2013 Camry XLE sedan is $24,855. Extras in the test car boosted the bottom line to $30,295, which includes $795 in freight.

Like a good friend, the Toyota Camry is something its owners can count on. It’s been that way since 1983.

2013 Toyota

Camry XLE

Engine:

2.5-liter 4-cylinder

Horsepower:

178

Transmission:

6-speed automatic

Test model base price:

$24,855 ($30,295 as tested)

EPA mileage rating:

25 mpg city / 35 mpg highway