Inside Line's long-term test vehicles seldom make it out of California. Even less frequent are the times these Interstate commuters even stray from the West Coast. The addition of a 2007 Toyota Camry to our fleet and the appearance of a new Detroit editor on our staff changed all this.
Our Camry LE claimed dual citizenship between California and Michigan for 12 months and 21,000 miles.
Why We Bought It
The Toyota Camry has long reigned as the sales king of midsize family sedans. When a complete redesign was announced for the 2007 Camry, it was big news. Toyota wasn't satisfied with being the best; it wanted to be even better. Since the Toyota Camry is America's most popular car (448,445 Camrys were sold in 2006), we had to get our hands on one.
In addition to all-new exterior styling, the Camry's interior dimensions were stretched and it received additional luxury features. A new 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission to round out the most significant updates.
If this makeover wasn't enough motivation, we had past experience to heighten our enthusiasm. The Camry placed 1st in Inside Line's four-car V6 Family Sedan Comparison test. Its performance and equipment offerings positioned it well ahead of the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata, proving the new Camry still has what it takes to be successful.
There was still one test remaining before we could confidently recrown the Camry as king of the midsize sedan: ownership. So we ordered an LE V6 and put it through the rigors of day-to-day life for a year.
The addition of a Camry to our long-term fleet came as Senior Editor Dan Pund joined our Detroit office. This offered a unique opportunity because our otherwise sun-soaked test car could now experience a real winter.
Last January, Pund spent three days driving the 2,400-mile stretch from Santa Monica to his office in Troy, Michigan. On the long-term blog pages he notes, "The Camry got a right and proper introduction to its new home of Detroit when we were caught in a near white-out blizzard just after crossing the Michigan state line. It was the first poor weather we'd encountered on the trip, and the Camry handled it well. The traction control system is hyperactive, cutting engine power when I tried to pull away from stops. But at a steady cruise of a whopping 40 mph on the snow-covered expressway, the Toyota shrugged off the slippery stuff, no problem."
It takes a lot to upset the Camry. Stability at highway speeds is remarkable, even when significant crosswinds are a factor. The 60-series Michelin Energy MXV4 tires deliver a comfortable ride that works well with the softly tuned suspension to insulate passengers from most road imperfections. Camry's ride quality is representative of what it takes to be a benchmark family sedan.
Driver-for-hire Barry Toepke volunteered to shuttle the Camry back to California when its tour of Detroit was complete. "Throughout the first day's drive I silently mocked the complaints of other editors regarding the soft driver's seat," he blogged. "Within 30 minutes of the second day's drive I regretted doubting their insight. My bum was already hurting and no amount of shifting alleviated the discomfort."
Uncomfortable seats weren't our only issue with the Camry's interior. Build quality was less than perfect. Senior Content Editor Erin Riches noted in the logbook, "Talking about the fit and finish on a Camry is usually a formality. Call it class-leading and you're pretty much done. Or so I thought. After a night in our LE V6 last week, I came away a bit surprised and disappointed. Indeed, the car feels solid and likely to maintain its structural integrity through the next decade or two or three. But the number or misaligned panels in this car rivals our long-term Pontiac Solstice."
Edmunds.com Editor in Chief Karl Brauer also made mention of the Camry's interior. Karl noted, "When I got into the vehicle this morning I peered over the steering wheel spoke to insert the key. What I saw staring back at me were several large scratches on the steering wheel column plastic. Even careless key placement shouldn't be causing this level of wear on a 4-month-old Camry. This is further evidence against assuming a Toyota badge automatically means impeccable interior material quality."
We otherwise had no issue with the interior of our long-term LE. Front and rear seats are functional for everyday family use, though comfort is questionable over long trips. There is plenty of legroom behind the front chairs, and the relatively low rear bench allows ample headroom for rear passengers.
At no point during our ownership was the Camry affected by recalls, nor did we experience any mechanical failures. The reliability of our Toyota was never questioned, though a traffic collision taught us the limits of its durability.
A fellow motorist was to blame for the six days that our Camry sat out of commission at Page Toyota in Southfield, Michigan. We can't elaborate much on the drama behind the incident other than to say the at-fault party was issued a citation by the police, while we received none. We can elaborate on the extent of the damage, however. A shattered driver-side mirror, caved-in fender and gnarled door equaled $1,236.67 in repairs.
Prescribed service intervals arrived every 5,000 miles for the Camry. We consulted the Edmunds Maintenance Schedule prior to each visit to confirm we were paying competitive rates. Sure enough, we paid prices on par with other dealerships in our area. Our first three appointments cost $45.46, $55.92 and $162.11, respectively. We always left the dealership satisfied with the level of service.
Total Body Repair Costs: $1,236.67 covered by insurance of at-fault party
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 12 months): $263.49
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: None
Non-Warranty Repairs: Body damage due to traffic collision
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: None
Days Out of Service: 6 days for collision repair
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Performance and Fuel Economy
Toyota did not build the Camry to break any speed records on the drag strip or to pull a high G-load on the skid pad. It's built to shuttle families from Points A to B with comfort and convenience.
That being said, the 3,443-pound Camry still reaches 60 mph from a stop in only 6.9 seconds. This time is second only to the 6.6-second performance posted by our recently acquired long-term Nissan Altima. More important for a Camry is stopping distance from 60 mph. Our LE does it in 132 feet, which is 8 feet shorter than the best-in-class XLE featured in the aforementioned family sedan test.
Stability control does its job well in the Camry: It keeps the wheels from losing their grip on the pavement. But the early onset of electronic intervention also limits our best slalom speed to 59.9 mph and highest skid pad result to 0.76g.
Fuel economy for the Toyota has been pretty impressive. According to the Camry forums on CarSpace, highway fuel economy above 30 mpg is not uncommon. After 21,000 miles behind the wheel, our best recorded tank was 33 mpg, which came during the Camry's cross-country return.
Best Fuel Economy: 33.0 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.7 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 24.9 mpg
The total MSRP of our Camry came to $27,227. After 21,572 miles, Edmunds' TMV® calculator shows its worth has declined 26 percent. This is the highest depreciation of the midsize sedans currently in our long-term stable. Under the same conditions, our similarly equipped Hyundai Azera depreciates 22 percent and the value of the Saturn Aura goes down only 21 percent. In contrast, the well-equipped Nissan Altima loses 25 percent of its value.
True Market Value at service end: $20,147
Depreciation: $7,080, or 26 percent of original paid price
Final Odometer Reading: 21,572
Toyota took the best-selling car in the United States and has made it genuinely better — more spacious, more comfortable and more fuel-efficient. The 2007 Camry is as reliable as its predecessors and at the top of its class again. Our vehicle raises some build quality issues, but its mechanical integrity remains sound.
From an enthusiast perspective, the Camry doesn't make for a very engaging drive. But it isn't designed to satisfy driving enthusiasts so much as to satisfy those with an enthusiasm for never having to think about their car. In this way, the 2007 Toyota Camry LE is perfectly transparent transportation — the car never intrudes into the experience of simply moving efficiently from place to place.
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