A Best Seller
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – Does a 0-60 tire burning run of less than three seconds stir your blood pressure?
Does 1.2 G or more on the skid pad mean anything?
How about a top speed in the 200 mph neighborhood?
Or a cockpit that resembles a top Air Force fighter jet?
If your answer to these and related questions elicited more “Naas” than the old rock group “Sha Na Na,” you are in good company.*
Because the “Naa” people have kept the Toyota Camry the best-selling car in the U.S. since way back when.
They want wheels that are long lasting, easy to understand, are well built, fairly priced and simply do the task of day in and day out driving without giving the operator the slightest concern. Enter this weekend’s test car, the Camry XSE.
It does add some sporty touches. The paddle shifts, (on a Camry?) worked fine and the sport suspension did firm things up a bit, but it also handled the rough roads that are still awaiting the county’s patch doctors.
While a four is an option for XSE customers, a more responsive 3.5 liter six with 268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm and 248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm lived under the hood of the test Camry. It was a very refined piece of engineering, quiet on the interstates yet with more than enough oomph to merge quickly or whisk by slow moving semis on a mountain grade. Along with the excellent six speed automatic, the powertrain carries my highest recommendation.
Happy with 87 octane petrol, the six is rated at 21/31/25 mpg and I ended the test week at 25.
But it is inside where the two trophy winning features live.
First is the, deep breath here, Sport leather-trimmed Ultrasuede multi-stage heated front seats with seatback pockets; 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support and 4-way power-adjustable front passenger seat. It took less than a minute to find a comfortable driving position that remained that way for the entire test week. I can’t say that about some other cars and I wonder about the 30-way adjustable seats coming on the Lincoln Continental.
Four adults will be content even on extended journeys thanks to ample room front and rear and five can be accommodated.
The second trophy goes to the simple controls for ventilation and audio system. They utilize new technology called knobs and they can be adjusted without taking your attention off the road! Call me old fashioned, but they beat the heck out of trying to hit a touch screen button or trying to remember proper voice commands when you are in heavy interstate traffic. On the demerit side. there was more hard plastic inside than I thought there should be at this price range.
The Entune Premium Package, $805, included an excellent JBL Audio system with 10 speakers in 8 locations with auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 port with iPod® connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology), Siri® Eyes Free, Entune App Suite, HD radio, HD predictive traffic and Doppler weather overlay, AM/FM cache radio, SiriusXM All Access Radio with 3 month Complimentary Trial, and Gracenotes album cover art all displayed on a 7 inch screen along with the navi.
I would like to meet Grace Notes one day, I understand she is a wonderful lady.
The XSE rides on 18 inch wheels instead of the standard 17 inch and P225/45 R18 all season tires. There is a temporary spare tire.
Check the XSE box and you get LED Daytime Running Lights, 18-inch machined finish alloy wheels with black painted accents and 225/45R18 tires, LED Low and Hi Beam Headlights with black sport trim bezels and auto on/off feature, a power tilt/slide moonroof, driver and front passenger illuminated vanity mirrors, and rear-seat reading lights, and dual chrome-tipped exhaust.
Also dual-zone auto climate control, and Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging.
Blind sport monitor with rear cross traffic alert added $500 with another $750 for other safety items such as Pre-Collision System, Land Departure Alert, Radar Cruise Control, and Automatic High Beam.
Various other options totaling $419 brought the MSRP to $35,397 with delivery. That includes complimentary maintenance for 2 years or 25,000 miles along with 24/7 roadside assistance
And of course, there is Toyota’s reputation for reliability and long life. On the XSE there is also good bang for the buck, all of which makes a strong case for the Camry remaining on the best seller list, like “Hamilton.”
*Did you know the group’s name came from the now very aged rock song, “Get a Job?”