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Toyota Camry

Still the one to beat.

HYBRID

Toyota’s perennial best seller now faces stiff competition from every corner, but thanks to a redesign last year, it’s more than ready for the fight. The Camry’s interior is vastly improved, with stitched leather and chrome accents replacing hard beige plastic. The new exterior design still plays to conservative tastes but is no longer bland. Unlike some of its newest competitors, the Camry still offers a V-6. The familiar 3.5-liter engine, despite mild fuel-economy gains, gives up 4 mpg on the highway to the Hyundai Sonata’s more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The six is worth considering, though, as it’s perhaps the smoothest engine in the segment. The four-cylinder and hybrid powertrains post gains as well, with the Hybrid achieving 41 mpg combined. We’re most surprised — and pleasantly so — by how the new Camry drives, particularly the Hybrid. The soupy handling, artificial steering, bouncy ride, grabby brakes, and clumsy throttle response we complained about have vanished without a trace. The electric power steering (now fitted to all Camrys) is precise and almost natural, the brake pedal feels as good as any hybrid’s, and the suspension tuning is nothing short of a revelation. The top-level V-6 SE, for its part, serves up surprisingly balanced handling, thanks to its firmer suspension and heavier steering.

COMPETITORS

Chevrolet Malibu

Ford Fusion

Honda Accord

Nissan Altima

new for 2013

The Camry carries over unchanged for 2013 after receiving a full redesign last year.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, side, side curtain, and driver’s knee air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are all standard.

High Mileage

MPG

CITY 21–43

HWY 30–39

PRO

Upscale new interior

Efficient, well-sorted hybrid

Better driving dynamics

CON

Still no driver’s car

Six-cylinder can’t match fuel economy of a turbo four

Base Price Range: $24,000–$30,500 (est.)

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: L, LE, SE, XLE, LE Hybrid, XLE Hybrid

BODY STYLE: Sedan, 5-passenger

ENGINES: 2.5L I-4, 178 hp, 170 lb-ft

2.5L I-4/electric hybrid, 200 hp net, 156 lb-ft

3.5L V-6, 268 hp, 248 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed automatic, continuously variable

PASSENGER VOLUME: 101.3–102.7 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: 13.1–15.4 cu ft

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