Act now if you want a V-6; 2017 Toyota Camry set to close an intriguing chapter

Last Update July 27th, 2016

2017 Toyota Camry

2017 Toyota Camry

2017 Toyota Camry Buying Advice

This is the best midsize sedan for you if you believe 429,533 new-car buyers can’t be wrong. That how many people took home a new Camry during 2015, making it once again America’s best-selling car. Sales through the first half of 2016 were down some 6 percent; that’s less than a drop suffered by most car, though, as shoppers flock to crossover SUVs. And Toyota remains on pace to sell another 400,000 Camrys during ’16 – a goal bolstered by its decision not to raise prices on the 2017 model, despite adding its upgraded Entune audio and infotainment interface as standard on uplevel trims. Automatic emergency braking is available for the first time, as well, in a lineup that again features four-cylinder and V-6 engines, as well has a gas-electric hybrid model.

Check out our 2018 Toyota Camry Preview for the latest info

Should you buy a 2017 model or wait for the ’18?

Wait for the ’18 if you want the fully redesigned, next-generation Camry. It won’t change size, but will have new styling and features, and could well replace today’s V-6 with a turbocharged four-cylinder. It’ll almost certainly cost more than the ’17, too. Buy a 2017 if you like a bird in the hand and cam be tempted by probable model-closeout discounts as Toyota and its dealers begin to clear inventories ahead of the all-new ‘18s. You can choose from a 2017 lineup that features four-cylinder models in base LE, sporty SE and XSE, and luxury XLE trim levels. The V-6 is available with the XSE and XLE grades. Hybrids come as the LE, SE, and XLE.

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Changes

Styling:

The appearance of the vehicle you see on sale now bowed for the 2015 model year and is unchanged for 2017. Camry borrows several exterior styling elements from the larger Avalon sedan. The LE is the most popular model and is fairly basic looking with standard 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers; aluminum wheels are a $275 option, and they dress up the car considerably, so they are at least worth considering. SE versions get 17-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, and darkly colored exterior trim pieces. The XSE has 18-inch wheels and LED daytime running lights. XLE wheels are 17s but with a unique pattern.

In terms of passenger room/comfort and cargo space, Camry is above average in its competitive set. Front and rear legroom are both quite generous, but headroom suffers a bit beneath the housing of the power sunroof that’s standard on the XSE and XLE and optional on the LE and SE. Cargo volume is a roomy 15.4 cubic feet in conventional models. The hybrids’ battery pack causes trunk space to shrink to 13.1 cubic feet, which still isn’t bad.

Mechanical:

Camry’s conventional and hybrid drivetrains carry over unchanged. The non-hybrid four-cylinder accounts for the overwhelming majority of sales. It’s a 2.5-liter unit with 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. The V-6 is Toyota’s corporate 3.5-liter engine. In the Camry, it makes 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Either motor pairs with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Hybrids team a 2.5-liter gas-powered four-cylinder engine with 156 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque with a 105-kilowatt battery-powered electric motor. The result is a combined 200 horsepower and 355 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid’s sold transmission is a continuously variable automatic (CVT).

Acceleration is just OK with the conventional four-cylinder. It moves decently enough off the line, but it can feel somewhat labored when passing or merging onto a highway. Despite having less horsepower and torque than the V-6 or turbocharged four-cylinder engines found in other midsize cars, Camry’s 3.5-liter motor provides smooth, satisfying acceleration in any situation. If your budget allows, we would recommend it, especially since it’s not much more thirsty than the standard four-cylinder (see the below fuel economy section for details).

Hybrids strike a solid middle ground between the two conventional engines. The electric motor’s instantaneous torque improves off-the-line acceleration and responsiveness when passing and merging. These models also come with an “EV” mode that allows for a short amount of pure-electric driving when the vehicle is traveling less than 25 mph.

Features:

The LE model is fairly basic, not having too much in terms of exceptional standard features. A rearview camera and Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with Apple’s Siri Eyes Free and a 6.1-inch dashboard screen are both included. SE versions upgrade the standard cloth upholstery to a leatherette/cloth blend with 8-way power adjustment for the driver. They also have a firmer sport suspension. XSE versions add dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats trimmed with faux-suede accents, and power front-passenger seat. XLE versions add leather upholstery. Previously optional, but now standard on the XSE and XLE are wireless smartphone charging and an upgraded version of Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with GPS navigation that operates through a smartphone application called Navigation Scout. Hybrid models include keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, but otherwise mirror their conventional counterparts for standard equipment.

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How does it handle in the snow?

Quite well, generally. It’s front-wheel drive, which places the weight of the engine and transmission over the tires that provide motive traction. That’s not as snow-conquering as all-wheel drive (AWD), which isn’t available on the Camry. But it helps get you moving on slippery surfaces and is an advantage over rear-wheel drive, in which there’s less weight on the tires providing traction. Another Camry advantage is that most buyers choose the four-cylinder engine, which doesn’t have a surplus of torque to wrench the front tires into grip-compromising spin when you accelerate from a stop. The torquier V-6 and Hybrid models aren’t quite so sanguine off the line, but every ’17 Camry comes with “all-season” tires, meaning tread designed to balance dry- and wet-weather grip. And being a comfort-oriented family sedan, tires fitted to the LE, SE, and XLE models are relatively narrow, which helps them cut through accumulated snow better than the wider tires fitted to performance-oriented cars. Tuned for better handling, the XSE has lower-profile tires than the other models. They’ll not slice through standing snow quite as well, and will likely slip more away from a stop when teamed with the V-6.

Among midsize-sedan competitors better in the snow than the Camry three stand out, thanks to all-wheel drive. It’s standard on every version of the 2017 Subaru Legacy. AWD is available at extra cost on the ’17 Chrysler 200S and 200C Platinum models in combination with their optional V-6 engine. And AWD is available on four models within the ’17 Ford Fusion lineup. It’s optional on the SE, Titanium, and Platinum versions, where it teams with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s standard on the ’17 Fusion Sport, a new performance model that has a twin-turbo V-6. Note that summer performance tires are optional on the SE, Titanium and Sport and won’t match the snow grip of the standard all-season tires.

Prices

Pricing for the 2017 Toyota Camry is unchanged from 2016. Conventional four-cylinder models ascend from $23,905 for the LE, to $24,675 for the SE, to $27,415 for the XLE. Hybrids are priced from $27,625 for the LE, $28,830 for the SE, and $30,975 for the XLE. Note that these starting figures include an $835 destination fee, which is what Toyota charges in most areas of the United States. Certain dealers in the southeast US can charge more.

The V-6 engine commands a $5,060 premium, but models so equipped also include a power sunroof and “Convenience Package” that adds keyless entry with pushbutton ignition and universal garage door opener. The sunroof is a $915 option on all but the LE Hybrid. The Convenience Package is $845 on four-cylinder models, but it must be bundled with other options that can include the sunroof; in-dash GPS navigation system; wireless smartphone charging (SE); blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic detection; a Technology Package that consists of forward emergency braking, radar-based adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlights; and Toyota’s Safety Connect telematics (XLE). These bundles, some of which are also on hybrid and V-6 models, will add anywhere from $1,440-$4,930 to the sticker price.

Fuel Economy

Conventional Camry models rank a bit below the class average for fuel economy. Four-cylinder models rate 24/33/27 mpg city/highway/combined, according to the EPA. V-6 versions rate 21/30/24 mpg. Hybrids do much better. The LE rates 43/39/41 mpg while the SE and XLE get 40/38/40.

All use regular-grade 87-octane gasoline.

Release Date

The 2017 Toyota Camry went on sale in early summer 2016.

What’s next for the Camry?

Fall 2017 will likely bring a more modern, lighter-weight understructure beneath a new body. The 2018 Camry is likely to follow the lead of such rivals as the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima and drop its conventional automatic transmission for a continuously variable transmission. It’ll retain a base four-cylinder engine similar to todays, but may trade its V-6 for a more fuel-efficient turbo four and probably will continue to offer a hybrid variant. The styling will probably fall in line with Toyota’s latest Corolla compact car, RAV4 compact crossover, and Prius hybrid and become much more angular.

Competition

Chevrolet Malibu, Chrysler 200, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Passat

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]