“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” is a motto credited to an old Georgia farmer who was talking about the government. Toyota has a habit of fixing things that aren’t broken but it has worked well for them. The Toyota Camry midsize sedan has been America’s best-selling car it seems like forever, and it’s still the best-selling model, thanks to Toyota engineers who keep fixing it. Simply put, it keeps getting better with age.
It stands in a super-competitive segment with the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, and Hyundai Sonata. This week, we drove the 2017 Toyota Camry XSE V6.
What’s New For 2017
Toyota is taking a breather from fixing the Camry and the sedan has changed little for 2017. Even then, Toyota has tweaked the Camry’s top trim levels for more standard features, including an upgraded infotainment system and a wireless charging pad.
Features & Options
The 2017 Toyota Camry XSE V6 ($31,370) comes with 18-inch wheels, LED running lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather and simulated-suede upholstery, the aforementioned charging pad, an upgraded Entune system with 7-inch display, a smartphone app-based navigation system, and a 10-speaker premium audio system with satellite and HD radio. V6 models also get LED headlights, a sunroof, a noise-reducing windshield, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Camry XSE adds a universal garage-door opener, auto-dimming mirror, and dual exhaust outlets.
Our XSE tester came with the optional Blind Spot Monitor ($500), Navigation ($710), and the Technology package ($750) that added adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams. Total MSRP as tested including destination: $35,903.
The cabin of the 2017 Camry XSE hasn’t been changed much either since the 2015 remodel. The XSE has door sills that light up, comfortable, heated sport leather seats, and ultrasuede inserts with extra side bolstering. The interior features contemporary styling that’s simple yet with an elegant feel. There’s an abundance of contrasting stitching on the seats, doors, dash, center console, shifter boot, and steering wheel adding to the ambiance.
The climate control and premium audio with simple and easy to use controls is refreshing compared to some models. That’s not always the case in the cabins of some other automaker’s upper trim levels.
The 2017 Toyota Camry features one of the most comfortable and spacious cabins in the midsize sedan segment. The backseat offers plenty of room for taller adults and a rear-facing child seat can be installed. It will fit easily in the back. There’s also lots of storage and cubby holes up front to place things. Space in the trunk, at 15.4 cubic feet, is average for a midsize sedan.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
Our Camry XSE tester came powered by the optional 3.5-liter V6 that produces 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft. of torque. The sedan features a front-wheel drive configuration and a six-speed automatic, with Eco/Sport modes and steering wheel paddle shifters. With the V6, the Camry XSE gets an EPA-estimated 21/30 city/highway and 24 combined mpg. The mpg rating puts it on par with the competition.
As is our practice, we took the Toyota Camry XSE into the mountains, west of Denver, to see how the V6 handles the altitude and the elevation change. Between Denver, which is 5,280 ft. above sea level and Evergreen, which is 8,500 ft. above sea level, is where I live. The 3.5-liter V6 engine delivered above average acceleration for a family sedan. Transmission upshifts are responsive, which is noteworthy, given that some competitor’s automatic transmissions are lethargic for the sake of fuel economy.
We kept the 6-speed automatic in Eco for a relaxed driving experience but dropped it into Sport mode later on. We used the steering wheel shifters for extra engagement while passing trucks on I-70. The sport-tuned suspension is responsive to driver inputs and fairly composed when going around tight mountain curves. The XSE dials up driver engagement if you have an itch to push the Camry a bit harder. It’s not as sporty as other rivals like the Mazda 6, but it’s not a rolling couch potato either.
Toyota’s V6 will sprint from 0 to 60 in 6.2 seconds, making it one of the quickest cars in the class. Fuel mileage suffers if you use that available power, however. The XSE’s 225/45R18 tires do provide a bit more grip than the standard Camry’s smaller meats; an advantage that’s intangible to the average driver. The sport suspension, however, delivers pleasant ride quality. It’s deliberate in quick maneuvers, but the electric power steering conveys very little of that tactile information to the driver.
The seventh-generation of Toyota’s Camry is still a good value for sedan shoppers because of Toyota’s traditional strengths of build quality, reliability, and resale value at trade-in. Camry is number one for a reason and delivers with a competent, quiet, and comfortable ride. For the average family, the XSE will deliver a satisfying commute. For a local business, the new Camry would be a good company car. The XSE trim does dial up excitement for those seeking a ride that’s a little higher on the fun-to-drive meter than the other Camry trim levels.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter:
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Photos: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.