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Minor update: Toyota Camry 2020 - more brains than beauty, relatively speaking ... read on


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This rental consisted of a much welcomed upgrade from a compact and being upgraded to a full-size though, in my estimation, this Toyota Camry base sedan looks more like a mid-size to me.  That's based on full-sizes looking more like American boulevardiers.  They didn't have many cars ... just a lot of SUVs, so I asked for something with a bona fide trunk. Better yet, I got to enjoy having this car in a temperate climate when winter is treating other parts of the country more harshly.

I've reviewed this vehicle before, and appended many photos.  This is a brief update highlighting pros and cons.

PROS:

- A 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine with an 8 speed automatic transmission ... am I dreaming?  "Who'd have thunk" anybody would be marveling over an engine without 150 cubic inches, in old school car talk? But it's a normally aspirated engine

- Ample power to do what you need to do ... merge, pass, etc., noting that you can still get into trouble with around 200 hp

- Beautiful shift quality of the automatic transmission, with purposeful yet barely felt shifts from 1-2, 2-3, until you can't really feel the higher shift points.  I noted the same of the automatic transmission in Toyota's Rav 4 in another review

- Surprisingly good fuel mileage for a N.A. engine and a geared transmission ... about 35 to 36 mpg, mixed, but mostly highway

- Comfortable highway ride and nimble in tighter maneuvers, such as parking

- Twenty years or so has taught Toyota engineers how to incorporate road feel into an easy, "relaxed" power steering set-up

- Roomy interior and roomy trunk

- Good sight lines from inside for rear visibility

- Legendary reliability

CONS:

- The front fascia, the front fascia ... and did I mention the front fascia?

- The unattractive 45 degree sweep of the diagonal at the base of the center stack ... you've got a harmonious looking dash in front of you, and, then, there's this overstyled feature that even hinders use

- The engine can get still get a little grainy under throttle

- While it's a minor issue, the rear sail panel looks like a throwback to a '68 Caprice coupe, but it sure beats a lot of current sedan rooflines that have too many (fixed) side windows in their greenhouses

- It's a decent value in base trim, but, with a V6 and higher trim levels, it can become pricey for what it's supposed to represent:  Toyota's value laden full-size sedan

- Not that many colors to choose from and, for what should be conventional enough colors, they offer some weird ones

- Similarly, not many interior color choices for base trims, in addition to an unusual bucket seat design with horizontal ribbing in the insets

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Like I said, this Camry has more brains than beauty. 

The driving experience has become much more refined and, I hate to say it, feels like what one of the better, large, and more recent American sedans felt like, which I consider a good thing.  It rides and handles smoothly, and it has come to offer an acceptable level of road feel.

The Camry has some decent angles, but the straight on and 3/4 views of the front grille and fascia are clunky.  This "appliance" look seems to be shared by Toyota-Lexus and they need to come up with something less burdensome to the eye.  Similarly, "less is more" when it comes to the dashboard.  The upper part of it is nice enough, though.

This is it.  It's one of the better normally priced sedans out there with a good track record and, mostly, a normally aspirated 4 cylinder engine with a slightly higher displacement coupled to a geared automatic transmission.  I hope Toyota, and others, keep putting out such a product for those who still like and seek this combination in their powertrain.  Mostly, I enjoyed having this vehicle for a week.

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End of review

Photos forthcoming

Edited by trinacriabob
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  • trinacriabob changed the title to Minor update: Toyota Camry 2020 - more brains than beauty, relatively speaking ... read on

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It looks like this was the SE model, based on the small air fins at the edges of the rear bumper.  Photographed in a cool place ... you may think it's Florida, but it's not.

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Front 3/4 view with the grille it has had for a few years.  Nice alloy wheels and, if I recall, a remote fuel door release.

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This is what it looks like under the hood ... 2.5 liters of normally aspirated power, with most things reachable and checkpoints identified/labeled

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We've come a long way - first, "no adjustments needed," and, second, recent cars usually conform to both U.S. and California emissions

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From this vantage point, it appears to be a nicely put together dashboard and cabin and, for the most part, it is

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I do not like this sweep

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The bucket seat design is unique and the ribbed upholstery in the insets is a little unusual.  The ergonomics were mostly okay, but I prefer "squarer" and more bolstered bucket seats

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This is the rear of the cabin and kudos for the integral rear headrests, which are less intrusive

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The rear legroom is fairly generous

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The visibility to the outside and to the rear is very good, and is augmented by the rear view camera

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End of photos

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11 hours ago, balthazar said:

Visibility in just about ANYTHING modern is relatively poor. The thick, raked pillars and fat headrests across the rear, coupled with disproportionately high decks make seeing around you a calculated gamble.

Yeah, that's where bigger side mirrors and back up cameras really help. I noticed it when I went from my '00 JGC to the '14 JGC a few years ago.   Bigger vehicle with thicker pillars, smaller side and rear windows, bigger headrests, can't see any of the corners from the driver's seat. Just the way it is with modern vehicles.  

Driving something from 20-30 years ago is quite a difference, the cabins seem so light and airy. 

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Yup Roll Over protection since the autos from 20 to 30 years ago and older did terrible when an auto rolled over. Pancake flat.

  • Haha 1
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21 minutes ago, balthazar said:

Have to go older to get some strength back in body construction. This car did a 360-degree roll at 90 MPH ~ 

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Yes Tucker was ahead of his time and built a lovely, strong safe auto. Sadly, way to many others this cannot be said for.

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