2019 Toyota Camry XSE Review

2019 Toyota Camry XSE - Camry exhibits luxury characteristics

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The new vehicle market is inundated with small and midsize sport utility vehicles, also known as crossovers. Presumably these vehicles without a trunk and with more ground clearance spell the demise of the sedan.

Crossovers have reduced sales of sedans but the four-door, five-passenger, front-wheel-drive midsize Toyota Camry is proof that the sedan market lives on. Several automotive media writers have listed the Camry as the best midsize family sedan  on the United States market.  Competitors, who have their own media followers, include Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mazda6 and Nissan Altima.

A top-of-the-line $34,600 XSE model of the Camry was tested recently. For standard inclusions the price is right. The powertrain is a sporty 301 horsepower V6 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission That eight-speed is standard across the gasoline-powered Camry lineup which begins with the 2 .5 liter, 203-horsepower  four cylinder, $24,095 L model. A hybrid gas-electric powertrain has a continuously variable transmission.

The V6 Camry's responsive engine will get a driver around slower traffic quickly and quietly. Acceleration is fast and smooth. In combined Interstate, four-lane county and state highways,  city and suburban streets, the tested Camry averaged 27.2 miles per gallon of regular fuel usage. Two adults usually were aboard. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the vehicle at 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, 26 mpg combined.

With a 2018 redesign, the Camry shed its dull but pleasant reputation and acquired the look of a sportster. It begins in front with a split black mesh grille, continues along the sides with sharp creases and black 19-inch machined wheels (17 or 18 inchers on L, LE, XLE models) and ends at the rear with quad chrome tips for the twin exhausts. A panoramic glass roof has a power moonroof.

A spiffy interior on the XSE includes leather and metal trim.

The 2019 Camry is not much different from the 2018 version, but the current model has added Apple CarPlay and Alexa Amazon compatibility to the standard list of amenities.

Leg room is good in front and in the rear with power and heated seats in front on the XSE. The 15.1 cubic foot trunk is carpeted, lighted and flat. The deck lid rises to a good height so clumsier items can be loaded into the storage area.

Interior materials are upgrade. Doors close with a thud and not a tinkle. Use of plastics is minimal in the cabin. It is a quiet ride in the well-insulated Camry. Engine noise and highway racket does not offensively intrude into the cabin.

The sound system is user-friendly. It is simple and easy to use. Smartphone usage is encouraged. There are tuning and sound knobs to make changes easily and quickly if the AM-FM-satellite radio is in use.

Navigation is in a $1,040 package and includes a host of sound and safety upgrades. See a dealer for details. A buyer also can pair a smartphone with Toyota's Entune app for navigation purposes. Voice commands are possible but there is a process to go through for the car to recognize speech patterns.

Safety features are a highlight of the Camry. Besides the norm of seatbelts, headrests, airbags (10 of them), antilock brakes, tire pressure monitor, traction and stability controls and hill-start assist, the standard palette on the XSE includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, brake assist with smart stop technology (sensors detect imminent crash) and  radar cruise control.

A loaded Camry approximates but does not quite have the same luxury features of Toyota's upscale Avalon luxury sedan. But the XSE model comes close.

FAST FACTS

Vehicle: XSE model of 2019 Toyota Camry

Type: mid-size, five-occupant, front-wheel drive sedan

Price: $34,600

Engine: 3.5-liter, 301-horsepower, dual overhead cam V6

Transmission: eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode

Fuel: regular unleaded

Fuel tank: 16 gallons,

Weight: 3,572 pounds

Trunk: 15.1 cubic feet

Leg room: 42.1 inches front, 38 inches rear

Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 111.2, 192.7, 72.4, 56.9, 5.7

Tires, alloy wheels: 19-inch, temporary spare

Suspension: independent, struts front, multi-link rear, shock absorbers, coil springs, stabilizer bars

Turning curb-to-curb: 38 feet

Assembly: Georgetown, KY

Warranty: 36 months or 36,000 miles basic, five years or 60,000 miles powertrain

Information: www.toyotacamry.com


Jerry Kuyper

Born on a southwestern Minnesota farm, Jerrold E. Kuyper quickly became familiar with tractors, pickup trucks and related agricultural equipment. He left that behind to graduate from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and attend graduate schools in Evanston and Chicago. He was hired as a reporter for the Kenosha News, a daily newspaper in Kenosha, WI. After a stint of a dozen years at the Kenosha News, he became a columnist, layout, page and sections editor at the Northwest Herald, a daily newspaper based in Crystal Lake, IL serving northwest Chicago suburban communities.

While with the Northwest Herald he helped create, write reviews and opinion columns as well as edit the newspaper's Wheels section, a 16- to 40-page broadsheet that appeared weekly in the newspaper's Friday edition. Wheels was devoted to reviews of new vehicles, looks at automotive history, current trends in the automobile world and columns by automotive enthusiasts. Midwest Automotive Media Association members who contributed to reviews and columns included Mitch Frumkin, Phil Arendt, Matt Joseph and James Flammang as well as photo journalist Doug Begley and dragster specialist Fred Blumenthal.

Kuyper, who lives in Salem Lakes, WI, is a founding member of MAMA, is married, has three children and six grandchildren.