Road Test: 2019 Toyota Camry XSE

Toyota knows how valuable the Camry is to their customers, brand and the future of the midsize segment. It’s known as one of the most reliable, efficient and safe vehicles on today’s roadways, especially with now standard driver assist systems.

But the entire auto industry is seeing a shift to crossovers, and a lot of vehicle from the midsize sedan segment have left or are on the way out. Toyota wants to keep their customers happy and maintain their position as leaders in the class with emotional design, leading tech and an engaging (especially our XSE trim level) driving experience.

Camry’s team was told by none other than their CEO, Akio Toyoda, that it’s time to shake things up. He wanted an engaging midsize car that was also beautiful to look at.

On the outside, we can definitely say they met that criteria. Sweeping lines, creases and multi-shaped sheet metal gives the Camry character and edginess. It’s beautiful and strong at the same time. Designers wanted each Camry trim to be distinguishable from 200 yards away, not an easy feat but one we admit they accomplished thanks to unique characteristics in the front end, wheels, side and rear.

The XSE stands out the most with sporty intentions thanks to an aggressive face, stylish 19″wheels, and accents at the corners of the rear bumpers. A two-tone color scheme with a black metallic roof is available and makes the Camry look sleeker and lower because of the blacked out greenhouse. We fell in love with the color shifting effects of our car’s Galactic Aqua paint.

LED headlights and taillights look sporty and modern, giving the Camry a unique look at night. The headlights are incredibly bright too, with auto high beams taking it a step further.

Open any of the doors and you’ll think you stepped inside a Lexus. Toyota has truly upped their game in the design and materials department. were impressed with the dash layout, soft and padded touch points and attention to detail.  The two-tone dash color treatment with dimensional chrome trim brings an upscale feel to the cabin. The asymmetrical center dash flows down from the instrument cluster and is slightly angled toward the driver but still allows easy access for the passenger.

Volume and tuning knobs are stacked on top of one another on the left side of the Entune display, a huge help to drivers who don’t want to reach across the large screen. We like how the CD slot is cleanly integrated into the top of the dash. Below the display is the Qi charging mat for wire-free smartphone charging.

The steering wheel puts all critical controls within reach of our thumbs, including the radar cruise control.

Entune 3.0 is all new and works better than ever. The system is responsive and fluid, as good as the latest smartphone or tablet. Apple CarPlay is finally available and works beautifully.

JBL Clari-Fi and Dynamic Navigation sound and work amazingly. The nav is “dynamic” in that it updates over the air, a first for Toyota. Complimentary trials of Destination Assist, Safety Connect, Service Connect, Remote Connect, and a Wi-Fi hotspot are all standard.

A 10-inch head-up display is new and displays information in full color; it works very well.

Comfort during our week of driving was exceptional, with excellent support and various adjustments thanks to the 8-way power driver’s seat. Visibility is very good all around.

The rear seat is just as roomy but more comfortable than previous Camry generations.

The trunk offers 15.1 cubic feet. A temporary spare remains in the trunk, a smart move.

The 2.5L engine on our XSE generates 206 HP and is mated to a new 8-speed automatic. Power is strong and much more confident than ever before. We enjoyed the sound of it too.

EPA fuel economy ratings register in at 28 city, 39 highway, and 32 combined. We averaged 33 mpg in mixed driving.

Lastly and most importantly, the safety front. Toyota Safety Sense-P is standard and includes pre-collision protection with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, auto high beams and radar cruise control. Blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert is mandatory for crowded parking lots, and sonar sensors with automatic rear braking adds another level of protection.

Tire pressure monitoring now provides direct numerical readouts, a great feature that leads to better tire wear and fuel economy by making pressure monitoring easy.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling9
Powertrain and Fuel Economy9
Interior Fit and Finish9
Gauges and Controls10
Total Score94

Make: Toyota
Model: Camry
Trim Level: XSE
Engine: 2.5L 4-Cylinder
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Options: Driver Assist Pkg, Navi Pkg, Panoramic Glass Roof, Carpet Floormats

Base Price: $29,475
As-Tested Price: $35,639

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