While driving this "sports" sedan around Atlanta's highways and byways, Toyota was at the New York International Auto show preparing to unveil its replacement.
Before taking delivery of this local fleet car, the news that it was being redesigned came as no surprise to me. Camry's reputation hasn't necessarily been built on its good looks, but rather on its reliability, dependability, competence and ability to deliver on its promises...like a best friend. You would never pick a best friend based on their looks; would you?
Well, I will never pass judgement on another car before spending time in the driver's seat. The 2014 Toyota Camry SE is a wolf in sheep's clothing. From the first press of the accelerator, I knew that I would never look at a Camry the same again. My first thought was "who knew?" The responsiveness and exhaust note were reminiscent of some of those German sports cars from my past. Unfortunately, we were not able to take the vehicle to a test track for official performance numbers, but if a Camry SE owner wants to merge onto one of Atlanta's busy interstates, they don't need permission to do so.
After experiencing the (more than capable) straight line acceleration, my curiosity got the best of me; how capable would it be on our windy, mountainous back roads around suburban Atlanta? Surprisingly, the suspension, seats, steering and well-appointed, leather wrapped steering wheel, were more than up to the task. In fact, the Camry seemed more than capable of handling anything that we could possibly ask of it on a public road. My only complaint, because no car is perfect and there has to be a complaint, would be that the steering required more than moderate effort in tight parking lot situations. The Camry could benefit from the speed sensitive steering from some of the other Japanese brands of the past.
So, you probably wondered why I would refer to the Camry as a sports sedan in my opening statement (as did I), but when I sat down to decide what impact the Camry had on me, the performance was top of mind. This is not to detract from its primary responsibilities as a roomy, comfortable, mid-sized, family sedan. The things that the Toyota Camry has come to be known for were all present and accounted for. A young family man, not quite ready to give up his sports car for a mini van, could compromise and opt for the conservative and roomy Camry SE instead. Just don't mention the part about the performance. (Shhh!)
If the next generation Camry SE is an improvement over the 2014, I'm raising my hand now for track day!
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