WASHINGTON — When you hear the name Camry, the first thing that pops up into your head is not “sporty handler.” But Toyota’s new XSE trim level adds more spice to this rolling appliance and changes its character a bit.

Driving the Camry XSE is the biggest difference you notice. It’s not set up for the cushy ride that most Camrys have; it’s a bit tighter, and you feel some bumps in the road with this ride. It’s not as sporty as the Mazda 6 but it’s much sportier than any Camry I can recall. It manages this without being harsh or loud, though — a nice touch.

This tester also comes with the optional V6 which really motivates this popular mid-size sedan with gusto. Most of the competition has moved away from V6s, but the Toyota carries on, though it does suffer a bit in the fuel department compared to others. I did beat the sticker by averaging 26.7 during my week, topping the 25 mpg on the sticker.

The six-speed automatic is smooth and offers very quick shifts when asked to accelerate or pass. The brakes are good, though they don’t seem as strong as some other mid-size sedans I’ve driven lately.

This Camry looks different when you choose the XSE trim level; it should with a $35,397 tested price. The Camry has never been known for bold styling, but it seems that it’s more important to Toyota than before. The large 18-inch alloy wheels look pretty sporty and darker in color, adding, dare I say, some flair to this sedan.

Many of the trim pieces are now blacked out, with just a little chrome color trim around the windows. There is even a small trunk lid spoiler and dual exhaust — both of which help this Camry stand out from some of the other 300,000-plus Camrys made each year.

Inside this sporty XSE Camry are heated leather seats with Ultrasuede inserts that look appealing. There is even red stitching on the seats, the leather shift boot and dash board to add that upscale sporty look. Space is a big plus: With good space for five and ample headroom and good legroom, you can quickly see why this is such a popular sedan.

The tester also came with the Entune premium sound and NAV system. It has the usual Bluetooth and USB ports, but there is wireless charging for certain phones and devices. You shouldn’t have a problem finding the buttons either: They are oversized in an almost comical way. The trunk is about average for the mid-size sedan class, but most families will find it has plenty of space for the usual situations.

The 2016 Toyota Camry XSE is a slightly different Camry with a more sporty edge while still holding true to what a mid-size sedan should be. With an optional V6, something that not many competitors can claim, the Camry motors on with space, refinement and some decent power, which will likely help keep this sedan at the top of the class for now.

Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

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