Reader Review: 2017 Toyota Camry XSE V6Dec 9th, 2016
Available in several different models, the 2017 Camry comes in LE, SE, XLE and XSE trims, all powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine. Meanwhile, there are two Camry models featuring a 3.5L V6, in XLE and XSE trim, as well as three hybrid versions. On SE and XSE models, whether hybrid or not, the Camry features sport-tuned suspension that provides a crisper ride and a more dynamic driving experience. An all-new 2018 model-year Camry is set to debut early in 2017, and rumour has it this is the last year for the V6 engine.
“My first impression was the Camry doesn’t necessarily look like a family car; it’s got a low-slung attitude with some sporty overall lines,” Farkas said of the $37,568.47 XSE V6 model he drove. That price includes the pre-delivery inspection, but not taxes. There were no options on the car, apart from the $255 ruby flare pearl paint; and that’s something that caught his attention.
“The paint was just gorgeous; it comes alive in the daylight,” Farkas says.
Farkas learned to drive on the backcountry roads around his Whitewood, Saskatchewan, hometown. His first car was a 1955 Chevrolet sedan that was handed down from his brother. Since that Chev, Farkas has owned almost nothing but products from General Motors, including a 1968 Camaro SS and 1969 Corvette.
Right now, his daily driver is a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix with a V6 engine, and he’s got a 1955 Chevrolet hot rod as a summer toy. He needs a reliable vehicle that he can add highway miles to, as the family of four (wife Joan, daughter Madison and son Jacob, his two adult children) often travels from Calgary to Saskatchewan and northern Alberta to visit relatives.
“When I first sat in the car, it’s like it just wrapped itself around me,” Farkas, who is 5 feet 10 inches tall, says. “Whoever drove it before me had it set up much the same way I would have, and there wasn’t much need to adjust anything.”
Fit and finish was above standard, and Farkas liked the black leather-trimmed seats with cloth inserts all sewn together with red contrast stitching.
“The instruments were nicely laid out, and there was an electronic display plus analogue gauges with a tachometer and speedometer,” Farkas says. “Everything about the car was intuitive to operate, including the heating and cooling system with its large knobs to adjust temperature and fan speed.”
Farkas likes a sunroof in his vehicle, but he says the glass panel in the Camry, for him, was a bit small. With the roof open, he says there was little wind noise or buffeting in the cabin.
“My son is six-foot one, and he couldn’t sit up straight in the passenger side rear seat – he was a little short on headroom but he was comfortable nonetheless,” Farkas says. The Camry remained composed on the highway when Farkas drove the family to Canmore, and during the trip the cabin was quiet and cocoon-like.
“There was a lot of technology in this car,” Farkas says. “And the radar assisted cruise control is set it and forget it simplicity. I’ve never had a car with that kind of cruise control before, but I really enjoyed it and it made the drive much more pleasant.” The other bit of technology Farkas liked was the blind spot warning system.
“I found the sideview mirrors a little small, and the blind spot warning system helped make up for that deficiency,” he says.
Toyota’s V6 engine offered plenty of performance, and Farkas enjoyed shifting the six-speed automatic transmission using the manual shift lever; something he did approximately 80 per cent of the time he drove it.
“I was very pleased with the power, there was lots of jump at low revs with good throttle response, and the manual shift feature made it fun to drive and made me feel more involved with the car,” he says. The car handled solidly with no body roll in corners. Steering inputs were met with satisfactory responses and the ride was “eight or more hours a day behind the wheel” comfortable.
Overall utility was given a good rating by Farkas. The trunk was large and roomy with a low lift-over height, and there were plenty of smaller storage spots inside the car.
“I think the Camry would suit a wide range of people, including someone with a family who also likes something with a bit of performance. It was really a fun car to drive and I always looked forward to the corners,” Farkas says, and concludes, “I’d not be embarrassed to drive that car anywhere; first lottery win I get, I’m buying one.”
Day One: Pick up the car in the early evening and drive it home with one stop on the way. The car has a fair bit of power for passing on the highway. Really like the auto dimming headlights and rear view mirror feature.
Day Two: Not able to go for a drive until the evening, and go down Deerfoot Trail and into the Glenmore Trail area. The lumbar support is adjustable and I do change it around a bit from time to time. I play with the sound system and find a good hard rock station. Start playing with the six-speed transmission. I really enjoy driving with the “slap stick” shifter as it adds a lot of fun to the drive. Find out about the “lane drift” feature. The first car I have driven with it and I quite like it. I bring in the owner’s manual and give it a good read to figure out some of the features that the car has.
Day Three: We take a family drive to do some hiking at Grassi Lakes by Canmore. There are four of us in the car and it is quite comfortable for all. Realize that the cruise has a radar assist feature, and I quickly find out that this is one of my favourite features. In heavy traffic the car slows itself down or up to match the flow of the other cars. If you are behind a slower vehicle you pull out and it goes back up to your set speed. I really love this and it helps make a busy drive so much more enjoyable. No more hitting the brakes and resetting the cruise multiple times. The car is a joy to drive on the highway. I am very impressed with the car’s capabilities.
Day Four: Don’t get to drive much today, but did go watch the U of C Dinos win a football game. Really notice how quiet the cabin of the car is. Roll up the windows, turn the stereo up a bit and the outside world and all its noise disappears.
Day Five: Don’t go driving until the evening for some errands. I find that I quite look forward to these drives so decide to take the long way around. Spend about an hour and a half on some moonlit highways. The cruise control is almost a must-have on the drive, as it is very easy to let the speed drift up without really noticing. I am disappointed when it is time to go home. I wish I had somewhere to be as it is one of those times I could have driven all night.
Day Six: Out to run some errands around town during the day, and head out to Cross Iron Mills on a busy highway. Love the radar assist cruise control. This has become a must-have feature and it will be hard to go back to a car without it.
Day Seven: I got to check out the braking on the car when someone decided to run a stop sign in front of me — the brakes work good. Drive to a meeting, and wash and vacuum the car. Really enjoy my last drive in the Camry as it goes back to its rightful owner.VEHICLE SPECS
TYPE OF VEHICLE
268 hp @ 6,200; 248 lb.-ft. @ 4,700
Four-wheel disc w/ABS
P225/45R18 all-season w/temporary spare tire
PRICE: BASE / AS TESTED
NATURAL RESOURCES CANADA FUEL ECONOMY
(L/100km) 7.8 highway, 11 city
Paddle shifters, three-spoke tele/tilt steering wheel w/audio controls, 18-inch aluminum wheels, dual zone automatic climate control, air conditioning, JBL audio system w/AM/FM/CD and MP3/WMA player, SiriusXM satellite radio, 10 speakers, 7-inch AVN monitor w/navigation, Bluetooth capability, USB input, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, pre collision system, lane departure assist, dynamic radar cruise control, auto high beam, sport-tuned suspension front and rear, dual exhaust
Ruby flare pearl premium paint ($255)