Test Drive: 2010 Toyota Camry

As we see it there are two kinds of drivers: First there are drivers who drive to get to a destination; second are the drivers who drive for the love of the journey.

The Toyota Camry is a great car for the first category of drivers and that?s probably why it?s been the best-selling passenger car in America for 11 of the past 12 years.

We decided to test this theory on a 350-mile trip from our home near Portland, Ore. to Central Oregon.? Driving through the Cascade Mountains and over Mount Hood, the four-cylinder Camry XLE proved to be a good travel car.

The Camry isn?t going to win any prizes for cutting edge design, but the exterior is certainly attractive.? The one thing we notice most often on Toyota products in general is the excellent paint.? The finish is deep, exceptionally smooth and the colors are vibrant.? No one has better paint.

The Camry interior is simple with well-designed and organized controls.? The audio and climate controls mounted on the center stack are large, well marked and perfectly located just a short distance from the right side of the steering wheel.? The seats are comfortable and not overly hard or soft.? The interior is attractive with a two-tone color scheme, plus upper level models have a good quality faux wood on the center console and doors.? Our only criticism is the dash materials, which look a little too plastic.

The satellite radio was not activated on our test vehicle so we had to rely on the music and the Car Talk podcasts we had stored in our iPod.? The connection was simple with the auxiliary audio jack in the center console compartment.

Under the hood of our test Camry was the new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i).? Rated at 169 horsepower, the engine replaces the previous 158-hp, 2.4-liter engine and produces a respectable 8.9-second 0 to 60 mph time.? Passing on the two lane highways required some planning for more time in the left lane.? We drove quickly and were surprised to see an average fuel economy rating of 29.2 mpg.? The EPA rates the four-cylinder engine with the six-speed automatic transmission at 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.? Toyota actually offers a six-speed manual transmission on all models with the exception of the XLE and hybrid.

Shoppers looking for more power can opt for the 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, which adds $3,120 to the price of the XLE.? The larger engine drops the EPA fuel economy estimates to 19/28, but also drops the 0 to 60 mph acceleration time to 6.2 seconds.

Camry is available in four trim levels, Camry, LE, SE, and XLE plus there is a hybrid model.? The standard Camry is very well equipped with air conditioning, power windows and locks, tilt and telescoping steering wheel and cruise control, and then each successive level adds more features.? The Camry with manual transmission has a base price of $20,145, including the destination charge, and the top of the line XLE with V-6 engine starts at $29,795.? Equipped with all the options the XLE tops out at just over $31,000.

The Camry is a very good driving car and does an excellent job getting you to your destination economically and in comfort.? What the Camry did not do is make us want to go out and drive just for the fun of driving, so it?s not necessarily the kind of car for the second kind of driver we mentioned ? the one who drives for the love of the journey.

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