When it comes to executive cars, the Camry has always been at the forefront of the pack. The current generation has been in the market since 2006, and with nearly 5 thousand examples plying the streets, Toyota has again upped the ante with a mid life refresh for the flagship executive sedan.
The Philippine market Camry is actually quite different, aesthetically, from the U.S. version Camry, as the one in local showrooms is a rebadged Aurion from the Australian market. Unlike the U.S. domestic model, our Camry/Aurion has a more prominent design and stronger presence with the boxier shape and demeanor. For 2010, Toyota designers have implemented a facelift to further modernize the Camry's looks with a a new bumper design that gives a more aggressive stance, a new set of alloy wheels and new LED tail lamps.
Inside it's all business. Like a finely pressed suit, the cabin looks and feels great to be in. All the surfaces you lay your hands on, like the steering wheel, shift knob and other controls, have an undoubted sense of quality about them as befitting an executive car.
The powerplant is a 3.5 liter, DOHC V6 with dual VVT-i that's capable of 277 metric horsepower. Matching that power is a superb 6-speed automatic, allowing the Camry 3.5Q to sprint from a standstill to 100 km/h in just under 8 seconds. As opposed to its chief rival, the Camry doesn't have the ingenious Variable Cylinder Management in the Honda Accord, hence consumes quite a bit of fuel, with just 5.5 kilometers to the liter in city conditions and anywhere from 8.3 km/l if you're a little excited (with the accelerator pedal, that is) on the highway, to as much as 12-13 km/l if you're not.
On the road, the ride quality is definitely great, suppressing as much of our rough, rutted concrete as it can. Handling is on the soft side, so don't expect to be able to take on corners with that much confidence, but it does have plenty of bravado in a straight line, thanks to a great powertrain combo.
Being a top of the line 3.5Q variant means that this Camry is kitted to match, with a premium audio system at the center and the dual zone climate control just underneath. Fresh for 2010 is the addition of some nifty features like a auxiliary input for your iPod. What I find odd is the omission of a Bluetooth handsfree system, but then again, Camry owners might not want their driver to overhear their confidential conversations.
Which brings me to the point. While most of the cars we review were from a driver's POV, the Camry is not one of them. This is one of those cars that are really meant to be driven in, not self driven, and there's no better place to enjoy the Camry than from the best seat in the house: the rear right seat.
There's plenty of hip room, head room and legroom to go around, and it's all wrapped in premium leather. On the center armrest, there are complete controls for the climate and audio systems, while a pair of privacy shades on the rear side windows and a motorized sunshade on the rear windshield make sure the boss isn't seen. The rear seats can also recline to offer better comfort for the rear occupants, while the front passenger seat has motorized controls to move it fully forward for maximum legroom for the boss in the back, allowing him to cross his legs comfortably.
With a great combination of style, comfort, features and power, it's an undisputed standard setter in the market. Some exec cars may include sporty characteristics or a more family appeal, but with the Camry, it's all business.
After all, isn't that what the Boss was looking for?