2019 Toyota Camry

By April 3, 2019

The Toyota Camry was redesigned last year, making it more stylish on the outside while still sedate in the seat of the pants. For 2019 there are no changes except for the addition of standard Apple CarPlay compatibility.

The base engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder making a bit over 200 horsepower, with an available 3.5-liter V-6 making a bulging 301 horsepower; both use a nice 8-speed automatic transmission. The popular 52-mpg Hybrid takes a 176-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 and pairs it with two motors to make 208 hp, while using an electronic continuously variable transmission.

The Hybrid comes in three of the Camry’s five models, with the Hybrid LE using lithium-ion batteries that deliver slightly better fuel economy than the fancier Hybrid XSE and XLE, which use heavier and nickel-metal-hydride batteries.

The 2019 Camry corners with surprising verve, even while its ride is on the soft side. Two models, the SE and XSE, offer suspension tuning that’s firmer but not hard-edged at all. The latest Camry has a spacious interior, and it’s well-finished.

The 4-cylinder is still quite fuel efficient, with the base L model rated by the EPA at 29/41/34 mpg, using smaller tires designed for low rolling resistance and high fuel economy. The other models use tires for comfort and grip, and deliver 28 mpg city, 39 highway, 32 combined.

The Hybrid LE uses those same trick tires to get its 51/53/52 mpg.

The big V-6 is EPA-rated at 22/33/26 mpg.

The 2019 Camry’s safety ratings are as good as the gas mileage. Not many cars can match its crash-test scores of five stars in each of the NHTSA categories. And the IIHS gives it a Top Safety Pick+ rating, tempered only by “Acceptable” standard headlights, while the curve-adaptive headlamps on the XLE trim are rated “Good.”

Standard safety equipment on every Camry includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and active lane control. Blind-spot monitors are optional on some trim levels. The available Driver Assistance package on higher Camry trims includes a surround-view camera system and rear cross-traffic alerts.

Model Lineup

The 2019 Camry comes in L, LE, SE, XSE, and XLE models, although that might be doubled if you consider the specific trim levels.

The Camry L costs about $24,800 and includes nice cloth upholstery, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay compatibility (but no Android Auto), active safety tech, adaptive cruise control, power features, LED headlights, and Bluetooth.

For about $500 more, the LE is a good value, adding a power driver’s seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, an overhead console, an alarm system, and a split-folding rear seat. The wheels alone are worth the $500, as the L model uses 16-inch steel wheels and plastic hubcaps. A $1,200 option package includes keyless ignition, a garage door opener, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

The 2019 Camry SE adds a firmer suspension with sharper steering tuning, synthetic leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a 4.2-inch TFT display in the instrument cluster.

The XSE adopts that same suspension and steering but adds leather seats that are heated and power-adjustable up front, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, keyless ignition, a head-up display, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The V-6 engine is optional.

The XLE goes back to the softer suspension setup as the most Lexus-like model with the highest price of about $35,000 with the V-6.

The Hybrid LE drops the MSRP back down to about $28,000, a price that’s quite compelling. A $2,700 package adds blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, a power moonroof, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, and a wireless charging pad.

As with all hybrids, you’d have to crunch your own numbers (miles driven per year) to see how long its lower fuel costs would take to pay off its $3,000 price premium over the standard LE.

Exterior

Compared to the last version, the latest Toyota Camry looks fresh and edgy, especially the SE and XSE models with their blacked-out trim, muscular front bumper, big wheels, rear spoiler, and faux diffuser below the rear bumper.

However the profile is still conservative, with a roof sloping toward a truncated tail with wide, complex taillights.

Interior

Inside, the Camry is functional, comfortable, and stylish. It’s quiet and refined.

The dramatic dashboard seems to divide the front seats with its sharp matte silver lines, while placing a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen up high; the XSE and XLE use a crisper 8.0-inch display. Small item storage is good, and a wireless smartphone charging pad is optional.

The L and LE use grippy cloth upholstery on their firm and supportive front seats; the driver’s seat on the L has manual adjustment but the rest have power. The SE gets synthetic leather while XLE and XSE get real leather with a power front passenger seat.

The low roofline compromises entry to the nicely contoured rear bench seat, as well as headroom back there, but there’s good legroom. The top models have rear climate vents, although heated rear seats aren’t available.

Both touchscreens are bright and respond quickly. The navigation system available on XSE and XLE is also new for 2019.

The Camry L has less space in the trunk than all the other models, including the Hybrid, with 14.1 cubic feet compared to their 15.1 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The base 4-cylinder engine with its 8-speed automatic delivers good power but can feel less refined at low rpm. The available V-6 with its 301 horsepower brings acceleration and torque that’s downright thrilling.

The acceleration of the Hybrid with its CVT is about the same as the 4-cylinder with the automatic. It’s good around town, and can run for a while on battery power alone. Its moderate pace is countered by excellent fuel economy.

The L, LE and XLE have a soft and comfortable ride with light but accurate steering. The handling is polished and confident enough, but clearly aimed toward predictable, comfortable manners. The SE and XSE have firmer suspension tuning and heftier steering. We prefer the softer setup; they’re more consistent with the mission at hand.

Final Word

The latest Camry looks fresh, has a cabin that punches above its price, and offers excellent room in the rear.  We think the 52-mpg Hybrid is the call with the new Camry, though there’s ample reason to recommend any of its powertrains.