Easily one of the most popular cars on the road, Toyota has given its Camry a mild work-over for 2010 with particular focus on the high volume four-cylinder models.
|1. The 2010 Camry gets a larger, more powerful 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 169hp.
2. Fuel-economy is also improved thanks to a six-speed automatic transmission, with a rating of 22/32 mpg (city/hwy).
3. Other 2010 updates include a new front-end design with a Venza-inspired grille and a more modern and expensive looking instrument cluster.
Last year’s 2.4-liter four-banger is out in favor of a slightly-larger 2.5-liter unit. As expected, the power increase isn’t enormous, with a total output of 169hp and 167 ft-lbs of torque. Still, that’s up from seven percent from 158hp and 161 ft-lbs, and considering the last engine did a fine job, this one just makes acceleration a little less laborious.
Both LE and XLE models get the new 169-horse 2.5, while SE models get a slightly more potent version with 179hp and 171 ft-lbs.
As mentioned, helping out in the acceleration department is a six-speed automatic transmission, meaning that every Camry now comes with six cogs, rather than five.
The addition of an extra gear also allows for improved fuel savings with the 2010 Camry rating 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway for an average of 26 mpg with the automatic transmission. Six-speed manuals, available on the base, LE and SE get one notch better on the highway. Overall, fuel-economy is improved by one tick in each category over the ’09 model, which translates to a 3.8 percent increase.
A few mild design changes for the 2010 Camry continue to differentiate the car from its more traditionally-styled predecessors. Most noticeable is the redesigned front grille, which takes its inspiration from the new Venza.
Other changes also continue to up the aggressive factor for the family sedan, like bigger headlights and a larger center air intake. New wheel and hubcap designs as well as new taillights are also part of the mid-cycle update and overall the changes help to give the Camry some character.
The cabin of the Camry stays mostly unchanged for 2010, with the exception being the gauges. Gone at the cheap drawn-on dials in favor of some cool blue sweepers that have a high-tech digital look to them.
We like the simple and elegant center stack but unfortunately the rest of the interior is still standard Camry. That’s fine if you opt for a trim level with leather, but the standard fabric really is blaze and cheapens the feel of the car.
Still, for a starting price of just $19,395, the cabin is acceptable and you actually get quite a nice list of standard features. They include power locks and windows with auto up/down, cruise control, A/C, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, redundant audio controls on the steering wheel, two 12V power outlets and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD player with satellite radio capability, MP3/WMA playback and an auxiliary jack.
LE models, like our tester, include am eight-way power driver’s seat and remote keyless entry.
A slightly nicer seat fabric is available on the SE trim level; which also includes a leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter. XLE models get dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, Bluetooth compatibility, faux wood trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a four-way power passenger seat. XLE V6 models come standard with leather.
Along with factors like fuel economy and reliability, another popular reason to buy a Camry is the car’s safety. The Camry has always been an excellently safe choice and the 2010 model takes it a step further by including stability control as standard. Other safety equipment includes ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and seven airbags, including a driver knee airbag.
Whether out on the highway or around town, the Camry’s new engine and transmission make for an improved package. The combination of more power with a more relaxed open road feel almost make a convincing argument for doing away with the V6 altogether.
We say almost because the power gap between the two engines is still significant. The new 2.5-liter four-cylinder can’t hold a candle to the 268hp, 3.5-liter V6, but you have to ask yourself if you really need those extra 99 ponies. Most Camry buyers don’t seem to think they do, as the four-cylinder is easily the volume seller. And now with an added 11 horsepower it’s sure to create more than a few converts.
The 2010 Camry is easily an improved package over the ’09 model, due mostly to the new engine/transmission combo. The ‘more power, less fuel’ strategy is a bonus for four-cylinder buyers and will also help Toyota lower its average fleet emissions, which in turn is good for mother earth. And while green peace activists might not approve of the added power, they can’t object to the fact that the 4-cylinder just became a more attractive option to traditional V6 buyers.
Generally speaking, the Camry continues to be a strong player with excellent safety, reliability and a spacious interior. Unfortunately while the 2010 model looks more engaging, it isn’t any more exciting from behind the wheel.
The only other down side is that along with the increase in power and fuel-economy there also comes a higher price. But don’t worry; the change is marginal, with the individual trim-levels listing at $281 over last year’s models.
That means a base Camry starts at $20,445 with an automatic transmission, while the LE model (like our tester) comes in at $21,900.