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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Dec 26, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Tommy Grafman photo

NOT YOUR FATHER'S CAMRY Words by Tommy Grafman

When informed that the next car I was reviewing for LA CAR was a Toyota Camry, I confess to not being overcome with excitement. I then learned it was the sport version of the Camry, which seemed like an oxymoron. All that changed after I got behind the wheel. Walking up to the car, I am pleased with the lines and the flow of this four-door sedan. The rear lip spoiler adds a nice touch without being over-the-top. The rear light cluster has a nice angle - classy; not boring. The front end has an aggressive look. With a blacked out sport grill, swept front lights and fog lights, the car has a look of forward motion. (Okay, I like it.) Getting into the Camry and behind the wheel changed the rest of my preconceived notions of the car. The soft leather trimmed seats have a nice touch and balance - not too soft or firm, but the right density to keep you firmly planted. The matching leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob complete the look. The instrument cluster is well-placed, bright and easy to read. The dash is complete with a seven-inch navigation-system. This Camry is equipped with multiple power jacks, a MP3 port and a USB port (nice!). The 440-watt JBL sound system has eight speakers in six locations. This sound system is built to rock your world. I plug in my iPhone into the dash via the MP3 port, select my driving tunes playlist, and am ready to hit the road.

Tommy Grafman photo Turning the key in the ignition and hearing the engine come to life with a roar piqued my senses. Taking off, the response from the engine is immediate. This Camry is equipped with a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter DOHC 24V V6 with Dual VVT-i Engine with a 6-speed Auto ECT-i with Sequential Shifting. Excitement was now pumping through my veins. The response from the engine is immediate. There is no delay from the pedal to the engine. You can feel the performance of the car as you drive. Acceleration is effortless and exciting (yes, you read it here, an exciting Camry!). I am pleased with the way the torque on this car imbeds you into the seat. Driving down the street feels both comfortable and safe. The side view mirrors and the rear view mirror give you a complete picture of your surroundings. It's time to take this bad boy out to the highway. Heading towards the freeway onramp, I hit the accelerator and the Camry eats the asphalt 0-60 in a matter of seconds. Driving the 405 freeway can be one of the worst known to mankind if attempting to be on it anytime after 4:00 p.m. Luckily, I'm rocking down the highway at 3:00 p.m., so traffic is still moderate. Now for the test to see how well the Camry is able to accelerate from a moving speed to overtake a lane: I punch the drilled aluminum-look sport pedal and without hesitation the Camry is up to the speed needed to overtake in the next lane. With music blasting and power under my control, I felt like a teenager again. "Wait a minute, this is a Camry!" I say to myself. But the only thing 'Camry' about the car is the body style and the name on the emblem. The rest speaks sports sedan. Yes, this is not your father's Camry. The 17-inch alloy wheels and a sport suspension with front and rear anti-roll bars and sport springs and bushings are major contributors to the sport of this sedan. Supporting cast members include a quick ratio power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, and the large discs equipped on the four-wheel brakes with ABS. The Camry proves to have a firm grip of the road at any (legal) speed. Adding even more to the sense that this is one special Camry is the seven-inch LCD display that handles the Voice Activated GPS system, JBL sound system with four-disc in-dash CD changer, AM/FM/satellite radio, MP3, Bluetooth and back-up camera (yes, you heard me right a backup camera on the Camry!). Another visual feature with the display and dash is how it looks illuminated at night. With a sense of retro, the dash lights sets this Camry into cool mode when night driving. Of course, power windows and locks are standard. The power tilt-and-slide moonroof with sunshade is a must for all L.A. driving.

Tommy Grafman photo See me, feel me, touch me...smell me? The new Camry SE has an automatic climate control system that is also an air purifier. The system emits a stream of synthetically created ions that help reduce mold spores, microbes, fungi, odors, germs and bacteria. The positive and negative ions form clusters that enclose harmful substances in the air and deodorizing the air. No, it won't protect your from H1N1, but it keeps the Camry smelling clean and fresh. Passengers are taken with the cool factor of this car. Being a four door doesn't mean giving up on the rear seats. The soft leather seats are sculpted and very comfortable with plenty of room. When I say "this is a Camry" people respond with "you're kidding?" Toyota could have gotten away with calling it something other than a Camry if it wanted to. The SE model stands apart from the Camry line. The outside still has the look, but with some significant and pleasing modifications. The inside is all sport, as are the engine and suspension. Driving around L.A., you need style, performance and respect. This car has it all, and it's hard having to give it back to the manufacturer! My final four words: I love this car! SUMMARY JUDGMENT A wolf in Camry clothing. For more information about Toyota products, go to

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Toyota Camry SE Price: $22,165 (base, with manual six-speed transmission) $31,019.00 (as tested) EPA gas mileage ratings: 19 miles per gallon in the city / 28 miles per gallon on the highway Engine type: 3.5 liter DOHC 24-valve V6 with Duaul VVT-i Horsepower: 268 at 6000 rpm Torque: 171 pound-feet at 4100 rpm Transmission: Six-speed automatic with ECT and sequential shift Drive configuration: front-wheel drive Steering: Power-assisted rack & pinion Suspension: Four-wheel independent sport suspension includes solid front and rear anti-roll bars, sports springs and bushings Brakes: Four-wheel ABS disc brakes. Dimensions Length: 189.2 inches Width: 71.7 inches Height: 57.7 Curb Weight: 3285 (base) 3483 (as tested)

Tommy Grafman photo

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