In our experience, buyers of family sedans are usually looking for a car that provides a roomy and comfortable interior, a refined driving experience and a reputation for reliability. While most modern sedans meet these qualifications, only two have excelled over the past decade: the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. For much of that period, the Toyota Camry has held the sales advantage, and it's been America's best-selling sedan for eight of the past nine years. Now, for 2007, Toyota has fully redesigned the Camry, and we have no doubt that it will continue to appeal to a large section of buyers.
As it has done with each generation before, Toyota has increased the Camry's size and power for 2007. A 2.2-inch-longer wheelbase and 1.2-inch-wider front and rear tracks provide benefits in terms of interior space and rear-seat legroom. Underneath the new car, one will find the familiar MacPherson struts up front and a dual-link independent rear suspension. Spring rates and suspension geometries were completely revised, however, to give the car a sharper feel without compromising ride quality. Wheel size has gone from 15 to 16 inches on base models, while the sportier SE trim gets its own set of 17-inch aluminum wheels.
For the outside, the car receives a full styling refresh. Toyota describes the new Camry's look as "athletic and elegant" and "styled in a way that is certain to elicit a positive emotional response." But we're not so sure. To our eyes the front end is a bit heavy looking with its bulbous nose, while the somewhat drooping head- and taillights are simply odd.
This year also ushers in changes for the Camry's available powertrains. For the power-inclined, there's a new 268-horsepower V6 that gives the Camry sport-sedan performance. As far as features, even the base-level 2007 Camry comes nicely equipped, with power windows, cruise and a CD player all standard. And all trims include a standard tire-pressure monitoring system. Moving all the way up the Camry line will get you Lexus-like luxury with elegant cabin furnishings and available high-end luxury features, such as a navigation system and Bluetooth wireless capability.
All of these evolutionary changes have made the 2007 Toyota Camry a very appealing choice. Of course, it's not the family sedan for everybody. The Hyundai Sonata is thousands of dollars cheaper and comes with a better warranty. The Volkswagen Passat is more prestigious to own. The Chrysler 300C has a thumping V8. The redesigned 2007 Nissan Altima, when it arrives, will likely boast superior handling performance. And there's still the very impressive Accord. But for the mainstream part of the family-sedan segment, the new Camry has set the bar even higher in regards to features, performance, reputation and price. Yes, you get what you pay for, and in this case that turns out to be a new benchmark in the highly competitive family sedan market.