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2011 Toyota Camry SE (photos)

The Camry has few tech features to recommend it. The engine is not terribly efficient, although the transmission is modern and capable. Cabin tech is hobbled by a slow iPod interface.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 16 Josh Miller/CNET
The Camry has been a huge success for Toyota, a reliable midsize sedan with no pretensions. Little has changed with the car over the last decade: the engine has increased in power, the transmission got an extra gear, and the car got bigger. But will its average demeanor be competitive against upstarts such as Hyundai?

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In a mid-decade update, the Camry got the Toyota bump on its nose, a convenient place to tack on the badge. The SE trim model signals its sport intentions with a black-painted grille.

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The Camry can be had with one of two engines, either a 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a 3.5-liter V-6. In SE trim, the four-cylinder puts out 179 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, a little bit more than other trim levels.

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From the side, the Camry is nondescript, a modern-looking sedan with bulky sides and a wide D pillar. It is a practical design, with easy access to front and rear seats.

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The SE trim comes with what Toyota calls a sport suspension, but it falls short of track day worthiness. In fact, it feels soft and allows a lot of travel.

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Trunk space, at 14.5 cubic feet, is about average for a midsize sedan.

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Simplicity is the watchword for the Camry's interior. The cloth-lined seats are very cushy, and we like that all the windows are auto up/down.

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The Camry's steering feels nicely responsive. Toyota is still using a conventional hydraulic power-steering unit in the Camry, which draws on engine power, reducing fuel efficiency.

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Convenient buttons on the steering wheel allow control over the audio system.

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The instrument cluster uses analog gauges for the speedometer, tachometer, fuel level, and temperature, in keeping with the car's traditional design.

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This six-speed automatic is similar to what Toyota uses in its Lexus models, providing sport and manual modes.

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Satellite radio is a nice addition to the audio choices, but this interface does not provide a means to select categories of music.

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Toyota manages to fit a reasonable amount of iPod song data in the radio display.

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Browsing an MP3 CD requires the usual process of skipping through folders sequentially.

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Bluetooth streaming audio is the most modern feature in the Camry.

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The stock audio system in the Camry sounds surprisingly good, with nice detail in music reproduction. Bass is, however, a little underpowered.

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