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Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Toyota Camry SEFiguring out the best selling car in America.
-Toyota sells about a thousand of these a day. That's 1 every minute-and-a-half. It's the Camry. The name, an Anglicized mess of the Japanese word "kanmuri" which means crown, let's hail this unassuming king of car sales and check the tech. Well, here I am, sitting inside one of the great success stories in automotive history. Doesn't look like it, I mean, it's a Camry. It's real, kinda unprepossessing. You've got this basic head unit here which has a new electro-fluorescent display. It means it's a little bit sharper than what we had in the past, but it's not that exciting. There are optional navigation head units but if you don't go that way, here's what you have. AM and FM radio, of course XM is your satellite choice. There's no HD radio on this guy even optionally. Under CD, with this guy, it's a single slot. You can upgrade to a JBL rig with a 6-disc, or when you go nav, you drop down to 4 discs, so kind of a weird mishmash of how many opticals you can get in there. Things get more interesting under aux. Down here, I've got a USB and a standard analog aux jack. I've got my iPod Touch hooked up now. And so, we can get a look at the iPod interface. In a word, it's a little slow. If I turn this knob more than just a few clicks at a time, I lose it. Now, it's gotta catch up reading. I've got 1568 tracks and let me tell you. It's not hard to get this thing to lose its breath. Hit aux again, I get the Bluetooth audio. Now, I've got my Bluetooth streaming going here. This was kinda tricky to set up. Every time I get in the car or every 3rd time or something like that, it doesn't have a connection. It's paired for calls but not connected for media, and you gotta get on here and do about 4 or 5 layers of voice, and then get to your phone to reconnect. I found that to be kinda brittle. That shouldn't be an issue. As I mentioned, single disc up here that'll read either CDs or MP3/WMA discs, but beyond that, heh. There's a JBL system that's optional. I bet it sounds better. This one's fine but it's not dramatically good in any respect, 6 speakers around the cabin. JBL takes you up to 8. Now, if you do get the optional JBL and nav head unit, you got 2 tiers here: base JBL and JBL Nav. The nav's kinda old school and that's not a good thing. It's DVD GPS, not flash, not hard drive, so it means it's gonna be static, stale, require new discs from the dealer. I got a feeling the industry's moving away from those so they make it harder to get in a few years. And of course, I'd expect the performance to be a little sluggish, so, not an impressive unit. That said, if you do go for the in-dash GPS, you will get a great interface. Toyota's long had a really good smooth, well laid out, on-screen nav experience. Now obviously, there's no place for a rear view camera to show up, not on the mirror, not on the display. So, I don't have one here, can't option it. It's only part of a package that includes navigation because that's where it gets the screen. Now, when you go do a build-your-own on the Toyota website, you're not gonna see a package we have here, which is $420. This is gonna get you a number of things: Bluetooth streaming, that USB aux down here, and Bluetooth handsfree calling. The Toyota site only shows a bunch of chunky packages. So, grind the dealer and say, "Hey, I just want that package Cooley showed me with the Bluetooth handsfree, the streaming, and the USB." It's kind of a sweet deal unless you wanna go all the way. Oddly enough for a routine sedan, you can get a dual screen rear seat entertainment system-- dual 7-inch headrest displays with integrated DVD players, iPod hookup, and AV aux jacks--but kinda after market stuff. Pass. Alright, our search for something interesting on this car continues, in vain, in the engine room. Now, our car has the 2.5 liter in-line 4, real garden variety Toyota motor. Good engine, runs all day long, it'll outlast you on this Earth, but it's not exciting. The numbers on it tell the story. We have 179 horsepower, 171 foot-pounds of torque. That goes out on this trim level through a one choice only 6-speed automatic, delivering 0 to 60 about 8.3, 8.4. Hmm, you know, MPG is good, but not great, 22/32, with an average of about 26. Now, our Camry's an SE, which I think stands for Sport Edition, but take the sport with a big grain of salt. What that all means is you've got this air dam here of sorts, 17-inch sportier alloys (they're 5 spokes). This lower body cladding, arrow effects nonsense that continues around the year, and they've got this little spoilerette on the rear trunk edge. Also a little bit more firmly revised suspension settings but nothing that'll scare you. So, here we are driving a Camry on a Monday. It doesn't get much more plain vanilla than that. So, it's one of the most perfectly unobjectionable cars you'll ever drive. I mean, we're talking about a car here that doesn't do anything the car normally does. Doesn't squeak, doesn't rattle, doesn't leak any fluids, doesn't make any car noises either I notice. All the noises it makes are like consumer electronics or appliances. I assume it's got an exhaust. I can't really hear it. And the engine's up there somewhere but it's highly isolated. It's just a transportation appliance. In an age when a lot of car companies are doing some very nice plastics, this isn't really one of them, not at this trim level. It's not bad but it's starting to feel a little bit behind the industry curve in terms of plastic quality, and there are some strange little mismatches. This is not very Toyota down here with this and this piece right by the heater vessel come together. That's like something I would do in my garage building a car from scratch. That's not what these guys normally do. Okay, let's price this 2011 Camry. It's an SE; kinda upper mid pack, so 24 grand is your base. We're gonna add some options now. $420, as I mentioned, is gonna get you that package of Bluetooth, Bluetooth streaming, iPod USB aux connector. It's a good inexpensive way to get some tech. If you wanna go more, $1800 for JBL audio which includes better audio, 6-disc in-dash changer. Also, they roll in the power glass moon roof and HomeLink transmitter for your garage door. Go further for JBL with DVD GPS, which I wouldn't do, $3800. And the real dopey one is $1800 for rear seat entertainment: dual rear screens that use DVD and also have aux ins. I'm gonna get a couple of iPads.