The Camry, one of Toyota’s best-selling cars, soldiers on with new updates for 2019.
Toyota’s Safety Sense P suite provides a number of advanced driver-assistance systems.
Three powertrain choices are available, including a hybrid with an updated Power Control Unit.
If you’re looking for a car that is the automotive equivalent of a manila envelope stapled to a beige wall, then the new 2019 Toyota Camry is for you. Oh sure, Toyota seems to be serious when they say the Camry has an “Exciting Style” and “Sport Performance” but I’m not ready to believe them. This is a Camry after all. This is solid, dependable, reliable transportation.
Fun and excitement and sportiness have no real place here.
That isn’t a bad thing, per se. If someone were to say that about the latest Porsche, it would be terrible news. We’re talking about Toyota’s bread and butter, middle of the middle-of-the-road vehicle here. In this realm, lack of personality is a good thing. And, in this realm, the latest Camry is packing. Even with its new on-board tech, it gets great gas mileage and is still as reliable as an anvil.
Styling & Design: Some Sporty Elements
The 2019 Toyota Camry carries over the same body design as last year, so there’s not really much to talk about on the styling front. It’s still somewhat sharper, a little wider and lower than you’d first expect, but no one is going to mistake this for an Alfa Romeo Giulia. The SE and XSE are the sportier versions with special rocker panels, 19-inch machined-finish alloy wheels (standard on XSE), a subtle rear spoiler lip, more aggressive front bumper, and a rear bumper with a lower diffuser.
Likewise the interior has been tarted up here and there, but the main improvements are to the displays, infotainment, creature comforts and the like. And yet again, when you look at what you get in this arena, the Camry comes in as a great value. The passengers, and most importantly, the driver, receive information through three displays: a 10-inch color Heads-Up Display (HUD); a seven-inch multi-information display within the instrument cluster itself, and an eight-inch audio/navigation/HVAC control panel integrated into the center console.
Toyota says it’s all intuitive in how it operates, and I assume they’re right, because they better be right. Steve Jobs made intuitive operation a by-word of modern day living, and people are used to it now, so Toyota better deliver.
The new Camry gets the latest Entune 3.0 multimedia system, with Apple CarPlay compatibility and Amazon Alexa. Four-cylinder and hybrid models come with Entune 3.0 Audio, Toyota’s App Suite, and Scout GPS Link. The audio end includes an optional JBL system (nine speakers plus a 10.1-inch subwoofer) complete with Clari-Fi. Toyota describes Clari-Fi as something that “un-compresses” music to help restore an audio track’s dynamic range.
Speaking of dynamic, Camry V6 models offer a Dynamic Navigation system with wireless map updates and over-the-air map downloads for recently added roads and points-of-interest.
There is also Remote Connect, which gets you a remote start and door unlock capability, vehicle status notifications, a guest driver monitor (I bet this is for you nervous parents out there), and a vehicle finder. Service Connect provides up-to-date information on fuel levels, maintenance alerts and that sort of thing. Wi-Fi? Why yes, there’s Wi-Fi Connect powered by Verizon, so you can hook up five mobile devices.
Safety & Security
Would you expect the latest Camry to look the other way on safety measures? No, you wouldn’t, and here we are treated to a buffet of safety goodness. There’s the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist. There’s a Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intelligent Clearance Sonar, and a Rear Cross Traffic Braking system.
Other safety measures include 10 standard airbags, Toyota’s Star Safety System with Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology. There’s even a standard backup camera.
The “normal” engines are hooked up to a Direct Shift eight-speed automatic. The ratios are new as is the torque converter with a wider range of lock-up for improved fuel efficiency. For the Hybrids, Toyota says their Sequential Shiftmatic technology allows the driver to “shift” the electronically-controlled, continuously variable transmission via paddle shifters (SE grade) or with the console-mounted shift lever.
Really, I can’t say which powertrain is better. They all work, and they will all work well for daily driving. It’s up to you which one you pick. However, let’s take a quick look at each of them a little further so you can decide.
The 2.5-liter, inline-four-cylinder (D-4S) gasoline engine, is a solid and reliable choice. Peak horsepower is estimated at 206 at 6,600 rpm (176 horsepower at 5,700 rpm in the hybrid configuration) with torque estimated at 186 lb-ft. at 5,000 rpm (163 lb-ft. at 3,600-5,200 rpm for the hybrid). Fuel economy for 2.5-liter gas models is an EPA-estimated 29/41 city/highway and 34 combined mpg.
The 3.5-liter V6, with D-4S Fuel Injection, is the more powerful choice with an enhanced variable valve timing system to provide optimum torque at all engine speeds. The V6 delivers 301 horsepower at 6,600 rpm, 267 lb-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm, and an EPA-estimated 22/33 city/highway and 26 combined mpg. This marks an increase of eight percent for combined mpg versus the Camry’s previous V6.
The 2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid comes in at 51/53 city/highway and 52 combined mpg on the LE grade. By comparison, the SE and XLE grades come it at 44/47 city/highway and 46 combined mpg. Toyota says the updated and more compact Power Control Unit (PCU) of the hybrid system plays a key role in improving efficiency. Improvements in the conversion efficiency of the PCU and the transaxle/electric motor reduce energy loss by nearly 20 percent.
Furthermore, Toyota says cooling system improvements now reduce energy loss by 10 percent.
Pricing & Availability
The 2019 Toyota Camry starts at $23,945 with the hybrid starting at $28,150. But really, does it matter? No, it doesn’t. Toyota has sold 18 million Camrys, so they will keep selling them, even if the price is up or down by a point or two.
The 2019 Camry Hybrid is available in three grades: LE, SE, and XLE. The traditional Camry comes in five grades: L, LE, XLE, SE, and XSE. If color is important, the 2019 Toyota Camry comes in Wind Chill Pearl, Ruby Flare Pearl, Brownstone, Galactic Aqua Mica, Super White, Celestial Silver Metallic, Predawn Gray Mica, Midnight Black Metallic, Blue Streak Metallic, and Supersonic Red. Some trim levels give you an optional Midnight Black Metallic roof.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.