Full 2013 Toyota Camry Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Toyota Camry receives rear cross-traffic alert functionality as part of the optional blind spot monitoring system. Inside, all Camry models have the 6-inch central display screen as standard and slightly upgraded door panel trim.
After saddling the last generation of its best-selling sedan with a disappointing interior and dull personality, Toyota got with it and redesigned the Camry last year. The newest Camry continues the model's long-standing record of reliability and low running costs and adds an improved interior, more expressive styling and, especially in SE trim, livelier driving. The 2013 Toyota Camry gets further polish with a few more standard features and upgraded interior materials.
As before, the Camry powertrain lineup deserves kudos for its combination of peppy performance and admirable fuel economy. Even the four-cylinder engine provides pleasing acceleration, while the potent V6 manages an impressive 25 mpg in combined driving. Those seeking a fuel sipper can choose the Camry Hybrid, covered in a separate review. Although the Camry offers respectable handling and a comfortable ride, the driving experience still feels rather disconnected and numb. The SE trim provides sharper, more involved handling that doesn't exactly transform the Camry into a sport sedan, but offers more appeal to those who enjoy driving.
Naturally, there are other appealing midsize sedans out this year. The 2013 Honda Accord and 2013 Nissan Altima continue to offer slightly sportier personalities to enhance their practicality. The 2013 Hyundai Sonata offers comparable refinement and stellar value. The new Ford Fusion is another favorite of ours thanks to well-rounded performance and sharp styling. We think most people will be very pleased with a 2013 Toyota Camry purchase, but with so many great choices, we suggest planning a weekend's worth of test-drives.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Toyota Camry is offered in L, LE, SE and XLE trim levels. The L features 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, power windows and mirrors, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, split-folding rear seats, a trip computer, Bluetooth, a 6-inch display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, an auxiliary input and a USB/iPod interface.
The Camry LE adds automatic headlamps, power door locks with remote keyless entry, audio controls on the steering wheel and an outside temperature display.
The SE includes a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, heated exterior mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, sport seats and unique interior and exterior styling treatments. SE V6 models get 18-inch wheels, keyless ignition/entry, a navigation system, voice recognition and the Entune smartphone and Web integration system.
The luxurious XLE reverts to the LE's softer suspension settings and adds heated exterior mirrors, foglamps, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat and the Entune system. XLE V6 models add a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, a power front passenger seat and heated front seats.
Some of the extra features found on the higher trims can be added as options to the lower trim levels, though availability can vary depending on which region of the country you live in. A premium 10-speaker JBL audio system is optional for the SE and XLE. On the XLE V6, Toyota also offers a hard-drive-based navigation system with a larger central display.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2013 Toyota Camry features front-wheel drive, a six-speed automatic transmission and two engine choices.
Base Camrys are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, a Camry LE with this engine accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, about average for a four-cylinder midsize sedan. With EPA-estimated fuel economy of 25 mpg city/35 highway and 28 combined, the four-cylinder Camry is among the class leaders.
Optional is a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque, which helps the Camry V6 reach 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, average for upgrade engines in this class. Fuel economy is an impressive 21/31/25.
The 2013 Toyota Camry comes with a battery of standard safety features, including antilock brakes, stability control, front- and rear-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and knee airbags for both driver and passenger. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert is also available.
In Edmunds braking tests, a Camry LE stopped from 60 mph in 129 feet, a bit longer than average for the segment. An SE V6, with stickier tires, performed the same test in 119 feet, which is better than average.
In government crash testing, the Camry received a top five-star score for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Camry the best possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests. It scored a "Poor" (the worst rating) in that agency's new, "small overlap" frontal impact crash test, but only a handful of cars have been subjected to it, and most have earned a similar score.
Interior Design and Special Features
The interior of the 2013 Camry feels roomy and its thin front pillars provide good outward visibility. What the cabin design lacks in cohesiveness, it makes up for with generally good materials quality, especially the handsome stitching on the dash and door panels of upper trims. The spacious rear seat is complemented by a nicely reclined seatback angle that helps the Camry match the Honda Accord for the most comfortable backseat in the class.
The Camry's upgraded audio system also includes Entune, a suite of smartphone-connected services that includes features like the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio, real-time traffic, sports and stock information, and the ability to reserve movie tickets or a table at a restaurant on the go. The touchscreen interface and accompanying steering wheel controls are usually pretty easy to use, but sometimes the virtual buttons' unwillingness to respond is frustrating.
At 15.4 cubic feet, the Camry's trunk capacity is about average, although the 60/40-split rear seat folds down to yield more cargo space when necessary.
Both four-cylinder and V6 engines generate ample power for their sizes, and that power is delivered in a smooth, quiet fashion. Gearchanges are likewise unobtrusive, and for a car that earns such high fuel economy numbers, the transmission surprises with quick downshifts when additional power is needed. On the highway, the 2013 Toyota Camry is comfortable and an excellent long-distance companion.
The electric-assisted steering feels pretty good in the V6 and SE versions. But non-SE four-cylinder versions are vague and somewhat lifeless in comparison. Most drivers will probably be fine with the way the Camry drives, but we still recommend the SE. It's not exactly sporty, but does feel more in line with the handling and responsiveness of its best rivals.