2006 Toyota Camry
Trim Level: "LE"
EPA Vehicle Class: Midsize Car
Engine: DOHC 2.4L, Inline-4 rated at 154 Horsepower / 160 lb-ft torque
Transmission: 5-Speed Automatic with torque converter
EPA Mileage Estimates (City/Highway/Combined Cycle): 24/34/28
Test Loop: 90% City, 10% Highway
Max Cruise Speed = 70-75 mph
Weather Conditions over 3-days: Sunny and Clear: 40-80F
Driving Style: Average
Location Test: Rural Mississippi
Miles Driven = 330
Gallons Used = 10.076
Calculated MPG = 32.8
Conclusion: As advertised, this car lives up to its promises. So far, this is the best economy tested, can seat 5, with a sizable trunk. The 4-cylinder was even responsive. Behold, the Camry, an RH77 Editor's Choice Award Winner.
Editor's Notes: What can I say? Finally a fuel-efficient import. The Camry is the benchmark upon which many vehicles try to uphold. More people in the U.S. buy this car than any other car (for reference, the best selling vehicle in the U.S. and the world for that matter is the Ford F-150 Pickup). But the Camry has nearly a cult following. Folks buy them, drive them forever, and go then get a new one. The standard of reliability is first rate. Fit and finish, and mechanical durability has a long-standing track record. I'm really reaching here to find negative points, but there are some small items. First, the design (inside and out) is bland, blend-in, under-the radar, no-frills excitement. The only flashy thing on this car is the electro-luminescent guages, which is kinda cool. Room is plentiful and the car experiences body roll in cornering. It may just be this editor's perception, but Toyota may have tightened-up the suspension on the base Camry over the last 2-3 years. On a favorite twisty road, handling limits were explored, and surprisingly, after the body roll, the tires bit-down and the car tracked the intended line. Even throttle-lift yielded mild oversteer. Yes, in a Camry -- some oversteer. Steering input produced adequate feedback and the torquey base engine had power from idle to redline. The stereo was tinny-sounding and painful at times, and reaching the controls was just that, a reach. But steering wheel controls eliminated the need to adjust the radio from afar. Throttle tip-in was abrupt. Based on GPS speed readings, when the speedometer showed 70 mph, actual speed was really 64 mph. Could this affect mileage? Perhaps, but probably not significantly - and your warranty would run out sooner. But who needs a warranty in a Toyota? The seats were "Toyota" comfortable, meaning pretty flat and unsupportive. But, the transmission perfectly matched the engine: 5 gears are better than 4. Moreover, the safety features that I didn't even notice like ABS with brakeforce distribution, seatbelt pre-tensioners, and speed-proportional power steering -- Standard.
On an aside, you can get a 3.3L V6 in the SE and a manual transmission for the bold family driver, but let's not talk about the efficiency there.
The shining achievement of this modern marvel is it's efficiency. Somehow, despite its size, torque, and rev-happy 4-cylinder, it managed a stellar 32.8 mpg at 90% highway cruise of 70-75 mph and 10% city operation. The engine is the DOHC 2.4L Inline-4 found throughout the Toyota lineup, and provides both low-end grunt and, when required, high-RPM power. Need to pass on a 2-lane road? Floor it -- the tach climbs fast, and it will not leave you sweating in the opposite lane. Let it cruise, and the 5th gear (overdrive) kicks-in and drops the tach. Aside from some other makes, just a small request from the gas pedal and it downshifts -- no questions asked
-- then you're back into the 1500-2000 RPM range after you relax. Toyota has to be commended for their efforts in fuel efficiency, brand-wide. w00t, Toyota. W00T.