2019 Toyota Camry Test Drive Review

By Jeffrey N. Ross | April 15, 2020

There are many reasons why the Toyota Camry has been a top-selling car in the U.S. for over a decade, but styling and performance were never at the top of that list. That all changed with the current design!

You know a car is stylish when you get strangers wanting to come up and look at it. Of all the cars that we drive each year are deserving of such attention, we never thought a Toyota Camry would join these ranks. Toyota's design language has definitely changed in recent years distancing itself from adjectives like "plain,"and "vanilla." But it takes far more than a flashy exterior to attract sales in the mid-size sedan segment.

To see why this car is still a top seller among cars sold in the U.S., we spent a week in two-tone 2019 Toyota Camry XSE that turned a few heads along the way.

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2019 Toyota Camry XSE Exterior

The Camry XSE looks bold and aggressive

Without a doubt, the current generation is by far the best design the Camry has ever had. Despite the eighth-generation Camry having been on the market for a couple years now, this 2019 Camry XSE still looks bold and aggressive with features like the blacked-out mesh grille, narrow LED headlights and quadruple exhaust outlets.

What really made this particular car stand out was its two-tone paint job (a $500 option) with a black roof, black decklid spoiler and black mirrors contrasting the Celestial Silver body. Even the 18-wheels added to the sporty appearance with thin spokes arranged in a two-tone pattern.

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2019 Toyota Camry XSE Interior

The Camry XSE has a stunning high-contrast cabin

If the sporty exterior wasn't enough of a hint at the sporty nature of the 2019 Toyota Camry XSE, the interior definitely gets the point across. Opening the door reveals a stunning, high-contrast cabin with bright red sport leather seats with perforated inserts and a matching material covering the center console, door panels and across the instrument panel. The red and black interior is accented by dark trim with a metallic finish, and the XSE trim level comes standard with a 10-inch color head-up display, panoramic roof and Smart Key with push-button start.

In terms of tech, the 2019 Camry is finally compatible with Apple CarPlay as standard equipment and the XSE has a Qi wireless smartphone charger, but buyers will have to upgrade to the 2020 model year to get Android Auto and Amazon Alexa capability. This tester added plenty of cabin tech thanks to the $1,040 Navigation Package, which starts with an upgraded touch screen display (eight inches instead of seven inches) and includes navigation, nine-speaker JBL audio system and a Verizon Wi-Fi hotspot.

At its roots, the 2019 Toyota Camry is still a typical family sedan, so there is plenty of room in this car for five adult passengers and their gear with 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space available in the trunk. One of the biggest improvements Toyota made to this generation Camry is the availability of adjustable rear headrests for outboard occupants improving upon an already impressive interior based on space and comfort.

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2019 Toyota Camry XSE Powertrain

The Camry XSE has 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque

Even though you can get the XSE with the Camry's base four-cylinder (still stout with 206 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque), the optional V6 definitely backs up the XSE's style with 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. Complementing this engine is Toyota's Direct Shift eight-speed automatic transmission that has great shift points for a sporty feel and smooth acceleration. As proof that this sedan is still designed for a mainstream audience, this powertrain carries EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway*, and after a week of driving, this tester's trip computer showed a decent 27.7 mpg in combined driving. Both of the Camry's engines feature Toyota's advanced D-4S fuel injection technology providing a mix of direct and port fuel injection.

Matching its sporty style, the Camry XSE gets a sport-tuned suspension that tightens the chassis up just enough to be fun without resulting in a rough ride. In daily drives around town, the Camry XSE is a mild-mannered family sedan, but knocking the shifter into sport mode and using the steering wheel paddle shifters transforms this car into a quasi sport sedan. Perhaps for the first time its life, this Camry can keep pace with more enthusiastic rivals like the Mazda6 and Accord Sport. And if you want more fun, Toyota even offers a TRD-tuned Camry for the 2020 model year!

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2019 Toyota Camry XSE Safety

the 2020 Lexus LC has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The 2019 Toyota comes with a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is a result of a solid design and standard safety features including Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P).

This suite of safety technologies includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and Automatic High Beams, and the Toyota Star Safety System further enhances safety with Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology. This tester was also equipped with the $1,550 Driver Alert Assist Package adding Bird's Eye View Camera, Intelligent Clearance Sonar with Rear Cross Traffic Braking.

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2019 Toyota Camry XSE Overall

 The 2019 Camry is one of the most affordable mid-size sedans on the market

Toyota hasn't gone away from the affordability and dependability that made the Camry so popular, but the bold, stylish design and more engaging powertain options finally allow the Camry to be as fun as it is practical. And the handful of times where people approached to inquire about the car proved that Toyota is on the right track with this Camry design.

In base trim, the 2019 Camry is one of the most affordable mid-size sedans on the market with a starting price of $24,095**, and this decked-out 2019 Toyota Camry XSE is about as loaded as they come and still doesn't break the $40,000 barrier with its as-tested price of $38,874*.

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Toyota Camry XSE Specs


4-door, 5-passenger, FWD sedan


3.5L V-6

301 hp / 267 lb-ft

8-speed automatic


22/32 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★

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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.