2009 Toyota Camry Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 5, 2011

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2009 Toyota Camry Buying Advice

Accounting for some 60 percent of all Camry sales, the four-cylinder LE model is the most-popular Camry model. You won’t go wrong with the basic 2009 Toyota Camry CE model, however.

The four-cylinder CE and LE are equipped nearly identically, though the LE’s base price is some $1,500 higher because it includes as standard two popular features – a power driver’s seat and remote keyless entry -- that aren’t available even as options on the CE.

At the other end of the 2009 Toyota Camry spectrum, consider the top-line Camry XLE model. It comes surprisingly close to duplicating the luxury feel of the Lexus ES 350. Lexus is Toyota’s premium brand, and Toyota uses the Camry’s underskin structure and V-6 engine as the basis for the ES 350.

The ES 350 is the best-selling Lexus model. A V-6 Camry XLE lists for about $30,000 when fully loaded with amenities such as heated front seats and a navigation system. Equipped similarly, the 2009 Lexus ES 350 lists for about $37,700. If you can resist the prestige of the Lexus brand, a 2009 Toyota Camry XLE is a luxury sedan bargain.

Don’t judge the 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid solely by some fuel-cost versus purchase-price formula. Sure, you can spend a couple thousand less to buy a Camry with the conventional four-cylinder engine that will perform like the 2009 Camry Hybrid, and even approach its fuel economy.

The point is the Camry Hybrid does save gas compared to other cars of its size and performance, and puts fewer exhaust emissions into the air, to boot. And it doesn’t sacrifice any of Camry’s other virtues.

Basically, the 2009 Toyota Camry is a sterling example of a family car that demands little and delivers what it promises.

The 2009 Toyota Camry continues as the “comfortable sweater” of midsize cars – roomy, familiar, and with no rough edges.

The strength of the 2009 Toyota Camry is a level of isolation from unpleasant road, wind, and mechanical ruckus that rivals cars costing far more. The 2009 Toyota Camry is more than competent in any driving situation, but if you’re looking for a sporty experience, the 2009 Toyota Camry isn’t your first choice.

2009 Toyota Camry Changes back to top

The 2009 Toyota Camry is unchanged from the 2008 Toyota Camry, though base prices increase by about $150. The 2009 Toyota Camry carries on a Camry design generation introduced for the 2007 model year.

When the Camry was redesigned for the 2007 model year, it grew in size, got new styling inside and out, and gained several new features versus the 2002-2006 design generation.

No change to the 2009 Toyota Camry will significantly alter its performance or passenger accommodations from those of the 2008 model. Statements in this review about performance and accommodations are based on detailed test drives of the 2008 Toyota Camry.

2009 Toyota Camry Test Drive back to top

Driving the Toyota Camry:  Four-cylinder and Hybrid versions of the 2009 Toyota Camry favor comfort over speed, but acceleration is perfectly adequate with either. The Hybrid is actually a bit faster than the gas four-cylinder models, particularly for expressway merging or passing. V-6 Camrys sacrifice no comfort, but with a healthy 268 horsepower, their acceleration is the envy of some more overtly sporting cars.

Taking corners quickly means putting up with nose plow and tire squealing with any model. Camry’s steering feel comes in for the most criticism. In keeping with Camry’s isolating character, the steering can feel numb, divorced from what’s going on at the tires. Camry can be slow to react to a turn of the wheel, too. Steering effort that’s finger-tip light in the fashion of a big old American sedan makes for easy maneuvering, but is bound to annoy those who prefer a meatier feel.

Like virtually all midsize cars, Camry has front-wheel drive. That puts the weight of the engine is over the drive wheels for good traction in snow. Some midsize cars in Camry’s price range, such as the Ford Fusion and Volkswagen Passat, offer all-wheel drive for superior all-weather traction.

Riding in the Toyota Camry:  All Camry models soak up bumps without disturbing their occupants. They’re composed at highway speeds, too, though only the SE versions have suspension tuning taut enough to prevent mild porpoising motions when the road surface gets wavy.

Seats that capture the illusive goal of being both soft and supportive are a Camry highlight. All models come with a pair of wide front bucket seats separated by a floor console. The rear bench seat has plenty of room for two, and three adults fit if they’re willing to rub shoulders; a nearly flat rear floor helps.

The trunk swallows weekend luggage for a family of four, but the lid’s intrusive hinges will crush bags placed in the corners.

Toyota Camry dashboard and controls:  The dashboard strikes a balance of its own, with a shape that’s contemporary and controls that are simple to understand and pleasant to use. Two flaws, however: climate system settings are displayed on a screen that washes out in bright sunlight, and the navigation system screen doubles as the venue for some audio controls, needlessly complicating their use.

The Hybrid has a screen that can be programmed to show a real-time illustration of how energy is flowing between the battery pack, gas engine, electric motor, even the brakes (where friction is tapped to recharge the battery). It’s entertaining, but potentially distracting.

2009 Toyota Camry Prices back to top

The 2009 Toyota Camry offers four trim levels, plus the Hybrid model. All come with cruise control and power mirrors, windows and door locks, plus a steering wheel that tilts and telescopes and provides auxiliary audio controls. The four cylinder engine teams with a manual transmission or, for roughly $1,000 more, automatic transmission. The Hybrid and V-6 models come only with automatic transmission.

The entry-level Camry CE model starts at $19,145. The volume-selling LE model starts at $20,600 with the four-cylinder engine and around $24,000 with the V-6.

The sport-flavored Camry SE model is $21,815, or $25,490 with the V-6. The top-line Camry XLE, which comes with leather upholstery, power sunroof, and other amenities, starts at $25,575, or at $28,695 with the V-6.

The Camry Hybrid lists for $26,150 and includes most of the XLE’s equipment, but charges extra for leather upholstery and a sunroof.

The 2009 Toyota Camry offers four trim levels, plus the Hybrid model. All come with cruise control and power mirrors, windows and door locks, plus a steering wheel that tilts and telescopes and provides auxiliary audio controls. The four cylinder engine teams with a manual transmission or, for roughly $1,000 more, automatic transmission. The Hybrid and V-6 models come only with automatic transmission.

The entry-level Camry CE model starts around $19,000. The volume-selling LE model starts around $21,000 with the four-cylinder engine and around $24,000 with the V-6.

The sport-flavored Camry SE model is around $22,000, or $25,000 with the V-6. The top-line Camry XLE, which comes with leather upholstery, power sunroof, and other amenities, starts around $25,000, or around $28,500 with the V-6.

The Camry Hybrid lists for $25,350 and includes most of the XLE’s equipment, but charges extra for leather upholstery and a sunroof.

2009 Toyota Camry Fuel Economy back to top

Fuel economy is friendly, especially for a car with Camry’s generous passenger and cargo room. All versions use regular-grade gasoline.

Gas four-cylinder models should average about 25 mpg overall. V-6 Camrys average around 21 mpg, a little off the pace of their Accord counterparts, which have a V-6 that saves gas by idling three cylinders in low-demand driving.

The 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid can be expected to average around 30 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving. It doesn’t require plug-in charging, and boasts fuel-saving technology that automatically shuts off and restarts the engine when the car is at a stop. The Hybrid also can run solely on electric power at low speeds, so some driving is done using no gas at all.

2009 Toyota Camry Safety and Reliability back to top

Camry’s base price includes a nice range of safety features, including head-protecting curtain side airbags. However, an antiskid system (intended to keep the car on course in slippery turns) is standard only on the Hybrid model; it’s an extra-cost item for the others. It’s a sound investment at around $650.

The Camry scores extremely well in government crash tests, earning the highest ratings – a full five stars on a five-star scale – in every important category. These include a simulated head-on crash at 35 mph and a test measuring the effects of a collision in which the car is hit in the side at around 39 mph. The tests concluded that chances were low that the Camry’s driver and passengers would suffer serious injury in these types of crashes.

Camry’s proven durability has helped Toyota build a reputation that benefits all its models. This image of reliability is reflected in high resale values and in repeat-buyer rates that are the envy of the industry.

However, all Toyota models in recent years have shown a decline in the quality of cabin materials, evidenced by thinner-gauge plastic panels and some hard surfaces where earlier models had padding. Blame cost cutting in an increasingly competitive market.

Camry’s reputation in particular suffered a bit when owners of 2007 Camrys complained of squeaks and rattles and some interior trim with scratchy edges and uneven fit. Toyota has worked to remedy those relatively minor issues, and if Camry’s reputation as flawless was tarnished, it hasn’t been enough to dent sales.

2009 Toyota Camry Release Date back to top

The 2009 Toyota Camry release date is February 2008.

What's next for the 2009 Toyota Camry back to top

The 2009 Toyota Camry delivers more of the formula that has made the Camry America’s best-selling car for six consecutive years, and for 10 of the past 11 years. A four-door sedan remains the sole body style. Four-cylinder and V-6 engines, plus a gas-electric Hybrid model return.

With no significant changes expected before the 2012 model year, the 2009 Toyota Camry is a safe bet to look and feel fresh for the next few years.

2009 Toyota Camry Competition back to top

The 2009 Toyota Camry’s main rivals are the Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, and Nissan Altima. The Accord and Malibu launched new design generations for the 2008 model year and they aren’t expected to change significantly before the 2013 model year. The Altima was redesigned for 2007 and should continue in its basic form until at least the 2013 model year.

On the road, the 2009 Honda Accord has a leaner, more athletic feel than the 2009 Toyota Camry, but it rides noticeably rougher and doesn’t offer a Hybrid model. The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu isn’t as quite or refined overall as the Camry, and won’t retain as high a resale value. The 2009 Nissan Altima has going for it an Accord-like sporty personality, but that’s offset by a slightly coarser nature than any of these other three cars.

2009 Toyota Camry Next Steps