REVIEW: 2017 Toyota Camry XSE – Mid-Trim Done Right

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The 2017 Toyota Camry XSE is the middle trim of this mid-sized sedan. To its legendary competency and well-chosen options, it adds sporty looks and a unique interior for the segment.

What is it? 

The XSE trim of the Camry was intended to spice up the series a bit. Toyota added the sporty looks of the SE trims from the past to a longer options list and then threw in an Ultrasuede interior trim package that sets it apart from the Accord, Altima, and other top-sellers in this important market segment.

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Pricing and trims

The 2017 Camry line starts at around $23K in a basic daily driver and rises to about $35K when equipped with its powerful V6 and all of the options packages thrown in. There is also a hybrid in both basic and well-equipped trims. At the bottom end of the price range, the Camry is so much car for the money it is hard to top. At the top end, it rivals many luxury cars in both performance and amenities for about a third less money, while putting up better reliability numbers.

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Our 2017 Toyota Camry XSE sneaks in just under $30K with an MSRP of $29,958. At this price point, there are important features in the Camry XSE, but some important ones, like navigation and forward collision prevention, are left out. This Camry is a compromise.

That said, small, but important details are part of the XSE package. For example, Homelink garage door opening, a trunk that pops up when you hit the fob or use the interior handle, and an infotainment and HVAC system that anyone can easily make work.

Find a 2017 Camry near you with BestRide’s local search. 

Safety

Despite Toyota’s many press releases claiming that it is starting to offer forward collision prevention with auto-braking standard on its popular 2017 model year vehicles, our Camry didn’t have it. Yet, a Corolla or RAV4 would have. This is a strange way for Toyota to roll out this important technology; the Camry should have been the first car in the Toyota lineup to get this important safety system as standard equipment.

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Our tester did have rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and an excellent rear-view camera.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the 2017 Camry a Top Safety Pick. With optional FCP, it would be ranked higher.

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Performance

The four-cylinder engine in our test vehicle was peppy, smooth, quiet, and basically out of the way. Toyota has been polishing this gem so long it is near-perfect for its mission, though with a 27 mpg EPA combined rating, it is only average in terms of fuel economy.

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Off the line, the Camry XSE is just right. If you are looking for sporty, this isn’t your Camry, but Toyota has one for you. Just get the optional V6 and go looking for stoplight races with BMWs and Audis. You’ll win more than you’ll lose. Like every midsize car, the Camry has plenty of power for safe passing.

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The six-speed automatic in our tester was smooth to the point of being barely noticeable. If you want to control the gears yourself the XSE has paddle shifters.

Ride and handling

The XSE adds wider tires and 18″ wheels – they’re 17-inchers on the XLE – and stabilizer bars front and rear are solid, instead of tubular as on the XLE.

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The Camry XSE is primarily a commuter or family sedan, not a sports sedan, however, that does not mean it won’t turn a corner. The XSE is balanced between comfort over bumps and handling in corners. Like its engine, its suspension is not something you take much note of. You just go happily down the road.

Seating

The front seats are where the XSE stands out. The Ultrasuede seating material is perforated and really has a premium, upscale feel.

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The Ultrasuede makes up the bulk of the seat surface and the trim is leather. Our tester’s power seats worked in all the right ways and we were comfortable. The seats could extend a bit further forward under the thighs, but that is a personal preference. One big plus of the Ultrasuede is they are warmer in cool weather, and with the heated seats working feel snug. The seats also hold you in place just so, so that in corners and in braking there is no sliding around.

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The Camry’s rear seats are also covered in Ultrasuede and leather. Legroom is generous, but there are a couple cars in the segment with more. That said, once “enough” is reached, why make the car bigger in back? Adults can sit behind one another without any need for the front passengers to move up.

Cargo

The Camry XSE has a class-typical trunk. Big, low, and wide, its 15.4 cubic feet is very usable. Underneath the floor is a temporary spare tire.

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Infotainment and controls

The infotainment and climate controls are simple to operate and easy to use. The touch-screen is quick and well placed for easy reach. The JBL audio in our car lacked character. Toyota offers better in other trims. With no navigation to use, we resorted to using our phone for directions via Google Maps. Toyota does not offer Android Auto in the Camry XSE, but we made do.

Find a 2017 Camry near you with BestRide’s local search. 

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Overall

The Camry has a reputation of having a bland appeal, but the Camry XSE  is as good looking as most cars in its class, feels no different than its peers in normal driving, yet it is more reliable, has a better resale value, and a better reputation for durability.

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The 2017 Camry XSE is not all things to all people. With navigation and forward collision prevention missing, it is less well equipped than the Prius Prime. Those options are in the Camry lineup, but Toyota has not distinguished itself with feature content. What sets the XSE apart from its peers are the seats and the Camry’s sterling durability.

Looking for a new or used midsize sedan? Start your search with BestRide’s listings.

2017 Toyota Camry XSE 

Base price: $23,070

Price as tested, $29,958, including  $865 destination charge

Price Note: Includes 2-years or 25,000 miles of maintenance.

Options:

Convenience Package: $845
Smart-key, auto Dim mirror, Homelink, Anti-theft system, alarm

Power Moonroof $915

Blind Spot Monitor $500

Carpeted Floor Mats and Trunk $224

Illuminated Door Sills $ 299

Likes:

  • Good value
  • Upscale, Comfortable Seats
  • Roomy trunk

Dislikes:

  • Forward Collision Prevention should be standard
  • Who pays $299 for illuminated door sills in a Camry?

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John Goreham

John Goreham