While various SUV nameplates have won and lost favor with consumers' changing tastes, the Toyota Camry's popularity has remained constant over the last decade. There's good reason for this, as the Camry has never wavered in its mission to be the perfect American family sedan. It's not perfect, of course, but the current Camry rates highly in most of the areas mainstream buyers will consider important: It's roomy, comfortable, safe and easy to drive. And when it comes time to sell it, you'll get a nice price for it.
The 2008 Toyota Camry represents the second year of the nameplate's sixth generation. Although the car retains a midsize classification, this is the largest Camry ever and that fact is immediately apparent when you get inside: Headroom, shoulder room, hiproom and legroom are abundant in both the front and back. This is also the most powerful Camry ever by a wide margin. The optional 3.5-liter V6 engine develops 268 horsepower, and using the services of a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, propels the sedan to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds -- as quick as some sport sedans and coupes. It also returns fuel economy that's not far off from what you'd get with the Camry's base four-cylinder engine.
In spite of the current-gen Camry's speed, performance is still not among its major selling points. Instead, buyers are likely to notice how easily this family car executes passing maneuvers and maintains utter composure and serenity when going over just about any road surface. Handling is also sharper than on any previous Camry, although the car's abilities are masked by its ride-biased tires and lack of steering feedback. Truly, those seeking a truly sporting drive in a midsize sedan will continue to be better served by such cars as the Mazda 6, Nissan Altima and Subaru Legacy.
However, for most consumers, it's cost rather than a lack of athleticism that tends to be the chief sticking point when they're shopping for a Toyota Camry. Properly equipped, the Camry usually ends up more expensive than most midsize sedans. That's hard to overlook when value-packed and worthy rivals like the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion and Hyundai Sonata are available. Also making things tougher for Toyota's big seller is its longtime chief rival, the Honda Accord, which has just been redesigned. The Accord may not be as hushed at freeway speeds, but it handily beats the Camry in terms of driving enjoyment and overall cabin refinement. Considering the amount of strong entries in this class, we suggest back-to-back test drives before making an automatic decision for the 2008 Toyota Camry.