The Sporting Camry: The 2016 Toyota Camry XSE

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Toyota Camry
The 2016 Toyota Camry XSE.
Eighteen years ago, James Schefter wrote a book called "All Corvettes Are Red".  For its eight-generation existence, the prevailing wisdom is that all Toyota Camrys are beige.  Neither is true, and the Camry XSE is Toyota's way of proving that.

Side view of 2016 Toyota Camry XSE
2016 Toyota Camry XSE.
The XSE is a Camry XLE with a 3.5-liter V6 (you can get that engine or a four-cylinder in the XLE), with a sport-tuned suspension added, 17-inch alloy wheels traded for 18-inch black-painted alloys, a standard color-keyed rear spoiler and smoked chrome upper grille and rear garnish.

Interior view of 2016 Toyota Camry XSE
2016 Toyota Camry XSE interior.

Inside, the XLE's wood trim is nowhere to be found and the XSE seats are leather and ultrasuede trimmed with red stitching, a theme carried over to the leather-wrapped steering wheel.  There are also paddle shifters in the XSE that are not in the XLE. 

Remarkably, Toyota has not increased the price.  It is the same base of $31,370 as the 2015 model we tested (along with the XLE and the Hybrid SE) a year ago.  The delivery processing and handling fee has gone up ten dollars to $835.

And our test vehicle had options.  The blind spot monitor with cross-traffic alert ($500). The Entune JBL Premium audio system with integrated navigation and app suite ($805).  The Advanced Technology Package, including pre-collision system, lane departure alert, dynamic cruise control and automatic highbeams ($750), and the special Ruby Flare Pearl paint ($395).  It did not have the illuminated door sill enhancements, remote start or carpeted floor mats and trunk mat of last year's XSE test vehicle, and as a result, the as-tested price is about a thousand dollars less, at $34,855.

Is the Camry XSE a performance car, or even a sport sedan?  In the strictest sense, no.  But it does liven up a car that millions of Americans vote for with their wallets year in and year out.  And that is no bad thing.