The Camry has been the bestselling vehicle in America for 12 of the last 13 years for many good reasons. For buyers cross shopping the new 2011 Toyota Camry against Ford’s latest midsize, the 2011 Fusion, the two sedans may seem comparable on the surface, but dig a bit deeper and the Camry’s value and content advantages shine through.
Buyers flock to the 2011 Toyota Camry for its comfort, refinement, fuel economy and every day driving performance – a blend of attributes few competitors can match. The difference comes from two extra elements found in every vehicle Toyota makes: Seamless build quality and rock-solid dependability. Closer scrutiny reveals other significant differences that squeeze the Fusion clear out of the Camry’s spotlight. First, a few facts:
Toyota sells the five-seat Camry in five versions: Camry (MSRP $20,195), uplevel Camry LE (MSRP $21,650), sporty Camry SE (MSRP $22,965), the top-end Camry XLE (MSRP $26,725) and the ultra-fuel-efficient Camry Hybrid (MSRP $27,050).
Except for the Hybrid, the standard engine on the front-wheel drive Camry is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 169 hp (179 hp on the SE) and featuring Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (Dual VVT-i). Buyers looking for more power can opt for the 3.5-liter V6 (available on all but the entry Camry and Hybrid models), which is good for 268 hp. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual while the available adaptive six-speed automatic offers a Sequential mode for manual shifting. The Ford Fusion offers a similar spread of trim levels and powertrains.
You’ll find a much wider array of equipment available even on the base model Camry including Bluetooth connectivity, voice-recognition controls, integrated satellite radio, height adjustment for the front seats, separate audio system controls for rear-seat passengers and even a DVD player. None of these upscale items are available on the comparable Fusion S.
The majority of buyers in the midsize segment purchase vehicles equipped with four-cylinder engines. Comparing the four-cylinder Camry LE against the comparably equipped Fusion SE shows an immediate advantage. Outfitted with the manual transmission, the Camry returns 33 highway mpg versus just 29 mpg on the highway for the Fusion SE with its own 2.5-liter DURATEC inline four-cylinder.
Toyota has long been known as a leader in safety. In keeping with its status as a top-selling family vehicle, the Camry boasts front seat-mounted side airbags and front and rear side-curtain airbags including one for the driver’s knees, along with a bounty of standard driver-assistance technology. The list includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC) and four-wheel antilock disc brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), as part of the Star Safety System.
The Fusion features some of these safety components, but the Camry offers some standard accident-avoidance technology that can’t be had on the Ford at any price: Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, which allocates braking between the vehicle wheels as necessary, and Brake Assist (BA). Under emergency braking, the Brake Assist system can sense if the driver fails to apply sufficient pedal pressure to engage the ABS. In response, BA instantly supplies additional braking power until the driver safely releases the pedal.
Along with safety, the Camry scores high with families for its roominess. The Camry delivers greater overall interior volume (101.4 cubic feet) than the Fusion (100.3 cubic feet), and gives front-seat occupants more shoulder, hip and headroom. Passengers in back also enjoy more hip, shoulder and legroom thanks to the space-efficient rear bench seat, which comes as standard on the Camry. The Fusion does not offer a rear bench seat.
As a reviewer at Car and Driver magazine stated, “Toyota wears the hybrid halo.” The Camry Hybrid does nothing to tarnish that reputation. Pairing a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor, this application of Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive® produces a combined 187 hp and 138 lb/ft of torque. The Fusion Hybrid is the more expensive vehicle (MSRP $28,600), and yet it makes less horsepower (156 hp) and torque (136 lb/ft).
Both hybrid sedans use efficient continuously variable transmissions, but even with the Camry power advantage, highway fuel economy for the two rivals is effectively the same: 35 mpg for the Camry versus 36 mpg for the Fusion. Credit goes in part to the much lower 0.27 coefficient of drag for the Camry and its more aerodynamic shape, versus 0.33 for the Fusion.
In a pound-for-pound comparison, advantages in safety, technology, fuel economy and comfort – along with unmatched Toyota dependability – demonstrate why the new 2011 Camry remains the champ among midsize sedans.