In the land of beige, does the "sporty" version of the Camry actually make it fun to drive?
(Full Disclosure: Toyota wanted me to drive the Camry so bad they made it so that the only other car available at Enterprise was a Buick LaCrosse.)
Exterior (5/10): Although the SE trim has a different grille, different side skirts, and adds a rear lip spoiler, it looks just as plain as other Camry's.
Interior (6/10): The SE trim adds leather seats with cloth inserts. It also had thicker side bolstering which was greatly appreciated. After driver it for 2 hours straight, my butt became completely numb on multiple occasions. I partially blame the lack of power seats. The leather steering wheel is nicely shaped and slightly thicker than the one in my Subaru Legacy. The materials were soft where you would rest your limbs on and the center console look a bit dated.
Acceleration (5/10): With its 2.5 liter inline 4, acceleration felt similar to my Legacy. I estimate a 0-60 mph time of ~9 seconds using the paddle shifters. Get the V-6 instead.
Braking (3/10): Braking felt sketchy to say the least. There was zero initial bite so I kept wondering why the F@!k am I not slowing down. Maybe I'm just used to the StopTech pads on my DD.
Ride (5/10): With it's stiffer springs and dampers, I thought the ride was a little harsh. I felt and heard very little expansion joint I drove over and when hitting large bumps, the body felt unsettled. There was less body roll than expected.
Handling (5/10): Steering felt unnecessarily heavy and it lacked any feedback of what the front tires where doing.
Gearbox (5/10): Only an automatic is available. It shifts early during acceleration and it is reluctant to downshift when you need the power. The paddle shifters do help, but there's a second delay between you wanting to do something and it doing it. I now remember why I dislike automatics.
Audio (6/10): The stereo sounds decent and come with all the inputs you need. The engine note sounds like crap.
Toys (5/10): It comes with everything you think should come in a midsize car in 2014 and nothing more.
Value (5/10): With an MSRP of $23,740 it's priced similarly to competitors such as the much more fun to drive Mazda6.
Total (50/100): The 2014 Toyota Camry SE is a perfectly average car that isn't as sporty as the commercials suggest. Don't get a Camry if you care about driving.