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2006 Toyota Camry Test Drive Review

Picture of 2006 Toyota Camry SE V6 A full-size vehicle masquerading as a midsize sedan, the 2006 Toyota Camry supplies everything you need and want in a reliable family car.

8.5 /10
Overall Score

In what is likely its last year before a complete redesign, the roomy 2006 Toyota Camry sees no significant change. Due to the new Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) engine testing rules, the horsepower figures drop a bit. Also, the Camry SE V6 is now offered with a navigation system.

Buyers choose from CE, LE, SE, and XLE trim levels, and the 2006 Camry offers a 4-cylinder or a V6 engine. It is one of the largest vehicles in its segment and shares its platform and vehicle architecture with the Lexus ES.

Look and Feel

8/ 10

Lacking in terms of visual excitement, the 2006 Camry boasts a clean, conservative, and cohesive design. The sporty SE trim is the looker of the bunch, featuring fog lights, darkened headlamp housings, attractive aluminum wheels, and a rear spoiler. Naturally, the luxury-oriented XLE emphasizes chrome detailing and shiny wheels.

Continuing the luxury theme, the Camry XLE’s interior features leather, gathered leatherette door panel trim, and fake wood on the dashboard. With SE trim, the cabin has metallic accents. The less expensive Camrys are, understandably, less interesting in terms of interior design.

Quality is a high point for the 2006 Camry, from the materials to how the switchgear feels when used. Full instrumentation, sensible climate controls, and comprehensive (if cluttered) stereo controls integrate into a design emphasizing symmetry, minimalism, and practicality.


8/ 10

Every 2006 Camry comes with a standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine making 154 horsepower. Toyota builds the car with a 5-speed manual gearbox, but most (if not all) that you’ll find on dealer lots will have a 5-speed automatic transmission.

As an option, a more powerful 3.0-liter V6 engine supplies 190 hp in the Camry LE and XLE and 210 hp in the Camry SE. The SE also has a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, and improved tires, and it does provide a bit of driving fun.

Exuding refinement, the Camry 4-cylinder is peppy enough for daily driving, though when you load it up for a family road trip, the engine can struggle when merging onto highways, passing slower traffic, or climbing mountain grades. You can solve that problem by choosing the V6 engine, which delivers far more satisfying acceleration with a slight penalty in terms of fuel economy.

Most Camrys are capable if forgettable drivers. To extract any semblance of enjoyment from the journey to the destination, you’ll want the firmer and more communicative Camry SE.

Form and Function

10/ 10

With plenty of seating for up to five passengers, the 2006 Toyota Camry is nothing if not roomy. Up front, the driver and passenger enjoy expansive space and the car’s backseat is positively huge. Storage is plentiful, too, and the trunk holds a whopping 16.7 cubic feet of cargo.

Though the base Camry CE looks that way, it includes everything you really need, such as air conditioning, power accessories, cruise control, and a CD player. The LE adds an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and remote keyless entry, while the SE installs the racier look, the sportier mechanicals, and a power sunroof.

At the top of the trim ladder, the XLE provides fancier trim, leather seats, automatic climate control, heated exterior mirrors, a premium sound system, and more.

Tech Level

8/ 10

For the 2006 Camry, Toyota’s JBL premium sound system offers more than improved audio quality. It adds both an MP3 player and a cassette player, and as an optional upgrade swaps out the single-disc CD player for a 6-disc CD changer. A DVD-based navigation system is available with XLE and SE V6 trim.

A universal programmable garage door opener is also offered for the 2006 Camry. It replaces the bulky hand-held remote with buttons integrated into the cabin design. An anti-theft system with an engine immobilizer is another upgrade for the Camry, which is a frequent target of car thieves.


8/ 10

Every 2006 Camry is equipped with antilock brakes and dual front airbags. Side curtain airbags for the front and rear passengers, and side-impact airbags for the front seat occupants, are an option. Get a Camry with a V6 engine, and it has stability control, which is helpful when drivers start to lose control of the car on a slippery surface.

Based on crash-test results published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), you’re going to want those side airbags. Without them, the 2006 Camry gets a Poor rating for side-impact collision protection. With them, the rating leaps to Good. In the moderate-overlap frontal-impact test, the 2006 Camry scores a Good rating for driver protection.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found similar results. Frontal-impact protection earns the highest 5-star rating for both front seats. Side-impact protection for the front seats rates 4 stars, but for the rear seats rates a mediocre 3 stars. The NHTSA’s test vehicles did not have side airbags.


9/ 10

With window stickers starting at more than $19,000, and with a loaded XLE rapidly approaching the $30,000 mark, the 2006 Toyota Camry isn’t cheap in terms of price. But when you get into one and fire up either of its silky smooth engines, and after you drive the car for a while, you also realize that the 2006 Toyota Camry isn’t cheap in terms of engineering, quality, and refinement.

You might pay a lot for a new Camry, but you get a lot of car in return.


Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience reviewing cars and has served in editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, J.D. Power, the New York Daily News, Autobytel, and Vehix. Chris prefers to focus on the cars people actually buy rather than the cars about which people dream, and emphasizes the importance of fuel economy and safety as much as how much fun a car is to drive. Chris is married to an automotive journalist, is the father of four daughters, and lives in Southern California.

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2006 Toyota Camry Top Comparisons

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Toyota Camry Questions

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