Doing a 2013 Toyota Camry review isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I decided that I wanted to start doing car reviews. But I figured that I have to start somewhere, so here we go…

A short (but to the point) 2013 Toyota Camry review

Just hearing the words “all I have is a Camry today, is that ok?” from the rental car lady was enough to make me turn right around and head back into the airport and abort the trip altogether. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option on this blistery cold Thanksgiving day at Minneapolis St Paul International Airport. My wife and I had to get to my sister’s house ASAP in time for the holiday feast, so whether I liked it or not, a Camry it would be.


While certainly not Lexus quality (and design), everything about this car was solid and tight. Controls moved with precision, levers had heft, and buttons were firm. And to make that even more impressive, this car had nearly 30,000 miles on it – yep, she had been around. Even the seats still felt good, and judging by feel alone, I never would have been able to guess that this car had 30k hard rental car miles on it.

Camry dashboard and interior
2013 Toyota Camry LE interior
eco mode display
Center console with a very detailed “eco mode” display showing average MPG in charts and graphs
gauge cluster
Steering wheel and gauge cluster

The only issues we had right off the bat was that we couldn’t get the bluetooth working – perhaps there really was a problem with it, because it seemed intuitive enough but it just wouldn’t pair with my wife’s phone. We gave up after a few minutes, unwilling to dig the manual out of the glovebox and try and sort things out.

Engine and Transmission

I admit it: I couldn’t figure out how to put the 6-speed automatic transmission in Drive. The only options on the gear shift were “P R N S-D”. What the hell is S-D? I just dropped the gear lever in that section hoping for the best, and all seemed well. Initially.

camry gear shift lever
The confusing gear shift lever for the 6 speed automatic

It turns out that I had it in “manual” mode – which became obnoxiously obvious as we pulled out of the parking garage. It would’t shift without my intervention, but there was nowhere to pull over and try and figure things out so I figured we’d be driving all the way to my sister’s place in manumatic mode. Yes, I felt as if my mancard had been revoked…

The good news is that I eventually figured it out at a stoplight 20 minutes later. It turns out that you have to have the gear lever all the way to the left in order for it to lock into Drive. You can still manually upshift or downshift my moving the lever forwards or backwards.

But the question I have to ask is…why? Why is this feature even on this car? This is not a sporty car by any means – it’s got hubcaps for crying out loud! Perhaps they did it for the poor souls who wanted a sports car but had to make due with a Camry. But I’m willing to bet that this is a feature that not even 1% of Camry owners would ever use.

As far as the engine goes, well…there’s nothing worth noting here. This LE model had a 178hp, 2.5-liter I-4, which in a car this size, isn’t all that great. It wasn’t slow, but it certainly wouldn’t fry the tires off the rims.


What can I say about how well (or unwell) this thing handled the arrow-straight roads of central Minnesota? It’s a Camry for crying out loud! The only corners I was able to put this thing through were slow 90-degree Minnesota turns from one highway to the next, so I really can’t tell you about how many G’s she’ll pull in the hairpins. But it’s a comfortable ride – solid, not too soft, with just the right amount of firmness to make it feel not so floaty.

16 inch wheels
16 inch wheels

I should also point out that it tracks very well in the snow. It snowed a bit the second day we were there, and I drove it about 80 miles in slushy conditions. It surprised me – it held firm, and I never once did feel as if it was slipping beyond my control.

driving the camry
This car is very simple to drive. Boring – but simple.

Final thoughts about the 2013 Camry

As much as I hate to admit it, I walked away from this car after 200 or so miles of driving feeling a bit impressed. It is a Camry after all, so I’m not up at night thinking about my experience with this car, but the features and solid feel made me fully understand why this is one of the best selling cars in the US.

filling up the camry with gas
I didn’t calculate the numbers, but gas mileage was really good – no surprises here.
black camry LE
As you can see, it’s not exactly a sexy automobile – but it gets the job done!

The bottom line is that it’s solid, dependable, functional transportation. As a car guy, I can think of a million other cars I would buy before this if I needed a mid size car to haul the family around – but there’s really nothing bad about this one if high style and fun isn’t high on your priority list.

Be warned though – this car hasn’t aged very well, and you might want to read all about the latest 2013 Toyota Camry problems before purchasing one.

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