German suspension tuning

I have a 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid. The suspension is too soft compared to any German make. Is there a way to “German Tune” a Toyota Camry’s suspension?

There are all sorts of suspension modifications for Camrys. All it takes is money.

“German Tune” would seem to mean a tendency to oversteer. That would be difficult with a front wheel drive. You might look into the geometry and physics of suspension and chassis design. Few front end shops understand the physics of alignment, they just pop in the CD and move the wheels until the dots line up. If you want good handling from a ‘sleeper,’ check the rice rocket boards. Hondas with up-graded power trains and stiffened suspensions are avaliable. And there may even be Toyota upgrades in the pipeline now. But a simple “suspension tune-up” won’t do much to a Camry.

You can’t make the Camry into a BMW. What you can do is spend money on stiffer springs, sway bars, and performance struts. The car’s handling will be improved, and the ride will be stiffer. Decide how much you are willing to spend on parts and labor and make some changes.

Don’t make any changes to tires and wheels as these have be selected specifically to match qualities needed by a hybrid.

The single best mods you can make IMHO while still maintaining some of the Camry’s personality are “upsizing” the wheels by an inch or two with lower profile tires and an upgraded rear sway bar. The bar will take a lot of the understeer out, flatten the cornering, and the wheel/tire upgrade will firm the feel up some and add some response and traction in turns.

UncleTurbo makes a good point about the wheels and tires lowering your mileage by a few numbers, but if you’re after a European feel without major mods it’s one of the best ways to accomplish it.

you can change shocks, struts, anti-rollbars (sway bars), and alignment.
why? its a hybrid, theres absolutley no performence potential what with all them electronics.

edit: oh, and its a camry.

If you want to firm things up, go to, look at their 17" options for wheels and tires. I have a set of Yokohama Avids on my ES300, they handle well, for a Toyota, but it’s no BMW, not even close. But they list no options for springs and struts. You’ll have to look harder for that, and you might not like the results. Part of ‘German handling’ results from being RWD in many cases, along with basic suspension geometry you can’t change.

German steering is, in my view, about straight line tracking on a freeway or highway. A German car will steer straight ahead until it is told to turn with the steering wheel, of course. This desirable steering feature is not often grasped by both car buyers and entire car companies. To me it is not about cornering and the resulting ride might be a little stiffish but not uncomfortable.

Our 1974 Opel was the best driving car that we have ever owned. VWs have it and a relative’s Australian-designed Pontiac G8 had it. A Mazda that I test drove had it too. A Honda Accord that I test drove had a little of it.

If there was an easy way to incorporate German steering in any car, I would like to know about it.

The last Celica and Tercel I test drove had plenty of steering feel. Seriously, even the Tercel was a fun to drive car if you look past it’s propulsion. Nowadays, most Toyota have no feel in their steering products. It is not about heaviness, but proper variation in steering effort and that is not Toyota’s marketing strategy. Toyota products are about isolation and, unfortunately, people prefer that in the States.

I will attempt to describe German steering as I saw it in German cars that we owned.

The car will steer straight ahead with little or no deviation from that except for the unavoidable effect of sidewinds. The car will not need constant steering corrections to stay on the course directed by the steering wheel and the car will not change directions for no apparent reason.

If a minor correction is occasionally needed, the initial adjustment of the steering wheel position will require little force and there will be no “stiction” in that adjustment. Increasing steering adjustment will result in a predictable increase in steering effort needed. Very small steering adjustments result in a predictable small change in direction.

Our Opel was very responsive in curves as well. If it could talk to me, it would say: We are now entering a curve and I will help by doing some initial turning of the car for you but you will need to do your part to perfect the negotiation of the curve."

It was a wonderful car to drive. It had no power steering and could be driven on a freeway with only a thumb and forefinger on the wheel in light winds. Our VWs also did quite well in these regards.

Two easy steps:

  1. Sell the Camry
  2. Buy a BMW 3 Series