Toyota Camry and its predecessor the Corona, have been around forever it seems and have been a huge success for Toyota.
However, in the seemingly unstoppable surge towards SUV style vehicles, the Camry has, of late, struggled like all sedan style vehicles, for sales.
The current model Camry was launched in late 2017 with an all new design and was the eighth generation Camry in Australia. Toyota Australia was even exporting them overseas when they were manufactured here. Now, for the first time in 30 years that Toyota has offered a fully imported Camry range to the Australian market. The new model is produced in Japan.
Regular readers will be familiar with my general ambivalence towards Hybrid and Electric vehicles. But after driving the Camry, have I got it wrong?
Unusually for a Camry, the latest model looks aggressive and purposeful in its design. Partly due to the new global platform, that allows more refined style and partly due to a renewed enthusiasm from Toyota in regard to style.
Overall it adopts a lower, sleeker, almost sportier profile with a more aggressive two piece grill, lower bonnet and a smooth profile.
The Hybrid Ascent Sport gets a lower front air dam, LED head lamps and tail lamps as well as DRL’s bit does miss out on front fog lights. The automatic high beam headlights are excellent and the calibration amongst the best. The Ascent Sport runs 17 inch alloy wheels (temporary spare) as well as 215/55R17 tyres as well as a sports bumper and side skirts.
The interior has also undergone a complete transformation, focussing more on driver ergonomics and integration. Overall ambience of the Ascent Sport is a mix of good features and style and a little blandness.
The fabric seats are comfortable, however I always prefer leather for their practicality and durability. However with electric adjustment, even for lumbar support, they are comfortable and even though they entry point is lowered with the new design, easy to get into and out of with plenty of head room and seat slide for my larger frame.
The adjustment for the steering wheel for my driving position meant that the top row of indicator lights on the instrument panel was obscured, but otherwise the twin dial, central MFD design was clear and very functional.
The dashboard, instrument panel, centre console and door trims employ soft touch and premium materials with a mix of tones and hues. Visibility is good, but the “A’ frames are a little obstructive for roundabouts and corners.
Rear passengers are treated to adequate comfort and legroom and a couple of air vents. The 60/40 folding seat squabs and backrests are scalloped for extra comfort for the two outer passengers. However it would be best if occupants were less that 183cm I would say as it’s a little restrictive getting and out and head room can be a little tight if taller.
Boot space is ok, but when you see the size, you can understand why people want the SUV style body for the extra space and flexibility. Storage is excellent with a large centre console bin, good door pockets for bottle, glove box and rear bottle holders on the doors as well as cup holders.
Hybrid Ascent Sport features an 8-inch display screen, satellite navigation##, a 7-inch multi-information display, premium steering wheel and gear shifter, clearance sonars, power driver’s seat adjustment, dual-zone air and keyless entry and ignition as well as a drive mode select function. ECO Accelerator Guidance display and ECO Score on Hybrid.
Drive and Engine
This is the main story with the Hybrid. My first impressions are that it is quiet, smooth, powerful and stunningly economical at 4.6 l/100k over all driving conditions.
New Camry Hybrid has combined maximum power of 160kW. Its new Toyota A25A-FXS petrol engine in Camry Hybrid delivers 131kW of power at 5700rpm and 221Nm of torque from 3600-5200rpm, while the electric drive motor has maximum power of 88kW at 4500rpm and maximum torque of 202Nm from 0-1500rpm.
The 6 speed transmission also gives the driver access to six quick-shifting ratios for manual-like gear changes. TNGA packaging has allowed the nickel-metal hydride battery to be moved from the boot area to under the rear seat, improving boot space and positioning battery weight lower in the car.
The hybrid gains a new SPORT drive mode, along with the previous NORMAL, ECO and EV modes, delivering improved acceleration response relative to pedal input. It also features a new Auto Glide Control system that promotes smooth and efficient coasting that helps improve fuel economy.
The ride is generally smooth with reasonably responsive electronic steering, however the rear suspension will bottom out in deeper ruts and over some of the got tracks we call suburban roads.
With a five star ANCAP safety rating, Toyota Safety Sense package is available on all models: PCS with AEB, LDA with steering assist, AHB, All-Speed Active Cruise Control (which thankfully can be switched off by holding the on button down longer). PCS has radar and camera sensors. Electronic parking brake and Brake Hold function as well as Hill-start Assist Control^^ and a sway-warning system, auto high beam, 7 air bags and reversing camera are also standard
In addition the Camry has a lower centre, revised suspension for better handling as well as stronger torsional rigidity from the new platform.
The Ascent sport misses out on blind spot monitoring as well as rear cross traffic alert unfortunately.
- Stunning fuel economy
- Zero range anxiety
- Value for money
NOT SO GOOD BITS:
- Misses some important safety features
- Prefer leather seats
- “A” pillar obstructing forward visibility
The Toyota Camry has sold over one million vehicles since 1983, in Australia, with the Hybrid contributing 46,000 of those sales. It retains a premium sales force albeit in a dying segment.
The Hybrid provides outstanding economy ion a comfortable and sophisticated package. Would I buy a normal Camry, unlikely, would I buy a Hybrid Camry, quite possibly, if I was in the market for a sedan? I would however go for the top spec model. I can see no compelling reason to buy a different version.
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FACTS AND FIGURES: 2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid Ascent Sport
- Engine: 2.5 L 4Cyl Hybrid/Petrol producing 160kW/221Nm
- Transmission: 6 Speed AT FWD
- Warranty: 5 Yr./ Unlimited km plus 5 Yrs. Roadside Assist
- Safety: 5-star
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $31,990 MLP*
*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.
Camry comes with Toyota Service Advantage at just $195 for up to the first five services – now with 12-month intervals