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The Toyota Camry has always been dependable and capable, but there’s a new edge and a quality to what is now a fully imported range.
Report: Ernest Litera
Australia’s best-selling mid-size car is entering a new era: for the first time in 30 years Toyota Camry is a fully imported car in Australia. Built in Japan, it’s the first sedan with Toyota’s New Global Architecture, enabling greater freedom in the body profile, which features a lower roof and bonnet line, underpinned by a new platform.
All new Camry models are fitted with a suite of leading-edge safety technologies.
There are revised powertrains and a revamped chassis, with improved dynamics thanks to greater torsional rigidity, a fully independent rear suspension and a lower centre of gravity.
All new Camry models are fitted with a suite of leading-edge safety technologies, headed by autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure alert with steering assist, seven airbags, a reversing camera with guide monitoring, adaptive cruise control, auto high beam, hill-start assist and trailer sway control.
This eighth-generation Camry has three powertrain options. A 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a conventional six-speed auto is available in all four equipment grades – Ascent, Ascent Sport, SX and SL – from $27,690 to $39,990 plus on-road costs. Power output for the Ascent is 133kW and 231Nm while Ascent Sport, SX and SL are slightly higher at 135kW and 235Nm.
These uprated electrics deliver significantly improved packaging and cabin space in addition to improved efficiency.
The Hybrid models have a purpose-engineered 2.5-litre petrol engine linked to an all-new electric motor, control unit, transaxle and HV metal hydride battery. These uprated electrics deliver significantly improved packaging and cabin space in addition to improved efficiency.
Combined output is an impressive 160kW and 202Nm, delivered via a CVT automatic transmission. Hybrid powertrains are available in all bar the sports-orientated SX grade, from $29,990 to $40,990 plus on-roads, with government fuel economy assessed as low as 4.2L/100km.
But the engine that’s really leading the charge for the new Camry is the latest 24-valve quad-cam 3.5-litre petrol V6, the most powerful naturally aspirated Toyota sedan engine, rated at 224kW and 362Nm and delivered via a sophisticated eight-speed automatic. It’s available on SX and SL models for $37,290 and $43,990 respectively.
For a sporting flavour, look to the SX model with 19-inch wheels, sports suspension, LED lighting and a spoiler.
The entry-level Ascent will account for the greatest volume of sales, so it’s pleasing to see that it gets the same comprehensive safety pack as all (bar the top-spec SL), which gains blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. For a sporting flavour, look to the SX model with 19-inch wheels, sports suspension, LED lighting and a boot-lid spoiler, plus leather-accented sports seats and paddle gear shifters.
Ascent Sport and SX also gain an eight-inch screen and satellite navigation, but only the SX and SL get wireless phone charging. Equipment in our SL test car leans towards comfort and convenience, adding powered and ventilated front seats, driver’s seat memory, 10-inch colour head-up display, rain-sensing wipers, a powered and auto-tilt steering column and, for petrol-only models, a panoramic glass roof.
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In keeping with its sharper body profile, the interior has also been completely redesigned.
Although listed as a mid-size car, Camry has long been regarded as comparable with most large cars for cabin space. The new model is bigger, sitting on a 50-millimetre-longer wheelbase, with wider front and rear tracks enhancing legroom and handling stability. In keeping with its sharper body profile, the interior has also been completely redesigned. It’s smart and functional rather than futuristic, with clear instrumentation, good screen graphics and an impressive array of steering-wheel buttons.
There are more soft-touch surfaces, premium materials and better seat design and comfort, notably as you step up to SX and SL models. The shortness of the front-seat cushions is countered with adjustable tilt, however the wide-opening doors can be difficult to reach when seated.
Cabin access does not appear an issue, despite the lower roof line and seating position, while adults have ample space in front and rear seats. The boot is large and easy to load, however load versatility via the split/fold back seat is compromised by a severely restricted opening to the cabin, a step to the folded seat and intruding boot-lid hinges. Camry has excellent childseat anchorage points. The petrol-only Ascent gets a full-size spare wheel whereas Ascent Sport, SX and SL versions all have a compromised space-saver spare.
We recorded excellent emergency stops with the revised brake package.
Camry’s underpinnings have also received a generational upgrade. In addition to independent rear suspension across the range, the MacPherson front struts have been redesigned to provide better geometry and in conjunction with new electric power steering deliver a marked improvement in Camry’s ride and handling. We recorded excellent emergency stops with the revised brake package, while Toyota has also dealt with a previous annoyance by installing an electric park brake.
The 2.5-litre petrol engine delivers ample performance with an easy-flowing style when set in Eco, the first of three selectable drive modes available in all models. In Normal mode, Camry is stronger and more flexible, with silky gear shifts from the traditional automatic, while Sport holds gears longer and uses higher revs for a more spirited and responsive drive.
We found the new Camry SL far more dynamic and settled over twisting and undulating back roads.
Overall we found the new Camry SL far more dynamic and settled over twisting and undulating back roads without compromising its renowned comfort. Alternating between the three drive modes during testing, we recorded an overall fuel consumption figure of 8.8L/100km, against the official figure of 8.3L/100km.
Despite an enviable reputation for reliability, Toyota’s warranty remains a conservative three years or 100,000 kilometres. Towing capacity is a modest 1200 kilograms. Servicing costs are pegged at just $195 for the first five services, or 60 months, and from a mechanic’s view it’s always nice to see an engine bay that’s tidy and easy to access.
The fully imported 2018 Toyota Camry is effectively all new, and deserves renewed consideration if you’re in the market for a smart, comfortable and dependable large sedan.
TOYOTA CAMRY SL
$39,990 + $4493 (est) ORC. Premium paint $450. Model range $27,690-$43,990.
Drivetrain: 2494cc 4cyl petrol engine. Front-wheel drive. 6spd auto. 135kW@6000rpm, 235Nm@4100rpm. Fuel: 8.8L/100km (RACV test); 8.3L/100km (govt test). 60L tank. 91-RON petrol. Performance: 0-60km/h, 4.6 sec. 0-100km/h, 10.3 sec. 50-80km/h, 4.3 sec. 60-100km/h, 6.2 sec. 0-400m, 17.3 sec. Stopping from 80km/h, 23.7m. Wheels: 18” alloy, 235/45 R18 tyres. Space-saver spare. Environment: 194g/km CO2. Towing: 1200kg (braked trailer).
12-month/15,000km services. $195 per service for first five years.
If you're looking to buy a used car, make sure you check out RACV's Used Car Buyer's Guide. We've taken a look at the 4 best used cars for around $10,000, taking in to consideration Fuel Consumption, Safety and a range of other options.