A big Toyota car at last! With the death of the Avensis, the Corolla and Camry saloons step in to offer the conservative Irish buyer a smart looking three box Toyota. The Corolla is spacious but a little tight on rear shoulder room for adult passengers but hit the enlarger by +10% and the imposing Camry fits the bill.
Before the creation of Lexus the Japanese giant Toyota had a proud history of large saloon cars. A glass ceiling was the issue in the States in particular. Buyers would not spend big on a budget brand so all plans for big Toyotas morphed in to Lexus models with the LS400 and later GS/ES – with great success.
Growing up in Ireland the 70s/80s the classic big Toyotas like the Cressida and the Crown looked vast and majestic. The big barges by today’s standards had less interior space than a corolla but they certainly made a statement. The Camry, last on sale in Ireland in 2004, has made a welcome return to the Irish market after a very long sabatical. Often while driving in the States in the interim years I’d spot countless Camrys and admire their evolving style. My late father had a Camry but I must park nostalgia as I cast a critical eye on my latest test car the all new Camry hybrid.
The exterior is smart, substantial and quite handsome. There are plenty of subtle bulges and creases to help imply stature and strength. The boot holds 524 litres but it is the cabin space that impresses most.
Up front the dash is aimed unashamedly at the more mature driver. The build and materials used are impressive for the price point and while there is little in the way of the C-HR’s dash layout wow factor (our test car had good old wood and leather) the cabin proved very spacious and a calming place to be. Camry’s seats are comfy although the front seats could have a longer base. Another niggle was the cheap almost light weight sound the driver’s window made when lowering and raising it.
The front wheel drive Camry sits on the same TNGA platform as the new RAV4 and uses the 2.5 litre petrol engine and electric motor combination to make it a hybrid. The last Camry was a petrol only 2.4 that suffered from very high taxation in an Ireland prior to CO2 taxation. Back then engine size was the sole basis for motor tax and while the new Camry has a larger 2.5 litre the four cylinder unit is ultra efficient in comparison. CO2 emissions are impressively low at 120g (WLTP) and just 98g using the current NEDC2 measurement. A claimed fuel consumption figure of 5.3l/100km (53mpg) is something I managed with little effort.
The combined power output is a healthy 218hp. When provoked the Camry can shift at an impressive rate with 0-100km/h taking 8.3 seconds. Being a hybrid the car uses a CVT automatic transmission. When accelerating hard it is a noisy box but in day to day use the disagreeable sound is reasonably suppressed. There are three select-able driving modes, eco, normal and sport – that do as you’d expect. Eco in particular makes the accelerator very heavy to use at higher speed.
Three grades are available: Camry Hybrid, Sol and Platinum. My top spec €42,950 test car had adaptive cruise control and was a very relaxed cruiser thanks to a combination of soft suspension and its relatively long 2.8 metre wheelbase. I was impressed by the Camry’s near instant pick up from a standing start compared to a diesel car’s. The hybrid system fills in the power gap as it delivers a less stressful drive to a diesel only machine.