The Camry nameplate has been around since 1982, but it’s one that many buyers might have forgotten about, given that in the UK, Toyota’s saloon has been called the Avensis since 1997 – with the model being built at the firm’s plant in Derby.
The Camry is now more of a global model, with Americanised styling being used on the car – unsurprising given it has loads of appeal in the US.
But there’s also plenty of changes underneath the surface. The first is its new ‘GA-K’ underpinnings, with the platform’s only other outing so far being on the mechanically-similar Lexus ES. Toyota says this allows for an improved drive, but with no compromise on practicality.
It also uses a new 2.5-litre hybrid powertrain, as well as receiving new upmarket fixtures in the cabin.
Given diesel engines still dominate in the saloon sector, it might seem a somewhat unusual move for Toyota to only offer the model with one powertrain in the UK – a 2.5-litre ‘self-charging’ hybrid. But Toyota is committed to electrified models after it axed diesel powertrains from its line-up entirely last year.
The unit matches the four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor to produce 215bhp, along with 221Nm from the engine and 202Nm from the motor, with power being sent to the front wheels via a CVT automatic gearbox. Performance is decent, with a 0-60mph time of 8.1 seconds possible, along with a top speed of 112mph.
There’s plenty of power for everyday use, and it feels smooth and composed when cruising, although the drone of the CVT automatic gearbox does let the side down when it comes to refinement.
Ride and handling
If ease of use and comfort is a priority, the Camry delivers in spades. It covers all the bases, with pleasant handling, good visibility and plenty of comfort when cruising.
It doesn’t excel at anything, and it’s certainly not a model you jump behind the wheel of knowing you’re about to have some fun, but as a solid all-rounder, it’s difficult to fault.
The ride is good, too, handling bumps in the road well, and even models fitted with the larger 18-inch alloy wheels don’t feel too firm.
Interior and equipment
In contrast to the outgoing Avensis, the Camry feels a step above, with more premium-feeling materials, and a classier, more modern-looking cabin. It doesn’t feel as polished or luxurious as its premium German rivals, but it’s closer than ever before. Plenty of leather adorns the cabin to make it feel that bit more upmarket, but the pretend wood elements feel a touch tacky.
The boot measures up well next to rivals – offering 524 litres with all seats in place, although it can’t match the huge 586-litre load bay of the Volkswagen Passat. Rear legroom could be more generous, but there’s plenty of space for four adults, although it does feel like a stretch to seat five.
Just two trims are offered on the Camry – Design and Excel, with both coming with plenty of standard equipment. Design comes with metallic paint, leather seats, LED headlights, all-round parking sensors, as well as a seven-inch touchscreen and a comprehensive list of standard safety equipment – including adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning.
Excel adds larger alloy wheels, LED fog lights, further safety kit and wireless smartphone charging.
Prices start from £29,995 and rise to £31,295 for the range-topping model, with prices where they should be for a good-sized saloon offering decent performance and lots of standard equipment, even if, at first glance, it seems more expensive than a Volkswagen Passat or Mazda 6.
Its efficient hybrid powertrain should also equate to low running costs, with Toyota claiming a fuel economy figure of up to 53.3mpg, along with impressively low CO2 emissions of 101g/km.
As an everyday saloon that’s practical, well-priced and fitted with plenty of standard equipment, the Camry is a model that ticks lots of boxes for buyers.
It’s far from being perfect, though – the infotainment requires improvement and while its hybrid powertrain is appealing, it might put some buyers off. However, as a niche saloon that’s also quite stylish to look at, it’s a car we can definitely recommend.