- Dynamic styling - very sleek and easy on the eye
- Generously equipped with two trims levels to choose from
- Efficient yet punchy self-charging hybrid engine with smooth six-speed CVT gearbox
- Quite expensive for a family saloon
- Interior looks a little cluttered with a multitude of controls but no Apple CarPlay
- The screen behind the steering wheel can be an information overload
The Toyota Camry seems to have been around since the invention of the wheel. And despite being absent from the UK for the last 15 years, the car has been clocking up sales elsewhere. In fact, it is currently sold in more than 100 countries worldwide with the total sales figure topping the 15 million mark.
Now, UK customers are being offered the very latest eighth generation model in two trim levels called Design and Excel with prices of £29,995 and £31,295 respectively.
The Camry is a mid-size, four-door family saloon featuring a self-charging hybrid electric powertrain and its introduction brings Toyota’s European hybrid electric line-up to eight models.
On The Road
The new Camry is built on Toyota’s TNGA GA-K platform (like the recently launched RAV4) and boasts a wide, low stance with excellent aerodynamics. This platform has also allowed designers to lower the car’s centre of gravity and that in turn means improved performance ability.
Powering the Camry is a 2.5-litre Hybrid Dynamic Force engine that offers impressive fuel economy with a combined 50.4 to 53.3mpg (WLTP) and carbon emissions from 98g/km (NEDC) for the Design model on 17-inch wheels or 101g/km for the Excel on 18-inch alloys. The engine delivers 215bhp/160kW in the front-wheel drive car powering it to 62mph from a standing start in 8.3 seconds, topping out at 112.
We drove the Camry Excel on a beautifully scenic route in Croatia that incorporated plenty of testing climbs, winding coastal roads and motorways with smooth surfaces that we can only dream of in the UK. And it was up to any challenge with oodles of power on tap to overtake at short notice and an engine that easily tackled steep ascents.
Many CVT gearboxes can be noisy under heavy acceleration, but not so the Sequential Shiftmatic quick-shifting six-speed transmission fitted to the Camry which was smooth and delivered instant acceleration.
There are four drive modes called EV, Eco, Normal and Sport and for a little added spice the driver can shift through the gears manually using a lever on the centre console. This mimics a quick-shifting six-speed automatic engine.
When it comes to ride and handling, the GA-K platform is a vital factor once again because its lightweight, highly rigid structure helps improve driving dynamics and the ride quality. There is also a new feature called Auto Glide Control which allows the vehicle to coast towards a red light and this system helps with fuel efficiency.
The car feels beautifully balanced and that low centre of gravity, along with excellent stability, means it can be driven enthusiastically through fast country lanes. It grips the surface like glue and there is minimal sign of any body sway.
Camry has a MacPherson strut suspension at the front and a new double wishbone layout at the rear and they work well to improve the handling when cornering at pace. The new shock absorbers effectively soften any road undulations and deliver a smooth and comfortable ride.
The electric power steering set-up offers extra feel and adapts according to the vehicle speed with less effort required at lower speeds, but sharper responses and more precise feel at higher speeds.
The Camry is a car that looks dynamic in its styling with beautiful streamlining and the performance perfectly matches that appearance. It’s a car that’s been billed to challenge the likes of the VW Passat and Ford Mondeo and it succeeds on all counts. It could even make a dent in some more premium manufacturer’s sales.
The latest Camry is definitely a looker with a powerful, distinctive styling. At the front, the wide upper grille houses the Toyota emblem and incorporates slim headlight units with LED headlights and daytime running lights. There are flared wheel arches, a massive lower grille, a rippled bonnet, a rising waistline, sloping roof, a choice of 17 or 18-inch alloys (depending on trim level) plus five exterior paint colours.
Camry is available in two generously equipped grades called Design and Excel, both of which offer excellent levels of comfort for four occupants. The interior boasts the likes of soft-touch surfaces, piano black finishing, supple leather, wood-like grain mouldings and a new satin chrome trim.
The cabin is insulated against engine and road surface noise by a thicker dash silencer mat across the entire firewall, along with foam and vibration-damping materials applied to various areas of the frame. The result is an incredibly refined cabin with minimal noise intrusion. One of the first things you notice when you step into the car are the thick padded carpets that feel very plush under foot and these obviously contribute to the sound insulation of the car.
In addition, the highly efficient suspension system does an excellent all-round job of smoothing out the bumps and dips along the way. Our test car in range-topping Excel was sitting on 18-inch wheels and they perfectly suited the car. The lower spec Design model comes with 17-inch wheels.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
With automatically adjustable front seats and plenty of steering wheel reach and rake (powered on Excel models), getting a comfortable driving position is a quick and simple process.
A slimmer dashboard, in conjunction with the low bonnet cowl and beltline, narrow A-pillars and door-mounted external mirrors result in excellent driver visibility.
On the technology front, new Camry has a seven-inch touchscreen incorporating Toyota Touch 2 and Go multimedia and navigation system. Features include full navigation with 3D mapping (three year’s free), MirrorLink for smartphone connectivity, DAB radio, Bluetooth and wireless smartphone charging.
A feature worth mentioning on new Camry is the dual-zone air conditioning with nanoe technology that releases particles into the cabin via the dashboard vents that have a gentle moisturising effect on skin and hair.
The advanced voice recognition function has been designed to simplify tasks such as making a phone call, selecting a track from an iPod or inputing a destination with a single command.
There is also a seven-inch multi-information display in the driver’s instrument binnacle between the speedo and power/charge dials, where the likes of phone and audio systems can be accessed via the steering wheel controls without taking your eyes off the road.
On the downside, there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Space & Practicality
The Camry is a car that can easily accommodate four adults or five at a squeeze. The generous wheelbase measuring 2,825mm is a result of the new platform, and that has freed up extra space within the cabin with back seat passengers treated to plenty of legroom.
Storage options are good too with a really deep boot that can swallow 524 litres of kit. The 60:40 split-folding rear seats would prove handy if transporting longer items.
And throughout the vehicle there are lots of compartments to store away goodies, including a glovebox, deep central bin beneath the front armrest, door pockets, a small compartment by the driver’s door, seat back pockets, front and rear cup holders and a wireless smartphone charging tray.
The layout of the car is very driver focused with a huge centre console separating the front seat occupants - this is where numerous controls, the gear lever, smartphone charger, parking brake, drive modes and cup holders are located.
Wide opening doors offer easy access to child seats in the rear of the car making the Camry a practical family choice.
There are two Camry trim levels called Design, which costs £29,995 and is expected to account for 76 per cent of sales and Excel, priced at £31,295, which will make up the remaining 24 per cent.
Combined fuel economy ranges from 50.4 to 53.3mpg (WLTP) with carbon emissions of 98g/km on the Design cars and 101/g/km on the Excel - both NEDC figures. This would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £130 for the Camry Design or £150 for the Camry Excel. The VED costs of both models would be reduced to £145 after the first 12 months.
There has been good news regarding the residual value of the car with the rating being set at a very respectable 53 per cent which means the car will hold onto its value.
Insurance ratings for the new Toyota Camry are yet to be announced.
Quality & Reliability
Toyota regularly features at the high end, if not in the top spot, when it comes to customer reliability feedback and surveys. And the fact that the Japanese manufacturer has years of experience developing hybrid technology means it is the leader in a chasing pack.
With that in mind, and also factoring in the overwhelming success of the Camry globally, there is very little reason to think the new model would have any mechanical issues.
The interior is very well put together with a feeling of quality and strength throughout. The upholstery looks like it will survive the test of time and all the new switch gear feels sturdy enough.
In addition, Toyota offers one of the best warranty packages in the business of five years or 100,000-miles. There is also a 15-year warranty on the hybrid battery pack available via main dealers.
Safety & Security
Both the Design and Excel versions of the Camry are well equipped when it comes to safety and driver aids with all models featuring Toyota Safety Sense - a set of active safety features designed to prevent accidents. Using a camera and a radar to detect hazards, it offers a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-range adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, automatic high beam assist and road sign assist.
Other safety features available are blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert with brake assist (on the Excel), intelligence clearance sonars with automatic braking, a rear view camera as standard plus a full compliment of braking and traction systems.
All five seats are fitted with three-point seat belts and there are ISOFIX child seat anchors on the outer rear seats.