Even though the last Australian-built Camry signals the end of vehicle manufacturing down under, Toyota’s venerable mid-sizer is leaving our shores on a high.
We drove the latest Camry to see what the last local Toyota brings to the table.
The Camry was never the model to grab headlines. It was happy to do the work in the background and always reliably dependable.
But in recent years, Toyota moved to make the Camry a little more stylish, then sportier – and now, the latest model is built on a reputation of unflappable reliability, and incorporates Toyota’s efforts over the last 10 years to bring a touch of flair to their range.
We got into the Camry Atara SL in Wildfire Red, from Motorama Toyota. The SL is the top model of the comfort-focused models, while the Atara SX is the flagship replacing the performance-oriented Sportivo models.
Although technically only an upgrade, the Camry has had a complete body transformation with over 800 new parts installed – plus, the only sheet metal shared with the last model is the roof. This translates into a sportier look than what was offered on the previous generation, which was little more conservative leaving edgier styling to the Aurion.
Inside, the Camry has a sophisticated interior that makes for a pleasant cabin to spend a drive in. In the Atara SL, leather electric seats and a premium JBL 7” touch screen with 10-speakers are standard creating a comfortable cabin to zip about in.
Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are predictably quiet and refined, even in the petrol version and the Hybrid would be even quieter with the electric motor. All in all, the revamped Camry has shed its conservative clothes to reveal a sharp new look that will impress anyone who steps into the mid-size sedan.
Acceleration from a standstill pushes the Camry along nicely, and at speed, it will get you to the limit without breaking a sweat and fly down a highway like it didn’t weigh 2.1 tonnes. The Australian-tuned suspension is well suited to every road condition, with the smoothest blacktop to the most jarring potholes all soaked up without any disturbance to the passengers.
A six-speed automatic with manual mode is standard across the petrol Camry’s, while the Hybrids get a six-speed CVT auto. Atara models gain paddle shifters behind the steering wheel for a sportier drive, and the unit is unsurprisingly flawless; gears are selected confidently and at an appropriate time – you’ll never be caught out wanting an extra gear.
Our Atara SL also comes standard with the Pre-Collision Safety System featuring autonomous braking at low speeds, which works fantastically for stop-start traffic.
The Camry has been built for Australian roads for nearly 30 years and that’s no different in the final model, which has the wealth of Toyota’s engineers experience to create the finest driving machine under $40,000.
This has meant that the Camry has had to have a level of comfort and convenience that surpasses other midsize sedans.
The Atara SL ups the luxury even more to make the final Australian Camry a hard act to follow for any imported models that follow. Leather accented seats available in Ivory or Black are standard on the Atara SL, while the dark woodgrain-look trim is the perfect complement to the interior.
A reversing camera is standard across the range, while the Atara SL adds front and rear parking sensors, as well as moving guidelines to the camera so you can be more responsive when steering backwards. Also standard on the SL, the Electro Chromatic rear view mirror cuts out glare and reduces ambient light to make driving at night and in weather conditions a lot safer.
The Camry comes with the added bonus of a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating; seven SRS airbags, electronic brakes, stability and traction control are standard across the range. And on the Atara SL, a Blind Spot Monitor built into the wing mirrors warns you if a car is approaching up the side and Rear Cross Traffic Alert helps you when reversing out of a park, while the electric rear sunshade cleverly reduces glare in the back seat, automatically folding when reverse gear is selected.
Auto high beam and rain-sensing wipers add to a smart package in the Atara SL, which contains dual-zone climate control (standard on all Atara models) and a 4.2” multi-information display in the instrument cluster that shows you what street your on, the direction of travel and can be customised to show fuel use or become a digital speedometer.
Fuel consumption is a mere 7.8L/100km for petrol models, while the Hybrid can go as low as 5.2L/100km. This was certainly reflected in our drive, the Atara SL petrol barely shifting the fuel gauge needle over a mix of city and highway driving.
The Camry is certainly a winning combination, just two and half years since the previous generation model, the makeover comes in time to cement its position as Australia’s favourite midsize sedan.
As tested, the Camry Atara SL petrol will set you back $39,490 drive away. Premium paint is available at additional cost.
Servicing costs are capped for 4 years or 75,000km under Toyota Service Advantage for up to 5 standard scheduled service appointments at $140. The Camry should come in for service every 9 months or 15,000km.
The Atara SL, in particular, combines the latest innovations in comfort and convenience to make the top of the Camry line an enviable proposition. A stylish, sporty exterior hides a mechanical package that remains serious about delivering comfort and versatility.
Previously seen as the conservative option, Toyota has done much to style the Camry to appeal to broader tastes and this has largely worked. A revision of the previous model adds value to an already well-sorted package, and sends Australia’s best-selling brand out on a high that will be a tough act to follow as Toyota switches to become a full-line importer in 2017.