Toyota Camry SL Hybrid
New car review.
Now fully-imported from Japan after the cessation of its Australian production in 2017, Toyota’s Camry is available in nine variants across four specification levels.
The eighth-generation line-up consists of Ascent, Ascent Sport, SX and SL and three engines (2.5-litre four-cylinder, 2.5-litre four-cylinder/hybrid and 3.6-litre V6).
Mid last year, the Camry Ascent Hybrid claimed the title of Australia’s Best Medium Car Under $50,000. Its sibling, the Camry SL Hybrid, is not as keenly priced (some $10,000 dearer), is 55kg heavier and 0.3 litre less fuel efficient (4.5 litres/100km, ADR combined cycle).
The trade-off is more safety, tech and luxury on top of what is already a comprehensive inventory of standard equipment that includes pre-collision system, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure alert with steering assist and reversing camera, upgraded multimedia system, dual-zone air conditioning, keyless entry/ignition and LED headlights.
The SL Hybrid also boasts satellite navigation, 19-inch alloys, 10-inch head-up display, electro-chromatic rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers, ventilated leather-accented seats (fronts are power-operated), powered steering column adjustment, powered moonroof, blind-spot monitor and rear-cross traffic alert.
The newcomer is the first sedan to adopt Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA), which the company says has transformed the way its vehicles are designed, engineered and packaged.
According to Toyota, TNGA “enables greater freedom in design, resulting in a more athletic profile with a lower roof and bonnet, a better driving position and improved dynamics due to its lower centre of gravity and greater torsional rigidity”. TNGA packaging has allowed the nickel-metal hybrid battery to be moved from the boot area to under the rear seat, improving cargo space and positioning weight lower in the car.
The new, 2.5-litre four-cylinder Dynamic Force Engine provides 11 per cent more power (now totalling 160kW) and four per cent more torque (now 423Nm), with thermal efficiency rated among the best in the world.
Combined with a host of changes to the MacPherson strut front suspension and new rear suspension aimed at improving handling dynamics and ride quality, the boost in performance brings an element of unprecedented driving engagement to the Camry.
Even the CVT has six quick-shifting ratios for manual-like gear changes, while a new sport drive mode has been added to the previous ECO and Normal modes, delivering improved acceleration response relative to pedal input.
The Camry SL Hybrid is an all-round impressive drive, especially in the areas of smoothness and quietness, ride, fuel economy emissions, comfort and space.
- PRICE: $40,090 (excludes on-road costs)
- ENGINE: 2.5-litre petrol/electric 4-cyl
- ANCAP SAFETY RATING: Five stars
- TAILPIPE CO2 (g/km): 103
- FOR: Smoothness and quietness, ride quality, fuel economy.
- AGAINST: Space saver spare wheel, very little else.