Road Test : Toyota Camry Atara SX
Review by Tristan Tancredi - 11 July 2012
The Toyota Camry has been a dominant player in the motoring industry for as long as I can remember. In fact, as of May 2012 the Camry is the best selling passenger car in North America.
In Australia, and the figures are also impressive. Not only does Toyota dominate the total sales market, the Toyota Camry continues to be popular amongst passenger cars. (April 2012 figures have the Camry in 6th position overall with sales at 1602).
Camrys of a bygone era have been known to be a little "boring" or "bland", so the folk at Toyota have redesigned the Camry to make it a little more appealing to the modern day masses. Enter the Camry Atara SX.
A sportier designed vehicle with a 2.5L dual VVTi engine and an improved interior are what Toyota are hoping will lift the Camry into the next generation. Let's find out.
Thanks to the unrelenting rain throughout our week with the Camry SX, this car didn't see a minute of dry tarmac. It was wet weather testing to the extreme. Cheers Melbourne.
The six-speed automatic sequential shift transmission is assisted with paddle shifters. The transmission allows for a smooth transition of gears, consistently offering well timed gear ratios.
Delivering 135 kW of power and 235nM of torque, the Atara SX isn't exactly Usain Bolt off the mark (It reaches 0-100kmp/h in 9.3 seconds). Despite feeling a little heavy and sluggish when planting the pedal to the metal, the Atara SX still provides enough of a surge to easily overtake at speed.
The suspension is well tuned to Australian roads and we had no problem controlling the car over a variety of surfaces (all of which were wet!).
A great seating position offers pristine access to the road ahead. The best way to summarise the drive of the Camry Atara SX is comfort over performance.
A 2.5L dual VVT-i donk sits under the hood of the Camry Atara SX.
The engine, as mentioned, delivers enough power (135kW) and torque (235nM) to neccesssarily carve through busy highways, yet doesn't deliver amazing speed from a standing start.
The twin outlet exhaust minimises noise levels inside the cabin, making it a pleasant, quiet place to be.
The estimated fuel use sits at 7.8l per 100 kms. Thanks to the fuel economy gauge, we noted a slightly higher fuel use figure (closer to 10l) during a normal driving day.
A redesigned exterior style sets the new Camry apart from it's descendants. Toyota claims that it, "...oozes prestige and good looks". Perhaps "prestige" is a bit of a stretch, but it sure does have an abundance of good looks.
We say "prestige" is a stretch, because prestige is a noun that should only be brought out for the crem de la crem, the bees knees. Sure the 17" alloys with five offset double spokes, aerodynamic design, lowered profile and dual exhaust at the rear are all nice to look at, we just wouldn't go so far to call the Atara SX prestigious.
After all, presigious by definition, is a high standing amongst it's peers. By no means is the Atara SX below it's peers, it's simply not standing on a pedestal any time soon.
A sports body kit features a sports grille, sports headlights, sports rear bumper and a rear lip spoiler. This culminates in a sleek, aggressive exterior style, albeit a little on the bulky side.
The 2012 Toyota Camry has a Five Star ANCAP safety rating with an amazing 36.27 out of 37.
A host of safety features are standard, including; Anti-Skid Brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Traction Control (TRC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC).
A number of airbags dominate the cabin, such as; Front driver and passenger airbags, Side Front Airbags, Side Curtain Airbags and a Drivers side knee airbag.
To top off this ultimate safety car, is a full size spare wheel. (Note to other manufacturers: Full Size Spare Wheels should be a MUST).
Space. Remember this word when thinking of the Camry Atara SX. This car has more space than a Fremantle Forward line under Ross Lyons defensive flooding tactics.
There is bucketloads of storage compartments up front, hell, the glovebox is as spacious as you can get in any car these days.
Plenty of leg space for front and back passengers as well as wide comfy sports seats top off what is a very spacious sedan. The front seats are detailed with leather accented trimmings and are adjustable via electrics.
The Dual-Climate controls are easily accessable. It was bloody cold during our week with the Atara, so thank goodness we had the warm comfort of the Atara interior.
High quality trimmings create an uncluttered, neat interior feel that maintains the "plenty of space" vibe. It comes with bluetooth, fuel economy gauge and all the interior features that are now standard in most cars.
The sound system provides six speakers spread throughout the cabin and offers a passable, if not, slightly disappointing noise.
Oh, and there'a 505 litres of bootspace.
So, do the folk at Toyota succeed in delivering a fresh new approach for the old school Camry?
Revised exterior syling for the Atara SX provide enough of a sporty feel to bring the Camry up along it's competitors, yet it's once you are inside the Camry that the true advantages are noticed. Expect loads of space and plenty of comfort.
The Atara SX isn't quick by any stretch, yet it's the interior space and comfort that are the real winners with this Toyota. Prices start at $35,990.
* Prices are manufacturer list prices only, for the drive away price please contact your local authorised Toyota dealer.
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