Road Test : Toyota Camry HV Luxury
Review by Anthony Ziella - 15 August 2012
Hybrids are all the rage these days, for manufacturers anyway. When I think of hybrids I think of ludicrously designed, tiny two seaters that go out of their way to remind everyone else that they are good for the environment. The all new Toyota Camry Hybrid is nothing like that.
The Camry doesn’t look like a hybrid, it doesn’t handle like a hybrid but it does roll past the petrol pumps like one.
This is Toyotas second attempt at the hybrid Camry. The last one was back in 2010 and despite the positive predictions from the Toyota team, they fell well short of their projected targets. Two years later and they have picked themselves up off the canvas and hit back with the very enticing 2012 model that boasts significant upgrades but a smaller price tag, go figure.
Before we get into the on road performance I have to point one thing out, for this car patience is not a virtue, it’s a prerequisite.
The Camry uses the fast becoming standard keyless button start. I drove this car for a week and used every conceivable combination, and by the time I dropped it off, I still had no idea of how to get it to start first time. It absolutely drove me mad.
On the road, particularly when driving at speed the Camry feels just like any other sedan and this hybrid is definitely not lacking in the grunt department. It accelerates with the best of them, maintains speed well and unlike another hybrid that i’m testing at the moment, doesn’t complain when you put your foot to the floor.
The steering is light and you do sometimes feel disconnected from the tyres but having said that it does handle corners, potholes and speed humps really well.
One of the most impressive aspects of the Camry is how quiet it is. It’s so quiet when you first hit the ignition button that i had to double check a few times that is was actually on. This car is perfect for jewel thiefs, ninjas and adulterers.
Under the bonnet powering the 2012 Camry is a very surprising 2.5 litre 4-cyclinder petrol engine and in the back is the high torque electric motor. The two sources combine really well to deliver 151kW of power to the front wheels.
Because of the differences between the electric motor and the petrol engine Toyota do not provide figure for the maximum torque output but believe you me, it is right up there.
Probably the most important figure associated with any hybrid is the dollar figure it is going to save you. The official combined fuel consumption for the Camry is 5.2/100km (5.7/100km for the city and 4.9/100km on the highway) in a week I managed around 550km’s and the fuel needle was still hovering around the quarter of a tank mark.
If you work in the city or just spend a lot of time in traffic then you will love the new Camry. Thanks to the sophisticated hybrid system when you’re sitting in morning, school, footy or no reason at all traffic the electric motor takes over and you're using next to no petrol at all.
By my calculations, and due to my poor arithmetic abilities (they are ballpark at best figures), this car should save you about eight hundred dollars a year. That equates to eight hundred apple pies at McDonalds under their new loose change menu and that alone is a good enough reason to consider the Toyota Camry, because apple pies are awesome.
The beauty of the Hybrid is that it doesn’t look like a hybrid. No space aged designs, no in your face pretension, it just looks like any other sedan on the road.
Toyota have deliberately kept the changes to a minimum in an effort to maintain the cars normality and they have totally succeeded. We don’t need more people reminding the rest of us that they are driving a hybrid, we just need more people driving hybrids.
Splashes of chrome on the front grille (and on the rear for the HL model) and hints of ‘hybrid blue’ on the badge and headlights are the only tell tale signs that this bad boy gets more kilometres from a full tank and backs out less black balloons.
Disappointingly the Camry only comes in your choice of black, white or grey, which doesn’t do much to shatter the Even Steven, Plain Jane reputation that the Camry has in motoring circles.
This edition even comes with a 300kg towing capacity. Compare that with the petrol model that can lug up to 1300kg and you won’t be towing your yacht down the coast, but at the very least it’s an added bonus.The entry level Camry comes with 16 inch alloys while the HL has 17’s.
The Camry Hybrid is a sedan, sedans are family cars and for family cars safety is paramount.
The Camry has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating thanks to its Vehicle Stability Control, traction control, ABS, brake assist, reverse camera and seven SRS airbags including one for the driver’s knees.
Big, spacious and comfortable would be the best way to describe the inside of the Camry. The driver seat is big enough, and wide enough, to accommodate just about any arse in Australia and the back seats are very much the same.
The dash lay out is nice and concise but with so many buttons on the steering wheel you sometimes get the feeling that you are in the cockpit of an F-16. The ten speaker audio system comes with a CD/DVD player, a satellite navigation system that provides live traffic updates (hot tip, don’t go near South Melbourne at five o’clock on a Friday night) a digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB input with i-Pod compatibility and no less than ten cup holders, do the math and that’s two drinks each with a full car.
In the back the nickel metal battery that in part powers the Camry Hybrid has been moved forward to provide for extra boot space that rounds out at 421 litres, but they are still using the old goose neck latches so that stat isn’t totally accurate unless you are in fact transporting water, and due to where the battery sits, the back seats do not fold down.
Its simplicity and normality are among the best features of the Camry. It is a nothing fancy, comfortable, spacious, powerful sedan that just happens to get 5.2/100km’s from a full tank.
The Toyota Camry does nothing outstanding but does everything really well. Just like Steve Smith (Australian Cricket), this car is a very solid all rounder.
* Prices are manufacturer list prices only, for the drive away price please contact your local authorised Toyota dealer.
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