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It's fair to say you don't often look for the Toyota Camry – the Toyota Camry finds you.
A fleet favourite of Aussie companies for the past few decades, Toyota Australia reluctantly turned off the lights at its Melbourne factory in October to end a long history of local Camry manufacturing in this country, its hand forced by rivals Holden and Ford pulling out of the car building business.
But Toyota has taken the bull by the horns when it comes to replacing the locally-made model, choosing to import a highly specced – and, dare we say it – good looking replacement Camry built in Japan and shipped over to Aussie showrooms despite an ever-softening demand for sedans in favour of SUVs.
Let's take a look at the eighth-generation Camry in a bit more detail.
|Toyota Camry 2018: ASCENT|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
You could say that! The Camry has morphed from something that only paid scant regard to making a difference in a carpark to a sleeker, more stylised car that will hold its own against most of of its competitors.
Toyota Australia is following the same path as overseas markets by offering the Camry in two distinct styles – although there's really only one example of the more staid and steady look in the Ascent.
The rest of the range uses a much more overt, strongly stylised front and rear bumper, deeper side skirts and, in some instances, a bootlid spoiler.
There are definite traces of Lexus design language, especially in the front, while the lower bonnet line and overall height reduction of the car – 25mm lower than the previous generation – gives the car a more purposeful stance.
Wheels range in size from 17-inch to a Camry-first 19-inch diameter, but the large guard apertures really need those bigger rims to properly fill them.
There are eight colours available: Glacier White, Frosted White, Silver Pearl, Steel Blonde, Blacksmith Bronze, Lunar Blue, Emotional Red and Eclipse Black.
Inside, too, the newest Camry is also the most contemporary. A large flat glass panel seamlessly incorporates the Camry's newest generation multimedia system, while the dramatic shapes and curves of the Camry are both modern and functional.
The dash, too, uses a prominent central digital screen flanked by two stylised dials that almost look out of place in a Camry.
There are a few points where cost cutting is a little obvious – hard plastics on the tops of the rear door cards, for instance, and very little adjustability for the passenger seats – but on the whole, the Camry surprises and delights both inside and out.
The rear seats also fold down in a 60/40 split/fold arrangement - though you'll really have to search for the latches.
Luggage capacity, meanwhile, varies across the line depending on grade and spec. The base Ascent has a full-size spare and 493 litres of boot space, while the rest of the range uses a temporary spare, gaining an extra 31L of space.
Rear seaters are better catered for in the second-from-the-top SX and top-spec SL, with twin USB ports and air vents, while all grades have two cup holders in the centre armrest, bottle holders in the doors and two ISOFIX points.
Up front, the driver's position is set lower than in previous Camrys, and the steering wheel is quite large. A polyurethane wheel is a bit of a low point for the Ascent, though, especially in such an otherwise stylish car.
There are two cupholders up front and a very large centre console bin, thanks to the addition of an electronic park brake, and bottles can be stowed in the door pockets.
Front seats are wide and comfy, though a lack of height adjustment for the passenger side left taller passengers almost brushing the roof thanks to that lower roofline.
This is an all-new, ground-up rebuild of the Camry. Based on Toyota's new flexible architecture, the Camry is a lot more car than the model it replaces.
Longer and lower than the seventh-gen car, the new version has been repurposed - it's a new age of Toyota Camry models. Gone are the old Altise and Atara nameplates, replaced by Ascent, Ascent Sport, SX and SL.
There's even two different bodykit designs; the Ascent is more subtle and refined, while the Ascent Sport, SX and SL are more aggressive, with a Lexus-like bumper treatment front and rear, rear spoiler and deeper side skirts. There are even quad exhausts on some models!
If engine size is important to you, Toyota has also transplanted its latest direct-injection 3.5-litre petrol V6 from the Kluger into the Camry range, essentially replacing the Aurion and adding a V6 badge on the back of a Camry for the first time in 30 years.
Standard on the specifications list for the entire Toyota Camry range from the Ascent up is auto emergency braking (AEB), reversing camera, digital speedo (finally!), an all-new multimedia system with 7.0-inch touch screen, CD player, MP3 player connectivity, DAB+ digital radio and Bluetooth (but no CD player), six speakers for the sound system, active cruise control, lane departure alert and LED lights front and rear. The Ascent hybrid has climate control, where the non-hybrid model has regular old ac.
The Ascent Sport adds sportier front and rear bumpers, deeper side skirts, dual-zone climate control, leather-clad steering wheel, an 8.0-inch screen with GPS or sat nav, 18-inch rims (up one inch from Ascent), powered driver's seat, parking sensors and keyless entry.
Now, prices: the Ascent can be had in 2.5-litre four-cylinder/six-speed auto guise for $27,690, or hybrid for $29,990. The Ascent Sport, meanwhile, is $29,990 for the four-cylinder and $31,990 for the hybrid.
Step into the SX and you'll get extra USB ports for back seat passengers, shift paddles, a sportier suspension tune, 19-inch rims, different LED lights front and rear and leather seats (leather-accented sports seats, to be precise).
The SX comes in the four-cylinder petrol/six-speed auto at $33,290, and it also marks the introduction of the V6/eight-speed auto combo for $36,290.
Finally, the SL scores blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, smaller 18-inch rims, ventilated and powered front seats with driver's seat memory, electrically operated steering wheel column and a panoramic sunroof.
It's available in all three engine combos, with the four-potter costing $39,990, the hybrid priced at $40,990, and the V6/eight-speed auto topping the range at $43,990.
The 2AR-FE engine at the bottom of the range is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine that offers 133kW of power and 231Nm of torque. It's been carried over from the seventh-gen Camry, along with its six-speed transmission. All Camry models here are front wheel drive.
The A25-FXS four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine in the hybrid version is also 2.5 litres in capacity, and outputs 131kW and 221Nm. A 650-volt electric motor kicks in another 88kW and 202Nm for a claimed combined power output of 160kW. A single speed transaxle manages propulsion duties.
The 2GR-FKS 3.5-litre V6 from the Kluger, meanwhile, makes much more horsepower with 224kW and 362Nm, though Toyota reckons that the quad-exhaust versions of the car will make a little more than the twin-tipped cars. If you're all about engine specs, it's the one for you.
All three engines are fine on 91 octane fuel, too. There's no diesel.
Kerb weights vary from 1495kg for the base four-cylinder Ascent up to 1695kg for the top spec SL hybrid. The gross vehicle weight is 2030kg for the four-cylinder and hybrid, and 2100kg for the V6.
Towing capacity for all models is 500kg unbraked, while the V6 can tow a little more if the trailer has brakes (1600kg vs 1200kg for the four-cylinder and hybrid models).
We reviewed the dash-indicated figures for all three cars over our 245km test, with the base four-cylinder returning 7.9 litres per 100km against a claimed fuel economy rating of 7.8L/100km.
The V6 returned fuel consumption of 11.9L/100km against a claim of 8.9L/100km, while the hybrid drivetrain's claims of between 4.2 and 4.5L/100km, depending on variant, didn't play out on the country road route. It couldn't manage any better than 13.6L/100km on the combined cycle.
Non-hybrid Camrys offer a 60-litre fuel tank capacity, while the hybrid uses a 50L tank.
The Camry is the newest car in a pack that includes Ford's Mondeo and the Mazda6, as well as the Skoda Octavia and VW Passat. It's based on the company's new flexible platform – known as Toyota New Global Architecture or TNGA - which also underpins the new C-HR, and it adds a new level of assurance and competence to the car.
The front suspension and rear suspension combine to offer a ride quality that is frankly excellent over broken terrain, and it has a terrific ability to soak up square edge bumps and potholes without transmitting them back into the cabin.
It's pretty benign in the steering department, but it's more than adequate, while the various drivetrain combos add a bit of character to each of the cars. The turning circle is a little large.
The base 2.5-litre engine is perfectly fine stroking down the freeway or in town, but can get caught on the hop in hilly terrain. The new hybrid set-up is seamless and clever, too, though it can sound strained when the Atkinson cycle petrol engine is asked to give a little more.
The base 2.5-litre engine is perfectly fine stroking down the freeway or in town, but can get caught on the hop in hilly terrain.
The V6-powered Camry feels stronger and more capable, with better acceleration and easily a much quicker 0-100 time, while the eight-speed auto is a good match, too.
Lower grade cars do let a bit more road noise into the cabin, and the supposedly sportier suspension tune of the SX model is only marginally more pointed than the stock cars.
We need a bit more time behind the wheel, but on balance, the new Camry is the most dynamically accomplished to date.
We didn't have any issues or problems during our test, but if anything pops up you'll find it on our Toyota Camry problems page.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Seven airbags and safety features such as auto emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning across all grades ensure a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating for the Camry range. More driver aids are fitted as you get higher in the range, too, like rear cross-traffic alert.
The Camry's reputation for reliability and resale value precedes it, and servicing is taken care of by way of Toyota's capped price servicing plan for the first five years or 75,000km (whichever occurs first). Service costs are capped at $195 per visit.
It's sticking with a three-year/100,000km warranty, which is starting to look a little underdone in the current market. For those who want it, there is an extended warranty program.
Service intervals on the Camry, including the Hybrid, are set at every 12 months or 15,000km.
It's an interesting point in the Camry's life. It's still a big seller for Toyota, and the company reckons it'll hold down the number one spot in the category next year.
The tide continues to turn towards SUVs in the private ownership sector, though, which will continue to harm potential sales.
However, Camry owners are a loyal bunch, and the newest iteration is a great reward for the owner of an older car. It's easily the best Camry that Toyota has ever produced.
If we were shopping for a Camry, the Ascent Sport Hybrid is a good mix of practicality and good looks, as well as a decent level of spec for or less than $32,000.
|ASCENT||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$22,223 – 26,500||2018 TOYOTA CAMRY 2018 ASCENT Pricing and Specs|
|ASCENT (HYBRID)||2.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO||$26,500 – 32,888||2018 TOYOTA CAMRY 2018 ASCENT (HYBRID) Pricing and Specs|
|ASCENT SPORT||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$25,970 – 31,636||2018 TOYOTA CAMRY 2018 ASCENT SPORT Pricing and Specs|
|ASCENT SPORT (HYBRID)||2.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO||$29,564 – 35,990||2018 TOYOTA CAMRY 2018 ASCENT SPORT (HYBRID) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|