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Toyota Camry 2005 review

At times, they overlook that fact that most buyers value reliability and usability more than cutting-edge styling and extreme driving dynamics.

Take Toyota's V6 Azura, for example. The Camry flagship is modest in styling but big on space, interior quietness and ease of operation.

Last September, the one millionth Camry rolled off Toyota's Australian production line. The first was built in 1987.

Toyota continued as a sales juggernaut in 2004 in Australia, despite not producing an entirely new model. This ability to tap in to the everyday needs of Australian motorists and sell strongly between new-model introductions shows the power of Toyota.

Late last year, the Azura received a facelift intended to take it to the end of its model life in 2006. The styling changes are minor, involving mainly the front grille-light area and rear lights.

Of greater interest is the Toyota Link hardware that connects the car via Telstra's GSM network to a base station. Toyota is the first company to bring this technology to a car costing less than $50,000.

It has all manner of uses. The system can be activated to gain entry to the car if the keys are locked inside. If you lose the car in a shopping centre car park, the horn can be activated to guide you to it.

On a more serious note, if the base station doesn't get a response from the driver after any airbag deployment, it will summon emergency services. The system can also track the car if it is stolen or locate the vehicle if it needs roadside assistance.

Developed over two years, Toyota is committed to the technology and it will be filtered down through other models in years to come. Toyota Link and other new standard features add just $110 to the recommended price of the upgraded Azura.

The system is easy to use, with three buttons and a microphone in the interior rear-view mirror. One button activates the emergency link, another connects the driver directly with the call centre and there is a "hang-up" button to cancel calls from the base station.

Toyota Link has a low-key presence in the Azura. Not so the standard satellite navigation system.

It takes pride of place in the middle of the console, with a large colour touch screen.

I've struggled with sat-nav in the past, but found the Toyota system fairly intuitive. The only time I disappeared off the map was when I drove into a far corner of the airport car park.

Unfortunately, my partner resorted to frequent hand slapping as I tinkered with the system. She reckoned I was becoming obsessed with it, even to the extent of working out which point of the compass I was facing as I drove the Azura into the garage.

In fact, she reckoned there were too many gadgets to play with on the car altogether.

But that is the way of modern motoring, and the Azura is crammed with features, from six-disc CD stacker, through cruise control, programmable overspeed alert, to an electric sunroof.

Possibly one of the most underrated features on a car, a sunroof can transform the driving experience. On a starry night, a sunny, windless day or even a cool morning, a large, well-designed sunroof links you to the passing environment. Once you've experienced it, you will agree it should be a standard feature on all cars.

The Azura could be driven down the freeway with the windows lowered and sunroof retracted without wind turbulence.

It is just another example of the build quality of this model.

While not setting the styling world alight, the pleasure of the Azura is in its everyday use. The overriding impression is the quietness of the car inside the cabin.

The roomy interior can comfortably seat five and the boot is one of the biggest around. A set of golf clubs is not a storage challenge.

The V6 engine gives reasonable acceleration for such a large car. Tuned for Australian conditions, the handling is excellent.

To sum up, the Azura is a quiet achiever.

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Altise 2.4L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,450 – 7,990 2005 Toyota Camry 2005 Altise Pricing and Specs
Altise Limited 2.4L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,800 – 6,999 2005 Toyota Camry 2005 Altise Limited Pricing and Specs
Altise Sport 3.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $4,800 – 6,420 2005 Toyota Camry 2005 Altise Sport Pricing and Specs
Ateva 3.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,450 – 6,990 2005 Toyota Camry 2005 Ateva Pricing and Specs
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