Toyota Camry Hybrid 2016 review: long term
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As the local car industry winds down, enthusiasts are becoming misty-eyed about V8 Commodores and Falcons. Very few will be so moved by the end of the locally built Toyota Camry hybrid, which may yet go down as the best car Australia ever built.
It wouldn't be the car nut's first choice for a Sunday drive through a winding mountain pass but the Camry is a great companion on the daily grind.
The cabin is quieter than some luxury cars, eerily so when you're creeping along in bumper-to-bumper traffic with only the electric motor doing the work. If you don't like the sounds of silence, the 10-speaker audio on our Atara SL is surprisingly good for a car this price, $40,440.
The suspension copes with everything city streets bowl up — potholes, speed humps and patchwork bitumen.
The Camry also gets away pretty swiftly from the lights thanks to the electric motor's instant peak torque.
Not that you find yourself engaging in such unruly behaviour — you're much more likely to be gently squeezing the throttle to preserve the fuel consumption record you set earlier in the week. The Camry will store your best figures and congratulate you if you set a new mark.
Not only does it save fuel but the hybrid motor also acts as a generator as you slow down, recharging the battery.
It sounds a little geeky but it becomes addictive after a while. It also demonstrates how much fuel the average driver wastes sprinting from one red light to the next.
Coasting is the order of the day in the Camry — not only does it save fuel but the hybrid motor also acts as a generator as you slow down, recharging the battery. Slide the gear lever into B for battery and the braking becomes more aggressive, generating more charge.
Claimed fuel use is impressive: 5.2L/100km, less than some city runabouts.
Unfortunately, claimed is the operative word — we're averaging 7.5L in our long-term test car, although most of the driving has been in peak hour, at most 30km/h.
Do that in a regular sedan and your thirst would be comfortably into the teens. If you really concentrate in the Camry, it's pretty easy to shave that to the low sixes.
2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid review | long term part 2
Easy on juice, easier on brakes.
Our long-term Toyota Camry test car has left the CarsGuide garage, but not before a last economy run.
The 180km round trip involved a climb on the way there and a descent on the return. It was roughly 70 per cent freeway at the posted 100km/h or 110km/h limit and 30 per cent light traffic through the suburbs.
The results were impressive for a big family sedan — 5.1L/100km on the way there and a low 4.4L on the way back, thanks to judicious use of the "B" or "battery charge" setting, which maximises engine braking and stores the energy recovered in the battery.
There were no fuel-saving tricks employed. We used the aircon and radio the entire time. The only thing we didn't use much were the brakes. When you get used to "B" mode, you hardly have to hit the brake pedal.
Intrigued, we asked a couple of cabbies with high-mileage Camrys about their brakes and they confirmed they replace them a lot later than they did with Falcons.
The Bluetooth reception is below average, with annoyingly poor clarity at both ends of the phone.
Our time with the Camry was entirely trouble-free, although there were a couple of small things that got on the nerves. Every time you drive off, the doors automatically lock, which means you have to fumble around for the door unlock button every time you pick up a passenger.
We're also not fans of the touchscreen. Apart from the fact that you have to take your eyes off the road to operate it, the screen ends up plastered with fingerprints. And the Bluetooth reception is below average, with annoyingly poor clarity at both ends of the phone.
That apart, the Camry has delivered exactly what it aims for — stress-free motoring.