Honda Civic VS Toyota Camry
- Looks are good (or bad)
- Suspension and steering are both terrific
- Plenty of legroom in the rear seat
- CVT drones at pace
- Standard safety lacking on base models
- RS is noisy on the wrong road surfaces
- Sharp new looks
- Drivetrain options for all
- Great handling
- Signs of cost-cutting inside
- Headroom a bit snug
- Non-folding rear seats
If you think the new Civic Hatch looks a little lower-slung than its sedan sibling, that can likely be attributed to the crushing weight of expectation placed on its little metal shoulders.
See, this 10th-gen Civic might be the most important car Honda has ever made. While most manufacturers were pouring funds into their SUV ranges, Honda was diverting a huge chunk (heavily tipped to be a whopping 35 per cent) of their research and development budget into the Civic, using the evergreen nameplate as a key pin in their Australian comeback.
And with that much riding on it, it had to be good. In sedan form, which launched here last year, it mostly lived up to the hype, with Honda shifting more than 800 units per month. And with the Civic hatch finally touching down in Australia, Honda is hoping to add 1000 sales to the tally.
So the question now is, does this new hatch version shine, too?
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
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.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Energetic and engaging (if not quite sporty), the Civic hatch is quiet and comfortable around town, but it can more than hold its own on a twisting backroad, too. It’s looks will either appeal or not, but a lack of comprehensive safety equipment on the cheaper models is sure to ruffle some feathers.
For us, the cheapest way into the turbocharged engine forms the pick of the bunch, so we'd call the VTi-L the sweet spot.
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.
What do you think of the new Toyota Camry? Hit or miss? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The word 'polarising' is usually a thinly disguised way of saying 'lots of people don’t like it'. And the all-new Civic sedan was, well, very polarising. A glance at this new hatch version shows it hasn’t strayed too far from that design approach, either.
It’s as understated as a snakeskin suit in all grades, but nowhere is it quite so busy as in the RS trim level, in which the sporty trimmings jump out from every possible angle. Strangely, though, we quite like the way it looks, and it's undeniably an individual in the small car segment.
Inside, Honda has produced the comfortable and tech savvy interior that was missing from the outgoing model, but the sense of well executed semi-premium fades as you approach the spartan rear seat.
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 Civic hatch is surprisingly spacious in the cabin, where up front the two seats are split buy a central bin housing two of the fattest, deepest cupholders we’ve ever seen (that would be America’s 'Big Gulp' influence on the Civic’s design), along with a hidden USB and power source that sits behind the centre console, hiding the ugly chords while you’re plugged into touchscreen unit.
The back seat, is plenty spacious in the longer and wider hatch - which also sits on a 30mm longer wheelbase than the outgoing car - with more shoulder, leg and knee room for backseat riders.
Which is just as well, as there’s not much else happening back there, with no air vents, power outlets or USB points on offer, with just the two cupholders housed in a pulldown divider that separates the rear seat.
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.
Price and features
Thanks to what Honda refers to as its “One Civic” philosophy, this new hatch lineup perfectly mirrors the sedan range that was launched here last year, with the only major change being the ‘Ring-burning Type R, which will be hatch-only when it arrives later in 2017.
And that means the five-strong Hatch range kicks off with the entry-level VTi ($22,390) before stepping up to the VTi-S ($24,490) and the VTi-L ($27,790). Next up is the sport-sprinkled RS ($32,290), before the range tops out with the high-flying VTi-LX ($33,590).
Entry-level shoppers will make do 16-inch steel wheels, fabric seats and single-zone climate control, but there are some nice and premium-feeling flourishes, like LED DRLs, a 7.0-inch touchscreen that’s now Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-equipped and a second colour screen in the driver’s binnacle for your trip information.
Stepping up to the VTi-S adds 16-inch alloy wheels, integrated LED indicators in your wing mirrors and proximity locking and unlocking, along with some clever safety stuff we’ll come back to under the Safety heading.
Along with a better engine (more on that in a moment), springing for the VTi-L will earn you 17-inch alloy wheels, twin-zone climate control and automatic windows in both rows, while the sporty-flavoured RS adds LED fog and headlights, along with a hearty dose of sporty styling courtesy of a bumper kit, skirting and a liberal splashing of piano black highlights.
Inside the RS gets leather trimmed seats, a better 10-speaker stereo and and a standard sunroof, too.
Finally, the range-topping Civic - the VTi-LX - gets satellite navigation, and a fairly comprehensive suite of safety kit.
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.
Engine & trans
Like the sedan version, there are two engine choices on offer, with the cheaper option a 1.8-litre petrol engine, good for 104kW at 6500rpm and 174Nm at 4300rpm found in the VTi and VTi-S trim levels.
The better option, though, is a perky turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine that will push 127kW at 5500rpm and 220Nm at 1700rpm to the front tyres.
Both engines are partnered with a CVT automatic transmission, with or without wheel-mounted shifters, depending on the trim level.
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).
Fuel use is pretty impressive across the board, with the 1.8-litre engine sipping a claimed combined 6.4-litres per hundred kilometres, while the turbocharged version needs just 6.2 litres on the same cycle.
Emissions are pegged at 150 and 142 grams per kilometre of C02 respectively.
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.
Honda struggles a little in explaining exactly what its new 1.5-litre turbo-powered Civic is.
Is it a hot hatch? Nope, the incoming Type R will handle those duties. Oh, so it's a warm hatch, then? Not really - it's mechanically identical (same engine, gearbox and suspension) to the other, top-tier Civics. In fact, only the brand of tyres seperate the RS from the more luxurious VTi-LX.
"We would say it's a 'sporting hatch'," says Honda's head honcho, Stephen Collins.
And sporting it is, with its clever turbocharged 1.5-litre engine a willing and perky unit, delivering plenty of oomph all over the rev range and with no noticeable, soul-destroying lag in its power delivery.
The steering, too, has a sporty flavouring, it's super direct, and offers such crisp direction changes that you have to pay keen attention driving, as even the slightest input will see you steering out of your lane. And while the ride is a little crashy through bumps, it pays you back with composed cornering antics that see the front wheels hanging on to the tarmac for much longer than you might expect.
But the best trick of the 1.5-litre engine is that it doesn't require much accelerator to make it move, which means there's never too much strain on the CVT auto in town. And, given the auto is both loud and intrusive when you ask too much of it, that can only be a good thing.
Like most CVT 'boxes, it's quiet and composed in city driving, but loud and with a tendency to surge when you start to test it. So much so that heavy acceleration requires a kind of lucky dip as to when to back off the throttle, with the Civic continuing to accelerate for a moment or so even once you get off the gas.
Happily, then, the 1.8-litre models are much easier to classify. They're the cheap ones.
It's a a simple, honest and hardworking engine that feels both slower and slower to respond than its newer, turbocharged sibling, but is more than capable of getting up to speed, even if it struggles to add pace from the mid-range onward.
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 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.
While some of its key competitor are throwing safety functions at all trim levels, with Honda it’s still sadly a case of you get what you pay for.
The entry-level VTi, for example, makes do with six airbags (front, front-side and curtain) and a 180-degree reversing camera, opting for the VTi-S, VTi-L or RS adds front and rear parking sensors and Honda’s cool 'LaneWatch' (with activates a side-mounted camera when you indicate, beaming an image of the lane running alongside the lefthand-side of the car up onto the 7.0-inch screen).
The entire Civic range was awarded the maximum five-star 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.