Kia Cerato VS Toyota Camry
- Great value
- Long warranty
- Is it hot or not?
- GT needs more grunt
- Steering feel
- Sharp new looks
- Drivetrain options for all
- Great handling
- Signs of cost-cutting inside
- Headroom a bit snug
- Non-folding rear seats
You need a new small car and have $20-30k to spend, max. What do you do? Easy. You take $24,870 and go straight to our sister site autotrader.com.au and get yourself that sweet-as 2015 white Mazda MX-5 convertible with the manual gearbox and 32,141km on the clock.
What? You need more than two seats? And a proper boot? For about the same amount of money? Oh… well this is awkward. Okay, have you met the Kia Cerato, then?
I did, I’ve met them all - every Cerato from this new generation model. I’ve driven the sporty one – the GT on some of Australia’s best roads, and I’ve driven the rest, the S and the Sport, on some of the worst roads.
My family and I lived with them, too. We drove hundreds of kays, did day care drops off, had supermarket car park meltdowns where nobody was talking to each other, singalongs (that was mainly me, by myself), fell asleep in them and did the daily commute in them.
I feel I know the Cerato so well now, I reckon I could almost build one if you gave me the pieces.
Here’s what I learnt about what could be the best value small car buy out there right now. Or there’s the Mazda MX-5.
|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|
The drive-away pricing and big features list makes the Cerato great value, and then there’s the practicality and warranty. Also, you have choice between something a little hardcore or more comfortable.
To me, the Sport Plus is the sweet spot in the range. The leather seats, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, proximity key and heated seats clinch it.
The Kia Cerato could be the smartest choice you’ll make this year. Or there’s the Mazda MX-5.
Do you reckon the Cerato is the best value-for-money small car on the market? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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.
What a time to be alive: small cars have never looked better. Have you seen the new Ford Focus or the Hyundai i30? Even the current Toyota Corolla looks sexy.
But does the same go for the new Cerato? The sedan is certainly attractive, but the hatch looks hot from some angles and not from others. The hatch has whiffs of BMW X4 around the tail-lights, although its side profile is not as pleasing as the sedan’s.
Both have the same angry Kia face with signature ‘tiger nose’ grille, while all grades in both body styles have the glossy black diffuser and lower bumper with integrated exhaust.
And that’s a bit of a tip for you right there. See, despite there being four grades and a $12K price difference between the entry level and top-of-the-range Cerato, the difference in styling is almost zilch.
Really, the only way you can tell the difference visually between an S grade and a GT is the wheels and exhaust (the S has hub caps and one tail pipe, not two).
All Cerato hatches have that same body kit, including the roof top rear spoiler. The Cerato sedans don’t miss out – they have a little boot lid spoiler.
If it came down to it, I’d say the sedan is a better-looking car than the hatch.
The cabins are also almost identical although the cloth seats in the S and Sport aren’t as premium looking or feeling as the leather ones in the Sport + and GT, and there are other similarly luxurious elements on these grades such as the push-button ignition and soft-touch plastics. Have a look at the interior photos, I took them myself.
What colours can you get your Cerato in? There are 10, but one ('Sunset Orange') is exclusive to the GT.
Only one is a non-cost option, too – it’s 'Clear White'. The rest are premium paint colours and will cost you extra. You can have 'Aurora Black', 'Gravity Blue', 'Horizon Blue' (which was the colour of my S hatch and looks great), there’s also 'Runway Red' (that was the colour of my Sport hatch and it was hard to keep looking clean), 'Steel Grey', 'Snow White' and 'Silky Silver'. No green and no yellow.
The Cerato is a small car, but not the smallest Kia – that’s the Picanto and it’s tiny. Nope, the dimensions show the Cerato hatch to be 4510mm end-to-end, while the sedan is longer at 4640mm. Both are the same height at 1800mm tall, but their widths are different with the hatch being 1445mm across while the sedan is 5.0mm narrower.
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.
You can get the Cerato as a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback. They’re the same size, but which do you reckon has the biggest boot? The hatch? Nope.
See, the Cerato hatch’s boot has a luggage capacity of 428 litres and the sedan’s boot space is 502 litres.
Thing is, the hatch is the more practical of the two because of its tailgate which opens high and gives you a big aperture and you can fold those rear seats down to open up the cabin as a cargo area.
Another practicality win for the hatch is the segmented storage area under the boot floor. The sedan doesn’t get this which is a shame because it’s like a big bento box for wet clothes or muddy shoes.
Storage throughout the cabins of both the sedan and hatch is excellent with two cupholders in the fold-down rear armrest and another two up-front, while the centre console bin is deep (there’s a USB charging port in there, too) and the shelves under the dash were a great place to plonk my wallet and phone. Also hiding in there is a USB charging port, a USB media port and a 12-volt outlet. That top shelf under the dash in the GT also doubles as a wireless charging pad.
Room for people is also outstanding. I’m 191cm tall, and mainly all limbs, yet I had no elbow or legroom issues up front and I can even sit behind my driving position in both the sedan and the hatch with about 20mm of space between my knees and the seatback.
The Sport Plus and GT have directional air vents in the second row, but the lower grades don’t get these. That’s something I find pretty frustrating – my four-year-old sat for two weeks in the back of the Cerato S and Sport through the killer summer of 2019 and it was hot back there.
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
You’ve had a look online and you’re a bit shocked to find that your $20-$30k may not go as far as you originally thought, especially when you include the on-roads costs.
But, take a look at its ‘cousin’ the Kia Cerato, too, because I reckon it’s the best value-for-money car on the market right now, and one that no doubt keeps its rivals awake at night as it steals buyers away from them.
The Kia Cerato sedan and hatch are priced the same and the value-for-money is outstanding. The entry grade S with a manual gearbox lists for $20,990, and at the time we published this review you could have it for $19,990 drive-away.
You’d probably think the ‘S’ stands for ‘Sport’ but it doesn’t because there is an actual grade called the Sport which is the next tier up and lists for $25,790 or $24,190 drive-away. Then there’s the Sport Plus which lists for $28,840 and can be had for $27,740 drive-away. At the top of the range is the GT which lists for $32,990 or $31,990 drive-away.
Standard features on the S include an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, six-speaker stereo, air-conditioning, cloth seats, 3.5-inch LCD instrument screen, electric mirrors, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and 16-inch steel wheels with 205/55 R16 tyres.
Standard features on the Sport are almost identical to the S. The only difference is the Sport’s premium steering wheel and shift knob, sat nav, plus 17-inch alloys wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres.
The Sport Plus has the Sport’s features and adds leather seats, dual-zone climate control with rear directional air vents, heated front seats, push-button start, proximity key and LED running lights.
The GT has those features and adds wireless phone charging, a 4.2-inch instrument cluster an eight-speaker JBL sound system and 18-inch alloys with 225/40 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber.
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
So, you can get a Cerato S, a Cerato Sport and a Cerato Sport Plus, but only the top-of-the-range Cerato GT is the true sporty one in the family.
The rest of the Cerato line-up shares a 112kW/192Nm four-cylinder petrol engine. If you want a manual gearbox, then you can only have it with the base grade S, otherwise the six-speed automatic, that is standard in the others, does the shifting for you.
Both are good powerplants, the 1.6-litre is smaller but more powerful and responsive and uses less fuel. How much less? Which we’re just about to get to.
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).
As mentioned above, the GT with its 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder is the most fuel-efficient member of the Cerato family and after a combination of open and urban roads Kia says you should see it using 6.8L/100km in both the sedan and hatch.
When I tested the GT at its launch in January 2019 the trip computer said I was using 7.6L/100km after driving the hatch on mainly country roads and 8.4L/100km in the sedan on similar open roads.
As for the other grades Kia says the combined fuel consumption for the S, Sport and Sport Plus grades with their 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engines and six-speed auto is 7.4L/100km. My own testing in the Sport hatch saw me measure bang-on 7.4L/100km (measured at the petrol pump), while the S hatch did 8.6L/100km (also measured at the bowser).
A manual gearbox is available on the S and Kia says you should see it using 7.4L/100km in the hatch and 7.6L/100km in the sedan. Along with that good mileage it's nice to know both engines are also happy to run on regular unleaded petrol.
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.
This is simple. There are only two types of Cerato when it comes to driving. There’s the fast and hard one, or the comfy and easy one.
If you’re looking for a Cerato which is pretty quick and has great handling, then it’s the GT for you. The catch is, the GT’s ride is firm and jarring over potholes and speed bumps.
If you’re looking for something which has a comfortable ride and is fuss-free to drive then the S, the Sport and Sport Plus are for you.
See, Kia set out to make the GT a bit more hardcore – it has a more powerful engine, firmer suspension (the torsion bar set-up in the other grades was swapped for a multi-link system in the rear of the GT), it also sits lower and rides on 18-inch wheels with low-profile Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres. The result is a hatch which is knocking on the door of Golf GTI territory.
I drove the GT in hatch form at its launch on twisty country roads and it felt planted, with excellent body control and impressive grip. The only thing lacking was more grunt.
This chassis is now so good it feels like it’s in search of a more powerful engine to match it. The steering also felt a bit ‘lumpy’ in places. Still it’s accurate and not a deal breaker.
That lumpy steering feel is also present in the S, Sport and Sport Plus, too but it becomes irrelevant because these grades don’t have the performance bent of the GT. Instead they have a ride which is composed and comfortable, with an engine that provides plenty of oomph for highway cruising, overtaking and city sprints – especially when you select 'Sport' mode which sharpens throttle response.
And while they don’t have the handling and agility of the GT, I was impressed by how controlled and planted the Sport felt when I tested it over the route I normally take sport cars on.
More importantly, the S, Sport, and Sport Plus are easy and enjoyable to drive. I clocked up hundreds of kilometres in the S and Sport and found the seats to be wide at the base and supportive around my back, and they could be adjusted to find a great driving position.
Kia tunes most of its cars for Australia roads and the job its local engineering team has performed on these lower grade Ceratos is outstanding – the ride is compliant and comfortable and the car has good body control over bumps and corners.
If I could change anything it would be to improve visibility in the rear corners – those tiny porthole-like windows aren’t big enough.
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.
The Kia Cerato GT and Sport Plus hatch and sedan scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2019, but the Sport and S were given four stars because while they do have AEB it doesn’t detect pedestrians and cyclists like the version on the top two grades.
You can effectively turn a Sport or an S into a five-star car by optioning the $1500 safety pack which adds that version of the AEB plus blind-spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.
The Sport Plus and GT come with all of that advanced safety equipment already. The GT also comes with LED headlights which are much brighter and more intense than the halogen units in the other grades.
As you'd expect all Ceratos come with a suite of airbags, ESP and a reversing camera. There are also three top tether anchor points across the second row – they’re easy to use, I’ve installed my four-year-old’s seat in both the hatches I had. There are also two ISOFIX anchor points.
Under the boot floor is a space saver spare.
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 Cerato is covered by Kia’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty. Most carmakers are only just making the move to five-year warranties, but Kia has had this offering in place for years. The Cerato also comes with seven years of roadside assistance.
There’s also seven years of capped price servicing. Kia recommends you service the Cerato S, Sport, Sport Plus annually or every 15,000km. You can expect to pay $275 at the first service, $469 at the second, $339, $623, $309, then $596 and finally $328 for the seventh.
It’s good to know that after seven years of regular servicing you can expect to pay no more than $2939.
As for the GT Kia recommends servicing it every 10,000km or annually. Servicing is capped at $282 for the first service, $476 for the next, then $346, $630, $317, $604, then $640 for the seventh.
The aftercare Kia offers is outstanding and so the Cerato gets full marks for its cost of ownership.
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.