The Camry is one of the most common sedans that you can find on the road. It is the workhorse of the sedan world, so much so it is one of the more popular choices for sedan sized taxis in Wellington. I was intrigued to see what the Camry had to offer that made them so popular.

The Range

Toyota has a lot to choose from in its Camry range: you have the base GL, then three types of hybrid (the GX Hybrid, the SX Hybrid and the ZR Hybrid) and completing the range is the V6 Camry.

The Camry GL starts the range out with a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine that puts out 133kW of power and 231Nm of torque, and this is partnered with a 6-speed automatic with sequential shift. The GL starts at $35,990.

As standard the GL comes with manual climate control, Bi-beam LED headlights, single line LED daytime running lights, dark grey metallic front grille, body coloured front and rear bumpers, black rear diffuser, urethane steering wheel, 2 rear usb outlets, 7” TFT touchscreen infotainment display with Bluetooth, cd player and auxiliary input jack, black and grey fabric seats – manual adjustments with lumbar support.

The GX Hybrid (base model hybrid) is the same as the GL except it comes with 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol hybrid engine that produces 160kW combined with an electronically controlled CVT and push button start. This starts at $41,490.

The mid-range SX Hybrid starts at $42,990 and has the same bones as the GX Hybrid with just a few features being different, like: matte black lower sports mesh grille, body coloured front & rear bumpers, body coloured sport style rear diffuser, dual exhaust tips, driver’s seat power slide, recline, vertical adjustment and front tilt; power lumbar, leather steering wheel, 8” TFT infotainment display with SUNA Satellite Navigation and a 7” driver cluster display.

That brings us to the ZR Hybrid which comes in at $49,490 and is the top of the line hybrid Camry. Following on from the SX Hybrid the ZR comes with paddle shifters, 18” wheels, 3 line LED daytime running lights; gloss black horizontal upper front grille, gloss black lower sports mesh grille; silver lower front grille garnish; body coloured sport style rear diffuser; rear lip spoiler; sunroof with tilt and inner slide functions, black leather accented seat material, driver and front passenger power slide, recline, vertical adjustment and front tilt; power lumbar, seat ventilation, Driver 2 position memory, colour head-up display and 2 rear USB charging ports.

Finally onto the V6; the hybrid engine is thrown out and replaced with 3.5-litre, 6-cylinder petrol engine which produces 224kW of power and 362Nm of torque and starts at $47,990. Some of the other differences compared to the top of the line ZR hybrid are 19” wheels, sport tuned suspension, quad exhaust tips, black sports leather accented seat material, driver’s seat power slide, recline, vertical adjustment and front tilt, power lumbar, manual slide and recline front passenger seat (optional red leather accented seat material), power tilt and telescopic steering wheel with memory and it loses the head-up display.

All models of Camry come with 5-Star ANCAP Safety rating, Toyota Safety Sense: Pre-Crash Safety system (PCS) with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Automatic High Beam (AHB), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with steering assist and vehicle sway warning, ABS, hill start assist, traction control, reversing camera with dynamic guidelines, wireless remote central locking, engine immobiliser and alarm.

For a full and up to date list of features check out the Toyota’s brochure

First Impressions

When I first saw the car I would be picking up I thought, ‘that can’t be it, that’s not a Camry’. You can clearly see the Lexus DNA that has flowed down to the Camry range. It has hints of aggressive styling but leans more towards executive styling especially with the black “Eclipse” paint.

Looking closer at the paint you can see a shimmer, and it has some blue fleck to it that does give it a more night time or twinkly stars kind of look to it. I was looking forward to driving this car and once again had already forgotten it was a Camry

The Inside

Opening up the door, I saw the dash and again it just oozes both elegance and Lexus styling – and it looks sophisticated. It has leather, gloss black plastic and silver stylized inserts. Combining this with the leather steering wheel and gear shifter and again I am thinking “Are you sure this is a Camry?”.

Then I looked at the seats and I am afraid to say this is where the luxury, elegance and Lexus DNA stopped. The seats are 2 tones of grey and a strip of maroon, or possibly brown. They are not bad seats, in fact they are very comfy and I could see myself being able to do some long distance driving in them, but they just did not fit the style of the rest of the car. It’s almost as if they got to the seats, ran out of budget and took a trip to the spare parts warehouse to see what they could find.

Sitting down and looking forward again I can see the instrument cluster which has speed on the right, econometer on the left and a large display in middle that is framed by the two dials either side, which they have used to good effect, having the menu items actually follow the curve of the dial so the menus run down the inner sides of the dials.

Moving over to the centre console you have your 12-volt socket, USB and audio AUX ports as well as a tray that pushes back to a rather large compartment. Moving up you have your dual-zone climate control controls and then filling up the majority of the space is a 8” TFT display for your infotainment.

Now here is where I have another gripe: the infotainment system is good – it does radio, Bluetooth, USB, audio in through the AUX port, shows you your energy usage and heaps of car options to change. But – and it’s a big but in my opinion – Toyota have decided to not adopt Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, instead going for their navigation system with SUNA traffic channel system.

At first I thought ok maybe that have done a lot of work on this system, and it will be intuitive and easy to use and up to date. It turns out I was wrong on all counts. First off being up to date. I looked around the map of Wellington and noticed a road that is no longer there – a road that was a bypass road while the Arras tunnel was being built in Wellington. This tunnel was opened to traffic in September of 2014. So the map is at least 4 years old. Another indication of this was on a stretch of road that I travel almost daily there used to be a speed camera, but it was removed a good few years ago now but every time I drove past the navigation system would warn me of the speed camera coming up.

Moving on to intuitive to use; I had an address that I wanted to go to and went to put in the navigation. The first search box I tried did not look for address but instead places of interests like petrol stations, banks or restaurants, nothing specific more so things you could discover if you did not know the place you were in. So I went back out of that menu and had to go through 2 sub menus to find where I could type an address in. I started typing and it could not find the address. This was odd I thought but then noticed it was looking in New South Wales in Australia. I had to go find another menu to change it to New Zealand and then more specifically the North Island then I was able to enter my address and it found it and was able to give me good directions to it. Plain and simple it’s a GPS it should know where I am, I should not have to change the country or island I am on for directions.

It is for these reasons that manufacturers are moving to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Most people have one or the other already and both systems are easy to use, intuitive and most importantly up to date, not to mention the added features of being able to read out and reply to text messages using voice control. The most manufacturers should be doing with this kind of thing for this market of car, is supply a USB cable for your device.

The Drive

As expected from a large family sedan like the Camry the ride was fairly soft and comfortable with low road noise, but at times I felt it was too soft. When going around some sharp or even long corners you do feel a bit like you’re leaning a bit too far over. I have never found a car without active suspension to get this balance right. That being said I feel the right level of comfort was achieved for the most part.

I found that with my time with the Camry I did struggle to put a dent in the fuel tank. When I picked it up it had full fuel and battery and it said it had about 680 km of range in total. Over the course of the week that I had it I managed to put a few kilometres on it. I did just over 400 km of driving, a combination of city, motorway and distance driving. When I dropped it back I still had 358 reading on the range indicator. That’s nearly 138 km of distance saved thanks to the hybrid system in just 1 week.

As you can see this car is a great family car for its size and great on fuel economy. So this poses the question why does it have a sports mode? Not only does it have sport mode, it also has a sport selection on the gear stick, in a CVT car?

Let’s just quickly cover the S on the gear stick. Yes it is for sport and yes it does allow you to select gears. Why? I don’t know if you were going to be wanting to track this car it would be a bit big and a bit wallowy as it is. I don’t think they should give you the option here to control the gears.

Now let’s talk about the “Sport” mode. I am still perplexed as to why the hybrid Camry would have a sport mode. There are 2 reasons to put an electric engine in a car: To save on fuel or to increase performance. At the moment I feel you can only accomplish one or the other in more mass produced cars, as the technology simply has not become cheap enough to accomplish both. Combined with the fact that the chassis of the Camry is not built for the track I found the “Sport” mode to be kind of pointless. It did make the engine a little peppier and the steering got a little heavier but that was about it.

Personally I feel that the hybrid Camry is perfect as a economy fuel saving car, let’s just leave it at that.

The Competition

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Boot Space, Litres Fuel tank Litres Price Highest to Lowest
Hyundai Ioniq hybrid Entry 1.6-litre Petrol Hybrid 77kW/147Nm 3.9 443 45 $59,990
Mini Countrman Cooper S E 1.5-litre Petrol Hybrid 165/385 2.3 405 35 $59,990
Toyota Prius Prime 1.8-litre Petrol Hybrid 90kW/ Not available 1.0 360 43 $48,490
Toyota Camry Hybrid SX 2.5-litre Petrol Hybrid 160kW/ Not available 4.2 524 50 $42,990

The pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Exterior styling
  • Fuel economy
  • Power
  • SatNav
  • Seats
  • Sport mode (not needed)

What we think

The 2018 Camry Hybrid is a bit of a conundrum to me. On the one hand it is a really nice looking car that can deliver a lot of power and be fuel efficient. But on the other hand it’s let down by its interior styling, difficult to use SatNav and superfluous sport mode.

I am sure I will see many of these on the road as taxis, in fact I have already seen one or two – and they will be good as a taxi as they are a good work horse, just not too sure about them for personal use.

Rating – Chevron rating (3 out of 5)

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid SX

Vehicle Type Hybrid 4-door medium Sedan
Starting Price $42,990 plus on-road costs
Tested Price $42,990 plus on-road costs
Engine 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol hybrid with Nickel-metal Hydride battery
Power kW / Torque Nm 160kW

Torque is unavailable at time of writing.

Transmission ECVT
0 – 100 kph, seconds N/A
Spare Wheel Space Saver
Kerb Weight, Kg 1635
Length x Width x Height, mm 4905 x 1840 x 1445
Cargo Capacity, litres 524 seats up
Fuel Tank, litres 50
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined – 4.2 L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  5.4 L / 100km

Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+

Towing 400Kg
Turning circle 11.4m

Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+

Warranty 5 years/100,000km
ANCAP Rating 5 stars
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Racing games is where my love for cars started. Always wanting to play more and more realistic games until I was allowed to get behind the wheel. Combine this with my love for technology and that has made me who I am today. I love to see my two passions combining and see what technologies are being used in the latest cars.


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