Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
There comes a point in every man’s life when the head must overrule the heart, a time when the right move needs to be a sensible one.
Finding a family car that offers not only the necessary space but one that also delivers a reasonably pleasant driving experience isn’t always easy, or affordable.
The new eighth-generation Camry represents something of a new era, for the first time in 30 years, the Camry is fully imported.
It’s no secret, Toyota Australia is a rainmaking arm of the global giant, everything it touches turns to gold. So the move to a Japanese made Camry was unlikely to pose any threat to sales. Toyota buyers are a fiercely loyal bunch that aren’t easily steered away.
The words ‘Toyota Camry’ have never really been a combination of syllables to inspire keen drivers. The Camry’s story has always been about honest value for money and reliability. These are admirable characteristics and they are still found in the all-new Camry range, but there’s something else.
Up for review here is the 2018 Toyota Camry V6 SX which is listed at a surprising $37,290 plus on-roads. This is surprising for a few reasons, firstly it’s very affordable when compared to older equivalents and secondly, it doesn’t drive like you might expect.
The kit for coin equation is strong, 19-inch alloys, leather trim, power driver’s seat, satellite navigation, auto levelling LED headlamps and a wireless phone charger are all standard.
The new Camry is the first Toyota sedan to be built on the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture), the new platform which also underpins the C-HR has given the brand greater scope to improve the car’s packaging, design and dynamics.
Essentially, with a new foundation comes new opportunities. The use of lightweight but high-strength materials has delivered a 30 per cent improvement in torsional rigidity
To maximise the potential of the new platform, the front and rear suspension have been redesigned, remounted and given new geometry. The steering and brakes are also new. So yeah, the all-new Camry is new.
All of these improvements have seen Toyota produce a Camry that is more driver-focused than ever before. We have sampled the new Camry with the four-cylinder petrol and hybrid drivetrains, but it’s the V6 with the sports suspension tune that offers the most engaging drive.
The 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6 is good for 224kW and 362Nm. This is the engine that extracts the best out of the Camry’s new platform. In this application, there is plenty of power and the throttle response is immediate.
With firmer suspension, sporty driving is encouraged. The purpose is clear, the back end doesn’t wallow around as much as some of the other Camry variants, meaning it doesn’t feel like a taxi.
Throw in some precision steering and a silky smooth eight-speed automatic and the recipe is complete.
One thing that becomes obvious very quickly is how stable this car is. The feeling of stability gives drivers the confidence to push the Camry a little harder in the corners. The Camry SX also uses a stiffer stabiliser bar that keeps things that little bit tighter.
Toyota has opted to increase the size of the Camry’s brakes, the front rotors have grown by 9mm while the rears have increased by 5mm. The pedal feel is right on the money.
With a larger engine comes additional weight in the front end, this is especially noticeable after driving the four-cylinder model. It’s a small compromise for what is a much better overall package.
Everything is far more responsive than we have encountered in previous generations of the Camry, so don’t be too quick to write the car off if you have owned an older model.
With a sportier ride and handling, it’s logical to think these improvements have come at the expense of comfort and refinement, two of the Camry’s hallmark virtues. Pleasingly, this isn’t the case, cabin refinement and ride comfort during daily commutes are excellent. Either in town or on the highway, the Camry is composed and quiet.
The additional performance of the V6 doesn’t hurt when you need to refuel. During our test week, we covered over 1100 kilometres of mixed driving conditions, returning a consumption figure of 8.9L/100km which mirrors the claimed usage on a combined cycle. Not bad at all. There is a small caveat though, the V6 likes to drink 95 RON.
In recent times, Toyota has shown a willingness to break away from conservative designs. As evidenced by the C-HR and the recently revealed RAV4, the brand is showing some flair. In the right colour, the new Camry is a looker. There is an undeniable Lexus influence at the front and side.
All the heavy lifting has been done on the inside. The new interior has raised the bar and will open the Camry up to an even wider audience. The layout is excellent, the dash and centre console are free from unnecessary clutter.
It’s obvious the interior designers were tasked with elevating the cabin ambience. The effort and expense are justified, it’s a classy interior with a premium look and feel. The increased use of premium soft-touch materials makes a substantial difference to the atmosphere, as does the new multi-information display that resides within the instrument cluster.
A comprehensive infotainment system is included, the 8.0-inch touchscreen is incredibly easy to use. We tested a variety of phones, all were able to be connected quickly via Bluetooth or USB, so we didn’t miss Apple CarPlay as much as we thought we might.
The new platform has allowed an extra 50mm to be tacked onto the wheelbase which translates into more room in the back. All five occupants enjoy a very generous amount of leg room. Make no mistake, the Camry is a large car that is cleverly packaged to maximise space. This is why the Camry is popular with family buyers.
Believe it or not, the only detail that didn’t hit a high note was the driver’s footrest. The width and angle didn’t agree with my size 14 foot at all. Those blessed with regular size feet will have no issues.
Another reason the Camry remains on the short list of many families is safety, the new SX gets autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning with steering assist and seven airbags as standard. For added peace of mind, ANCAP has given the Camry a 5-star safety rating.
Thankfully, the new platform has seen the Camry’s service schedule updated. Gone are the ridiculously short six-month maintenance intervals. The new Camry requires fresh oil every 12 month/15,000km. Toyota offers capped-pricing of $195 for the first five trips back to the dealership.
There has been no change to the Camry’s warranty, Toyota is sticking with the increasingly outdated three year/100,000km coverage. Not that it matters, Toyota’s reputation means more to buyers than the time written in the warranty booklet.
We have driven a Camry or two over the years and this is easily the best of them. All the hallmarks of the nameplate – comfort, refinement, space and value for money are all still there.
The Camry V6 SX is an important car. This Camry has the engine, handling and ride to appeal to drivers. Buying a Camry doesn’t bring the compromises it once did, the Camry is no longer just an A to B option. The packaging and value are now joined by style and performance, Nigella Lawson’s whisk couldn’t have mixed the ingredients any better.
2018 Toyota Camry V6 Specifications
Price from $37,290 plus on-road costs Engine 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6 petrol Power 224kW @ 6600rpm Torque 362Nm @ 4700rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 8.9L/100km Tank Capacity 60L Length 4905mm Width 1840mm Height 1445mm Wheelbase 2825mm Performance 0-100km 6.8 seconds Turning Circle 12.2m Kerb Weight 1595-1620kg Service Intervals 12 months/15,000km Warranty three year/100,000km