Review: Toyota Camry (2019)
Genuinely frugal. Relaxing to drive around town. Comfortable and spacious.
Only available as a saloon. Poor infotainment.
Toyota Camry (2019): At A Glance
A successor to the Avensis, the Toyota Camry is a hybrid rival to the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb, as well as attempting to compete with premium models such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series.
On the face of it, the Camry's near-£30,000 start price is expensive compared to mainstream alternatives, but you do get a lot of equipment for the money. And the Camry feels very nearly as premium as the closely-related Lexus ES. The Camry's line-up is rather limited, offering just one engine and a choice of two trim levels
Said engine is a 2.5-litre petrol combined with an electric motor, capable of setting off under electric power alone and officially returning more than 50mpg while emitting less than 100g/km.
It offers a very refined drive, both around town and on the motorway. It's in its element at low speeds, where the comfort-focused suspension soaks up lumps and bumps without a fuss and the light steering makes negotiating city traffic a piece of cake.
While the CVT gearbox isn't any less frustrating than our experience in other cars, trying to hustle the Camry along still feels unnatural. Once up to speed, though, it's a perfectly refined cruiser, with little in the way of wind or road noise on the motorway.
Despite only being offered as a saloon, the Camry is a fairly practical car. Its 524-litre boot is almost as big as a Ford Mondeo's, while the interior feels rather roomy. Adults sat in the back are unlikely to find themselves wishing for more space - good news, as the Camry has the potential to be a very popular private hire car.
Up front, the seats are very comfortable and the materials used all feel of reasonable quality. The one big let-down is in the form of the seven-inch touchscreen media system, which offers old-fashioned graphics, clunky operation and no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. It simply isn't good enough in a car that's intended to rival premium manufacturers.
Still, many Toyota buyers rank reliability as more important than technology and we have no reason to believe the Camry won't be every bit as dependable as we're used to from the brand. Combine that with a car that's comfortable, cheap to run and relaxing to drive, and the Camry makes a strong case for itself.
What does a Toyota Camry (2019) cost?
Toyota Camry (2019): What's It Like Inside?
Toyota's limiting its market for the new Camry by only offering it as a saloon rather than a hatchback or an estate. It's fairly practical, though, with loads of room inside and a competitive 524-litre boot.
Indeed, the Camry's particularly impressive in the back seats, where two adults will be perfectly comfortable for long journeys. A sloping roofline means tall adults might have to adopt a slightly hunched-over seating position, but anyone else will enjoy the large, comfortable seats and decent view out of the side windows.
Up front, the seats are equally supportive, and there's plenty of electric adjustment (including lumbar support) as standard on both Design and Excel models. Even at its lowest, the driver's seat is slightly higher than you may expect, but this helps visibility out of the car.
There are plenty of premium materials used in the Camry's cabin, but the small touchscreen media system in the centre of the dash surrounded by plastic buttons does bring you back down to earth. The system is one of the worst on the market, with dated graphics and complicated functionality. There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto at the time of writing either, although Toyota says it's working on this.
It's frustrating as, media system aside, the Camry's interior as immeasurably better than the old Avensis and feels more upmarket than mainstream rivals like the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport.
In terms of specification, both models are well-equipped. Inside, a wireless phone charger aside, there's not much difference between the Design and Excel. Even the entry-level model comes with heated leather seats and the aforementioned navigation system, but it's also more expensive than a top-spec Mondeo Hybrid, so we wouldn't expect anything less.
Standard specification (August 2019):
Design features 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, power-retractable door mirrors, smart entry and push-button start, LED front and rear lights, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, automatic high beam, adaptive cruise control, black leather, Toyota Touch 2 with Go navigation, Bluetooth plus electric and heated power-adjustable front seats.
Excel adds 18-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lights, LED indicators, LED rear brake lights, power-adjustable steering wheel, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear cross traffic alert with brake assist, blind spot monitor and a wireless phone charger.
Child seats that fit a Toyota Camry (2019)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Toyota Camry (2019) like to drive?
Unlike plug-in alternatives such as the Skoda Superb iV, the Camry is a conventional hybrid - or 'self-charging', in Toyota terminology.
While its electric range is limited to a couple of miles at most, the Camry's hybrid system means it can offer diesel-like economy - between 50.4mpg and 53.3mpg according to official figures. Our experience suggests this is quite realistic in the real world.
An obvious perk of the self-charging system is that you don't have to faff around with wires and plugs, the Camry instead taking power from the 2.5-litre petrol engine and recuperating energy under braking.
It's a relaxing car to drive, particularly around town. The ability to set off under electric power means you don't have to deal with the rumble of a combustion engine stopping, starting or idling in stop-start traffic.
The combined output of the petrol engine and electric motor is 218PS, but don't go thinking this is a high-performance saloon. It uses a CVT automatic gearbox which, while reliable, is usually unpleasant to use compared to a conventional or dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
CVT gearboxes normally create an unpleasant noise during hard acceleration, but the Camry's system mimicks a six-speed automatic gearbox. As a result, it's a pleasant enough gearbox to use, and power is always on hand as soon as you press the accelerator.
While it will pick up pace comfortably enough, it's a car that rewards a more laid-back driving style. At a steady 70mph, little in the way of wind or road noise makes its way into the cabin, and the ride quality is very good.
On twistier roads, the Camry remains composed, but it's not a car that's eager to be driven enthusiastically. It provides a reasonable amount of grip and it doesn't lean too much, but the steering feels pretty distant from the front wheels and you're not going to have a great deal of fun throwing it around.
|2.5 Hybrid||-||8.3 s||98–101 g/km|
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