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Toyota’s revamped Camry, Aurion ready

Toyota tweak: Australia's facelifted Camry is set to mimic the design changes of the North American model.

Production of Toyota’s crucial Camry facelift starts, with updated Aurion to follow

23 Jun 2009

THE Toyota Camry’s vital mid-life makeover has gone into production at Altona, Victoria, ahead of its imminent release, to be followed in August by the facelifted Aurion and in early 2010 by the Camry Hybrid.

Toyota hopes the first major upgrade for Australia’s top-selling mid-sized car since its release in July 2006 will arrest a 30 per cent sales slide so far in 2009, while the first significant upgrade for Aurion – Toyota Australia’s direct Commodore challenger – since November 2006 follows a 44 per cent slump in popularity year to date.

The new-model production start was confirmed by Toyota Australia president and CEO Max Yasuda when revealing the company’s $123.4 million profit for its 2008/09 fiscal year.

“In celebrating our 50 years in Australia we have released special-edition Camry and Aurion models,” he said.

“We have also commenced production of the Camry facelift this month and this will soon be followed by the Aurion facelift.

“In line with Toyota's strategy to accelerate the rollout of eco-friendly vehicles, the hybrid Camry is on schedule to be in the market from the beginning of 2010.

“We know consumers want high quality, affordable and attractive products.”

8 center image Top: US Camry. Second and third pictures: US Camry Hybrid. Bottom two pictures: Thai Camry Hybrid.

An accurate indication of what Toyota Australia’s 2009 Camry and 2010 Camry Hybrid will look like was provided at the Detroit motor show in January and then again in February in Canada, where the updated Camry is already on sale ahead of its release in the US next month.

GoAuto understands that the Australian Camry will feature the North American global model’s angular headlights with a kinked lower edge, new grille with more angular horizontal bars surrounding the Toyota logo, and the same new front bumper with larger dummy ‘air intakes’.

Our sources also reveal that the midlife Camry upgrade will not include front-side and side curtain airbags as standard across the range (currently an option on the entry-level Altise variant, which now offers only twin front airbags), in a move that would have brought the Camry into line with the larger Aurion and key mid-size rivals including the Mazda6 and Honda Accord.

In fact, our sources say the front-side and curtain airbag package will now be optional on both the Altise and more expensive Ateva from launch, reducing cost and giving Toyota the ability to add it as standard to both variants at a later date. Like the Aurion, the Camry will continue to be rated as a four-star crash safety performer by ANCAP.

At the same time, the Ateva grade will no longer come as standard with 16-inch alloy wheels (joining the Altise in featuring steel wheels) or front foglights, which will not be available on the 2009 Ateva. This is despite the fact the current Altise-based Camry Touring run-out special offers front foglights and 17-inch alloys, plus a Sportivo grille and headlights and dual-zone air-conditioning.

Apart from the revised equipment list, the Camry facelift will bring reduced fuel consumption over the current automatic model’s official ADR81/02 average of 9.9L/100km, which has been criticised for being the same as the larger Aurion and that of Ford’s recently improved Falcon XT with six-speed auto.

However, the North American Camry’s new 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine will not replace the 2.4-litre engine in our Camry until at least the next-generation model appears around 2012. Nor will the US model’s six-speed manual and automatic transmissions be seen in our 2009 Camry, which will continue with 117kW/218Nm outputs and five-speed transmissions.

Meantime, the US Camry Hybrid’s larger upper and lower air-dams, white-lens tail-lights and hybrid badging will also be more faithful to next year’s homegrown Camry Hybrid than the heavily stylised concept of the same name revealed by Toyota Australia at the Melbourne motor show in February.

Similarly, the Camry Hybrid officially revealed two weeks ago in Thailand previews Toyota Australia’s upcoming Aurion facelift, contrary to a report that appeared in News Limited newspapers last week. The ‘Camry’ sold in Thailand (and Taiwan) is in fact almost identical to Australia’s Aurion.

Both the regular Aurion-based Camry (with both 2.4-litre four-pot and 3.5-litre V6 power) and Camry Hybrid will be released in Thailand next month, with official images showing it will feature a squarer new front bumper comprising ‘sad’ intake shapes rather than the current model’s ‘happy’ elements, giving it a more bluff look.

Thailand’s Aurion-based Camry also features a new rear tail-light cluster with integrated foglight. Like Australia’s 2009 Camry and 2010 Camry Hybrid, however, the freshened Aurion should come with units produced by Hella in Melbourne.

Led by Paul Beranger, Toyota Style Australia has more freedom to alter the look of the Camry-based Aurion, which could also feature a different grille, headlights and interior highlights.

But the facelifted Aurion’s basic dimensions, specifications, options and 200kW/336Nm 3.5-litre V6/six-speed auto combination won’t change.

Australia continues to be the only country to effectively offer two versions of the Camry following Toyota Australia’s successful petition to produce disparate body styles for the V6-only Aurion large sedan and four-cylinder Camry medium sedan. North America’s larger Avalon sedan was rejected due to cost and plant complexity.

Read more:

Toyota Oz lodges $123m profit

Toyota lifts prices again

Added value to local Toyotas

Troubled times at Toyota

Melbourne show: Camry Hybrid countdown begins

$4000 premium tipped for Camry Hybrid

First drive: Hybrid improves Toyota’s Camry breed

First look: 2010 Camry facelift revealed

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