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Driven: Toyota confident Camry will stay number one

Ready to rock: Toyota’s new Camry will be offered with three powertrains across nine variants.

New-gen Toyota Camry gets more spec, new powertrains and similar pricing


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21 Nov 2017

TOYOTA Australia’s first imported Camry in 30 years has retained similar pricing and positioning to the locally built model it replaces, with the company confident it will retain its spot at the top of the mid-size segment for the foreseeable future.

The all-new Japanese-sourced Camry takes over from where the seventh-generation Australian-built model left off when Toyota closed its Melbourne-based manufacturing operations last month.

As expected, the Camry is offered with a choice of three powertrains including a 2.5-litre petrol, 2.5-litre new-generation petrol-electric hybrid and a 3.5-litre petrol V6 that effectively replaces the discontinued Aurion.

While it was speculated that the new Camry would take a more premium position than the outgoing model, Toyota has kept pricing relatively static across the range, with only three of the nine variants increasing marginally in price.

Toyota has dropped the entry-level Altise nameplate in favour of Ascent – borrowed from the Corolla range – which starts $1200 further upstream to kick the range off at $27,690 plus on-road costs.

The Ascent Sport replaces the Atara S – another name that has disappeared – and drops by $200 to $29,990, while the SX at $33,290 is also down by $200 and the SL at $39,990 is $2550 dearer.

In terms of hybrid pricing, the Ascent is $500 cheaper than the previous Altise at $29,990, the Ascent Sport drops $1200 to $31,990 and the SL is $500 pricier at $40,990.

The V6 has the most dramatic price cut compared to the Aurion, dropping $6700 for the SX to $37,290 and $6450 to $43,990 for the V6 SL that becomes the Camry flagship. Opting for the V6 adds $4000 over the equivalent four-cylinder variants.

All of the above pricing is before on-road costs are factored in, but Toyota has had aggressive retail offers on Camry and Aurion for a number of years.

Toyota Australia senior divisional manager of sales and marketing Sean Hanley acknowledged the aggressive sales deals for the outgoing model, but said the company expected the new-generation Camry to retain its position at the top of the mid-size sedan segment.

“Camry will continue to play an integral role in our sales aspirations going forward,” he told journalists at the first media drive this week. “We had a very firm commitment to our planned volumes in the runout of our locally made product, we had a very firm commitment to respect our employees and indeed to our suppliers.

“There is no doubt we had very aggressive pricing positions on the outgoing car. We believe that new Camry with evocative styling and great design, new powertrains and wonderful spec levels, that it will continue to play a pivotal role in our volume aspirations for Toyota going forward.

“In fact, it will play a significant role in our over-200,000 sales aspirations next year.”

Mr Hanley said the car-maker was expecting a sales decline for the new Camry but admitted that Toyota was not sure how big the decline would be.

“Whilst we understand it is a little early to completely understand what our volume decline will be compared to the previous model, whilst we are prepared and planned that there will be some reduction in our planning volume, there’s no doubt about that, we think this car will continue to drive Camry to be the number-one best-selling sedan in the Australian market,” he said.

“That is our aspirations and we expect it to continue to be market leader in that segment.”

Mr Hanley added that the company was expecting an uptick in private sales with the all-new car, but reaffirmed Toyota’s commitment to the fleet market.

“I expect that because of the positioning and our own volume aspirations lean towards this car being in very good demand from the private market,” he said.

“So I would see this car positioning with an increased private focus going forward. But let me make it very clear, we will still cater and still sell to fleets.”

The Camry has been Australia’s best-selling mid-size car for the past 23 years and is currently sitting on 20,498 sales to the end of October, nearly seven times the volume of the next best seller in the sub-$60,000 segment, the Mazda6 (3012).

As reported, the new Camry is underpinned by the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that was introduced with the new-generation Prius and is also used under the C-HR crossover.

The new Camry is 4859mm long – stretching 44mm longer from end to end than the outgoing version – and has a 55mm-longer wheelbase, now at 2824mm.

The new hybrid system uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder ‘Dynamic Force Engine’ that delivers 131kW/221Nm – 11kW/4Nm more than before – while the electric drive motor pumps out 88kW/202Nm for a combined system output of 160kW.

It is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that is offered with six simulated gear ratios (via paddle shifters) on the SL. A Sport drive mode is also now included, in addition to the carryover Normal, Eco and EV modes.

The new architecture has allowed Toyota to move the hybrid system’s nickel-metal hydride battery from the boot to underneath the rear seat, which has increased cargo space by 30 litres to 524 litres for all variants except the Ascent, which has a full-size spare and reduces boot space to 493L.

The petrol-electric powertrain features VVT-iE variable valve timing, with the ‘E’ indicating an electric motor rather than oil pressure to control valve timing, which Toyota says makes for improved fuel efficiency and cleaner exhaust emissions.

Official combined-cycle fuel consumption is now down to 4.5 litres per 100km for the Hybrid SL and 4.2L/100km for the other two variants, compared to 5.2L/100km from the previous system in the outgoing Camry. CO2 emissions are rated at 96-103g/km.

Toyota’s new Euro 6-compliant V6 pumps out 224kW/362Nm – significantly more than the 200kW/336Nm unit in the Aurion – while fuel use has improved by 6.5 per cent to 8.7L/100km in the SL and 8.9L/100km in the SX. CO2 emissions are rated at 197-202g/km.

As well as the Otto cycle, the engine uses the Atkinson cycle where appropriate for better fuel economy.

It is paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission with direct lock-up from second to eighth gear, sequential shifting and auto-blipping downshift control.

The Camry also gets the carryover Euro 5-compliant 2.5-litre petrol unit pumping out 135kW/235Nm in all four-cylinder grades, except the Ascent which has an output of 133kW/231Nm.

It is matched with a six-speed automatic – there is no manual gearbox on offer – with auto-blipping on the downshifts, and consumes 7.8L/100km in the Ascent and 8.3L/100km in the SL and SX. CO2 emissions range from 181-194g/km.

Toyota says the changes under the Camry’s skin have delivered “an unprecedented level of driving enjoyment through dynamic and spirited handling capability”.

It features a redesigned and remounted MacPherson strut front suspension set-up with new geometry, while the new double-wishbone rear suspension has separate spring and damper units for increased cargo space and better stability.

The new electric power steering motor is mounted on the rack housing to lower its centre of gravity and the steering column now has tilt and reach adjustment.

Toyota has also included an electric handbrake to replace the old foot-operated unit and the brakes get larger front and rear rotors for greater longevity.

The car-maker has improved visibility by introducing a more compact instrument cowl, redesigned exterior mirrors, thinner A-pillars and a 40mm-lower bonnet, while it is claiming “class-leading” cabin quietness thanks to reductions in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.

Standard safety gear includes seven airbags, hill-start assist, a sway warning system, pre-collision safety system, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning with steering assist, active cruise control, auto high beam and a reversing camera.

The SL gains a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers and an electro-chromatic rearview mirror, while the three highest-specced variants add front and rear parking sensors.

The Camry has also just been awarded a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating.

Standard kit on Ascent and Ascent Hybrid includes auto-levelling LED headlights, LED tail-lights and daytime running lights, a 4.2-inch multi-information display, fabric seat trim, steering wheel audio, phone and display controls, 60/40 split-fold rear seat, a 7.0-inch display screen, Toyota link, six-speaker audio, and auxiliary and USB ports.

They also come with manual air-conditioning, driver’s seat power lumbar adjustment, power windows, Drive Mode Select, 17-inch alloy wheels with a full-size spare wheel.

Moving up to the Ascent Sport adds a sportier bodykit, a temporary spare wheel, a premium steering wheel and gear shifter, stainless-steel scuff plates, LED glovebox lamp, an 8.0-inch display audio, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, power driver’s seat, front and rear parking sensors and keyless entry/start.

The SX four-pot and V6 features paddle shifters, sports independent suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, higher-grade LED headlights and tail-lights, sports front grille, rear bootlid spoiler, sports seats, sports leather-accented seat trim, two more USB ports and wireless phone charging.

Finally, the SL which is offered across all three powertrains, gains 18-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof (on petrol models), an electric tilt and slide moonroof (Hybrid), leather-accented seat trim, ambient lighting, power tilt and reach steering column, driver’s seat memory, electro-chromatic interior mirror, 10-inch colour head-up display, power driver’s and passenger seat, ventilated seats and rain-sensing wipers.

2017 Toyota Camry pricing*
Ascent (a)$27,690
Ascent Sport (a)$29,990
SX (a)$33,290
SL (a)$39,990
Ascent (a)$29,990
Ascent Sport (a)$31,990
SL (a)$40,990
SX (a)$37,290
SL (a)$43,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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