2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Out with the old, in with the new
The Toyota Camry, since the late 80s, has been a veritable superhero among cars, but a masked one. Like Superman, it has hidden in plain sight as a reliable, capable force of good—that no one ever recognises. I have one—the 1992 SV30 model—and it's spawned memes on the internet about how Toyota should recall the model because its owners should've moved on to something else by now. While memes are undoubtedly a standard of quality and assurance, it's mostly true—the Camry has been one of the best-selling medium sized cars in the United States for 15 years straight thanks to its reputation for taking whatever abuse you throw at it. Now, the 2018 model adds a dash of style and new-age hybrid tech to the mix.
What's in the new one?
In brief, it's an evolution of all Camrys of the past. It seeks to combine Toyota's rock solid reliability with a hybrid powertrain that livens up the driving experience while providing decent fuel economy returns. Under the hood is a 176 HP/163 lb-ft 2.5 litre 4 cylinder petrol motor, and hiding behind the wheels is a 118 hp/149 lb-ft synchronous AC motor. Combined, the petrol-electric hybrid powertrain produces 208 HP, routed through a CVT gearbox to the front wheels. 0-100 km/h takes about 7.9 seconds—impressive, considering the size and weight of the 1658 kg sedan.
The engineering directive from the Toyota upper management for this generation of the Camry was centred on a more involving drive—taking aim at the Germans with their patented approach. As a result, the Camry is lower and wider than the previous model, a 30 percent stiffer torsional stiffness for the body. The rear features a new multilink setup and the steering feel has been sharpened up.
The interior gets top-notch materials with wood and leather and brushed aluminium, as well as an expansive panoramic roof and the standard infotainment features. There's plenty of cubbyholes and cupholders, the main difference being in how the hard plastic surfaces are disguised. The interior has all the plushness you'd expect in this price range, with a good sprinkling of upscale designer touches that you would not.
The goods are good, but what does that mean?
The Camry is an entirely different beast from the outgoing model. It accelerates enthusiastically, with the demeanour of a much more powerful vehicle, thanks to the push of the electric motors. The slight sluggishness of the previous Camry's power delivery is all but gone, replaced by a joyous, addictive thrust when you want it.
The sharper dynamics of the steering and suspension setup inspires confidence and, uncharacteristically for a Toyota, actually urges you to push it some more. It's not a sport sedan by any means, but it has a lively outlook on taking corners that adds to the list of the Camry's competencies.
The view out of the cabin is impressive, thanks to the door mounted mirrors and forward sloping hood. The driving position and visibility means you won't ever have any difficulty in manoeuvring the large-ish sedan in traffic or around a crowded parking lot, especially with assistance from the parking sensors and rearview camera. The panoramic roof and large windows lend a feeling of airiness within the cabin that is hard to beat in this segment.
What about safety?
The Camry gets a 5-star safety rating for both passengers and pedestrians, as tested by the North American NHTSA. Turns out, that gaping front grille doesn't actually go around swallowing pedestrians. There's airbags all around, along with a whole host of sensors and a very handy rear-view camera.
So should you get one?
Definitely, if you can afford it. At around TK 89 lakhs, it's a huge investment in a Toyota. However, given the driving dynamics and overall polished personality of the Camry, the price is almost warranted. It does everything its German rivals can do, with a solid injection of reliability and build quality that comes with the Toyota badge.
Engine: 2.5 litre 4-cylinder petrol (176 HP, 163 lb-ft) and permanent magnet synchronous motor (118 HP, 149 lb-ft), Total combined output 208 HP.
Transmission: CVT, FWD.
Safety: ABS VSC, EBD, ESP, ten airbags.
Features: Dual-zone automatic climate control, 17-inch alloys, panoramic roof, cruise control, leather seats, park assist with reverse camera, touch screen infotainment system, push start, LED automatic headlamps.
Price: Starting from TK 90,00,000.
For details, contact Navana Ltd.
Photos: Rahin Sadman Islam
This review was originally published in Shift's 5 year anniversary magazine. Check our Facebook page for details on availability.