Toyota Camry Hybrid: Stick your SUV!


What is it?

As a hybrid, Camry is classified as a medium-sized sedan, yet with a V6 under the bonnet — it’s described as a large car.

The range comprises four models — Ascent. Ascent Sport, SX and SL. All four can be spec’d with a 2.5-litre four cylinder petrol engine.

Ascent. Ascent Sport, and SL are available as a Hybrid, while SX and SL can be had with a V6.

We spent a week and a weekend’s long drive with the Hybrid Ascent Sport.


What’s it cost?

Driveaway pricing depends on your location.

For our location the Toyota website says $34,435 with in plain white. Any of the seven metallic options take the price to $34,950 including Steel Blonde, an almost champagne colour.

Interior trim for the seats in cloth, cloth, or cloth. Wheels are 10-spoke alloys, with Michelin Premia 215/55/17 and a twin exhaust tip located at the rear left corner.

The redesign of the Camry that Australia receives gives us a car that is long in the bonnet, stubby in the tail (which hides a huge boot) and slots the driver at around the half way mark.

It doesn’t look tall at 1445mm, but that’s because the Camry nudges the five metre mark. There is 20mm of difference depending on spec, with the length ranging from 4885mm to 4905mm.

Up front are slimline headlights with LED running lights for the Ascent Sport.

The front is a heavily styled affair, with a huge inverted wing-like V and some blackouts as well, as the Ascent Sport gets a semi-sports look.

The rear has a nicely styled diffuser.

Inside it’s roomy, with rear leg room not a problem for most, even with the front seats pushed back to accommodate 180cm of human.

The 2825mm wheelbase helps here. Boot space is 524 litres.

It’s decently appointed and the cloth seats are comfortable front and rear.

Toyota continues to include a CD player (good) but there’s only one USB port and that’s up front under a messy looking centre dash (not so good).

The touchscreen is a tad on the small side nowadays at just 8.0 inches but it does include the smartphone apps and digital radio as standard.

The passenger side of the dash is four-folded and unappealing.

The whole dash design is untidy and overdone, with the days of Lexus excess clearly apparent in the overall look.

The dash from RAV4 would suit Camry nicely.

Safety-wise, Toyota gives the Camry Ascent Sport the basics, including Toyota Safety Sense (Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Collision Safety System with pedestrian detection, Automatic High Beam and All-Speed Active Cruise Control.

Blind Spot Alert and Rear Cross Traffic are left for the SL.


What’s it go like?

Toyota says the hybrid four produces a combined peak of 160kW.

The 2.5L petrol on its own is good for 131kW.

Torque is rated as 221Nm and oddly that’s slightly less than the figure provided for the petrol engine on its own.

It’s the usual Toyota hybrid system of start, no noise, petrol kicks in at 20km/h, even with a button in the centre console marked EV MODE pressed. 

It’s a niggle but the system automatically switches between hybrid and electric mode as the driving conditions demand.

There are displays confirming energy direction such as when the car needs petrol grunt and a graphic shows power being fed to the front wheels and battery.

Get onto a flat highway and the Camry hybrid is almost silent, with the dash showing an EV symbol occasionally as it seamlessly cuts in and out, supporting or being charged by the petrol engine.

There’s more noise from the tyres most of the time, which says a lot about the refinement of the package.

Where it wins is in the field of economy. Packed with four, a dog, and a weekend’s luggage, our final overall figure was a miserly 5.0L/100km, with a best seen of 4.8L/100km.

Toyota quotes a best of 4.2L/100km for the combined cycle.

It’s an easy car to drive, with a lightish steering feel, yet steers where you tell it.

That sounds bleedingly obvious but there are still quite a few cars that understeer and badly.

This car was point, shoot, follow the line. This made for a relaxed drive to and from the south coast of NSW through some areas badly affected by the wildfires earlier in 2020.

Highways with many curves were easily dispatched with confidence, a joy to experience in such a car.

The brake system was a little touchy, requiring an egg-squeeze on more than one occasion to stop a sudden grab and lurch at slow speeds.

That’s where the softer suspension tune for the Ascent Sport becomes a minor hiccup, as it’s sometimes a little spongy, sometimes a little supportive — and not always either when you’d think it should be.

However, again, it’s a minor niggle as it’s otherwise largely well composed and rarely needs a driver to consider the situation.


What we like?

  • Roomy and comfortable interior
  • Impressive economy even when loaded up
  • Well sorted, well proven, Toyota know-how with the hybrid system


What we don’t like?

  • Dashboard needs reworking
  • Nose scrapes just a little too often
  • Front styling is a bit over the top


The bottom line?

Toyota continues to lead the hybrid technology march.

By offering the technology in a normal, easy access sedan such as the Camry — it makes the tech even more accessible.

Camry Hybrid Ascent Sport is decently equipped, cheap on the gas, and drives verra nicely thank you very much.

The fact that it averaged the economy it did, at one stage with five aboard for 150km or so — proves that hybrid tech is becoming the norm.

It also proves there’s room for traditional family sedans, even as they are disappearing from showrooms — not everyone needs or wants an SUV.


CHECKOUT: Toyota Fortuner: Time for some TLC?

CHECKOUT: Toyota Landcruiser: Go big or go home


Toyota Camry Hybrid Ascent Sport, priced from $32,590
  • Looks - 7/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 9/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 9/10
  • Value - 8.5/10