Toyota Camry Hybrid and V6 Review New Zealand
Having already produced eight generations of successful sedans, the Camry design and engineering team could and would have been justified in simply making a few tweaks here and there to the shape, upping the efficiency a little, maybe adding an extra switch or two to the dashboard and then heading home for an early night. But alas, Toyota had much bigger plans for generation nine, with the introduction of the new TNGA platform, this was going to be a ground-up rebuild. Judging by the result, I assume there were a number of calls home to tell their families not to wait up.
The TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) is a modular unibody automobile platform, wait what? Essentially it’s a new chassis platform that, since it can be used across a variety of their models, opens up a world of possibilities for the brand. You’d care about this because it means increased efficiency, wider model scope and more imaginative designs – something very apparent in the all-new Toyota Camry.
The Camry design team seem to have been given free reign with generation nine and they have used this wisely. Overall, there is a more racy silhouette to the sedan, lower bonnet and roofline, with far more personality to the nose. Sleeker grille, larger lower air ducts, LED headlights and daytime running lights and more definition to the bonnet and belt lines. At the rear, chrome exhaust tips, boot lip spoiler and LED taillights.
There are five model variants on offer for the new Camry and three powertrain options. In petrol, you have the 2.5L (producing 133kW, 231Nm, 181g/km with 7.8L/100km combined) or the gruntier 3.5L V6 (224kW, 362Nm, 202g/km and 8.9L/100km combined). Then there’s the petrol/hybrid Ni-MH (160kW, 103g/km and 4.5L/100km combined).
The interior has been given a thorough seeing to as well. With a more involved seating position for the driver, the entire cabin has more shape, style and texture to it. The dashboard consists of two unique directional flows that visually form a ‘Y’ as they converge upon each other at the transmission console, while the (in my case) 8” colour screen takes pride of place in the centre. Trim and furniture are coated with upmarket materials and sprinkled with chrome and a stitch effect accents.
With the new platform comes a whole suite of driver’s aids and added safety (for which the Camry scored 36.16 out of a possible 37 in ANCAP). Every Camry comes equipped with Toyota Safety Sense, featuring Autonomous Emergency Braking, all-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beam, Lane Departure Alert with steering assist and a Vehicle Sway Warning system, with additional fatigue easing aids coming with each model grade.
I managed to secure back to back driver seat time in both the V6 and Hybrid options and aside from the obvious powertrain power, torque and efficiency numbers, there was very little between them in overall drivability – maybe a little more of a lean towards the hybrid thanks to the weight distribution – but on a day to day basis, it just comes down to personal preference, which to me, still fell in favour of the petrol V6.
For both reviews, I spent the majority of my time transporting the family here there and everywhere, which in fairness I didn’t actually mind. The 4 door sedan offers easy access for all involved, the 524L of boot space we found ample enough for the kid’s football gear and an ever increasingly expensive ‘big shop’ of groceries. Untethered from the family and chores there were a few opportunities to enjoy the open road solo and I took them when I could. Although rather unnecessary (as the Camry does it perfectly well by itself) I did focus on the paddle shifts in the V6, it presented direct access to its 8-speed auto box (the hybrid has an E-CVT) and allowed the engine to bark a little, but I think it’s better suited to its more mature, lower rev voice.
With the new platform underpinning this popular sedan, Toyota has produced a confident ride that handles well both around town and on extended drives beyond the city walls. With this latest generation, to me, they have shoo’d away a lot of their (can I say) conservatism, and let their creative juices flow. Needless to say, I’m sure that in the future there will be a lot more where this came from.
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