Chances are, even if you are the most uninterested person when it comes to cars or that you have spent our entire life under a rock, you would still have heard about the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, and the Toyota Hilux. These three iconic nameplates have a history of attaching themselves to products that are seemingly indestructible and would last an eternity. These are also the products that have given Toyota the unmatched reliability king tag that it enjoys across the globe. Though the Indian market does not get the Hilux, the Corolla and the Camry have been on sale here since long. Of these two, the Toyota Camry is the bigger more luxurious offering by the Japanese giant and is a car that has kept on being among the highest selling cars across the globe. The Toyota Camry, especially in its last two generations have been able to make it a double of enticing private owners and captivating fleet market alike. Most Arabic countries, the whole of the US and the majority of the Chinese market has kept on showering immense love to the Camry and things closer home aren’t too different. Though the volumes of this segment have not been comparable to the rest of the world, the Camry still enjoys an unmatched appeal among smart executive for private ownership and fleet market that caters to premium clientele. Chance are, if you are in the market for a premium well packaged reliable chauffeur driven vehicle you will end up choosing the Toyota Camry among its rivals. Adding to the immense reliability, ease of ownership and bulletproof reliability is the Hybrid powertrain that is also offered with the Camry globally as well as in India. The first Camry Hybrid to arrive officially in India was in 2013 and instantly it became the variant of choice for the customers. Only recently Toyota went on to refresh the Camry with a plethora of new updates keeping it not just relevant but still ahead of its peers.
Bringing a lot of chrome to the mix, Toyota had given the Camry a mid-life facelift. Majority of the reworking has been carried out on the car’s front. The entire fog lamp cluster and the chrome that surrounded it in the older car has shifted in between the newly redesigned bumper and the honeycomb grille. The front fender itself gets a nice bottom lip made of chrome while the turn indicators are mounted vertically this time around. These new indicators sit just below the headlight cluster that also incorporates LED DRL’s. The Camry Hybrid gets the usual blue shade to the Toyota Logo as is now common with all Hybrid/ alternate technologies in the industry. Towards the side, the well-known and still impressive side profile hasn’t gone through many changes. It is still long, mostly plain and low to look at. Though there is a new better-designed alloy wheel that brings sportier and arrow like design instead of old cars multi-spoke design, on offer that lend to the car’s premium quotient. At the rear, however, Toyota’s designers seem to have spent the most time as the tail end on the present car look much different and premium. The thick chrome strip now runs across the entire length of the boot and joins the redesigned tail lamps that have been reorganised. The reflectors placed on the largely unchanged bumper are now bigger that also gets a lower bottom placed chrome strip to add premium symmetry to the car’s rear. The result is an impressive looking tail end.
We can safely assume that the Camry for most markets has been designed for the chauffeur driven segment and thus it arrives with comfort and luxury as the priority. This means there is a long long list of creature comfort features being offered especially for rear seat passengers. The old layout of the cabin has not undergone any major changes and quite frankly, customers have liked how the layout looked and felt thus negating any effort required by Toyota on this front. That said, Toyota has made a few additions to the layout for the facelift though. Minor changes like the design of the instrument cluster have been revised. Toyota has added a sporty flair with a new twin pod like the layout as against the old cars standard three pod design. This means that the digital screen in the middle is now larger and offers more information for the driver to consume. In the standard model, this screen displays the rpm numbers while the same space in the hybrid variant gets the power meter. To add to the present trend of minimalism, the climate control now has switches instead of larger dials. This lends lean look to the instrument cluster. Other minor changes include a color display for the climate control system while the faux wood and the lighter beige shade continues to add to the cabin’s roominess and airy feeling. An exhaustive feature list is present on the cars infotainment system justifying itself with the cars premium pricing. In case you are reversing the car, this same screen doubles up as the display for the rear camera. At the same time, the screen also displays quite a few vehicles relate data as well. The most luxury is as expected has been kept aside for the rear passengers on the Camry. The first thing you notice is a great looking faux wood and chrome lined door handles. The rear of the car gets its own climate control zone and also gets cool audio and temperature control elements in the central armrest. If you sit on the rear left side, more luxury awaits you since you can push the front passenger seat forward. You can also reline your left rear seat further to create a lounge experience for yourself. Neat. There is also a foldable headrest being offered as an option that can be had in case you feel like wanting to have a clearer view out at the front. Where the Camry has always excelled is in the way it controlled its NVH levels. The insides of the cabin remain brilliantly silent at almost all speeds. And when you are running on the electric mode in the hybrid variant, the experience is outstanding. Even the petrol engine when in use makes muffled sounds as if they are coming from a distance. On the storage front, the cabin offers ample place. Every door has a pocket to place a full-size 1-liter bottle in dedicated pockets. Cup holders are present for front and rear passengers, however the rather small 350-liter boot on the hybrid variant is just about adequate enough should you choose to carry a lot of luggage with you.
As already discussed, it the Camry Hybrid that easily outsells the standard petrol powered version. It comes with the same engines that arrived with this new generation earlier. It is powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit that makes a comparatively paltry 160bhp and 213Nm of peak torque. However, in the Hybrid Synergy System, that’s the name of Toyota’s Hybrid system, the Camry Hybrid makes a decent 205bhp and 270Nm of torque. The car offers three modes while driving and they are the ECO, EV and Standard modes. Just like other Toyota hybrid cars, the car always starts in the electric mode and you need to get used to the feeling of pushing the thumb starter and not realizing the car has started.
The ECO mode evidently offers an incentive to the saner driving effort. The way the power is delivered in calm and up to 55kmph if you keep your foot light the car will mostly run on electric power only. Above the 55kmph barrier, the car will always run on petrol power. The standalone EV mode offers complete electric drive but the top speed is limited to 45kmph only. However, most fun to drive is the standard mode that delivers a linear powerful torque waveform the word go. You also get regenerative braking on the car to charge batteries while on the move as well. To negate the loss in engine braking due to the presence of regenerative braking, there is a B mode designed to help with engine braking hen additional stopping power is needed. On the suspension front, the Toyota Camry wins the comfort game hands down. The car simply absorbs every bump our usual roads throw at it. Almost none of the undulations or bumps deter the Camry’s zeal to provide comfort to its occupants. The low, wide stance of the car proves extremely stable even at speeds upward of 150kmph. However, cornering is something that is not the Camry’s forte and understandably so due to the suspension set for comfort. The steering wheel too doesn’t offer any relevant feedback for enthusiastic corner carving. It is simply too over-assisted. This, on one hand, could be a bit unnerving at high highway speeds but is a boon slow city traffic snarls, especially when you consider that this is a massive 4.85meter long car that weighs a much as 2.1 tons.
The ultimate entry to chauffeur driven luxury. Brilliant Hybrid System Impeccable reliability Unmatched brand recall. Super comfortable ride quality and creature comfort list. Rock Solid Build quality. CKD assembly means aggressive pricing.
Lacks appeal of German saloons. The badge isn’t opulent enough. Strictly for Chauffer driven comfort with no driving fun attached.