The new, imported-from-Japan Toyota Camry range has arrived in Australia, a month after the company closed the Melbourne factory that produced its predecessor for 30 years.
And while Toyota no longer has the same incentive to retain those super-sharp real-world deals it offered on the old car – designed to drive demand, and thereby retain production at the required level to keep the Altona factory open until its scheduled close – the new Camry is extremely affordable nevertheless.
Pictured: Camry SL
This is interesting considering the company has previously said it would move this new Camry upmarket, and expected a sales reduction. That said, it also expects to remain the market leader and continue its current 23-year streak.
In fact, prices (RRP to RRP) have been reduced for six of the nine new Camry variants, though the discounts on the old car must be kept in mind.
Pictured: Camry Ascent
The hybrid model slips in below $30,000, to retain taxi and Uber operators, and fleet buyers – including those that once had Buy Australia policies, and now have nothing to choose from. The Camry Hybrid made up 20 per cent of sales on the old car, but the company believes it could actually become the top-seller soon.
“We expect good demand from the private market but we will still cater to the fleets,” Toyota added.
Pictured: Camry SX
The car you see here is billed as a complete redesign, bumper-to-bumper. The tagline being used is “unprecedented change” – a bold strategy on a vehicle that’s racked up 19 million sales around the globe over decades based on its positioning as the sensible choice.
Top billing goes to the more aggressive design, lower and better proportioned, with a more confrontational frontal design and a distinctly more athletic side profile. The cabin features a greater array of tech and higher-grade materials.
Pictured: Camry Ascent Sport
This new version of what has for decades been Australia’s top-selling mid-sized car (with well over 50 per cent market share) also features a new platform, a new V6 engine option to replace to Aurion, and substantially more equipment.
The eighth-generation Camry sits on the flexible TNGA architecture that is shared in large part with the smaller C-HR and Prius, but stretched to suit. Sharing as many parts as possible is the vogue way for car-makers to drive costs down through scale.
Pictured: Camry SX
Toyota calls the TNGA “a structural reform for the whole company”. It’s a big deal.
It also claims this TNGA “enables greater freedom in design… a better driving position and improved dynamics due to its lower centre of gravity and greater torsional rigidity”. In other words, it’s supposed to feel sporty and add some dynamic zest to the mix.
Pictured: Camry Ascent
The platform has redesigned front MacPherson strut suspension, plus a brand new double-wishbone rear suspension (more complex and dynamically able than the old struts). There’s also a new electric power steering setup.
The new model’s wheelbase is 50mm longer, though the vehicle is only 25mm lower overall, and the bonnet trailing-edge 40mm lower. The front and rear-seat hip points have also been lowered and moved aft. Torsional rigidity is said to be increased by 30 per cent.
Two new powertrains are offered: a redesigned hybrid system with a new direct-injection four-cylinder engine with more power, and a new V6 engine with direct-injection and an eight-speed transmission, replacing the Aurion. The base 2.5 petrol remains unchanged, though it’s not a particularly old engine.
Camry-firsts include drive mode select, LED lights, an electric parking brake, a 10-inch head-up display, an opening panoramic roof, plus across-the-board adoption of active cruise control and autonomous emergency braking.
A five-star ANCAP crash rating has been announced.
Background: The Camry has been available in Australia since 1983 with sales topping 930,000 cars – 705,000 four-cylinders, 46,000 hybrids and almost 180,000 V6s. Additionally the V6 Aurion contributed a further 111,000 sales.
The car comes with Toyota Service Advantage capped at $195 for the first five services – now with 12-month intervals.
*Pricing excludes on-road costs
Ascent (2.5 petrol):
Ascent (hybrid) extras:
Ascent Sport (2.5 petrol and hybrid) extras:
$29,990 and $31,990
SX (2.5 petrol and 3.5 V6) extras:
$33,290 and $37,290
SL (four-cylinder petrol, hybrid and V6) extras:
$39,990, $40,990 and $43,990
Listen to the CarAdvice team discuss the 2018 Toyota Camry below, and catch more like this at caradvice.com/podcast.