Have had my Camry Hybrid H since I bought brand new in 2012. 3 years and 50,000km later I’m in a good position to look back at the time and evaluate the car.
It would be interesting to see Toyota’s buyer profile for the car, as I suspect there weren’t many other young men in their late 20s buying brand new Camry Hybrids. The car was a purchase due to the very unexpected impending arrival of a baby. Thought it was a good idea to update the small hatchback into something larger and safer. Since then there has been another baby so the car has taken on the role of a family chariot.
We have been very happy with the economy and performance of the car, it’s life time average being 5.6 litres per 100km. To put that figure into perspective (as everyone’s driving style and situation is different) the little Honda Jazz before it used approximately 50% more at around 8 litres per 100.
The car’s performance is a little addictive as the low end shove from the electric motor’s instant torque is always on tap. We haven’t used the ‘economy’ mode since buying the car as the strong acceleration is fun and it’s still economical anyway.
The car has an interesting ride and handling balance, with a firmer suspension than expected. It can mean that the low speed ride can be a touch busy. Steering can be a bit dull but the trade off is that it’s an easy car to drive and park.
With ‘Hybrid’ badges on the fenders and boot, people assume the car only makes sense in the city, I actually think the car comes into its element on rural roads. On fast sweeping pock-marked roads the Camry hangs in there with more poise and agility than people expect. It becomes a fun car to drive as the speed increases and road conditions deteriorate. The Toyota team in Melbourne that fettles all locally made Toyotas have done a great job in making a car that can travel long distance on poor quality and off-camber roads. What is busy low speed ride transforms into confident road holding as speeds enter three figures. The hybrid batteries in the rear of the car that gives the Camry 50:50 weight distribution also helps.
Still with all the higher speed handling positives, I feel the car could sacrifice some of it for better low speed ride. Other rural road attributes is that the highbeam is excellent and dust proofing very effective on unsealed roads. Radio reception is also good outside of metro areas.
On long distance trips we average high 5s to low 6s litres per 100km. Not quite diesel economy, but getting damn close. The petrol motor runs the Atkinson cycle which means even without electric assistance the car is very economical. Overtaking power is very impressive with both the electric and petrol motors kicking in to slingshot you forward. I put the performance similar to a 3 litre V6, not as much grunt as an Aurion 3.5 but significantly better than the non-hybrid Camry 2.5 litre 4 cylinder. Downside is towing the Hybrid only has a 300kg rating as the car only uses electric power in reverse.
Once you go Hybrid it will be hard to go back to normal petrol. The refinement and instant acceleration are hard to match with other drivetrains. We have found another benefit is that if the kids are asleep in their seats and we want to sit there a while longer at our destination, the air conditioning runs a fair amount of time without having the petrol engine kicking in. Just means we aren’t sitting there in a cloud of exhaust or drawing attention to ourselves all sitting there in an idling car.
The cabin is roomy and well laid out, it has all the features such as reverse camera, push button start and the other usuals. One thing is that the reverse camera is quite high resolution, I drive a lot of other cars and find them quite blurry by comparison. Interior plastics can be a bit cheap looking, not as premium as many Euros but they look durable enough. Boot capacity is reduced due to the rear batteries but the space is practical being wide and high. One thing my partner hates is that that boot doesn’t unlock when the cabin unlocks (the boot needs to be unlocked separately) this is a sedan trait and would be good if there was a setting to change it.
Overall it’s a good car. With Toyota building these locally they are priced really well as Toyota needs to move metal to keep the factory pumping out minimum numbers. Once local production stops Toyota will have the luxury of simply importing the numbers it needs. In the meantime it’s possible to get these close to 32 grand which is remarkable for a car with such a stellar drivetrain, big roomy cabin, great performance and loads of features.