The year 2011. I was looking for a very fuel efficient, reliable and cheap to maintain family car to replace my humble Hyundai Excel that had serviced our family needs for sometime.
There were two options on my shortlist – the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Honda Civic Hybrid. I discarded all of the other options (including my then, and still favourite, Holden Commodore).
I got a great deal on the Toyota ($33k drive-away) at that point since the MY10 model was in runout.
I have on numerous occasions found reviewers criticising people buying Toyotas for their reputation alone. Let me be the one voice to share my experience of why they are wrong.
- In the last six years, never once has my car broken down mechanically or failed me on any of my daily and long interstate trips
- The Bluetooth is very simple to configure and connect and works every single time without fail. To put it into context, it is broken on my new BMW X3 since 2016 and yet not been fixed (I get a run around by the dealership every time)
- It has a full size spare alloy in the boot which I have had to use just once where most other new cars have space savers
- My primary requirement before buying the car was excellent fuel economy as I travel about 100km a day and it has done that every single day, year on year. I average 800km per tank (60L, uses 95RON) in the city and 950km on the highway, even after six years. Even the most modern cars with a similar tank capacity struggle to achieve that.
Ride Comfort and Cabin Ergonomics:
- I am not a very tall guy (5'8") but I have found the ergonomics to be perfect. All switch gear placement is where you would expect it and the seat adjustment levels are perfect including lumbar support! (my BMW X3 does not have that)
- My everyday city run to the office and back is most pleasurable as the car is whisper quiet at speeds up to 80km/h.
- The all-round visibility is excellent with no major blind spots.
The Camry has a few niggles, too. The cruise control is poorly implemented as it does not brake on descents and has a tendency to overspeed. The boot space for this hybrid model year specifically, is small and can fall short on family needs as I cannot fit all my gear. I have to use part of the rear seat (thankfully it's just the three of us).
Another thing is Toyota does not offer a longer capped-price servicing option (service intervals are nine months or 15,000km). After the first three years, it averages about $350 per service which is still reasonable, but pinches when I compare it to $130 of the capped price.
The other things that are minor (and I must admit I realised it only once we purchased our X3) is the numb steering feel and wooden brakes.
It's now at 72,000km and we couldn't be happier with our purchase as it has serviced our key requirements very very well over the years.
I believe most people who buy Toyotas do so for very simple needs such as ours – trouble free, efficient, reliable motoring for the long-term.