I never believed that I’d be a Camry man, but I needed to look at a 4-cylinder family car to replace my work-supplied Sonata after I was made redundant and I had secured a new job that didn’t have a car as part of the pay package.
We have a Mazda 3 hatchback already in our garage and I didn’t want a Mazda 6, as I am not a fan of Mazda’s tablet-style infotainment screen or central control wheel.
The Camry infotainment set up is easy to use and linked with my iPhone first go. It’s great to be able to set up your own home screen preferences, and the info mirroring in the instrument panel works well.
The navigation system is a bit less user-friendly and relies on what I’ve found to be outdated info in regard to some local speed zones.
The sound system is pretty good (it still has CD capability) and the cabin is much quieter than the Mazda 6 that I had taken on a test drive. The overall fit and finish of the cabin has a quality feel with some nice soft plastics and tasteful use of metal highlights. The steering wheel controls are also easy to use.
Radar cruise control, lane keep assist and auto high/low beam are great features, as is the rear camera moving guide lines. It’s a shame that the SX doesn’t have auto-fold on the side mirrors.
One thing I have found is that the cruise control can become jerky when maintaining set speed up hills. I also feel that it can drop down a cog and rev the engine a bit harder than what is needed when applying engine braking on downhills.
I’ve had two Camry’s in the last 8 years as work vehicles and I’m pleased to report overall performance and handling has moved from competent to almost engaging. I do actually enjoy getting in and driving the Japanese-made Camry.
Performance from the 4-cylinder is also above adequate. It can get up and go when required and is more than competent as a freeway cruiser. Unless you’re purposefully planning for a high-speed pursuit, then the Camry should have more than enough poke to meet your everyday needs.
Fuel use, whilst not drop-of-an-oily-rag frugal is pretty good for a full sized fully-equipped family sedan. A full tank of E10 will consistently give me 550km around town.
Two complaints - or perhaps I should say items that cause some minor irritation - relate to the wheels and tyre combination on the SX. The big wheels and tyres mean you can’t have a full-sized spare and the Dunlop Sport tyres fitted standard have a tendency to spin on even moderate throttle application if the car is on an incline.
Prior to purchase I had read some reviews where there were comments regarding the SX’s harder than needed suspension settings, apparently causing the car to thump and bump over local roads that more resemble Apollo mission photos.
In response to those assessments I had initially clenched my butt roaming over my local roads but I can now report clench-free driving. The overall feel, whilst firm, is not likely to loosen your dentures.
When choosing the car to replace my work-supplied vehicle I was wanting something that at least pretended to be interested in being driven and didn’t look like it was a pool car. I was also looking for the full package of active and passive safety features.
I settled on the Camry SX, and for $35K on-road, I believed it to be the best value for my hard-earned and it was the only one of the main players offering leather in a sedan at this price point.
I’ve been driving it now for 6 months and I’ve covered 10,000km on a mix of town, motorway and country travel. It’s been great. Even my two teenage boys have made friends with it, thanks to its abundance of plug-in charge points, ample rear legroom and rear a/c vents.
My only regret is not opting for the up-spec hybrid. I’m looking forward to the next facelift which may hopefully include Apple CarPlay and give me an excuse to swap over to the hybrid and allow me to do my bit for the polar bears.
NOTE: With no image supplied, we have used a CarAdvice photo for this story.