Owner Review

2021 Toyota Camry SL Hybrid review

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I purchased my 2021 Camry SL Hybrid following a positive experience in a lower spec rental 2020 Camry Ascent Hybrid. I've never been a huge Camry fan as previous generations never did much for me but this generation surprised me with a super comfortable ride, pretty decent handling and great fuel economy with the hybrid drivetrain.

I had been looking at a replacement for my 2015 Nissan Altima and was a tad undecided, but after the Camry rental car experience I thought it was worth taking a look at the facelifted 2021 Camry. I was super impressed with the SL spec and signed on the bottom line the same day for one in Frosted White (Pearl).

The facelifted model has copped a bit of a price rise and it's certainly lowered the value for money equation, but overall it still represents decent value for money compared to the other options in the same, now somewhat limited, medium to large class.

I love the car. Its extremely comfortable and the ride is impressive but at the same time body roll is minimal and the TNGA platform means it does actually handle pretty decently so long as you aren't expecting a sportscar.

General equipment levels are high, with leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, panoramic sunroof, 9-speaker JBL stereo, 9-inch touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, powered steering column, 8-way power front seats, 18-inch alloys (huge improvement on the pre-facelift model alloys in my eyes), head-up display and the updated Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+.
The Hybrid drivetrain demonstrates Toyota's experience in this arena and it's pretty seamless in the transition between battery and ICE. My daily commute for work is in heavy peak hour traffic (generally 0-40km/h) and I've been averaging 3.7 litres per 100 kilometres, which is hugely impressive for a vehicle of this size. Freeway consumption increases a little to 5.0L/100km as the ICE is more active in this environment, but it's still a great result. The performance is more than respectable and you can definitely feel the the extra oomph from the battery when you give it some stick.

Now to the negatives and there are a few, but not enough to stop me buying it. Firstly the infotainment is a little dated albeit still functional but somewhat circumvented by Apple CarPlay. The car also has 360 degree cameras but the resolution is average. For some reason Toyota removed the wireless charging pad that was in the pre-facelift model although as Toyota don't provide wireless CarPlay in any model it was kind of pointless anyway. Beyond that, the panoramic roof eats into headroom. I am just under 6-foot tall and the headliner is close. The back seat is worse than the front thanks to the sloping roof line, and the middle rear seat is useless for anyone that's 6 feet tall - but the outboard seats are okay.

That's about all I can fault with the car and as mentioned earlier none of these things outweigh the positives. Toyota has a great reputation for reliability but that's always down to one's individual experience. So far it's too early to judge, as I've only done 1200km to date and just had my first inspection service but there have been no problems so far. The build quality is very good and the car feels extremely solid with great attention to detail. Its the small things like the struts that control the boot opening, the internal door frame liners (that so many cars lack now that leave the painted door frame colour exposed), the soft touch plastics on the dash and on the sills of all four doors (so many manufacturers have the front doors with soft touch and then the rear doors are hard cheap plastic).

Servicing costs are also very low at just $220 for the first four 15,000km services, taking you to 60,000km. There are not many vehicles that can claim running costs like that. Warranty is 5 years which extends to 7 years on drivetrain and transmission if you maintain Toyota service history, plus a 10 year warranty on the battery.

The car as a whole is hugely impressive and in my opinion vastly underrated. Its perception as just a Taxi or Uber sells it very short. If you don't buy into the whole SUV craze and want a sedan I would suggest that it's worthy of consideration.

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