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By David Zalstein
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By David Zalstein

So, where did you go on your date?

Being the flagship model in the Toyota Camry range, I figured the Magnetic Bronze Hybrid HL lady would enjoy a gentle stroll down Brighton way.

Ideal first date?

Perhaps an early dinner at around say 6:00pm, followed by a quiet evening at Cinema Europa then a cup of tea before bed.

Hot or not?

I’m not entirely adverse to older women but in this case, I’m going to have to lean towards not.

It's what's inside that counts, what do you think of the interior?

Practicality is most definitely a virtue and the Camry Hybrid has that covered. Up front there are cup holders and cubby holes, a felt-bottomed centre console bin and a massive glove box. In the back, legroom and headroom is vast, with rear air vents, a fold-down armrest and more cup holders all accounted for.

Standout features?

I guess this particular Camry’s highlight is its 151kW hybrid powertrain that teams a 118kW/213Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 105kW/270Nm electric motor.

Also incorporating a nickel-metal-hydride battery, the combination claims 5.2 litres per 100km – though over our Speed Date, the Camry returned an average of 7.2L/100km and a recorded best of 6.5L/100km.

Annoying habits?

At 4.8m long, the Camry Hybrid HL isn’t small and it feels it. This makes its 421-litre boot – down 94L from the regular non-hybrid Camry – all the more of a let down. A result of having its battery pack tucked up behind the rear seats, the small-ish boot is also, annoyingly, joined by gooseneck boot hinges and is only expandable on one side (the driver’s side rear seat the only one able to be folded down).

Ready for a family?

Provided you don’t need a huge boot, the Camry isn’t a bad choice for those with kids. But I suspect this thing is more likely to be tasked with occasionally taking the grand kids…

High maintenance?

Far from. Despite its hybrid unit making some people feel a bit apprehensive, the Camry Hybrid is covered under Toyota’s Service Advantage capped-price servicing program. That means the first five scheduled services – completed at nine-month/15,000km intervals – are capped at $140 each, equating to $700 for the first four years or 75,000km.

Any deal-breakers?

There’s no getting around it, at $41,490 the Hybrid HL is an expensive Camry. It also doesn’t come with heated seats, which is even more disappointing for the price.

So, is it serious or just a one night stand?

Feeling more Gold 104 than Triple J, this is most definitely a once-off but I did enjoy the movie and the cup of tea.

Keeping your options open?

If you’re after the same powertrain with just as much beige to it, you’d be better suited to go with the $35,490 Camry Hybrid H and live without the HL’s leather accented electric seats, sat-nav, higher speaker count, fog lights and larger 17-inch alloy wheels.

If it's not for you, who would you recommend it to?

A pass from me personally, the Camry Hybrid is still an easy, comfortable mid-sizer with plenty of equipment and highly competitive servicing costs. There’s a reason the older folk still like these…