No frills, no fuss

It was never lauded for its looks but the ever-de­pend­able Camry won plenty of ad­mir­ers

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - USED CAR -

NEW

The Camry has copped plenty of flak over the years for be­ing bland and bor­ing — but to dis­miss it for those rea­sons would be to ig­nore what is a safe, sen­si­ble and al­to­gether sat­is­fac­tory car.

In 2011 Toy­ota re­leased a com­pletely new model, built in Aus­tralia. In the process it re­vised its model line-up to bet­ter dif­fer­en­ti­ate fleet mod­els from the more sporty ver­sions aimed at pri­vate buy­ers.

For fleet buy­ers, there was the Al­tise. The newly named Atara was aimed at pri­vate own­ers who could choose be­tween the R, S, SX and SL spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

The Camry was never lauded for its looks but the new model was nev­er­the­less pleas­antly styled with clean lines and a hand­some pro­file. The cabin was also roomy and com­fort­able and there was a more ap­peal­ing dash. The am­ple boot was per­fect for ac­tive fam­i­lies.

Power came from a 2.5-litre four-cylin­der en­gine (131kW/231Nm), which com­fort­ably got the job done.

The good news in this age of econ­omy was that the new model con­sumed less fuel than its pre­de­ces­sor, down by 1.0L/100km to 7.8L.

There was only one trans­mis­sion choice for the front-wheel drive sedan, a pad­dle-shifted six-speed “sports” au­to­matic.

On the road the new Camry was quiet, it han­dled well and the ride was com­fort­able.

It also scored five stars in crash tests thanks to an im­pres­sive ar­ray of safety equip­ment in­clud­ing seven airbags, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, a rear cam­era and blind spot alerts.

NOW

Most Camry own­ers love their cars. They par­tic­u­larly love its roomy cabin, big boot, fuel econ­omy and above all its re­li­a­bil­ity, re­flect­ing the high stan­dards of en­gi­neer­ing in­tegrity and build qual­ity.

The ex­tent of crit­i­cism usu­ally stops at the per­for­mance of the en­gine, which is more se­date than sparkling.

There has been one re­call of the Camry, in 2012 shortly after the re­lease of the new model. Af­fect­ing cars built be­tween Oc­to­ber 2011 and July 2012, it re­lated to the fuel hose con­nect­ing the main fuel sup­ply line to the en­gine, which could have be­come wrin­kled dur­ing assem­bly.

Check the car’s ser­vice book to con­firm that the re­call work has been car­ried out. If you can’t find ev­i­dence that it has been checked and rec­ti­fied as re­quired con­tact a Toy­ota dealer for fur­ther advice.

One thing you don’t have to con­cern your­self with is a costly tim­ing belt change. The Camry has a chain that doesn’t re­quire re­plac­ing.

OWN­ERS SAY

John Pien­ing We’re on our third Camry. Apart from nor­mal ser­vic­ing, the only cost we’ve had is that the fuel gauge keeps go­ing down when driv­ing any­where.

Ray Beebe I bought a demo Atara SL in 2012. I wanted a car that had fold-down back seats, was Aussie-made and more eco­nom­i­cal than the Fal­cons I have had. It is a plea­sure to own and drive. The only prob­lem is the very low front skirt that has scraped and bro­ken on high kerbs at some car parks. The only thing I have had to re­place is the bat­tery.

Edward I owned an Al­tise from 2014. The word “bul­let­proof ” sums it up. It was used for lo­cal trans­port on city roads but did a lot of tow­ing of fully laden trail­ers, all to per­fec­tion, and I only sold the car as I needed an SUV that could tow more.

Tom Abra­hams Our 2014 Al­tise is a dream to drive and we’ve had no is­sues with it at all.

Sally Simp­son We bought an Atara S be­cause of Toy­ota’s rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity and we’ve been more than happy with it. The en­gine and trans­mis­sion are smooth, the brakes are ex­cel­lent, the in­te­rior is roomy and the boot is big.

Don Gibson Apart from the hard ride and the less than in­spir­ing in­fo­tain­ment, my 2014 Atara S is awe­some.

SMITHY SAYS

It’s not ex­cit­ing, but it’s a safe and sen­si­ble choice for a fam­ily.

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