TOYOTA CAMRY SL HYBRID
If you are prepared to forgo the heated leather seats and more upmarket plastics, there’s almost $20K to be saved buying the Toyota. It may not be as premium but the price is far more practical. Standard kit runs from satnav and a reversing camera to autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control and blindspot and lane-departure alerts. It will cost $140 to service every nine months/15,000km for the first five visits to the dealer.
A 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine is paired with an electric motor and 1.6kWh nickel-hydride battery pack. Drive is via a regular CVT to the front wheels and there’s a combined 151kW (Toyota doesn’t disclose torque) and the 0-100km/h sprint takes 7.2 seconds. Claimed fuel use is 5.2L/100km.
The exterior look has leapt from banal to stylish. It still won’t challenge a Mazda6 for cutting-edge contours but the overhaul works well from every angle. The inside didn’t earn an update so doesn’t look as modern as its competition but it is roomy, well-assembled and functional.
All Camrys have a five-star ANCAP rating and a score of 36.27/37. Seven airbags are standard fare, as is a reversing camera. As the top model, the SL adopts the radar/camera-based driver aids that are commonplace on luxury cars but increasingly finding their way into mainstream models.
Don’t expect dynamic excellence and the Camry hybrid won’t disappoint. It does everything reasonably well without excelling in any one area. It absorbs bumps with aplomb, the steering is never going to lead you astray and the CVT drone isn’t overly intrusive. It is a commuters’ city car where ease of driving and fuel use are the priorities and it achieves both aims.