PRIDE OF THE FLEET
THE Camry's reliability made it our best-selling mid-sizer for more than two decades
Call it boring, call it predictable or call it a fleet favourite, Toyota’s Camry has been Australia’s best-selling mid-sized sedan for more than 20 years for good reason.
Camrys have proved reliable, good value, suited to family use and, in hybrid form, truly advanced and frugal. Until weeks ago, they were Australian-made.
The eighth-generation Camry hits Toyota showrooms in the next few weeks, meaning there should be a glut of good value seventh-gen Camrys hitting the used market.
We’ll look at the current generation from December 2011 to the mid-2015 makeover.
Four grades – Altise, Atara S, Atara SX and Atara SL – shared the 2.5-litre and sixspeed auto gearbox, with the Ataras tuned for slightly higher outputs.
Soon after came the Hybrid in entry-level H and highly specified HL grades. Prices started at $30,490 for the fleet special Altise. Hybrids started from $34,990 – $2000 cheaper than the predecessor.
The Altise was light-on for standard equipment. Positives were seven airbags, Bluetooth, USB for iPod connectivity, audio controls on the steering wheel wheels.
Far better equipped, the Atara S was aimed specifically at private buyers and gained a sports front bumper, fog lights, side skirts, twin exhausts, 17-inch wheels and chrome door handles.
The Atara SX, the sporty number, had leather-accented interior, rear lip spoiler and sports suspension.
The Atara SL, meanwhile, was the luxe version with leather trim, woodgrain inserts, JBL audio, seven-inch touchscreen, satnav, digital radio, live traffic updates, blind spot monitor, rear parking sonar, power front seats and more.
Hybrids are identified by the blue Toyota badge.
The H models had a similar specification to the Atara S, while the flagship HL and 16-inch alloy mainly mirrored the Atara SL.
In late 2012 a special edition Atara R gave the Altise sportier body kit and wheels, while undercutting the Atara S on price.
In mid-2014 the Camry RZ landed, again cheaper than an Atara S, but featuring moody black body parts and wheels, sport suspension, sports body kit and twin exhausts.
Extrovert Camry buyers could have their RZs in Inferno Orange paint.
It wasn’t until November 2014 that all Camrys gained a rear camera as standard with an upgrade to the audio and touchscreen.
The Camry is certainly a conservative choice, but for those seeking a car that cruises in comfort, is fuss-free, spacious and well screwed together, it’s hard to fault. Iain Curry
The 2012 Toyota Camry Atara SX sedan.