Famous final scene
In the ultimate facelift for the locally built Camry, the SX brings sportier styling and suspension
business buyers alike. Take the final facelift of the locally built Camry. Of the 20,000 annual Australian sales Toyota is predicting between now and the closure of the Melbourne plant in 2017, about 65 per cent will go to rental and corporate fleets.
The remaining 35 per cent still ranks the Camry above the benchmark car in the class, the Mazda6, in terms of mum-anddad sales.
Toyota is chasing a greater mix of private sales with the Camry SX, with sportier styling and firmer suspension.
Think of it like putting honey on your cereal: the basic fare’s bland but good and there’s now a touch of extra flavour to sweeten the deal.
Americans didn’t like the look of the outgoing model, so every panel except the roof has been updated this time around.
The most obvious change is the more aggressive grille with a honeycomb finish and the fact the SX rides on 18-inch wheels for the first time in Camry’s history.
The upgraded rims are part of an Australian-specific suspension tune to help pitch the SX at a younger audience, those who appreciate vehicles that are as much about responsiveness as reliability.
The interior upgrades are more subtle and are based on improved infotainment, though there is a new three-spoke steering wheel if that’s what gets you sweaty-palmed. One of the few areas where the Camry still feels off the pace is the touchscreen — all models except the top-spec SL rely on a 6.1-inch touchscreen at a time when seven and eight inches are becoming standard. Then again, most of the competition is significantly dearer than the SX’s $31,990 price.
The seats are comfortable in general use but lack the lateral support needed to keep up with the SX’s new-found cornering prowess.
A Camry that turns heads isn’t part of the normal sales spiel. Get used to it in the SX, at least for those who get in quick while the new look is still a novelty.
The black wheels fill the arches and are mounted with decent 45-profile rubber to give more grip than a regular model.
The sharpened steering rack makes it that little bit easier to turn tight corners without taking hands from the wheel and the ride feels slightly more composed with less body roll and pitching under brakes.
The brakes are good, except for the retention of a footoperated parking brake. If I can’t have an old-fashioned lever, then give me an e-brake switch. While I’m complaining, satnav isn’t an option — and it should be.
Boot space is more than passable at 515L and vision is good everywhere, except for the roof pillars intruding on rear three-quarter views. Toyota has made the chunky panel look a little thinner by adding a blacked-out “window” strip but that doesn’t help drivers see through it when changing lanes.
A pair of sensors and a camera take the stress out of reversing. Towing capacity is 1200kg braked.
ON THE ROAD
The good news is the SX rides better than any Camry before it. The bad news is it doesn’t go any faster to take advantage of that.
The SX has to make do with the existing six-speed automatic gearbox and the 2.5litre four-cylinder that, lacking any form of forced induction — or the battery pack found in its hybrid Camry stablemates — is handicapped against the opposition.
The Toyota engine likes to rev. Its peak outputs of 135kW and 235Nm chime in at 6000rpm and 4100rpm respectively, so launch progress isn’t electric or even hybrid for that matter.
Acceleration may not be any quicker but the SX can hold corner momentum better than a standard Camry.
Put that down to a more assured ride and better steering weight and feedback than regular Camrys.
Toyota technical centre boss Max Gillard says there are now effectively two Camry flavours.
“The core Camry is as comfortable and as capable as ever while the new sports package has been developed for people who enjoy the fundamental excitement of driving a car,” he says.
I don’t know that the Camry SX is that exciting … but it would be the “go-to” car if I was visiting a Toyota dealership (and Mrs Duff wouldn’t let me buy an 86)
The Camry SX moves the game from practical to purposeful. It’s a fitting tribute to the local engineers but it would nice to see the suspension smarts applied to the quicker hybrid variant.