AT A GLANCE
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. 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 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 the recall work has been carried out. If you can’t find evidence 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.
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.
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.
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.
Our 2014 Altise is a dream to drive and we’ve had no issues with it at all.
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.
Apart from the hard ride and the less than inspiring infotainment, my 2014 Atara S is awesome. It’s not exciting, but it’s a safe and sensible choice for a family. TOYOTA CAMRY 2011-14 PRICE NEW $30,490-$39,990 NOW Atara S $12,500-$19,500, Atara SX $13,500$21,000, Atara SL $15,000$23,000, Atara R $12,500-$17,500, Altise $13,000-$18,000 SAFETY 5 stars ENGINE 2.5-litre 4-cyl, 135kW/235Nm TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto; FWD THIRST 7.8L/100km