Elder Statesman : 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid 2.5 [review]

By jaytee, 31 August 2021

Singapore – “A Camry? Did you borrow your dad's car?” Ahh, that perennial (and rather tiresome) nugget decrying the Toyota Camry as an old person’s, or uncle's (as middle-aged pot-bellied men are referred to in the Singapore vernacular) chariot of choice.

It's not all that different from the plight of the Prius, as detractors use Toyota's best-selling hybrid as a whipping boy to take pot-shots at the brand's street credibility.

However, don't forget it is also because of Toyota and Lexus that the world has seen some of the most illustrious sportscars, with luminaries like the LFA and GR Yaris just two examples of what it means to have a petrolhead like Akio Toyoda at the helm of the company.

It's easy enough to underestimate the venerable Camry's evergreen appeal, that is, until you actually spend meaningful time with one.

The Camry is one of those cars that does everything well: it's a good size, boasts decent specifications and is a stable companion through life's trials and jubilations.

However, in addition to all the good stuff, the latest generation Camry boasts edgy, sporty looks and a daring racy-red cabin, so we're thinking it'll do a better job of appealing to younger buyers than its staid predecessors could ever manage.

As with the recent Toyota offerings, the Camry has gravitated toward a more radical and stylish design language that encompasses far more body contours and chiselled surfaces than before.

The sharp, elegant lines that stem from the front facia run all the way to the hood and side panels.

The bold character lines go over the hood and taper towards the rear before terminating in wide rear fenders. All these elements give the car a more muscular appearance than before.

In this top-shelf Elegance model, the front end receives sportier features such as faux vents and a subtle rear diffuser, along with a dual-tipped exhaust.

All told, this top-spec model is a fairly aggressive looking thing. For those drivers who prefer a more sedate looking vehicle, the ’Standard’ trim may be a better option.

Of course, if you opt for the standard model, you'll lose out on the creature comforts that come with the ‘Elegance’. Electrically-adjustable and ventilated front seats, fantastic-looking 18-inch rims, a steering wheel that is power-adjustable for reach-and-rake, as well as the swathe of leather in the cabin

Toyota has put its best efforts into ditching the Camry's traditionally traditional image... and it works. Even to young'uns like myself, it is an appealing piece of kit. 

Stands to reason then, that this brand new one should be a top seller, right?

Not necessarily. You see, while the Toyota Camry and its segment mates may have had their reign a decade ago, the emergence of the crossover and the recent stream of electrified crossovers entering the fray have inhibited the success of the traditional three-box sedan.

New blood has shifted consumer focus from traditional body styles like sedans and forced the brands to work their best minds to come up with something compelling and competitive.

With its hybrid powertrain, we're wondering if the new Toyota Camry Hybrid can gain any ground in its quest to penetrate a segment that never found its predecessors an attractive enough proposition to live with.

At the heart of the Camry Hybrid is a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-pot from the brand’s Dynamic Force range, bolted to an electric motor.

On its own, the engine produces 175hp, but the inclusion of the electric motor raises the Camry’s total combined output to 207hp.

Plenty of punch for the daily grind and more than enough for a large majority of buyers.

Driven civilly, the occupants enjoy a well-damped ride in its remarkably tranquil cabin that boasts impressive levels of NVH.

The hybrid system in this Camry is a rather substantial one, which comes as no surprise given Toyota’s know-how in developing hybrid powertrains date all the way back to the 1990s.

Even when pushed hard, the car manages to average 7.8l/100km on a short, but enthusiastic jaunt.

More sedate driving netted me a smidge over 5l/100km – a remarkable figure that closely rivals its sister TNGA-K platform car, the Harrier Hybrid.

(Click HERE to read about our First Drive in the Toyota Harrier Hybrid)

The Camry Hybrid isn’t the sort of car made to be pushed to the limit.

It performs best on leisurely highway runs or simply meandering through Singapore’s heartlands and CBD.

The 'Camry' model used to be associated with middle-aged owners who want something safe and sedate, but this latest iteration has sharp edges and even sharper teeth.

In name alone, it might seem to be a typical dad’s car, but your friends are unlikely to have any issue with its looks once it rocks up, because as far as we're concerned, looking the part is already half the battle won!

The other half? Attitude, and this is something the new car has in spades, because it's already been-there-done that.

PHOTOS Jay Tee

TOYOTA CAMRY HYBRID ELEGANCE
Engine 2,487cc, inline 4
Power/rpm 175hp/5700rpm, 207hp (Combined)
Torque/rpm 221Nm/3600-5200rpm
Transmission eCVT
0-100km/h 8.5secs
Top Speed 180km/h
Fuel Consumption 4.4l/100km

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