The current Camry is a great (or tragic, depending on your point of view) example of the right car arriving at the wrong time. Launched in 2018, the current model replaces the Australian-made Camry, and brings with it more exciting looks and a more dynamic driving experience.
In other words, this is the best Toyota Camry ever made.
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The problem is that it arrived when people abandoned the once-powerful “middle” sedan market in droves. In 2016, the previous-generation Camry, which was a cool but no-brainer car, sold 26,488 cars (plus 3,833 Orion, which was effectively just a V6-powered Camry) in a mid-size market that sold 51,151 cars. .
In 2018, the first year that the latest Camry was sold, it found just 15,269 buyers after the market fell to 28,749 sales — a 43.7 percent drop in the market in just two years.
Which is unfortunate because Toyota took the criticism of the Camry on board and produced a much better car. The so-called “Toyota New Global Architecture” (TNGA) was introduced to try to inject more excitement into all of its models. Unlike Volkswagen’s “MQB”, which is a modular platform that is shared across a variety of models, the TNGA is a common foundation but also a design philosophy.
Building the Camry on the new TNGA means it’s stiffer, has a lower center of gravity and is tuned for a more dynamic and engaging driving experience. Basically, the opposite of “white goods on wheels”.
It may not be a clearly class-leading car in terms of ride and handling, but it’s not far off and it’s a really nice car to drive for anyone who enjoys it.
Another feature is the options under the hood, or at least when they arrive, when they come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder petrol option, a 2.5-liter hybrid petrol-electric and 3.5-liter V6. The V6 was dropped at the start of 2021, which is unfortunate because it was a great engine that gave the Camry plenty of punch and made it feel like a sporty drive.
However, the hybrid’s success is the true mark of Camry’s success, offering a spacious five-seater family sedan with excellent fuel economy, just 4.5 liters per 100 kilometers.
And it all came wrapped up in a much more interesting body. The looks are subjective, but love it or hate it, no one can accuse the latest Camry of being boring or conservative. It’s a bold look, with a sleeker roofline that relaxes any white comments.
Of course, the Camry is still by far the best-selling mid-range sedan in the country, already making more than 3,300 sales in the first three months of this year, with its closest competitor running just 374.
But it’s a far cry from the Camry’s glory days, which is ironic because it’s now a much better car than it was when it was more famous.