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Toyota Camry review - Engines, performance and drive

Driving fun is pretty much absent, but the Camry is comfortable and refined

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

3.6 out of 5

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The Toyota Camry uses the Japanese manufacturer’s TNGA mechanical underpinnings – the same basic architecture used in the Prius, RAV4 and Corolla, as well as the Lexus ES. The result is a car that handles well but falls short of offering anything in the way of thrills.

That’s not so say the Camry is bad to drive – its chassis, engine and electric motor work very well together and make relaxing progress easy. The electric motor’s torque-filling abilities mean you don’t have to rev the engine too hard – but if you need to go anywhere in a hurry, refinement dips as the revs rise. It’s a punchy unit for everyday driving.

Elsewhere, the car’s steering is accurate if not particularly engaging or communicative, while relatively sophisticated suspension (MacPherson-strut at the front and double-wishbone at the rear) makes for predictable handling. The suspension has been tuned to be very pliant, dealing with the worst that British roads can dish out. Body control has a softer edge to it, but the Camry only starts to feel wallowy if pushed towards its limits – not exactly the way it’s designed to be driven.

Generally, performance is on par with similarly priced mid-range, non-hybrid, petrol-powered rivals like the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 1.6 Turbo 200, but considerably better than the Skoda Superb 1.5 TSI 150.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

There’s just one engine and gearbox combination in the Camry: a 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The engine produces 215bhp at 5,700rpm, along with 221Nm of torque. It remains quiet and well-isolated at normal speeds but can intrude under hard acceleration; performance is decent, but you might need a little time to get used to the unique feel of a CVT gearbox doing it’s thing.

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Toyota’s is the best gearbox of this sort on sale; there’s still that familiar ‘surging’ sensation, but the driver feels more connected to the powertrain than in previous hybrid offerings from the Japanese manufacturer. 

Officially 0-62mph takes 8.3 seconds, but we clocked the Camry at 7.7 seconds. Acceleration elsewhere is adequate, facilitating safe overtaking – we clocked 30-50mph at 2.7 seconds and 50-70mph in 4 seconds. Top speed is 112mph.

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