2020 Toyota Camry review

The new fully-imported Camry takes off where the Aussie-built models left off. You get a lot for the money, with plenty of space and a hybrid option

17 Camry MAIN Jpg
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Space
  •   Handling, value
  •   Hybrid fuel-efficiency
Not so much
  •   Sluggish V6, firm ride on big-wheeled SX and SL

What stands out?

The fully-imported Camry takes off where the Aussie-built models left off as Australia’s best-selling medium car by far. You get a lot for the money, with plenty of space and the option of hybrid power. The Camry is also good to drive, with nice balance and, in hybrid form, a responsive drivetrain. All Camry models feature automatic emergency braking is standard.

What might bug me?

Friends who want you to drive something more exciting, even though the new imported Camry has shed the blandness of previous models.

The sore neck you’ll get if you’re tall and decide to get a Camry with a sunroof, which significantly reduces headroom.

Driving at no more than 80km/h on your space-saver spare tyre, until you can fix your full-sized flat. Only the cheapest Camry, the Ascent petrol. has a full-sized spare wheel.

What body styles are there?

Four-door sedan only.

All Camrys are front-wheel drive. The Camry is classed as a medium-sized car, lower priced.

What features do all Toyota Camrys have?

Bluetooth connectivity for phones and audio streaming, and a 7.0-inch or bigger central touchscreen. An MP3-compatible sound system, with AM/FM radio and a CD player, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone pairing.

Cruise control, a reversing camera, and parking sensors front and rear.

Automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, which helps steer the car within a lane via a sensor that detects the lines.

Headlights, tail-lights and daytime running lamps illuminated by long-lived LEDs. Automatic high beam, which automatically dips when another vehicle is approaching.

Wheels made from an alloy of aluminium (lighter and nicer looking than steel wheels).

Height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, and buttons on the wheel for controlling the sound system. Height adjustment for the driver’s seat. Air-conditioning that maintains a set temperature.

Electronic stability control, which can help the driver recover from slides. All new cars must have this feature.

Seven airbags: two directly in front of the driver and passenger, a side airbag for each front occupant, a curtain airbag on each side to protect the heads of front and rear occupants, and an airbag in front of the driver’s knees.

All Camrys are covered by a five year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. (The batteries in hybrid models are warrantied for eight years and up to 160,000km.)

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

The hybrid powertrain uses the least fuel, consuming just 4.5 litres/100km in the official test (urban and rural combined), which is less than smaller Prius V hybrid.

Apart from the V6, this is the most powerful engine with lively acceleration, so the main reason not to purchase a hybrid Camry is the higher initial price over the standard four-cylinder models.

A second reason might be that you intend to use the car mainly on long journeys. The hybrid drivetrain does its best work around town, where it can harvest energy usually wasted in braking. On the highway, it loses much of its efficiency advantage.

Another reason might be that the hybrid Camrys are rated to tow only a much lighter trailer than the non-hybrid versions: 400kg total, compared with 1200kg for the four-cylinder models and 1600kg for the V6.

Non-hybrid Camrys include a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol version with good mid-speed response, and fuel economy around 8.0 litres/100km.

The hybrids use a retuned version of that petrol engine and add an electric motor to produce more power in different driving conditions.

The most powerful Camry engine is the V6, which produces decent power, especially off the line, but the power soon flattens out. It falls short of having the performance you’d expect from a family tourer, such as the Holden Calais. The V6’s combined fuel economy is around 8.8 litres/100km.

All Camrys are supplied with an automatic transmission: there is no manual transmission option. The four-cylinder Camrys use a conventional six-speed auto while the V6 has an eight-speed unit. Hybrids use a continuously variable transmission or CVT, which adjusts steplessly to the driving conditions.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The least costly Camry, the Ascent, rolls on 17-inch wheels and has cloth trim on the seats.

Spend more for the Accent Hybrid and, apart from the fuel efficient powertrain, you get smart key entry, which means doors can be unlocked without taking the key out of your pocket or handbag.

It also has dual-zone air-conditioning, which lets the driver and front passenger set temperatures independently.

The Ascent Sport has a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen with in-built satellite navigation, and a seven-inch multi-information display showing trip information and vehicle settings. It also features a premium steering wheel and gear shifter, stainless steel scuff plates inside in the door surrounds, and sports body kit with more aggressively styled front and rear bumpers and grille.

The driver’s seat has power adjustments to slide, raise and recline.

The SX, which comes with a choice of the four- or six-cylinder engines adds partial leather sports seats (they’re a mix of real and fake leather), LED headlamps with self-levelling technology, LED rear combination lamps and wireless phone charger (for compatible mobile phones).

Sporty touches include paddle shifters on the steering wheel for hand-on gear shifting, firmer suspension, for more stable cornering, high-gloss sports grille, rear boot-lid spoiler and bigger, 19-inch wheels that are slightly wider and with lower-profile tyres.

The SL shuns the SX’s sporty touches and instead ramps up the luxury features.

The wheels revert to 18-inch alloys, for a slightly softer ride and both part-leather front seats are power-adjustable, with the driver’s seat equipped with memory settings. The steering wheel adjustment is also electric. Each front seat is ventilated to help your back remain cool in summer.

The SL also has a 10-inch head-up display which shows driving information such as speed, adaptive cruise control settings and navigation info. The windscreen wipers operate automatically when it rains and the electro-chromatic rear-view mirror dims automatically to counter any bright lights.

The SL also features ambient cabin lighting and sunroof.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

The lower profile tyres on the bigger wheels may ride more roughly and cost more to replace.

White is the only standard colour, with the other seven hues costing extra.

The cheapest Camry, the Ascent is the only one with a full size spare wheel, the others have space-saving temporary spares.

Hybrid Camrys are rated to tow up to 400KG, compared to the cheaper four-cylinder petrol versions which can pull 1200kg.

How comfortable is the Toyota Camry?

It might officially be a mid-sized car, but the Camry is closer to a large car when it comes to interior space. It seats five adults in comfort, with plenty of legroom. Taller drivers and rear seat passengers, however, can find headroom pretty tight, especially in Camrys fitted with a sunroof.

It’s much more comfortable inside than before, with soft-touch surfaces – either plastic or fake leather – covering almost every area that a hand or elbow falls.

It’s quiet too. The cabin suppresses road noise well, and the Ascent’s 17-inch alloys and higher profile tyres are a relatively quiet combination. The SX gets a slightly firmer suspension setup to go with the sportier sales pitch. Combined with the lower profile tyres it will jiggle over small bumps more noticeably than the other models at lower speeds. The SL’s 18-inch wheels are also a little firm considering its luxury focus.

The six-speaker audio system is good. Sound reproduction is better than you’d expect in such a relatively affordable sedan.

What about safety in a Camry?

This Camry’s big leap from the previous generation Australian-built model is the inclusion of driver aids across the range, including Pre-Collision Safety System, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, which helps steer the car within a lane via a sensor that detects the lines.

The Pre-Collision Safety System offers Automatic emergency braking, which is designed to alert you to obstacles in front of the car – typically another vehicle that has slowed sharply – and apply the brakes if it believes a collision is imminent. The radar-based system works at city and highway speeds.

It also features blind spot warning that alerts you when you indicate to change lanes, while rear cross-traffic alert helps you reverse safely out of driveways and parking spots by warning of vehicles crossing behind you.

Seven airbags, the mandatory stability control, parking sensors and a standard reversing camera make for a good safety package. There are seatbelt reminders for all seats.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rated the Camry’s safety at five stars, its maximum, in November 2017.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

The Camry’s petrol four-cylinder and V6 petrol engines are all about getting the job done rather than doing it in an exciting way. The auto transmission sometimes takes too long to shift into a lower gear.

Battery assistance improves things in a petrol-electric Hybrid Camry. The drivetrain feels sweetly muscular and most people would be surprised by how quickly it can accelerate.

The steering feel is much improved over the previous version. The Australian-built Camry’s overly assisted steering was never a strong point, but in this version you feel more of a connection with the front wheels.

The standard suspension tune works well on Australian roads. It rides and handles very well. The Camry is able to soak up all the imperfections of the road surface, and it’s even a bit of fun to tip into a corner.

The SX model with its firmer suspension takes some of the unwanted leaning out of the equation, and benefits from 19-inch tyres with great grip. The steering is also slightly sharper, combining with the tyres to improve cornering accuracy.

How is life in the rear seats?

There is a refreshing breadth to the Camry cabin that makes getting three adults in the rear an easy task. Rear leg room is very generous, ensuring good comfort for tall people, while rear air-conditioning vents help cool the cabin quickly.

The swept roof makes headroom a little tight back there, especially in Camrys equipped with a sunroof.

The headrests in the rear seats are fixed rather than adjustable. It means they’re less likely offer taller passengers any active whiplash support that can minimise neck injuries in a rear-end collision.

How is it for carrying stuff?

Boot space is a capacious 524 litres in all Camrys except the Ascent petrol, which makes do with 493-litres because of the full-sized spare tyre.

Where does Toyota make the Camry?

All the Camry models featured in this review were made in Japan.

Are there any rivals that I should consider?

While there are no hybrid mid-sized or large sedan competitors, the Camry does have some conventionally-powered opposition including the Ford Mondeo, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6, Peugeot 508, Subaru Liberty, Skoda Octavia and Superb, and Volkswagen Passat.

Are there plans to update the Camry?

The current model Camry arrived in November 2017, and replaced the Australian-built model which had been in production since 2015 - Click here to see a separate review of 2015-2017 Camry.

This is an all-new Camry and is considered two generations ahead of the Aussie model because of its advanced chassis design and active safety across the range.

Toyota extended the warranty period to five years and unlimited kilometres at the start of 2019. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay were added in November 2019. Current model Camry's sold before then can have the system retrofitted for about $200.

Don’t expect any updates until 2020.

I like this car, but I can’t choose which version. Can you help?

We recommend the Ascent Hybrid. For the money, it offers a nice blend of safety, comfort, city savings and open-road usability. Note the low towing limit, however.
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Space
  •   Handling, value
  •   Hybrid fuel-efficiency
Not so much
  •   Sluggish V6, firm ride on big-wheeled SX and SL


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