2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid Test Drive Review
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Toyota Camry Hybrid Review

Car Tested: 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 38.7 lakhs

The Toyota Camry is an under-rated offering, it provides ample amount of space & comfort

The Toyota Camry is a very popular sedan in a lot of global markets. The vehicle is known for its bullet-proof reliability, space and comfort. In a lot of countries, the car is used as a taxi and cabbies swear by the vehicle. However, Toyota just couldn’t hit the right chord with buyers in this segment in India. The previous generation Camry sold in few numbers to private customers compared to the Skoda Superb while largely hotels bought the car. The seventh generation Camry came to our country in 2012 and it didn’t sell in big numbers in India thanks to the fact that it was expensive and came with a short equipment list. Toyota has now launched the 2015 Camry and it comes across as a hugely improved car over the pre-facelift model.

Motor Quest: It is only in India that such vehicles like the Camry are called premium vehicles. In other markets like the USA, UAE, etc. the Camry is a basic sedan that is owned by many. In the UAE, the Camry is one of the most popular taxis and rightly so. Toyota cars boast of unbeatable reliability and they can outlast the owner if driven and maintained well.

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The Toyota Camry looks much more smarter than the previous model

Exteriors – The 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid comes with a new face compared to the previous model. The front looks way better now and the Japanese firm has incorporated just the right amount of curves. The headlights are striking and the fog lamps have a good-looking design. The side profile is pretty much bland and that reveals how long the sedan is. The rear is similar to the previous Camry and has only some minor changes. The Toyota logo at the front and rear comes with blue surrounds in the hybrid variant. The multi-spoke alloys look regal and the Japanese automaker couldn’t have chosen a better design.

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The Camry invites a lot of curious glances, since it is uncommon

The Toyota Camry has lots of road presence too. The vehicle has an overdose of lights and chrome at the front. Each headlight unit consists of two projectors, one halogen and one LED DRL strip. The bumper has a fog lamp on both the sides along with turn indicators. The lights do a darn good job of illuminating the road ahead and are very bright. So many lights are quite attention-grabbing on the road and since the Camry is not so popular here, people were quite curious to find out what car it is. The sedan also looks good and imposing while cruising down our roads.

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The interiors ooze of luxury appeal and a feel-good factor

Interiors – We instantly fell in the love with the Camry’s interiors as soon as we opened the door and stepped inside. There is just acres and acres of space everywhere. The design and layout of the dashboard is typical Toyota and everything is designed and placed in a very ergonomic way. The quality of materials used on the dashboard and other interior panels is just top-notch. The front seats are big and offer very good support to the under thighs, back and lower back. The front seats are also electrically adjustable and there are two memory options available for the driver’s seat. The steering wheel feels very good to hold and comes with electric adjustment for tilt and telescopic adjustment.

The Camry has so much space that you might just want to shift in with all your belongings

The rear seat is where you would want to be in this sedan. The rear bench offers reclining option and the rear centre armrest comes with a lot of buttons that allow you to control the music, AC as well as adjust the front passenger seat. Behind the front seats are grab handles which are quite unique and not seen on any other sedan in this class. The rear seat also offers terrific support and comfort, and with the front seat moved all the way ahead, the amount of space that you get is enough to play a game of football.

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Legroom at the rear is excellent; notice grab handles on the seats

The Camry hybrid offers automatic climate control along with a 3-zone temperature control feature. The AC is an absolute chiller and the blower makes no noise even when it is used at full blast. We set the temperature to 19-degrees and the cabin remained very cool. The centre console houses a touch screen which has good response but is not very fluid. The infotainment system offers Bluetooth, AUX, USB and CD playback options. The speakers produce beautiful sound and the bass and treble levels are just perfect. The steering wheel also gets controls for the audio system, system settings, phone controls and a separate knob for cruise control. The steering is wrapped in leather and the top part is finished in a glossy wood trim which lends a very premium appeal.

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Buttons galore on the rear seat arm-rest for various functions

We must mention the fact that Toyota seems to have paid a lot of attention to detail. Both the sun visors at the front are wrapped in a smooth, velvet-like material which oozes richness. Both the sides get a vanity mirror with a cover and light. The steering also moves up automatically as soon as the engine is switched off, and it moves back to position when the engine is started again. The rear windows get manual sun blinds while the rear windscreen gets an automatic sun blind which can be controlled from the front centre console and rear seat arm rest as well. When you shift the tranny to reverse, the sun blind automatically goes down and then comes up again when you shift to D and drive for a few seconds.

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The Camry Hybrid is quick off the line; goes like a rocket

Performance – The Toyota Camry Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-litre petrol engine that gives out 160 PS of power at 5700 RPM and 213 Nm of torque at 4500 RPM. This petrol engine is coupled to an electric motor which is of permanent magnetic synchronous type producing 143 PS of power and 270 Nm of torque. However, the Camry Hybrid’s total power output is 205 PS because the engine and motor produce their peak power ratings at different RPM levels. The hybrid battery is nickel-metal hydride and has a voltage of 244.8 V. The powerplant is mated to an electronically-controlled CVT gearbox.

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The engine and electric motor work in tandem to generate 205 PS of power

The Camry excites you with its fast acceleration

205 PS of power does not sound much on paper, but boy were we surprised when we drove the sedan for extended durations across various road conditions. The engine has more than enough pep for going around in the city with hardly any throttle inputs required. When you do encounter an empty stretch of tarmac, just put the pedal to the metal and the Camry Hybrid will amaze you with its lightning quick acceleration. The way the car lurches ahead when you give it the beans, you immediately forget the fact that you’re sitting in a Camry, which is basically intended for comfort. The exhaust note sounds sweet too.

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The Camry munches miles for long durations without breaking in to a sweat

There is no tachometer in the vehicle and instead of that, there is a new dial which is segmented into three modes – CHG, ECO and PWR. The Camry Hybrid features regenerative braking and hence when you apply brakes with pressure, the needle moves in to the CHG segment, showing that the electric motor is being charged. When driving sedately with mild throttle inputs, the needle hovers in the ECO segment and when you give it the beans, it jumps straight to PWR mode. There are two driving modes in the vehicle – ECO and EV. The ECO mode is useful if you want to drive in a relaxed manner and gain some nice fuel efficiency too, however, the increase in mileage over the regular driving mode is only marginal. EV mode works only at low speeds, with less than 5% throttle inputs. The maximum speed that we managed in EV mode was 60 km/hr on an empty highway.

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Fuel efficiency is very good for a vehicle of this size; notice no tacho

The Camry Hybrid has an ARAI-claimed fuel efficiency of 19.16 km/l but we got varied figures of mileage, depending on a lot of conditions. While driving only on petrol mode in a slightly aggressive way, the sedan returned 6.8-8.1 km/l but while driven in hybrid mode (petrol + EV), we managed to extract 10.9-17.3 km/l. The figure of 17.3 km/l was achieved while cruising down the Western Express Highway in the wee hours at a constant speed of 70-80 km/hr. The transmission is smooth to operate but we hate the stick shift movement of the gear lever. There is also a Brake mode on the lever which when engaged enhances braking performance during downhill driving.

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No one can beat the Germans in handling; the Camry is softly sprung

Driving Dynamics – The Camry hybrid is long and has a turning radius of 5.5-metres. This is not a vehicle that you would want to drive on crowded roads everyday. Talking about ride quality, it is just exemplary and much better than what we expected. The sedan eats potholes for breakfast and hardly any bumps manage to filter inside the cabin. The car also remains very composed throughout various road surfaces and rear seat passengers didn’t feel discomforted even after the car encountered a pothole at high speed.

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Ride quality is impressive; gobbles up broken roads with ease

Moving to handling, this is one department where the Toyota Camry doesn’t really excel. The steering is very light, which is good for driving in the city, but it does not weigh up sufficiently at high speeds. It also feels very numb and lifeless. The overall handling is also just average thanks to the body roll and soft suspension. The saloon just isn’t as sharp as, say, the Skoda Superb. The tyres are 17-inch Yokohama DBs and they are very silent. The brake pedal has good feel and offers sharp bite with the car stopping in time without much fuss or drama.

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Only four airbags on the Camry, downright shocking!

Safety and After Sales Service – The Toyota Camry is loaded with a host of safety equipment that includes four airbags (driver, front passenger and front seat sides), ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), TRC (Traction Control), Hill Start Assist Control, reverse parking camera with back monitor and corner sensors, impact sensing fuel cut-off, speed sensing auto lock and smart key remind warning. The instrument cluster also shows a visual and audio warning when the driver and co-driver are not belted up while the car is in motion. The earlier Camry came with just two airbags while the current one has four. The market norm is at least six in this segment. Talking about after-sales, Toyota really rocks in this department. The company has constantly been recognised for its excellent service, be it anywhere in India. Toyota parts are also priced reasonably and the vehicles are known for their bullet-proof reliability. The only downside is the fact that Toyota service centres are very cramped thanks to the fact that a huge number of Innovas and Etios are being used as taxis throughout the country.

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Bullet-proof reliability and peace of mind is what the Camry offers

Verdict – It is very clear that the Toyota Camry Hybrid isn’t receiving the success that it should have got in India. It is a terrific package that offers everything right from visual appeal, features, comfort, space, power and an excellent ride. Also add the fact that Toyota’s service is way better than rivals like Skoda. The only thing that Toyota fails to offer is snob value. With the 2015 model having entered our market, we really hope that the Camry gets its due since it is a very under-rated car. Buyers in this segment think that if they’re spending Rs. 35 lakhs on a Toyota, why wouldn’t they just add a few more lakhs and get something from the Teutonic three. However, the Camry is bigger than the A4, 3-Series or the C-Class and offers much more comfort with a lot of peace of mind and hence we feel that it is the perfect buy for someone desiring back seat comfort as well as mind-boggling power in this price range. Moreover, the Camry Hybrid is entitled to a discount of Rs. 70,000/- under the new FAME scheme by the government.

The 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid is very impressive and ticks all the boxes for someone who is looking for a large comfortable sedan but does not want the maintenance costs that come with German cars. While the Innova and Fortuner continue selling like hot cakes, what Toyota needs to do is invest more into marketing the Camry so that it receives its well deserved due.

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The hybrid powertrain in the Camry is one of its USP other than space

What’s Cool

* Looks much more sportier and attractive compared to the outgoing model
* Acres of legroom everywhere, seats are immensely comfortable
* Engine has more than enough power to bring a grin on your face

What’s Not So Cool

* Handling is below par as the suspension is very soft; steering lacks feel

Alternatives: Skoda Superb, Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3-Series, Audi A4

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The Camry offers much more than the Teutonic three; at a lesser price

Toyota Camry Hybrid Specifications

* Engine: 2494cc petrol engine; 650 V electric motor
* Power: 160 PS @ 5700 RPM (petrol engine), 143 PS (electric motor)
* Torque: 213 Nm @ 4500 RPM (petrol engine), 270 Nm (electric motor)
* Transmission: e-CVT
* 0 – 100 km/hr: 8.49 seconds
* Top Speed: 220 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 10 – 16 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Tyres: 215/55/17
* Brakes: Ventilated Discs (Front), Dry Discs (Rear)
* Safety: Four airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, VSC, Traction Control

Toyota Camry Hybrid Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4825 mm X 1825 mm X 1480 mm
* Wheelbase: 2775 mm
* Ground clearance: 160 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 65 litres
* Kerb Weight: 1625 kgs

Testers’ Note:

“The Toyota Camry took big strides in the current generation and I have always loved the engine on this car, what a motor! When coupled to the hybrid unit, it simply blows you away with the instant response it offers. The space on the inside is simply insane and the comfort levels are supreme. If I had to buy a car in this price range, the Camry Hybrid would be on the top of my list.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“Even before I sat on the driver’s seat, one look at the interiors was enough to convince me as to why the Camry is such a popular car in the U.S. High on space and easy to upkeep, the Camry offers peace of mind like no other in the segment. After getting behind the wheel, I was pleasantly surprised by its straight-line performance, this Toyota hybrid is a smooth performer.” – Javeid Khan, Deputy Editor, MotorBeam.

Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta