Toyota Camry SX
Toyota Camry SX

Toyota Camry SX gets sleek looks, great price but not sporty

TOYOTA built the Camry in Melbourne from 1987 until 2017. This eighth-generation model, imported from Japan, is new from the wheels up, which you can probably guess just by looking at it. Gone is the invisible, ultraconservative styling that didn't look right in any hue other than Appliance White.

Our test car, a 3.5-litre V6 SX, has a most un-Camry-like toned, mean stance and sleek silhouette. In profile, it could almost be mistaken for a big Mercedes AMG sedan. That's where the comparison ends.

 

VALUE

Hammered by the all-conquering SUV - in common with every other sedan on the market - Camry sales have slumped by 37 per cent this year. At $37,290 for the SX V6, you have to wonder what else Toyota can possibly do to get more bums on Camry seats.

Let's put this in context. For about the same money as a mid-spec RAV4, with a 132kW
2.5-litre petrol/six-speed automatic, you get a 224kW direct-injection 3.5-litre V6/eight-speed auto, with paddle-shifters in SX specification.

Toyota Camry SX: For just over $37K, it’s ridiculously good value
Toyota Camry SX: For just over $37K, it’s ridiculously good value

This adds sports suspension, 19-inch alloys with 235/40 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tyres, auto levelling LED headlights, leather-faced, powered sports seats, eight-inch touchscreen audio with navigation and full voice functionality (but there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto), wireless phone charging, dual zone aircon, parking sensors and keyless entry and start.

That's ridiculously good value and - because we're talking about a Camry - servicing is cheap, chances are nothing will ever go wrong with it and with regular maintenance it will last until Tony Abbott gets his old job back. Maybe longer …

Unlike its Aurion V6 predecessor, though, the new engine requires premium unleaded. The SX's 19-inch wheels mean that a full-size spare won't fit, so a space-saver is standard.

 

COMFORT

Big wheels, low-profile tyres and firm suspension - your typical bolt-on "sports" hardware - have never been persuasive on any Camry because, to state the bleeding obvious, it just ain't a sports car.

So the ride on SX is unreasonably stiff and at times harsh, with excessive front end thump and bump, while the Dunlops make a racket on coarse bitumen. The driver's seat isn't particularly comfortable either; its cushion is too short for long legs, and underpadded.

Rear seat space is vast but the bench is also unsupportive. Two USBs and vents are provided and access is easy via light, wide opening doors.

 

SAFETY

Autonomous emergency braking, lane departure alert with effective steering assist and auto high beams are standard across the range. The luxe SL, priced at $43,990, adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

I've recently moved from NSW to Victoria, so I'm now completely paranoid about losing my licence. You really can get done here for exceeding the limit by a few kays, which is nonsensical.

Camry cockpit: Leather trim, navigation, alerts … but no smartphone mirroring
Camry cockpit: Leather trim, navigation, alerts … but no smartphone mirroring

The Camry's navigation could have been designed for Victoria's brutal enforcement rules. It gives you customisable alerts for everything bar the return of the Bhagwan and allows you to adjust the exceed speed limit warning threshold in one km/h increments.

If you then stray into criminal driving territory, a nice lady says, "Please obey the speed limit." Like Pavlov's dog, this subtle form of behaviour modification therapy eventually rewires your brain - spend a week in this car and you will become a terrified, speedo-fixated automaton, so I heartily recommend it to our Victorian readers.

 

DRIVING

The new V6 is a beauty, though low revs and high gears expose its inherent shortage of bottom end torque compared with turbo rivals. It cruises silently and effortlessly at 100km/h, ticking over at 1300rpm in eighth, returning four cylinder-ish fuel economy of 6.5L/100km.

SX: Quiet, thrifty yet powerful, firm riding but not at all sporty
SX: Quiet, thrifty yet powerful, firm riding but not at all sporty

Drive modes include Eco, Normal and Sport. The latter isn't at all sporty, except by Camry standards, though for the first time in a Camry you now have paddle-shifters to play with.

As revs climb the V6 lights up, with a muscular, don't-argue delivery that endows the SX with serious pace. Seat of the pants says it's a six and a bit seconds car from 0-100km/h.

After all, 224kW dragging a light (for its size) 1620kg around produces a pretty respectable power to weight ratio. High fuel consumption in town - 12-14L/100km - is to be expected from a powerful, naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6.

Similarly, any big front-driver with a large lump of engine up front will be quite a nose heavy, unresponsive device when you point it into a tight corner.

The SX's firm suspension and sporty rubber keep things tidy but lazy, remote steering is noticeably affected by tugging at the wheel under hard acceleration, which also compromises directional stability and front-end grip.

 

HEART SAYS

I'm a respectable, quiet, Captain Normal sort of bloke who loves his Camry because, well, it's me. This one might make my life a bit more exciting. Not too much, though.

 

HEAD SAYS

I buy a car in the same way that I buy a computer, TV or washing machine. I want a trusted brand, great quality and reliability and a bargain price. This will do nicely, thanks.

 

ALTERNATIVES

HOLDEN COMMODORE RS LIFTBACK FROM $40,790

Less standard equipment than Camry SX but better safety spec, more comfortable seats and potent 235kW 3.6-litre V6/nine-speed auto/all-wheel drive. Great, locally sorted drive dynamics. Five years' warranty. Runs on 91.

MAZDA6 GT FROM $43,990

Price premium over Camry is justified with deluxe specification, superior safety and a rich, stylish interior that makes the Toyota's feel very old. Tractable and quick enough with 170kW 2.5-litre turbo four/six-speed auto/front-wheel drive. Also runs on 91 and has five-year warranty.

 

VERDICT

3 stars

Photo of the 2017 Toyota Camry.
Photo of the 2017 Toyota Camry.

Sporty Camry is an oxymoron. The SX is bargain-priced and the V6 is easy to love. It's uncomfortable and, ultimately, a car that's trying to be something it's not. The authentic Camry - the one we gave four stars to - is the hybrid.

 

TOYOTA CAMRY V6 SX

PRICE $37,290 (bargain)

WARRANTY/SERVICING 3-year warranty (short); $975 for 5 years/75,000km (cheap)

ENGINE 3.5-litre V6, 224kW/362Nm (above average)

SAFETY 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, lane departure warning, lane keeping, auto high-beam (below average)

THIRST 8.9L/100km (thirsty)

SPARE Space-saver (not good)

BOOT 524L (big)



Student takes all 10 wickets in cricket match

premium_icon Student takes all 10 wickets in cricket match

James pulls off one of cricket's rarest feats

'I will come to your house with the boys and burn you alive'

premium_icon 'I will come to your house with the boys and burn you alive'

Frightening Facebook threat lands man in court

Severe, stormy weather, widespread rainfall on the horizon

Severe, stormy weather, widespread rainfall on the horizon

Sunny weather set to move aside for the weekend

Local Partners