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Hybrid Middle Child :Toyota Camry SX Hybrid Review

When Toyota let it be known the Camry would now only be offered only as a hybrid, I couldn’t help but think of a certain iconic line of dialogue from that classic Mitre 10 DIY DNA advert with the kids on the playground, “no surprises there.”

Making the Camry hybrid only is part of Toyota’s plan to lower the overall carbon footprint and to aid customers in having a more fuel-efficient vehicle. While there is much of me which does miss the old torquey V6, I must admit this was an eventuality to move with the times. Having sampled the ZR range topper and been thoroughly impressed, I was eager to see just how it compares to the mid-range SX.

Obviously the first difference is price. The SX retails at $46,990 TDP (Toyota Driveaway Price) making it $4,000 less than the ZR. Looks wise there are some differences too, though it is mostly cosmetic. You still get the lower and planted stance with the rear diffuser and lip spoiler, but the SX gets a set of tasty blacked out 19-inch alloys which against the silver pearl paint scheme of my test car look pretty swish. The honey comb grill with more pronounced nose is also shared with the ZR and is the LED headlights and side skirts.

Under the bonnet sits the same 2.5L four-cylinder petrol/electric motor engine combo and CVT auto gearbox as in the ZR, and the base GX for that matter. Power? Well that is rated at 160kW and Toyota also claim combined fuel consumption figures of between 4.2-4.7L/100km and C02 emissions of 96 to 107g/km.

You also get the same sumptuous cabin as the ZR. The seats are very supportive and give the right mix of lateral support and comfort. There is also plenty of headroom but the A-pillars tend to obscure visibility. Being the SX, you get some niceties like leather 8-way adjustable electric seats, chain link interior ornamentation, two rear USB ports, shift paddles and a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The latter of which is a very intuitive system to use.

The ZR gets a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, a head up display and a JBL Stereo system. However, while these justify the extra $4k, I didn’t find myself wishing they were fitted as the standard stereo system offered a good symphonic experience and the periscope-esque dials were clear and concise.  

What is great to see as standard is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Toyota’s Safety Sense System. The latter now features Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Emergency Steering Assist, Intersection Turn Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist and the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control system adds Curve Speed Reduction.

With 524L of boot space, one’s Badminton club could top and tail a few racquets and still have space for the net. Rear legroom and headroom are also generous with the rear surroundings being most capacious. Storage areas in the Camry SX are also quite numerous, with hidey holes in the centre console and door bins being a decent size.

On the move the marriage of petrol and electric motor and battery pack gives some fairly sprightly performance. While the V6 burble will be missed to some degree, the linear torque curve and the ability to cover a good amount of ground after giving it some welly means I don’t think ill miss it that much to be honest.

It’s a good set up and makes so much more sense in saloon like this. I think the older one gets, the more appreciation one has for gliding along at the national limit and on this front the Camry SX Hybrid manages it very well indeed. Oddly when in the ZR, I wasn’t able to average less than 6.0L/100km despite driving a snail’s pace to get the best score on Toyota’s ECO drive meter.  However, in the SX it was down to 5.6L/100km. Maybe I was a bit more lead footed the first time around?

Anyway, what is clear is just how good the SX Hybrid is as a cruiser. As mentioned in my ZR review, a motorway cruise feels just right in a saloon when compared to an SUV. It doesn’t require much encouragement on your part to get into that zone either. Once you get there, it is a pleasant experience.

As the Camry SX Hybrid’s underpinnings have been tuned to simulate a sportier feel, it doesn’t feel underdamped or wallowy in the bends. In Sport mode the steering even weights up nicely. However, most of the time, much like the ZR, I found myself selecting Sport in case we needed to overtake. A sharp driving tool it is not, but a brisk motorway cruiser it certainly is.

The new Toyota Camry has entered a new era with by turning its back on solely internal combustion. Some out there will certainly miss the V6, but the pros with the latest generation of historically one of Toyota’s most popular models certainly outweigh the cons. Those in the fleet side of things and customers who don’t have a yearning for some soft or serious off roading will find lots to like about the new Hybrid only Toyota Camry.

So, do you need the extra fruit of the ZR? Honestly, probably not. It is well priced yes, but I feel the SX is the best all-rounder of the range. It provides great levels of equipment which should keep most happy. Basically, this middle child deserves the most attention

RATING: 8/10

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