New Zealand’s category-leading Sedan has a nameplate that can be traced back to the ‘80s. Over the years the Camry has been narrow and wide bodied, a liftback, had all manner of powertrains and countless ‘roles’ in terms of usage – 2021 sees it become even more refined and Toyota New Zealand gave us two models to check out, the SX and the ZR.
For this latest iteration, Toyota NZ has opted to offer up only the Hybrid powertrain, meaning that with its low emissions (103-107g/km) and excellent fuel economy (4.5-4.7L/100km) its environmental footprint (and wallet dent) is minimal. But for those that adore the V6 don’t think that it lacks any oomph, in fact with its 2.5L ICE engine, combined with a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor it gives you 160kW’s of power to play with and it’s something that you feel from the get go.
The Camry ‘range’ has been streamlined in NZ with three models to choose from. The ‘base’ model GX (although base is not exactly valid with a sedan that offers so much), the Sportier SX and the top of the line ZR and have been priced to suit, beginning at $43,990 driveaway.
In terms of looks, the new Camry showcases a new lower fascia and a honeycomb style grille. Pride of place on the nose is the Toyota logo in blue signalling that it’s a hybrid. The Camry’s profile remains a four door sedan with a sloping roofline to the rear and although the back hasn’t changed in any significant way, the big news is that the boot release has moved to the right allowing the reversing camera to be located more centrally.
As I said, we were given the SX and ZR to review and both came with their own unique places in the NZ car park. Our SX was dressed in Silver Pearl which offers an eye-catching silhouette, especially against the downtown city backdrop. It’s marginally heavier than the ZR and that reflects on a slightly less frugal economy figure (4.7L/100km) and slightly more gases (107g) but in terms of performance they remain the same.
What the SX has though is a more sportier feel. It rides on lower profile Dunlop SP Sport MAXX 050 19-inch feet and feels gripier in the corners. The seats are sportier and leather accented and the dash trim is chain link film (whatever that means).
As luck would have it, my week behind the wheel of the SX included an extended drive to Hampton Downs race track, ample trips to the beach and lots of ‘around town’ chores, and yet despite clocking up the k’s I still returned the Sedan with three quarters of a tank left. The biggest point of note was the way it handled itself in the curves, it’s not a vicious neck-breaking sportscar but it offers plenty of smiles in the bends.
My ZR model came in Emotional Red, it didn’t make me well-up at any point but it did brighten up even the brightest of NZ summer days. The ZR takes on a different persona to the SX, it’s more mature, more refined, more luxurious. For starters, it came with a full length sunroof which flooded the interior with light. The furniture itself is leather appointed, heated AND ventilated and 8-way power adjustable for the driver while the dash trim is a black weed film.
To assist you in getting comfortable, the steering wheel is electronically adjustable and while on the move, the ZR comes with a head up display to help you keep your eyes on the road.
The infotainment experience has been enhanced with the ZR with JBL supplying the tunes through 9-speakers and the reversing camera shows a 360-degree birds eye view.
Riding on 17’s with a little more rubber than the SX means that the ZR is that much more pleasurable and in all honesty I tended to drive a little smoother. Efficiency and gases are slightly superior to the SX (4.5L and 103g respectively) but they are both darn good.
Quite frankly, in terms of the drive, there isn’t much between the SX and ZR, they both manage the EV to ICE transitions well and happily sit on the tarmac either around town or on the open road. They both come with Toyota’s safety sense too, so peace of mind driving is a given. But in terms of out and out luxury, the ZR takes the cake and has a big amount of cream with it.
The Toyota Camry has been blessed (or is that cursed) as being a goto vehicle for upmarket rideshare drivers but I’m here to tell you that it’s sooo much more than that. In days of yore and in a world that had yet to discover SUVs, the Sedan ran supreme and this new Camry deserves to wear the crown. It’s roomy, modern and very, very safe – all hail the new Toyota Camry.