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Toyota Camry 2.5 Hybrid Review Singapore 2021

Updated: Mar 13, 2022

From Toyota Singapore comes the new Toyota Camry Hybrid in Elegance trim with Toyota Safety Sense, Active Cruise Control, and Lane Departure Alert.

When people think about a full sized family sedan, it is difficult not to think about the Toyota Camry. After all, the moniker has been in use since 1979, on the Toyota Celica Camry. Due to such an established History, many of us would have at least had one memory of a Camry from our childhood. For me, it was always the default rental car whenever my family did driving holidays in Australia or New Zealand. For those reasons, you could say the Camry has always been an icon of the family sedan segment. For some years though, the Camry received a bad reputation for not keeping up with the times, fielding outdated engine setups that were large, naturally aspirated, and boring, while seemingly making no effort to make their cars look or feel any more modern than the “uncle” cars we have grown accustomed to - A good thing though, that the latest Camry is anything but.

Stylish Makeover

The first time I set eyes on the new Camry, was when I saw a slightly modified version of it, where the owner had de-chromed the car, and slapped on a beautiful set of 19 inch wheels. The car looked quite stunning - and I wondered if the car was actually a parallel imported Mark X or something. Looking sporty and beautiful was just not something you could have achieved on any of the old cars, and I was impressed with how dynamic the new car looked. On our test car, the look wasn’t quite so outlandish, but the Precious Metal colour job on the car looked absolutely wonderful, and the 18 inch wheels that come with the Elegance trim level of the car were tasteful and modern. Visually, the car takes on a very different persona from any of its predecessors - and in the best way possible. It’s refreshing, sporty, and looks way more premium than before. In a way, I was comforted to know that when a huge automaker like Toyota sets out to do something, they can actually get it right. It's still arguable whether or not the Camry is the best looking car in its segment, but it certainly looks more interesting than a Skoda Superb or a Volkswagen Passat, and is definitely no longer sitting at the bottom of the barrel in terms of aesthetics.

Performance Upgrades: Toyota Get It Right with E-CVT

The performance enhancement on the new Camry is astonishing, considering how far behind they were just a couple of years ago. To cope with Singapore's start-stop driving environment and the need for short and quick bursts of speeds, many automakers have fielded modern powertrain setups which usually included smaller turbocharged engines, paired to quick shifting gearboxes. The impact is simply a livelier feeling car with good low end torque, better fuel economy, and a much lower road tax. Somehow, this concept was lost on Toyota for the longest time, who persevered with large 2.5 L naturally aspirated engines paired to a CVT gearbox, which seemed to appeal only to old men who had blind faith in the Toyota brand, weren’t aware of how fast the world was changing around them, or just simply stuck in their ways - all of which point to a demographic that is obsolete, and not sustainable to cater to.

I’ll be honest, despite a listed 208 bhp and 8.5s 0 - 100 timing, I was initially not particularly hopeful that the car would impress - but as soon as I left the car park and headed out onto the main road, the improvement was remarkable. With Toyota’s new E-CVT transmission, which applies a physical first gear to the CVT, the driving dynamic was leaps and bounds better than any Camry before, and felt more like a torque converter when moving off or when accelerating a little bit harder. Perhaps the most pleasant improvement in this context, is that the usual CVT drone and rubber-banding of the engine was greatly reduced, leading to a very pleasant drive.

In EV mode, which runs only on electric power, the car is space-ship like and silky smooth. It won’t necessarily appeal to motor-heads who like the grunt of an internal combustion engine, but the “refinement” is something that I think many consumers can get behind and love. In fact, I think I might actually prefer the car in EV mode, and would be very excited to see a fully electric version of a Camry in the future.

The Camry Continues to be an Important Car for the Future

To me, the biggest selling point of the new Camry is that apart from still being a very practical family car with good legroom, competitive boot space, and having a legendary reputation for reliability, the new car is actually now very good to drive, finally looks contemporary, and is finally relevant to the needs of today’s consumers. For a family sized sedan, the car feels light on its feet, and zippy around town, yet still manages to return economy figures that are expected to exceed 20 km/l. Truthfully, there are still things about the Camry that are a little too utilitarian for my liking, such as its no frills interior, but personally, I’d like nothing more than to see this enduring icon continually improve into the future.

For more information about the Toyota Camry Hybrid, visit Toyota’s authorised dealer in Singapore, Borneo Motors to view or test drive the car.

Borneo Motors is located at:

Borneo Motors Leng Kee

33 Leng Kee Road

Singapore 159102

Borneo Motors Ubi

17 Ubi Road 4

Singapore 408611


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