Toyota Camry Hybrid saloon
"The Toyota Camry has returned to the UK with a hybrid powertrain and company-car appeal"
- Low running costs
- Smooth drive
- Spacious interior
- Woeful infotainment
- Limited choice
- Some cheap trim
After a break of more than a decade, the Toyota Camry has finally returned to the UK. It replaces the Toyota Avensis, and with just one hybrid powertrain, it takes on models such as the Ford Mondeo Hybrid and Volkswagen Passat GTE, along with diesel alternatives including the Vauxhall Insignia, Skoda Superb and Mazda6.
The Camry is a big car with a neat design that's classy and far more conservative than the more quirky Toyota Prius. That theme continues inside, where the horizontal dashboard is sedate and upmarket enough to avoid putting off executives - its target audience. There's certainly ample room for adults in the front and back seats too, although taller passengers may find the sloping roof slightly restricts headroom in the rear.
There are just two trim levels: Design and Excel, with both offering the kit and safety features you'd expect in a car costing around £30,000, including standard leather upholstery. Excel boosts the wheels to 18-inches in size, upgrades the LED headlights and bolsters safety technology. Both cars also come with a seven-inch infotainment display, but this lags behind rivals, with poor graphics, cluttered menus and some missing features like Apple CarPlay.
It shouldn't take long to choose a Camry, because aside from its colour and trim, there's just one petrol electric hybrid powertrain. This combines a larger 2.5-litre engine than the 1.8-litre found in the Prius with a powerful electric motor for a combined 215bhp. It's sent to the front wheels via a CVT automatic gearbox, getting the Camry from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds.
Fuel consumption of up to 53.3mpg is promised on the WLTP cycle, but a CO2 emissions figure of 98g/km is the most critical fact for business drivers. With no 4% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) diesel surcharge to worry about, it qualifies it for a low 23% company-car tax band.
While more refined than most CVT models, revs can still flare under hard acceleration, and the Camry is at its best when driven at a more relaxed pace. In town, its combination of electric and petrol running makes it smooth and near-silent, for an easy driving experience. Its chassis is more than capable enough, with little body lean and precise steering, while still comfortable over rough tarmac.
In countries like the United States - where the Camry is a top-seller - the Toyota has an enviable reputation for dependability, so reliability is unlikely to be an issue. Plenty of safety kit and Toyota know-how should also have been baked into its design to ensure a good safety rating.