Toyota Camry Hybrid (2015) - Expert Review
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The Camry comes from a brand which provided hybrid technology to masses for the first time before the world went gaga over green cars and is indeed country's only luxury hybrid sedan!
Hybrids are fairly popular across the globe and in India, Toyota started the Hybrid-spree like the rest of the world. Firstly, it introduced the Prius and then the Camry. The latter has received a facelift this year. Toyota is very happy with the Camry's sales and the Japanese automaker has stated that the Hybrid variant solely accounts for over 70 per cent of the total sales of the sedan. However, the Camry is still an underrated car in the country compared to its German rivals. We have tested the facelifted Hybrid version and let us see what it has to offer.
The blue hue Toyota insignia shows that it's an environment-friendly hybrid version.
2015 Toyota Camry Facelift: What’s New?
Toyota doesn’t boast snob factor in the premium/luxury sedan space in the Indian brand-conscious market. Contrary to the common perception, the facelift has added the required flamboyance in the Camry range to make it feel a tad bit more premium. To start with, the pre-facelift car was understated and the 2015 update is its opposite. Though, in a good way! The mid-life update has changed the elegance and non-ostentatious visage of the previous car into a bold and a sportier one.
The face is entirely new, and by new, I mean every bit of it. There’s this huge air dam enveloping the fog lamps, adding a distinct character to it. And unlike the previous version, the new grille and headlamps are slender. Oodles of chrome everywhere adds to the bling and makes it look premium juxtaposed the earlier one. The rear features subtle changes such as the LED taillights which feature new graphics.
Two LED low beam projectors, the Camry offers halogen as high beam. Notice the LED daytime running lights at the bottom.
Unlike the base petrol version, the Hybrid variant offers indicators on the bumper.
It offers wrap-around split taillamps and the brake lights are LED.
Unlike its exteriors, the facelift has not brought many alterations to the interiors. Nothing much to complain about, rather, needful changes were done. The new instrument cluster appears premium when compared to the older version. The infotainment system has been updated with new graphics, however, satellite navigation is sorely missed and the unit lags a little as well. There are subtle changes to the overall theme of the cabin. The vehicle is upholstered in beige leather with a soft touch dashboard with real stitching. Apart from these, the Camry continues to carry its traits and in turn is one of the best in the market to ferry around, courtesy rear power reclining seats, rear windscreen power sunshade, ventilated seats, etc.
With this update, major revamp can be seen in terms of aesthetics of the instrument cluster. Unlike the previous model, it offers a high definition 4.2-inch driver information screen at the center.
Notice how the Hybrid does not offer rev counter, instead, the counter shows what the hybrid powertrain is up to. The interesting bit is, as it is not an actual rev counter, whenever you floor the pedal the needle just zooms to the end!
Unlike the global facelift, Toyota in India carried forward the steering wheel from its previous model. It is chunky, but is good to hold and features faux wood inserts.
Cruise control stalks below the steering wheel and the system displays the locked cruising speed on the 4.2-inch MID screen (see the image below).
Steering adjustment is electronic, adjust steering wheel for tilt and reach with this toggle; Moreover, Hybrid trim also offers memory function for steering adjustment.
The center circular array of buttons on the right of the steering wheel offers control for the 4.2-inch MID screen on the instrument cluster. Apart from this, the top and the bottom buttons can be used to pick and drop calls.
The left side buttons are for controlling the infotainment system.
The vanity mirror offers illumination and it lits automatically as soon as you remove the lid from the mirror (same operation on both the sides).
Sunglass holder, interior lighting and auto dimming rear view mirror.
This is the home screen of the infotainment system showing the energy monitor, Bluetooth-track/tuner and 4 of your favourite contacts.
The smaller storage bin on the central tunnel offers Aux-in and USB inputs for the infotainment system along with a place to keep the key.
Pop the lid which is placed besides the gear shift knob to reveal the cup-holders.
The armrest offers storage space and is cooled!
The front seats offer ventilation with individual setting for the driver and the co-passenger.
The Camry offers 8-way power adjustable driver and passenger seats. The picture above is of the driver's seat. Lumbar support is offered only on the driver's seat.
Driver's seat offers 2 memory settings which also includes ORVMs and steering adjustments.
The Camry offers sun shade at the rear. The rear-windshield offers electronic one, while the rear-windows have manual ones and they do their job pretty well.
Rear door pad offers ashtray. Notice all the four windows are auto up-down.
The rear armrest offers a plethora of controls such as like infotainment controls, rear auto sunshade button and the controls for the air conditioning for the rear zone for the ones who prefer to be chauffeured.
The rear seats can be reclined individually courtesy the buttons on the armrest. Also, the rear passengers can adjust the front co-passenger’s seat with side buttons to further increase the rear legroom. Moreover, it also comes with a thick carpet flooring. In short, the rear seats are the place to be!
The front passenger seat's headrest can be folded down to give a proper view of the road ahead. It helps in providing the space with a less claustrophobic atmosphere. This gesture by Toyota indicates as to how the manufacturer wants to pamper the rear passengers. Although, seat ventilation is only offered at the front, but the AC is quite effective.
The 2015 facelift has taken the Camry on par with the competitors when it comes to safety features. The previous model was offered with 4 airbags while the petrol was solely available with dual front airbags. The 2015 facelift now comes with standard seven airbags on both petrol and hybrid versions including a knee airbag. Apart from the airbags, it also comes standard with - Vehicle Stability Control, Hill Start Assist Control, Anti-Lock Braking System with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist. Moreover, the Camry Hybrid also comes with ECB (Electronically Controlled Brake).
The rearview camera offers guidelines and low light visibility is also pretty good.
The moment you put the car in reverse, it automatically adjusts (lowers) the outside rearview mirrors and lowers the rear auto sunblind. Everything comes back to their previous positions as soon as the reverse is released.
Traction control can be turned off with the switch below indicating - off. Parking sensors can be turned on and off with the P button plus the button aside it can be used to fold-unfold rearview mirror (ORVMs). It also features auto function - as soon as you unlock it, the ORVMs pop open.
How Camry Hybrid Drives?
To start with, if you are driving it for the first time you’re going to get startled as the hybrid version is dead silent! And if you’re gentle on the throttle, the Camry Hybrid takes off solely with the electric power, there’s just little humming of the motor and whining of the CVT gearbox. Guess that’s why there’s an indication of ‘Ready’ in the instrumentation cluster as there is no cranking up like a normal car.
The energy monitor showing the Camry starting off solely on the electric power from standstill.
Depending upon your throttle inputs the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine kicks in working in conjunction with the motor or charging it. The integration is extremely seamless, even the engine is super silent until the unit is pushed hard. And it's difficult to understand which one is propelling it unless you see the energy monitor. The engine and motor work in proper synergy, indeed Toyota’s moniker - Hybrid Synergy Drive, appears appropriate!
Speaking of the ride and handling, the Camry Hybrid is neutral in this area compared to its German rivals. With the facelift, Toyota has slightly altered the suspension setup to improve the overall ride quality and it does reflect. However, there is a bit of a body roll, but the Camry maintains it poise every time. The steering is exceptionally light in the city and weighs up appropriately. It doesn’t intimidate you on high-speed lane maneuvers.
As mentioned before, it takes off solely with electric power provided one is gentle on the throttle and then the engine comes alive. Power coming from both the sources is transferred to front wheels via an electronically controlled CVT transmission. Speaking of the gearbox, the transmission is smooth and seamless and you hardly notice anything except the peculiar whining of a CVT. There’s tons of low-end torque from the motor while the engine provides a healthy mid-range. On the flipside, when you floor the pedal there’s this archetypal CVT rubber band effect which gives a peculiar lag. This said, out post the lag, the Camry just takes off. 0-100 kmph comes up in close to 8 seconds. It is a very relaxed cruiser, however, when you push it hard the engine produces a slightly grainy note.
It offers McPherson at front and multi-link at the rear and the ride quality is top notch. The car absorbs almost everything Indian roads throw at it. The damping is excellently done with only the worst of potholes filtering in with only a little thump noise. Guess this is the USP of the Camry. The steering is exceptionally light at city speeds and weighs up appropriately and doesn’t intimidate you while doing high-speed lane maneuvers.
Multi-link suspension at the rear.
Speaking of the fuel efficiency, the vital plus point of this car is that it comes with a certified overall fuel efficiency of 19.16 kmpl and the same is pretty good for engine and car of this size. It comes with 65-liters of fuel tank and offers a sufficient in-between 700-800 km range. In city's stop-go traffic, the vehicle is every efficient, many-a-times I had received over 20 kmpl of instantaneous efficiency. The thing with the Camry is that it is more efficient in the city runabouts, for on the highways the motor is on most of the time. Having said this, it is fairly efficient even after spirited driving.
EV - In the EV mode, the Camry drives purely on the electric power and this mode is deactivated automatically after coming close to 50 kmph. Having said this, the EV mode can only be activated if the battery is indicating more than three bars. And as it is not a plug-in hybrid, a lot of times battery is low.
ECO - This is the most efficient mode in the Camry Hybrid. It intelligently uses power from battery and engine, extracting best possible kilometers per liter. And unlike the EV mode, it can draw power from the motor even if the battery is showing 3 or fewer bars. In this mode, it usually starts off with the electric motor. And unlike the EV mode which is automatically deactivated past 50 kmph, the ECO mode even kicks-in the motor sometimes when the vehicle is calmly cruising at 70-80 kmph, thus shutting the engine off. And thereby saving the fuel!
ECO-OFF - This is the mode where you're actually going to feel the 205 PS it has to offer. The Camry uses both battery and engine power from standstill.
Technically, the Toyota Camry Hybrid has no rival in the market. No other manufacturer has offered a hybrid in this segment as of now. Its strength, unmatched rear seat comfort with power 8-degree recline, poised ride, probably lowest NVH levels, powerful hybrid unit and the sheer size & road presence, can be matched by none. Of course, there are few nigglings in it like the absence of satellite navigation and laggy infotainment system. The car also offers a neutral driving feel and decent quality levels which might fall short of its German rivals. But still the sheer comfort it offers is a class above. It’s also the longest and the widest offering in the segment and attracts discounts from the Government's FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric vehicles) policy. Moreover, Toyota's wide and renowned after-sales service offers a piece of mind ownership.
Concluding, there’s no doubt about the fact that the Camry is a good alternative over its German rivals. And apart from all this, it's the feel-good factor that you're driving a green car which can go fast when desired, pampers you at the back and still returns 19+ kmpl!