For as long as I have been a motoring writer, when it comes to family saloons which are practical, i.e. spacious, frugal, lots of storage, myriad of safety features and reasonably priced, two Japanese models always came to mind – the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
The former is no longer sold here.
The Camry, however, is not only still around – it is still selling extremely well, too. And this is despite fierce competition from the Mazda 6.
The latest Camry is still as practical as ever. But before I get into the reasons why, I must also first praise the designers for its styling.
The exterior designs of previous models were pretty much run-of-the-mill and “conventional” but the new Camry is so eye-catching, I would say it is almost “avant-garde”.
Now back to the subject of practicality.
With a wheelbase of 2825mm, almost on par with the Lexus ES250, and being just four percent shorter than the larger and more expensive Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloons, the interior of the Camry is really roomy.
I am 1.8m tall and I had my equally tall friend sit behind me while I was in the driver’s seat.
He still had ample knee room to move his legs around if he needed to.
If he moved over to the other side of the car and there wasn’t anyone seated in the front passenger seat, he could simply depress the rocker switch located at the side to move the seat further forward.
After doing so, he can lounge, with outstretched legs, towkay-style.
The rear seats have been designed to accommodate two extremely comfortably, with blower vents for the rear air-con and two 2.1A USB sockets for charging smartphones and tablets.
And on a sunny day (which is every day in Singapore), the powered rear sunshade for the windscreen will block out the heat and glare.
If you have an additional passenger at the rear, all three occupants can still seat cosily but the one in the centre will have to sit with legs slightly apart.
Storage-wise, there are ample cubbyholes, cup holders, door pockets and a 493-litre boot, which “swallows” up to four golf bags.
If you have a long object to stow, like a rolled-up carpet or fishing rod, simply pop open the lid behind the centre armrest at the rear and voila, an opening appears.
Up front, the electrically adjustable driver’s seat (with memory function) supports the body so well that it wouldn’t look out of place in a luxury saloon.
The wider area for the shoulder deserves special mention for making you feel secure and cossetted.
The 9-inch display of the head unit is a tad small when compared to the latest units found in other cars, and it’s a pity there is no Apple CarPlay and wireless charging.
However, the menu is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
The 4.2-inch screen in between the tachometer and speedometer is just as simple to use, but I wished it were a little larger too.
Maybe it’s time for an all-digital instrument panel.
On the topic of driving, practicality is synonymous with fuel economy.
I covered 256km and achieved 12.6km/L over three days of driving.
I spent about 60 percent of that distance on expressways and the rest in the city.
That’s a decent figure for a 1.55-tonne car propelled by a 2.5-litre inline-4 producing 206hp and 250Nm.
The 8-speed automatic transmission, with its optimally spaced gear ratios, probably contributed to this.
Parking was made fuss-free thanks to the factory-fitted reverse camera, while features such as keyless entry and ignition made the car even easier to live with.
The Toyota Camry is roomy, has a decent list of standard features, and is relatively frugal.
Priced in the region of $160,000 (including COE) for the 2.5 variant, it’s practically a shoo-in for a nomination if there was an award for “Most Practical Family Saloon of the Year”.
Toyota Camry review: No longer a fuddy-duddy
Toyota Camry 2.5 (A)
Type Inline-4, 16-valves
Bore x stroke 87.5mm x 103.4mm
Compression ratio 13:1
Max power 206hp at 6600rpm
Max torque 250Nm at 5000rpm
Power to weight 132.9hp per tonne
Gearbox 8-speed automatic with manual select
Driven wheels Front
0-100km/h 9.2 seconds
Top speed 210km/h
Consumption 11.2km/L (combined)
Front MacPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Double wishbones, coil springs
Front / Rear Ventilated discs / Discs
Type Bridgestone Turanza T001
Size 235/45 R18
Traction aids ABS, VSC
Kerb weight 1550kg
Turning circle 11m
Price incl. COE $162,988
Warranty 3 years/100,000km
+ Seamless drive, striking design, comfy and spacious cabin
– Gruff engine note, handling could still be better, pricier than expected