Toyota Camry Atara SX vs Toyota Camry GL 2012 Review

Toyota Camry Atara SX vs Toyota Camry GL 2012 Review

Should you go for the hotter-looking Camry Atara SX over the Camry GL and forget about the roughly seven grand more you’ll have to pony up, or is the base level GL so awesome that you couldn’t want for anything more for an executive or family sedan?

Under the bonnet the two are very similar. You do get a twin exhaust system in the SX which liberates a couple of extra kW (135 vs 133) from the 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine, and more torque (235Nm vs 231Nm) but you won’t notice it. Toyota’s weight figures say both cars are 1465kg, but I don’t

believe it. The SX feels heavier, and you would imagine with the leather electric seats, and all the other extras such as the reversing camera, scuff plates, leather steering wheel with gear shift paddles, twin exhaust, diffuser and more, that the SX is going to be quite a few kilos more than the GL. While the GL felt like a balanced and easy car to drive, the SX had the illusion of being slightly less responsive and less lithe

despite the sports suspension (though not as heavy to drive as the Holden Commodore Omega we had immediately after). This wasn’t what I was expecting.

But you shouldn’t worry. Fuel economy remains the same at 7.8l/100km, as does CO2 emissions (183g/km) and you can use 91 octane fuel which is easier on the wallet. The SX got into the mid sixes on a long open road journey – not bad for a large car.

The suspension of the SX is firmer than the GL and the ride can feel a bit harsh at times. This could be partly due to the GL running on more compliant 215/60R16 (16-inch alloys) as opposed to the 215/55R17 (17-inch alloys) of the SX, but the SX does come with sports suspension. The GL comes with 10-spoke 16-inch alloys whereas the five-spoke alloys that come with the SX are really 10 spokes clustered in twos.

On the inside both cars are comfortable and well-appointed. Passengers I took in both cars were impressed with the ride quality and seat comfort. A trip from Auckland to Rotorua in the SX was dispatched with ease. The GL was subjected to more around-town driving yet still returned good fuel economy. Both cars are also fairly quiet inside on the open road. Road noise didn’t intrude on the music coming from the 6-speaker stereo or make talking on the hands-free Bluetooth phone challenging. When a call comes in, the system turns off the music so you can focus on the conversation. Buttons on the steering wheel are provided for answering and hanging up the call.Both models come with the full complement of safety features: anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA); vehicle stability control (VSC) and traction control (TRC); nine(!) airbags (driver and passenger front, front side, front/rear curtain shield and driver’s knee); and a 5-star ANCAP crash test result.

The SX comes with keyless start, sports pedals and extra buttons on the steering wheel for controlling the trip computer. The SX also features multi-tone leather seats. In our blue car, the burgundy/brownish inserts seemed to clash with the paintwork and would have probably looked better in the red GL.

Toyota has improved the Camry’s rear seat legroom by refining seat angles and position. You’ll see in the photos of the GL and SX that there is an enormous amount of room even with a six-foot tall driver. The rear seats are split folding and can be dropped quickly from the boot with two useful levers. The boot’s size is easily large enough for a small family to take a weekend away, and with some careful packing you’d get a week’s worth of gear in there.

If I was doing a lot of miles on the open road I would go for the GL. It was a more comfortable ride and the price is sensible. However, if I wanted to display a bit more status and I’d only be doing city driving, the SX would be the one. The SX does have some great features, too, such as the reversing camera – a useful addition if you’re likely to have your (or other’s) toddlers playing in your driveway. But if you’re looking for the package which is the best value for money, then mine is on the GL.

Price: GL from $44,990. Atara SX from $51,490

Pros

  • Comfortable driving
  • Lots of passenger space
  • Reasonable price
  • Hybrid options (not tested) for those that want even better economy)

Cons

  • SX’s ride can feel a little bumpy in comparison with the GL, with its lower profile tyres and sports suspension

CAMRY GL SPECIFICATIONS

Engine description.  2.5 Litre, 4 cylinder petrol engine, In-line type.

Valve mechanism.  16-Valve Double Overhead Camshaft (DOHC), with Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i)

Maximum power.  133kW @ 6000rpm

Maximum torque.  231Nm @ 4100rpm

Fuel type.  91 unleaded petrol or higher

Fuel economy – ADR81/02 combined cycle.  7.8L/100km

CO2 emissions – ADR81/02 combined cycle.  183 g/km

Transmission – Six speed automatic with sequential shift

Wheels – Design and size.  10-spoke 16”

Tyresize.  215/60 R16

Spare wheel – full size.  Steel

Exterior door handles and rear boot garnish.  Body coloured

Electric adjustable exterior mirrors with side indicators

Front grille and body coloured front/rear bumpers.

Halogen headlights with light control system (auto on/off)

Electric Power Steering (EPS).

Brakes – ventilated front disc; solid rear disc.

Front suspension – MacPherson strut type with stabiliser bar

Rear suspension – Dual link type with stabiliser bar

Park Brake – Pedal type.

Air conditioning.  Manual

Seat material.  Fabric

Front seats – slide and recline function.

60:40 split-fold rear seat backs.

Front head rests with vertical height adjustment

Power windows front and rear, driver’s side auto

Cruise control

Urethane tilt and reach adjustable steering wheel and gear lever.

Steering wheel audio and Bluetooth controls.

Engine immobiliser and alarm.

Speed detecting automatic door lock function (customisable off function).

Wireless door locking.  Remote

CAMRY ATARA SX SPECIFICATIONS

Engine description.  2.5 Litre, 4 cylinder petrol engine, In-line type.

Valve mechanism.  16-Valve Double Overhead Camshaft (DOHC), with Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i)

Maximum power.  135kW @ 6000rpm

Maximum torque.  235Nm @ 4100rpm

Fuel type.  91 unleaded petrol or higher

Fuel economy – ADR81/02 combined cycle.  7.8L/100km

CO2 emissions – ADR81/02 combined cycle.  183 g/km

Transmission – Six speed automatic with sequential shift and paddle-shift.

Wheels – Design and size.  5 dual-spoke 17” Alloy

Tyresize.  215/55 R17

Spare wheel – full size.  Alloy

Dual exhaust with diffuser.

Exterior door handles and rear boot garnish. Body coloured

Electric adjustable exterior mirrors with side indicators

Front black mesh sports grille and body coloured front/rear bumpers.

Body coloured sports body kit including front/rear bumper spoilers, side skirts and rear lip spoiler.

Halogen headlights with light control system (auto on/off).  Sports style dark tint

Front fog lights.

Electric Power Steering (EPS).

Brakes – ventilated front disc; solid rear disc

Front suspension – MacPherson strut type with stabiliser bar. Sports type

Rear suspension – Dual link type with stabiliser bar.  Sports type

Park Brake – Pedal type

Smart entry and start system

Air conditioning.  Dual zone automatic climate control

Seat material.  Leather

Front seats – slide and recline function.  Power + height adjust; lumbar support

Sports style front seats

60:40 split-fold rear seat backs

Front head rests with vertical height adjustment

Power windows front and rear, driver’s side auto

Cruise control

Leather steering wheel with gear shift paddles; sports gear lever

Steering wheel audio and Bluetooth controls.

‘Atara’ door scuff plates

Sports pedals

Engine immobiliser and alarm.

Speed detecting automatic door lock function (customisable off function).

Wireless door locking.  Smart Key

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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