In a recent summer survey of Kiwi ice-cream tastes it was revealed that 11.3 percent of us list Vanilla as our favorite flavour, making it the fourth most desirable ice cream lick in the land. This even places vanilla ahead of long-time nemesis chocolate. A surprising result considering the word ‘vanilla’ itself has come to mean plain or uninspired. In the family sedan market it’s the Toyota Camry that has a reputation as the ‘vanilla’ choice. A solid seller and mainstay on the NZ market but lacking some of the flair shown by competitors the Camry has been given a recent facelift to re-stimulate interest. When it comes to ice cream flavours it’s local hero Hokey Pokey that reigns supreme. So will this facelift provide the nougat chunks that the vanilla Camry needs to be number one? Car and SUV got its hands on a revised Camry and a few ice cream cones to investigate further.
The facelift has brought some minimal changes to the Camry’s exterior styling and the stubby nose remains, albeit with a new curved front grille and headlights. At the rear, replacement LED taillights modernise the look and activate quicker than conventional lights. The remainder of the reworked Camry’s sheet metal remains unchanged from the 2006-09 model it replaces. Overall, the Camry doesn’t utilize any dramatic creative styling cues but it has a no fuss charm that meshes with its reputation for robust reliability. While it won’t stand out in a crowd the facelift has still worked well to prolong the lifespan of Toyota’s ageing workhorse.
In the Camry interior there is good space on offer and it’s a genuine family four or five seater. Although the vehicle feels high waisted the driving position is nicely low with good visibility all-round thanks to thin A-pillars.
The seats have been upgraded with a new cloth for the facelift and are comfortably soft but do lack in firm lateral support. New plastic trim, an extra storage bin and tweaks to the instrument cluster have come with the refresh. The stereo head unit has also been enlarged to house a 4.3-inch colour LCD screen that is used as a display for the now optional reversing camera. The remainder of the dashboard is logically laid out with all controls within easy reach of the driver. Cabin materials and fit is generally solid and durable as expected from a Toyota but the contrasting silver trim doesn’t have the same quality feel as the darker plastics. Interior equipment on the tested base-model Camry GL has everything you need and includes full electrics, dual-zone air conditioning, six-speaker CD stereo with AUX input, cruise control, Bluetooth phone capability and a steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls.
Under the bonnet the Camry’s 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder unit has no major mechanical changes, but small tweaks have been made to improve fuel economy from 9.9l/100km to 8.8l/100km on the combined cycle. Power output remains at 117kW and 218Nm of torque which is adequate on general duties but with a 1488kg kerb weight to shift the Camry isn’t rapid. That said, it’s responsive, moves well in stop/start traffic and has no problems with overtaking on the open road.
Putting power to the tarmac is Toyota’s five-speed automatic transmission, it’s a smooth creamy unit that’s relaxed in demeanor and capable of near seamless shifting. But heavy use of the gas pedal or steep windy roads can expose it for not being the most intelligent gearbox in the segment.
In terms of handling the Camry’s suspension is set for comfort rather than to be thrown round like a sports car. This helps it easily soak up the many bumps and dips Kiwi roads have on offer but does deny it the dynamic abilities of arch rival the Ford Mondeo. Compounding this further is a steering feel that’s precise but very light and noticeable body roll when changing direction quickly. However, strong handling ability isn’t a virtue many buyers would place above reliability and comfort, which the Camry has in blocks.
The Camry scores well in regard to safety with stability and traction control, ABS brakes with Brake Assist, seatbelt pre-tensioners and six airbags all standard fare.
The facelifted Camry answers the question why vanilla is such a popular flavour, because it’s a taste that everyone can happily consume. A complete all rounder, whose strength lays in its reliability, easy-to-drive nature and broad appeal. The refreshed model is not only sharper to look at but has sweetened the deal with more standard equipment and an impressive increase in fuel-efficiency.
Competitors like the Mazda6 and Ford Mondeo may set taste buds and pulses racing with sharp styling and sporty handing credentials but the Camry continues to offer fuss-free, comfortable, and affordable motoring. That’s why it’s been so popular in the past and why it’ll continue to be the choice for many hungry new car customers.
Things we like:
- Comfortable spacious interior
- Reliable competent powertrain
- Improved equipment spec and fuel economy
Things we don’t like:
- Bland styling
- Cornering dynamics
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
Toyota Camry GL (2010) – Specifications
Engine Model Code 2AZ-FE
Type In-line, 4 cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC, Variable Valve Timing – intelligent (VVT-i)
Alternator 80 amps
Battery Voltage 12 volts
Bore 88.50 mm
Capacity 2362 cc
Configuration In-line 4 cylinder
Condition Euro IV Emission 208 g/km
Test ADR 81/01
Fuel Tank Capacity 70 litres
Fuel Type 91 Octane Petrol
Injection Type Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI)
Location Front, Transverse
Measurement standard for max power and torque (SAE NET)
Maximum Power 117 kW 5700 rpm
Maximum Torque 218 Nm 4000 rpm
Starter 1.10 kW
Stroke 96 mm
Fuel Economy Litres per 100km 8.8
Front Track 1575 mm
Rear Track 1565 mm
Gross Vehicle Weight 2015 kg
Kerb Weight 1488 kg
Minimum Ground Clearance 129 mm
Overall Height 1480 mm
Overall Length 4815 mm
Overall Width 1820 mm
Tow Capacity Braked 1200 kg
Tow Capacity Unbraked 500 kg
Wheelbase 2775 mm