The mid-sized sedan segment may be declining but the Toyota Camry retains a stranglehold on it.
Last year, it held just over 64 per cent market share. If you lump in the cars VFACTS illogically classifies as Large – like the similarly-sized Holden Commodore – the Camry still has almost 50 per cent market share.
The latest Camry, introduced in 2018, benefited from a move to Toyota’s TNGA platform, casting aside the K platform that had been used and continuously updated since 2001.
Toyota’s taken the opportunity to thoroughly overhaul the Camry’s looks. You’ll find the shape of the headlights and taillights are similar to the last car but this is no mere evolution. It now measures 1445mm tall, a reduction in height of 25mm. That gives it a more svelte appearance, while the beltline also appears lower.
Most importantly, the latest Camry looks like it was designed first as a sporty SX or luxurious SL. Past high-spec Camrys have looked like regular Camrys with stuff stuck on – like the old Sportivos – or haven’t looked much different from lower-spec models.
With the latest Camry, however, there’s clear differentiation in higher grades from the base Ascent. That includes a completely different and more aggressive grille and front bumper, with gloss-black mesh inserts and a prominent body-colour dividing line.
SX and SL Camry tail lights also have little aerodynamic details that curve out and down, which echo the shape of the Lexus LC coupe’s tail lights. Both models also feature attractive wheel designs – 19-inches for the SX and 18-inches for the SL here.
The Camry’s exterior won’t completely alienate loyal customers – you can even still get it in a beige-y colour – but it goes a long way towards appealing to people who mightn’t have considered a Camry before. Does a Lexus ES look $18,000 nicer?
How much does the Toyota Camry SL V6 cost?
The Camry SL V6 costs $43,990 before on-road costs, exactly $3000 more than the SL Hybrid and $4000 more than the regular SL four-cylinder.
The only option is metallic paint, which costs $500. That includes the Lunar Blue of our tester.
What do you get?
The SL V6 is equipped identically to the other Camry SLs, with one key distinction: the single-pane sunroof found on the SL Hybrid is swapped out for a panoramic sunroof.
Standard equipment includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and satellite navigation, as well as leather upholstery, Qi wireless phone charging, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, proximity entry with push-button start, and eight-way power front seats.
These features are in addition to adaptive cruise control and adaptive high beam, which are standard across the Camry range.
There are some curious omissions, however. The front seats are ventilated but not heated – usually it’s the other way around – while there’s no surround-view camera or power-folding mirrors.
Heated front seats are available in other markets though we imagine if most Aussies had to choose between the two, ventilated seats would be more desirable due to our climate.
Is the Toyota Camry safe?
When ANCAP tested the Camry in 2017, it awarded it a score of five stars. That was based on a frontal offset score of 15.16 out of 16 points, and whiplash and pedestrian protection scores of Good and Acceptable, respectively.
Autonomous emergency braking with forward-collision warning is standard on all 2020 Camrys. The system works at speeds between 10 and 180km/h, though it can only detect pedestrians at speeds between 10 and 80km/h.
Other standard safety kit includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and front, front-side and curtain airbags, plus a driver’s knee airbag.
What is the Toyota Camry SL V6 like on the inside?
This isn’t just a stylish interior for a Camry, it’s a stylish interior, period. It’s also the most impressive Camry interior since the excellent 1993 model.
It’s an enormous improvement over the dour interior of the last Camry, with its abundance of hard plastic and tacky faux stitching. In the current car, there’s lovely, soft-touch plastic to be found on the dash top and at the tops of all the doors. Leatherette extends from the passenger’s side of the dash to the side of the centre console and is also used on the door trims.
Though the interior is black with a gloss black centre stack, Toyota’s employed subtle dark brown accents on the seats with matching brown stitching details on the dash.
The only visual misfire in the interior is the brown trim on the dash. It appears to be following in the proud Toyota tradition of egregiously fake wood trim, to the point where we’re not even sure it’s supposed to be wood. Fortunately, it’s balanced out with some subtle, classy blue accent lighting.
There’s a striking, asymmetric look to the dashboard but the Camry hasn’t sacrificed function for form. The 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is neatly integrated into the centre stack and all the switchgear falls easily to hand, with nothing buried inconveniently low. Tucked away below the controls is a Qi wireless charging pad.
Toyota’s finally abandoning its venerable cruise control stalk, in favour of a much more attractive set of buttons on the steering wheel. They’re laid out similarly to many rivals’ controls.
A head-up display is new to the Camry line. It’s a severely underrated safety feature, and helps keep your eyes on the road as much as possible. Unlike some cars, it also displays the gear you’ve selected.