Singapore - Toyota has been making a serious move to re-capture market share as of late with a slew of cars that should invigorate their stable and appeal to a younger, more savvy audience.
Besides the all-new Supra that should arrive onto our shores pretty soon, even their bread-and-butter models have undergone a thorough make-over.
Case in-point, the 2019 Toyota Camry, launched late last year, the large sedan looks nothing like its ho-hum predecessor, in fact I dare say it bears a slight semblance to the new Lexus ES, especially when viewed from the side and rear.
The front facade is sleek with hard-edged menacing looking headlamps that flank a massive grille and fairly large Toyota badge. Below that you get huge rows of contrasting air inlets that won’t look out of place on a Lexus either, integrated into the stack are the fog lamps on either end.
As mentioned earlier, the side profile is very Lexus-esque with a long body, prominent shoulder line and a rising belt-line that merges with the rear fender arch.
Speaking of arches, the new Camry comes standard with multi-spoke 18-inch wheels that fill out the arches relatively well and fit the overall look.
At the back its all business and again it reminded me of the Lexus ES with its slim tail-lights. The Camry badging is now located in the centre directly above the number plate with a bumper that incorporates a blacked-out diffuser and dual exhaust tips on either ends.
The new design language also flows into the spacious and airy cabin with a dashboard layout that is modern and functional. My test-unit came with contrasting beige and black panels along with a turtle-shell-like accent around the gear lever.
Dominating the centre console is a new factory-standard infotainment system with a fairly large touchscreen display that’s intuitive to operate with a built-in navigation system. The front seats and rear bench were extremely comfortable and supportive with fantastic head, shoulder and leg room all round.
Boot space is impressive too at 524-litres that should easily swallow two large luggage bags and another two cabin suitcases. Moving onto the engine bay, in Singapore the Camry comes in two flavours, the standard 2.0-litre and the 2.5-litre, which is what I am test-driving for this story.
Specifications wise, the engines remain unchanged with the 2.5-litre producing 207hp and 250Nm of torque to the front wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Perhaps the biggest difference besides the styling is that the new Camry comes with a suite of driver assistance features called Toyota Safety Sense - these include: adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure alert with steering assistance, and automatic high beam.
On the move, the new Camry has a lot more spirit than its predecessors, this is highly evident in its refined well weighted steering and handling. The new Camry rides on Macpherson struts upfront and a Double-wishbone at the rear, which should explain why the car’s dynamics are vastly improved.
Show it a couple of bends and the Camry is composed while tracking pretty well minus all that boat-like drama from previous iterations. The automatic transmission does a good job of keeping the revs up when needed and shifts so smoothly that you barely feel it when pottering around town.
Drive the Camry spiritedly and the engine accelerates willingly, even though there are no official figures, I did time the car’s 0-100km/h at 8 seconds flat, which is reasonable given that it weighs a hefty 1,550kg. The car’s brakes are also spot-on, allowing for easy modulation while pedal effort is neither too firm or mushy.
Ride quality is up there and the Toyota actually feels pretty much like a Lexus with your typical bumps all soaked up nicely, the ride is never floaty and is firm enough without being excessive.
Sound insulation is top notch too as the Camry’s cabin is hushed, blocking nearly all unwanted external noises - I could whisper and my rear passengers could be still able to hear me.
Truth be told the Camry is a fine package and a worthy option if you are in the market for a reasonably large sedan that packs all the bells and whistles, drives pretty well and looks good too. Toyota has another winner on their hands.