Toyota Camry 2.5V: Good Premium Value for the Money

By Lee Pang Seng
THE Toyota Camry has earned its stripes over the years as a car that fulfils executive class motoring and the latest model continues to maintain status quo with the best of them. A few days with the Camry 2.5V, which included a drive to Ipoh for some gourmet food and taking in the sights, easily convinced us as to why this Toyota executive sedan remains a strong seller.

In its seventh generation, the latest Camry comes with some new body detailing for better aerodynamics and appearance. The front gets a makeover to provide a more forward impact to stand it out among the premium range cars. The Camry 2.5V we drove also came with the optional Aerokit with distinctive Daytime Running Lights.

We begin with the keyless entry: put your hand inside the door handle and the unlock operation is activated. On getting out, press a designated spot on the door handle to lock: All done with the key fob in your pocket or handbag. It’s one of those new convenience features that really spoil us. The other is the push-button engine start and stop item, which is done by stepping on the brake pedal as a safety measure.

The interior is as roomy as they come for a car of its class, and there is no crimping on such creature comfort as a shortened seat squab that does not support the thighs well. We had the opportunity to drive and lounge in the rear, and found both experiences enjoyable in that respect. The Camry easily gives the German equivalents a run for the money here.

Both front seats are electronically adjusted. Fair enough, there’s no memory selection for different drivers; an item that should be considered. Nice touches include the drop-down headrest for the front passenger seat so that the executive lounging behind can have a clear view of the front. This doesn’t take away the effectiveness of the anti-whiplash measure built into the headrest system.

Ergonomically, we found just about every commonly used item within easy reach. The cruise control function was easy to set and deactivate during our highway drives. And we appreciated the rear camera coming into play when reverse was engaged to provide the extra view behind.

We like the added touch of polished wood grain that complements the perforated combination leather seats as it provides the luxury ambience for the Camry 2.5V. There are more than enough cupholders as well as compartments and storage spaces for items here and there.

For those privileged to lounge at the rear, the level of pampering starts with the good room all round. The adjustable air vents on the end of the central console cools the rear quickly and manually drawn window sunshades helped to keep the sun’s glare out for a comfortable ride. The foldable armrest with cupholders adds to the overall ambience.

The boot is huge and should hold more than a fair share of holiday luggage. Two golf bags can easily be accommodated, along with other paraphernalia. The rear seats cannot be folded down to extend boot space but with the central armrest down, long items can be accommodated through a designated hole.

What’s new about the Camry 2.5V is the engine. The slight increase in engine displacement is accompanied by the Dual VVT-i (variable valve timing intelligent) and ACIS (acoustic control induction system). That means the movement of intake and exhaust valves are adjusted to suit the driving need. ACIS optimises intake air flow according to engine speed for more efficient operation and increasing torque output across the rev range.

The better power output (over the previous 2.4-litre engine) is clear with 133kW (181PS) at 6000rpm and 231Nm torque peaking at 4100rpm. Strong torque builds up from 2000rpm and we could feel this on the move. In fact, for highway cruising, we seldom had to work the engine hard to maintain a decent or fast pace.

The Camry 2.5V cruised easily at 110-120km/h with engine speed at 2100 to 2200rpm, thanks to good gearing for the six-speed automatic. During the few times we put our foot down, it did 200km/h with engine speed below 4000rpm. Given the positive engine response, it was easy to maintain a steady pace with the ‘Eco’ light on, which appears automatically to indicate good fuel economy mode.

We were not surprised when we covered about 600km on a full tank during our Ipoh drive even though we moved around a fair bit, checking out eating spots and touristy places like Sam Poh Tong and Kellie’s Castle.

The ride was as good as it gets: the independent MacPherson front and dual-link rear with struts worked well with the 215/55 R17 tyres to absorb the harshness of most road impacts. Apart from the occasional jolts from deep ruts or potholes, which we couldn’t avoid in time, the Camry rides well to expectations. It was equally firm when going full bore and no float was noticed, unlike in the older models.

For winding roads, the Camry could maintain a fairly quick pace. Body roll was nicely checked when going through fast sweepers and sharp corners were taken reasonably fast before tyre squeals from the front were heard.

Noise intrusion into the passenger cabin was also at a minimum, indicating that enough wind tunnel tests were done to improve the car’s body aerodynamics and reduce air turbulence. What was noticed was the road roar over cement surfaces but the pitch was within tolerable levels and easily overlooked.

The Camry 2.5V may carry a premium price of RM180,900 on the road with insurance but we believe few would begrudge it for the strong overall performance it could deliver. The more affordable 2.0-litre models should be just as good, despite the lower power output, based on past experiences and their high numbers on our road. You can’t lose with a Camry.

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