Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted November 08, 2012 11:36
Executive class redefined
The Toyota Camry has always been one of the top choices in the midsize executive car class. Earlier this year, Toyota released the all-new Camry, promising a much more dynamic character than before. We tested the 2.5 version, now it's time for the 3.5.
The most significant change for the 3.5Q’s latest iteration is that it comes from Japan instead of Thailand where the 2.5 variants still continue to be built.
On the outside, the new generation XV50 is definitely edgier than its predecessor, the XV40. It looks sharper and statelier than the sportier US-market version. The combination of trapezoidal and rhomboid shapes and well-chiseled edges on the front-end define a very respectable character for the car. This is all finished with a well-balanced rear.
More refinement and comfort welcomes you as you open the door. The Q variant features an all-black interior instead of beige and black combination found in the G and V variants. It is accented with laminated faux wood to appeal to more mature customers. A cleaner and more sculpted dashboard with well-placed buttons and controls await as you sit on the driver’s seat for the first time.
It is significantly more spacious than its predecessor despite only being 20mm longer, 4mm wider and 20mm taller compared to the former model. The leather also gets a more premium feel for the current model. Both front seats are power adjustable with the driver’s seat getting a power height and lumbar adjustment in addition. Like the 2.5V we reviewed recently, the Q also has a power rear sunshade, pull-up window shades, reclining rear seats and climate control for the rear third-zone aircon system through the armrest console.
The normally technologically conservative Toyota brand has now included several modern features to the new Camry. The six-speaker entertainment system can be controlled by the touchscreen LCD or steering mounted controls. It features as standard an AM/FM, CD with MP3 stereo, which also has AUX input, iPod/USB connectivity, Bluetooth and a reverse camera. Also standard are cruise control, HID headlamps, push button start/stop, smart entry, and a multi-information display (trip, fuel eco, etc).
Under the hood is the same 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve Dual VVT-i V6 engine. The V6 is carried over from the previous model, and mated to a 6-Speed automatic transmission with manual mode. Despite having the same engine and transmission, the latest version seems to perform better and runs smoother due to better engine mapping, an improved electronic transmission module and maybe also due to the 45-kilogram diet the car underwent. Fuel economy in the city is about 6.5 km/l with highway figures going in excess of 13 km/l. Like many new cars, the new Camry is also equipped with an ‘Eco’ mode which optimizes fuel economy and activates based on your throttle input. Also, a new fuel economy meter mounted on the rightmost of the instrument cluster displays your average fuel consumption as well as current fuel economy.
On the road, the new XV50 rides firmer compared to the soft and more comfortable ride of XV40 as the suspension has been retuned for more dynamic driving characteristics. The result is better handling and cornering capabilities that the previous generations lacked. This, however, does not mean the ride if harsh and uncomfortable; it still absorbs bumps and other road imperfections comfortably with commendable NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) suppression. The 20mm increase in height also prevents scuffing on the underbody and exhaust.
While the midsize executive class includes the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mazda6, Nissan Teana, Subaru Legacy; only the Honda Accord 3.5 S-V and Nissan Teana 350XV variants can be considered real competition for the Camry 3.5Q. Toyota has done their homework in striking the perfect balance between dynamism and comfort with the Camry 3.5Q; the Accord used to offer such character exclusively. Nissan’s comfort and ride proposition for the Teana might still be attractive, but it is a very old car already and it also has the weakest engine despite having a slight displacement advantage.
The Camry 3.5Q has just managed to further stamp its presence in the midsize executive class with its new sense of balance. The pricetag may have slightly gone up by PhP72,000 to PhP2,082,000 compared to its predecessor, but this is due to the car being sourced from Japan instead of neighboring Thailand.