Marcus De Guzman / Jenna Genio | February 20, 2017 17:20
They may no longer be volume sellers but there is just something about midsize sedans that make them stand out from your average four-door. Bigger, roomier and substantially more powerful than hatchbacks and smaller-sized four-doors, the D-segment can be seen as a major upgrade from the more humble B- and C-segment cars.
Having said that, I was able to sate my fascination (and growing enthusiasm) to this kind of vehicle after recently getting to test the refreshed Camry. We already got to test the 'sporty' 2.5 S back in 2015, and now we get behind the wheel (and in the backseat) of the top-of-the-range V6 model.
Aesthetically speaking, both the four- and six-cylinder models get the same exterior design which was not a problem for me. The pre-facelift model was already good looking to begin with but the recent refresh made the car look more youthful while retaining its upscale aura. I also liked how Toyota was able to use a long hood, short deck design for the XV50 Camry despite the car being a front-wheel-drive sedan.
The slim HID headlights (with LED daytime running lights), prominent chrome grill, wide lower air intake and faux side air vents were also a nice touch that gave the Camry a sporty and sophisticated look. The rear may not be as eye-catching, but the broad shoulder lines, dual exhaust pipes and distinct taillights gives the V6 Camry a purposeful look.
The Camry V6 has probably one of the coziest interiors in its segment. Dark leather and deep-colored wood veneer greet you once you open the doors of the V6 sedan. Contrasting the earthy hues are the faux metal trim accents, piano black trim pieces and the soft-touch material found throughout the Camry. If the 2.5 S had the 'Sport Leather' upholstery with red contrast stitching, the top-of-the-line V6 gets a more supple leather trim with beige stitching.
Topping the finely-appointed cabin are the toys to play with. Both the front seats and the steering wheel are power adjustable, while the rear seats can be reclined electronically. Touchscreen infotainment comes as standard while the tri-zone (driver, passenger and rear) automatic climate control comes with Toyota's 'Nano-E' which purifies the air and eliminates any odors.
The center armrest at the back comes with several other controls apart from the reclining function. These include climate control for the rear vent, controls for the audio system and heated seats, and the rear power sunshade. Just goes to show that the best seats in the house are at the back.
Propelling this particular Camry is, you guessed it, a 3.5-liter V6 internally known as the 2GR-FE. Carried-over from the pre-facelift model, the engine produces 277 metric horsepower at 6200 rpm and 346 Nm at 4700 rpm. Like the 2.5-liter models, a 6-speed automatic gearbox with manual select sends power to the front wheels.
I was already impressed with the power delivery of the 2.5-liter 2AR-FE but I was even more surprised when I got to drive the bigger V6. Sure the Camry is known as the quintessential chauffeur-driven car, but one should drive a V6 Camry once in their life.
With nearly 350 Nm of pulling power, the Camry is definitely no slouch. With so much torque available on tap, it's actually quite easy for the Camry to reach cruising speeds thanks to the well-matched powertrain. If one has the need for speed, the V6 and six-speed automatic will gladly oblige. The transmission is both smooth and responsive, depending whether you're driving casually or spiritedly. The engine itself is a powerhouse that is capable of keeping up with lightweight sports cars or more powerful SUVs. Bury your right foot on the accelerator and one can actually light up the front tires if you're not careful.
As for handling, do remember that the Camry is still a big sedan. While it can take on sweeping bends, the chassis of the Camry was built with comfort in mind, not outright agility.
But perhaps the best feature of the V6 Camry is its ride quality. This is by far one of the most comfortable sedans that I've ridden on. With generous rear legroom and soft damping, the Camry delivers a very pliant ride in almost every situation. Pothole-ridden streets pose no challenge to the Camry as it was able to go over them with no fuss.
In typical V6 fashion, the fuel economy of the Camry is nothing to write home about. A stroll around the city will net you an average fuel consumption of about 6.8 km/l. Take it out to expressways and the V6 will be able to return about 13.5 km/l. Find yourself stuck in heavy traffic and the Camry will guzzle fuel at around 5.5 km/l. But then again, you wouldn't expect a six-cylinder, 277 PS sedan to consume like a Vios, right?
At PhP 2,153,000 (+PhP 15,000 if you want it painted in White Pearl), some might say that the V6 is overkill. But for the low-key executive who wants everything in a humble badged car, the Camry V6 is still a solid choice for those that want a D-segment sedan. It has a proven track record, great ride quality, plenty of in-car amenities to keep everyone comfortable and a very potent powertrain.
In this day and age of SUVs and crossovers, the D-segment sedan is a refreshing alternative where space, comfort and power is not sacrificed. The Camry V6 delivers all these without shouting about it.