ONE might be led to believe that because we’d been handed the keys to the 2020 Toyota Camry SL Hybrid, that we needed to age ourselves by about 50 years, be retired and have a golf bag in the boot. But that simply isn’t the case.
What we always knew in the back of our minds but didn’t want to admit, was this; the Camry is a cool bit of kit. That’s right. It’s actually cool, roomy and comfortable, with an incredible body shape that looks the best it ever has.
The SL looks especially good draped in Feverish Red like our tester too. So forget the old man stigma, because we’re here to tell you that the top dog in the Camry model range is all that, and a packet of crisps.
Available with three different engines, including a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder and 3.5-litre V6 petrol power plant, along with the hybrid we’re testing here, the SL comes with an electric tilt and slide moon roof (exclusive to the SL Hybrid), extra safety, and a lush interior.
It’s powered by the same 4-cylinder 2.5-litre dual VVT-i petrol engine we already mentioned, that produces 131kW of power and 221Nm of torque. This is married to a punchy electric motor adding 88kW and 202Nm.
The result is a combined peak output of 160kW of power, coupled to Toyota’s current spec CVT gearbox. On tap are four driving modes, including EV, Eco, Normal and Sport. The combination offers some pretty solid performance, albeit a little revvy at times.
An impressive fact we think you should know; Toyota are throwing in a 10-year unlimited kilometre warranty on the hybrid battery. Further refinement over the previous model hasn’t gone unnoticed either, with improved stability on the road.
Some of the torque steer issues that have haunted the front-wheel drive in the past have been ironed out as well. It’s an impressive package for $47,419 drive away. It feels luxurious from behind the wheel, with the leather interior exuding comfort.
Inside, the Camry carries the same NASA space shuttle looking dash from last year, with the same mix of hard black and silver plastic, and some soft elements.
The combination flows well enough, but could really do with an overhaul. It feels a little Government fleet/taxi cab.
It’s interior features include leather appointed ventilated seats (no heating, which we found weird), a 7.0-inch infotainment system, satellite navigation, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a bunch of airbags, and plenty more.
The list includes a 524-litre boot space, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 8-way powered seats for the driver and front passenger, two rear and one front USB charging ports, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, four cup holders, and drink bottle holders in the doors.
It even has Siri Eyes Free and Google Now pre-installed, a wireless phone charger, and Toyota’s full Safety Sense suite to keep you safe, including lane departure warning, auto high-beam and all-speed adaptive cruise control, to name but a few.
Energy flow around the hybrid system, speed, and the status of your safety systems are shown clearly via the instrument cluster too. While it is functional, it does lag behind what’s on offer from other manufacturers.
The back seat is huge and big enough to house a baby car-seat and two adults, without too much complaint. We didn’t need to move the front seat forward either for the rear-facing munchkin carrier. Pretty impressive for a mid-sized sedan.
The 2020 Toyota Camry SL Hybrid is a really good thing. It doesn’t soar to the same dynamic heights as some of its competitors, but this Camry has an unexpected charm to it, particularly thanks to its comfortable ride.
It offers seriously good value, not only for a flagship mid-size sedan, but also for one with a petrol-electric power train. Of note is the fact hybrid sales account for 63 per cent of Camry’s purchased.
The Camry Hybrid too, will be further improved from pretty much now (October) too, with the current 245V nickel metal hydride battery being phased out, and replaced with a new, more efficient, 259V lithium-ion battery.
The 2020 Toyota Camry SL Hybrid is available in eight colours, including Frosted White, Glacier White, Silver, Eclipse Black, Steel Blonde, Blacksmith Bronze, Lunar Blue and Feverish Red.
Our test vehicle was provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Toyota Camry SL Hybrid, contact your local Toyota dealer.