2021 Toyota Camry Ascent Hybrid (car review)

THERE is no denying Australia’s love for the Toyota Camry, and in this case the Ascent Hybrid. For 27 years it has dominated the mid-size sedan market and has prided itself on its value promise and bulletproof reliability.

The 2021 Toyota Camry Ascent Hybrid improves on the already tried and tested formula, delivering a more modernised offering than we’ve ever seen before. Aesthetically it’s genuinely stunning.

The timid style Camry we all remember growing up around has been left behind in favour of a more aggressive and sporty style. With an updated grille and bumper, the Camry keeps the modern shape, with some additional sporty touches.

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Everything from the bulging hood, aggressive lines, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and sporty bumpers screams style, a sentence this author never thought he’d say about a Camry.

The sharp styling isn’t limited to the exterior either. The Camry’s interior is a beautiful combination of stylish and functional, pairing soft and hard plastics, and pleather. There is a particularly premium feel to the interior, the second you step in.

The build quality is top notch. Flimsy, squeaky and rattily buttons and panels have no place here. Everything in the Camry feels like it could survive a nuclear blast. The seats are comfortable yet supportive, and the steering wheel houses everything you need.

The controls for the media and driver aid functions have been intuitively placed and are easily accessible. The interior is well laid out too, with generous cupholders, practical door pockets, a deep centre console, ample glovebox and phenomenal 534-litre boot.

That’s no typo either, which puts many small SUVs to shame! The rear seats are more than ample for even taller passengers, as we expected. A 7.0-inch touchscreen display is in charge of controlling the Sunday tunes.

It now includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Unfortunately though, the Toyota infotainment system is fairly unintuitive and looks quite dated, with the inclusion of wired smartphone connectivity ensuring you don’t need to interact with it.

The inclusion of DAB+ digital radio and a 6-speaker sound system were welcome features, but we would have loved to see more than one USB port.

Driving the Camry is a delight, everything about the car feels polished and refined. The hybrid assisted 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine produces a respectable 160kW of power and 243Nm of torque, with the assistance of two electric motors.

The e-CVT gearbox was offers seamless shifts, producing a lusciously smooth and quiet ride with no real road noise to speak of. The hybrid to combustion handover is dealt with harmoniously in the Camry.

The electric motors handle low speed and mild acceleration, with the combustion engine taking over when accelerating harder or passing the speed threshold. It is amazing how effortlessly the Camry manages this.

If you weren’t listening for the handover, you wouldn’t even be aware it had happened. Fuel economy is phenomenal for a car of its size. We easily beat the 4.7-litres/100km advertised rate, achieving 4.4-litres/100km in mix of freeway and city driving.

With a 5-star ANCAP rating, safety is definitely top of the priority list, with Toyota’s Safety Sense package included on the Camry. Seven airbags are included, along with a plethora of assists including ABS, and traction and stability control.

You’ll also find lane trace assist, lane departure with steering assist, pre collision safety, road sign assist, active cruise control, auto high beam and a reverse camera. SOS emergency call, automatic collision notification and stolen vehicle tracking is included.

The Camry will call emergency services for help if the SOS button is pressed or the airbags are deployed. Despite all the inclusions, we would have liked to have seen front and rear parking sensors, and blind spot monitoring.

Even with aggressive styling and sporty looks, the 2021 Toyota Camry Ascent Hybrid is still an incredibly practical vehicle at a sensible price point. Spacious, well featured and well built, it’s no wonder the Camry has been a market leader for almost three decades.

The 2021 Toyota Camry Ascent Hybrid is available from $37,920 drive away. Capped price servicing is available for 5-years or 75,000km and Toyota includes a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.

It is available in Glacier White, Frosted White, Silver Pearl, Feverish Red, Blacksmith Bronze, Lunar Blue and Eclipse Black.

Our test vehicle was supplied by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Toyota Camry Ascent Hybrid, contact your local Toyota dealer.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros - great value; beautiful styling; exceptional fuel economy.
Cons - just one USB port; underwhelming infotainment system.


  1. Reality is dragging Petrol Heads towards the inevitable loss of Zorst Notes with and the need to cosy up to an electric car.

    With demise of XR8s and SSVs, some have switched to Stingers. The V6 Camry was almost an option, but they’re FWD and the odd review mentioned torque steer. In my opinion, Petrol Heads would have taken an interest in a supercharged V6 Camry with AWD. I think it would have been an interesting Stinger competitor. Sadly, Toyota canned the V6 Camry.

    I guess that takes us back to kicking and screaming? TOYOTA!! How about a Hybrid V6 Camry with an electric motor driving the REAR wheels!? TOYOTA!! You built the GR Yaris so perhaps you have an interest in building fun cars? How about a Hybrid AWD V6 Camry?

    Ben Tate.

    • Once upon a long time ago there was a TRD supercharged V6 Aurion. In another guise, its base was the V6 Camry.

      Surely the potential is there for Gazoo Racing to do its thing on a Camry, make it AWD and pair with with a V6 hybrid powerplant (I think there’s one in the Lexus stable in the LC 500h). Surely they could do that. We’re with you Ben, this should happen.

  2. News Desk,

    Another option might be a suitably turbocharged 2.5L Camry with electric motor/s driving the REAR wheels. With a separate electric motor for each rear wheel, I wonder what could be done with torque vectoring?

    Ah the good old days. When we couldn’t even spell torque vectoring. Or AEB or ESC or LKA! And …
    insurance cost four times as much! ?

    I’m not a fan of LKA, but every “hero” needs ESC. AEB might prove useful sooner or later when a nightime jogger wearing black leaps in front of the car.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> great value; beautiful styling; exceptional fuel economy.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> just one USB port; underwhelming infotainment system.2021 Toyota Camry Ascent Hybrid (car review)