Toyota Australia confirmed recently that the Aurion nameplate will be dropped and replaced by a Back to the Future nameplate. Camry V6, anyone? However, surrounded by a fleet of SUVs and the evergreen Corolla, what’s left in the tank for the base model nameplate, Altise? A Wheel Thing drives the 2017 Toyota Camry Altise and comes away wondering if it’s time to put this one out to pasture?When Camry first landed on Australian soil, it was a simple five door hatch. That morphed into a sedan and wagon range which, eventually, became a sedan only and gave birth to a renamed V6 version plus sheetmetal changes. That car was called Aurion and graced showrooms for barely a decade. Now Toyota has canned that car, the Camry is left as a large car in a medium car market thanks to its four cylinder powerplant. A 2.5L capacity unit, in base trim it spins out just 133 kilowatts at 6000 rpm and a reasonable but not overwhelming 231 Nm of torque at 4100 rpm. With a dry weight of 1465 kg to pull around plus 70 litres of 91 RON and human cargo, it’s no surprise that Toyota says it’s a 11.1L/100 kilometre consumption figure for its natural environment, the urban jungle. There is a Hybrid system available which, along with the four and V6, will carry over to the imported 2018 spec model.The Camry IS a big car. At 4850 mm long, 1470 mm high and 1835 mm wide, it well and truly takes it up to its classmates in the form of Falcon, Commodore, Sonata, Optima et al, and it really is only the engine that makes it a medium sized car in classification. It’s a proper five seater, rolls on a 2775 mm wheelbase, and has a boot big enough to swallow a couple of golf club carriers with room to spare, at 515L. Inside, there’s two bottle and cup holders up front for driver and passenger, with the rear getting two cup holders and four bottle holders. There’s also Bluetooth audio, standard AM/FM radio and CD (couldn’t find a USB/3.5 mm plug setup though) however the review car was also fitted with DAB. And yes, even the average speakers on board still sounded good for DAB.Interior trim was basic: black cloth, black plastic, manual adjustment for the seats, driver’s window only was one touch Up/Down, a binnacle centre speedo flanked by a tacho and combined fuel level and dial (not digitally) based consumption display. It’s old school in layout for the console, with dials for the aircon temperature and speed but a touch more modern for direction thanks to individual tabs. It’s typical Toyota in that the ergonomics are spot on however it’s a lacklustre look, with no real visual appeal in deference to basic functionality. If there’s a win here, it’s that it looks better than, even though there’s hints of, the dash from the IS series. Another score is the amount of hip/shoulder/leg room on offer.Outside, the Altise differs slightly from its stablemates, the Hybrid, Atara, and RZ, in having globe lit driving lights, not LED, in the left and extremities of the front bumper, plus the spindle design element is not as pronounced. Compared to the superceded model it looks longer, sleeker, wider, especially at the rear with the broadened tail lights, and more purposeful there, however the front has five horizontal bars that lend an almost baleen whale look to the snout. There’s even a change to the C pillar that lengthens the windowline and there’s plenty of glass to give passengers a broad and airy feeling.That 2.5L four and not inconsiderable heft make the Camry a willing if not spirited performer on road. Acceleration is leisurely at best, accompanied by a soundtrack that never gets raucous yet indicates a struggle to really pull. The six speed transmission is smooth enough however had the disconcerting tendency to brake the engine under almost any forms of acceleration. Light throttle, move, gear change, brake, accelerate again…repeated through to medium and most heavy throttle applications. In fact, the only time the car felt as if it had any life was in a hard acceleration from a blind corner, which momentarily had the front driven 215/60/16 tyres from Michelin chirping.Coupled with a not quite en pointe’ steering set up (vague, somewhat disconnected), a suspension set up that has mild tautness up front but with short travel struts that feel as if they’ll rip out over bigger speedhumps, as opposed to a softly sprung rear end that bottoms out just a bit too easily, it’s a dynamics package that’s a bit like burnt porridge for the three bears. Not too hot, not too cold, but no longer just right.
At the time of writing, the Camry Altise petrol had a driveaway price of just of $30K, but was also being offered with a special driveaway price of (from) $27990 with free satnav. There’s also the standard three year warranty or 100,000 kilometre covered, plus up to five low cost, capped price, standard logbook services at $140 for the first 4 years or 75,000km, whichever occurs first. Naturally there’s a full suite of safety systems including seven airbags,
At The End Of The Drive.
It’s been said of certain kinds of cars that they’re whitegoods on wheels. They’re designed to do a job, without any real appeal but also to do it without any hint of failure. Being the entry level member to the Camry family, that role falls to the Camry Altise. It has looks that are inoffensive without being overtly visually appealing, it has a drivetrain that does a job without being exciting nor overly dull. There’s an interior that mixes a bit of modern tech with more than a nod towards history.
Harsh it may be, but the 2017 Toyota Camry Altise is the four wheeled embodiment of a whitegood on wheels. As such, it’s this level of spec that may continue to sell to fleet buyers that require naught more than the appliance to get them from A to B to A again. With the 2018 range yet to be fully confirmed, the question of whether to retire (in A Wheel Thing’s opinion) the Altise won’t be answered but given it’s a cost effective entry level member, it’s unlikely to be shuffled into retirement.
Head to 2017 Toyota Australia range for info on all Toyota products including the Camry.