2015 Toyota Camry Atara SX

2015 Toyota Camry Atara SX

Toyota Camry has been unfairly put down by too many people when they comment on its conservative looks. Now the Japanese giant has given it a radical reworking in its shape. With most of the work being done in its Californian design centre, Calty, where I’m not sure they understand the concept of ‘conservative’.

Camry, and its brother Aurion (which is a Camry with a V6 engine) are still being built in Altona, west of Melbourne, but only until 2017 when, sadly, local car manufacturing in Australia becomes nothing but history.

Our test car for the past week was the semi-sporty variant, the Camry Atara SX. Interestingly, it’s designed and made purely for Australian market. A smart move given the number of hot variants of Commodores and Falcons sold here, not to forget the big sales of ultra-sporty models from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Keen on attracting younger buyers Toyota Australia has given Camry new body panels everywhere except the roof. “If the rest of the world is going to big radiator grilles,” says Toyota. “we will go for the biggest, boldest, baddest grille of them all.”The result is that there’s a lot more grille than metal and plastic at the front. Can’t say we particularly like it, but it may grow on us. In any case, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Camry Atara SX has 18-inch alloy wheels with low profile tyres and sports suspension. Though Toyota’s commitment to petrol-electric hybrid technology is used in all other versions of the Camry, the Atara SX doesn’t get it. Which seems odd given that hybrids provide extra urge off the line and are increasingly common in the top levels of motorsport these days.

Changes to the trim and a new design of steering wheel are aimed at giving Camry a more upmarket feel.


Toyota Link is installed in Camry Atara SX. It provides Pandora music streaming, apps that can used to find destinations, fuel and weather details and roadside assistance. It can use voice recognition and Toyota Link.
Pandora is operated through the vehicle’s audio head unit via a touchscreen display; there’s Bluetooth, Aux, and USB connectivity; AM/FM radio and a CD player.
The 2.5-litre petrol engine is unchanged with 135 kW of power and 235 Nm of torque in the Atara SX. Transmission is by six-speed automatic through the front wheels.

The upgraded Toyota Camry retains its five-star ANCAP safety rating with all models coming with seven airbags, reversing camera, vehicle stability and traction control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution; and LED daytime running lights.

We stepped out of the Atara SX feeling very impressed after our initial drives out of Melbourne in May this year. After a week of heavy-duty traffic driving, some lovely country running and a quick trip over our secret test route behind the Gold Coast nothing has changed our opinions. It’s no sports machine, but the Atara SX is certainly the most enjoyable Camry we’ve ever driven.

The suspension work was done in Australia, mainly by Aussie engineers, but there’s some input from Japanese engineers as well. A new design differential is installed in all Camry models, not just the Atara SX.


The ride is firm without compromising comfort overmuch, steering feel is tighter than on the standard Camry models and provides good feedback.

The SX gripped the road reassuringly through the many bends and dips along our drive routes. Control by way of throttle input is better than anticipated. Indeed it’s amongst the best we have ever felt from a front-drive family sedan from an Asian car maker.

Toyota Camry Atara SX will appeal to the family car driver who is looking for more than simply transport and who wants a responsive car under their control. It’s an excellent example of Australian engineering which, combined with Californian styling, seems certain to sell in significant numbers.


Altise petrol: $26,490 (automatic)
Altise Hybrid: $30,490 (automatic)
Atara S petrol: $29,490 (automatic)
Atara S Hybrid: $32,490 (automatic)
Atara SX petrol: $31,990 (automatic)
Atara SL petrol: $37,440 (automatic)
Atara SL Hybrid: $40,440 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for driveaway prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota Camry Atara SX 2.5-litre four-door sedan)

Capacity: 2.494 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 135 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 235 Nm @ 4100 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 183 g/km

Six-speed automatic

Length: 4850 mm
Wheelbase: 2775 mm
Width: 1835 mm
Height: 1470 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1440 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Three years / 100,000 km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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