Fleet News

Toyota Camry

Toyota

Review

To this list I was thinking of adding the existence of the Toyota Camry. The only reason I am holding back is because there is a market for it somewhere – possibly the USA and Asia – and not everything is built with the express purpose of appealing to the UK company car market.

##Camry test--left## Upon further investigation, more than seven million have been sold in its 21-year history, and the Camry is the best-selling saloon in the US for the past four years, so it is not to be sniffed at.

But in my blinkered little world of British fleet, just like the Ferrari 360 Modena or the Bentley Continental GT, it just doesn't hit the spot. At least it's in good company. For a start, the Camry is too expensive, its emissions are too high and residuals too weak. And surely it is stepping on the toes of Lexus?

On the plus side, it has a ride quality that very few can match except on the posh side of the family over at Lexus, and it has some nice touches like a water repellent coating on the windows and plenty of interior space. And of course, there is no doubt it is bomb-proof.

But for £20,495, you could get a decently specced Lexus IS200 2.0 SE auto, and choosing the Camry over that would be like dating Delia Smith when you could have chosen Nigella Lawson, if you get my meaning.

It is a bigger car than the Lexus in size, but not in presence. It stands ungainly and its styling is awkward and the interior is no more deft, particularly the two tier dash and plasticky wood.

CAP warns that three-year/ 60,000-mile residuals hover around the rather sickly 26%/£5,325 mark, making it worse than a Peugeot 607 but better than a Vauxhall Omega. High spec and rarity come to its rescue.

On the move, the steering is light but very slow to act, which combined with the quality ride mentioned before make it a stress free motorway cruiser. But the four-speed automatic gearbox feels antiquated and doesn't do any favours for the engine, and that slow steering and body roll makes driving anywhere else a frustrating experience.

It also accelerates slowly and with much gnashing of pistons. I found the four-cylinder engine surprisingly lacking in smoothness – rough even – and 150bhp is not enough for its bulk. It only does 29.1 mpg on the combined cycle as well.

This brings us neatly to the car's emissions, and a large 233g/km of CO2 puts the Camry in the 28% benefit-in-kind band, leaving a 22% tax-payer with a bill of £1,251 this year and a 40% tax-payer looking at £2,275, which is a lot of money to pay for this car.

I cannot find much to recommend the Camry for a company car, but Toyota (GB) is smart enough to know it doesn't have a serious executive contender on its hands. It would appear anyway that Toyota worldwide has got bigger fish to fry than the UK fleet industry with this car. I think I'll leave them to it.

Model: Toyota Camry 2.4 GLS automatic
Price (OTR): £20,495
Engine (cc): 2,362
Max power (bhp/rpm): 150/5,600
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 218/3,800
Max speed (mph): 124
0-62mph (sec) 10.5
Fuel consumption (mpg): 29.1
CO2 emissions (g/km): 233
2002/03 BIK tax band: 28%
Annual BIK tax (22%/40%): £1,251/£2,275
CAP residual value (3yrs/60,000): £5,325/26%

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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