Toyota Camry (2019-2021)

Models Covered:

4dr Saloon (2.5 petrol])


By 2019, the UK had missed a couple of generations of Toyota’s Camry model line, but the brand felt it needed reviving, hence the return of this contender to our market in that year. In eighth generation form this was, as before, a big, comfortable saloon, but this time it championed self-charging full-Hybrid technology. This ‘XV70’-series model only sold until 2021, so it’ll be rare. But does it makes sense as a used buy?

The History

Unless you’re American or a student of automotive branding, it’s quite likely that you’ve never heard of a Toyota Camry. Yet it’s one of the world’s best selling model lines and this, the eighth generation version, was introduced back into our market for a short period between 2019 and 2021.

Over 19 million Camrys have been sold globally since the first generation version of this car arrived way back in 1982, most of them in the US where over 400,000 Camrys are sold each year. Today, this car is sold in more than 100 countries around the world and with such a global product, you’d expect a wide variance of packaging. Sure enough, over the years, there’ve been narrow and wide body models, saloons and estates, badge-engineered variants like the Daihatsu Altis and the Holden Apollo for certain countries and different branding for the Japanese market, where this car has also been marketed with ‘Gracia’ and ‘Vista’ badging.

Europe though, never had much of a taste for this model line and the car was discontinued in the UK back in 2004 primarily because of Toyota's inability at that time to offer a diesel option. So it was a touch ironic that the demise of diesel led to its return in 2019 as a 'self charging' petrol/electric full-Hybrid that shared most of its engineering with the more image-conscious Lexus ES.

That Lexus rolled down the same US Kentucky production line as this ‘XV70’-series eighth generation Camry, though the ES is a rather different kind of car, designed for the premium full-sized Executive segment, where it competes against models like the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6. In contrast, this Camry, though similarly-sized, was price-pitched at the more mainstream medium range market, dominated by volume brands with cars like Mondeos, Passats and Insignias. People buying these sorts of cars often want to switch away from diesel and get something more in keeping with the current eco zeitgeist. If you’re of that mindset and have taken a look around that medium sector at models from the 2019-2021 period, you might find yourself less than enamoured with a Mondeo Hybrid and reckon that something like a plug-in Passat is too pricey. In which case, a Camry might suit you perfectly.

What You Get

Come on – be honest; you expected this Camry to look rather bland. Plenty of this eighth generation model’s predecessors certainly did. We’ll be frank – so did we.

This ‘XV70’-series eighth generation Camry is a fraction larger than the Mondeo segment norm – compared to that Ford, it’s actually 14mm longer, with 12mm more width. Of course, as usual. what’s more important is the stuff you can’t see, primarily the stiff, lightweight GA-K platform introduced with this eighth generation model, which was 30% more rigid than anything Toyota had previously used on this size of car.

There’s nothing very memorable about the cabin design on offer here, but you certainly get plenty of space to spread out. Leather upholstery is a given, as are heated and power-adjustable seats (this was a car designed for the American market after all), plus the chairs themselves are probably the most supportive of any we’ve tried in this segment for a car of this period - and brilliant for longer journeys.

All-round visibility is excellent and there’s also little to fault about the driving position, thanks to vast amounts of seat and steering wheel adjustment. Not so good is the infotainment provision. The 7-inch centre-dash screen is rather small and its graphics rather dated, though the selectable hybrid system ‘Energy Monitor’ is informative and a reversing camera is standard-fit. Storage provision is pretty good, with a big stowage area between the seats and a spacious glovebox.

And the rear seat? Well inside, it's as roomy and spacious as those exterior dimensions suggest this car would be. Out back, there’s a 524-litre boot.

What To Look For

We really struggled to find any owner with much bad to say about this MK8 Camry. You’ll need to check for the usual things of course; infotainment system glitches, alloy wheel scrapes and scrapes over the loading lip. And, given that there’s a Hybrid engine beneath the bonnet, it’ll be best to insist upon a fully stamped-up service history.

On The Road

As has always been the case, a potential Camry buyer will have almost no interest in handling dynamics, except to the extent of influence on ride and refinement. Both those things remain strongpoints with this eight generation model, though of course when it came to noise suppression, the petrol/electric ‘Dynamic Force’ powerplant up-front gave Toyota something of a head start. It’s a 2.5-litre unit paired to an electric motor on the front axle that boosts total output up to 215bhp. And as usual with the Japanese brand’s hybrids, it’s paired with a belt-driven CVT auto gearbox that doesn’t like to be hurried and sends the revs soaring without much accompaniment in terms of rapid forward motion if you stamp too heavily on the throttle. Drive more carefully within the Camry’s comfort zone and you’re rewarded with exemplary refinement – and impressive efficiency; up to 53.3mpg on the WLTP combined cycle, with the potential for an NEDC-rated CO2 emissions figure of just 98g/km.


Overall, we think that for the right kind of buyer, this Camry could well have a distinct appeal. This person will want a comfortable, reliable, undemanding conveyance offering plenty of value and hybrid efficiency without plug-in hassle. And they’ll be delighted with the refinement and spacious rear seat and boot space that this car can offer. If these advantages pique your interest, go right ahead and try this Toyota; hybrid tax breaks will certainly reward you for doing so. Other rivals are more dynamic in many ways. But you might well feel that a Camry just makes more sense. Camry owners always have.