The Toyota Camry was once a relatively popular family sedan in South Africa, particularly around the mid 1990s.
Sold locally through three generations from 1992 until the early 2000s, with the initial models being locally assembled, the Camry was renowned for its Lexus-like comfort and refinement.
But with many buyers migrating to SUVs and double cab bakkies, the market dried up for this relatively large four-door.
Yet the Toyota Camry has soldiered on in other markets, and remains particularly popular in North America, where it’s the top selling sedan in Canada.
What you see here is the all-new, ninth-generation Toyota Camry, revealed ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.
Although its shape doesn’t stray too far from prior generations, the sharp new ‘hammer head’ face brings it up to date with Toyota’s latest machinery, including the new Prius. This latest Camry is a collaborative design effort between Toyota’s two US design studios in California and Michigan.
There are some big changes beneath the skin too as this generation of Camry is the first to be sold as a hybrid only.
It also marks the first time Toyota is pairing its 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with its fifth-generation hybrid system, which incorporates two electric motors.
Buyers in North America can choose between a front-wheel drive model with 225 horsepower (168kW) and an on-demand all-wheel drive variant that’s good for 232hp, or 173kW.
Interestingly this is the first time since the second-generation Camry that no V6 option is being offered, although the hybrid electric boost in the latest version effectively makes the larger engine obsolete.
The cabin, as you’d expect these days, is all digital, including a driver information screen measuring up to 12.3 inches on top models, and a central infotainment screen up to 12.3 inches.
A 10-inch Head Up Display is also available in the latest model, along with a wide range of connectivity features, although some of these - like the intelligent voice assistant - can only be unlocked through a subscription.
Of course it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see the Toyota Camry in South Africa again, yet it’s still interesting to see how it is evolving through the generations. Let’s hope the SUV craze doesn’t kill it off completely.