Toyota Camry Ascent 2021 Review

We take the Camry Ascent for a Road Test Review

Once viewed as ‘just a taxi,’ Toyota’s Camry has morphed into the go-to family sedan, in particular, the hybrid model which delivers strong performance and exceptional fuel economy from its 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol /electric hybrid powertrain. Who needs a diesel, or an EV?

Toyota Camry Ascent

If you want a petrol-only Camry then it has to be the base model Ascent driven. All the rest are hybrids.

Hardly a base model with an 8-speed auto and swag of advanced driver assist technology, Camry Ascent sells for $30,990 placing it at a price advantage against possible competition from small/medium SUVs.

Toyota freshened Camry earlier this year with styling tweaks adding a horizontal bar grille and revised front bumper, additional safety equipment and what’s called Toyota Connected Services which, among other things, contacts the owner if the car is stolen. There are some additional elements to the sides of the front bumper, 17-inch alloys and a lower spoiler.

Inside is much the same as the previous model with a relocated centre console.

Satnav is a $1000 extra on this model but there’s plenty of kit included as standard including a full size spare, something of a rarity these days.

It looks good sharing some style elements with Lexus but isn’t as angular as most of Toyota’s premium brand offerings.

This model has a new engine with dual injection and a high compression ratio of 13:1, unheard of a few years back.

Better still, Camry Ascent runs on standard 91 unleaded for considerable savings on top of the already impressive fuel economy which we saw dive into the 5.0L/100kms bracket on test.

The medium/large sedan market has few players these days with only Mazda6, Skoda Octavia and Superb and Subaru Liberty in the game. There’s a Honda Accord too but sales of that are almost non-existent. None of the above get anywhere near Camry Ascent on price when you compare apples with apples.

This car is a good thing.

Toyota Camry Ascent

Camry Ascent Exterior

“New” Camry is an evolution of the model that’s been around for a few years now and is looking more like a Lexus with every update.

This one has familiar lines to the arcing roof, bonnet, boot and flanks.

It’s a big-ish four door sedan with a decent size passenger compartment and a profile that starts low at the front sloping up to the rear, ending in a kicked-up boot lid.

Frontal styling is family Toyota with an angry face accentuated by sloping LED headlights and a wide, full width lower grille. A secondary opening sits on top of that.

Tail light shape reflects that of the head lights and subtle side body creases accentuate Camry’s length.

It’s a clean design, in other words not too fussy and clearance under the wheel arches is tight imparting a sporty look

Personally, I am not a fan of the grille structure or colour as it’s too plasticky and too black. Perhaps a tighter mesh and dark metallic grey/chrome would be better.

Whatever, it’s a minor criticism.

Toyota Camry Ascent

Camry Ascent Interior

Inside is standard Toyota in that it’s well laid out, functional, modern and light grey with dark and chrome highlights. Camry features a tri-level dash that’s unusual in these days of pragmatic design.

The multi-function wheel is chunky in your hands and contains numerous controls both on and around it.

A high dash mounted centre screen is easy to use though some functions can only be accessed with the car stopped. Large comfortable seats are fitted in the front and the back pew is good for two, three at a pinch. Interior space is generous in all dimensions though headroom in the middle rear seat might be an issue for some.

The boot, with 60/40 folding rear seat, is already large despite containing a full size spare.

Local engineering input sees Camry deliver impressive ride and noise suppression characteristics.

Toyota Camry Ascent features

Camry Ascent Features

Though the base model, Camry Ascent is feature rich with goodies like;

  • 17-inch alloys
  • Full size spare
  • 6-speaker audio
  • Toyota Connected Services
  • Reverse camera

2021 Toyota Camry Ascent (petrol).

Camry Ascent Drive and Engine

There’s 152kW and 245Nm from the 2.5-litre petrol engine driving the front wheels through an 8-speed conventional auto transmission. It gives Camry Ascent satisfying performance across the entire engine rev range allowing the 1500kg sedan to get out of the blocks quickly and pull strongly to redline at about 6500rpm. Cruising at the highway speed limit is achieved with barely 2000rpm on the tacho making for relaxed driving and impressive fuel economy.

The car is almost Lexus quiet these days thanks to technology and local engineering input.

Like Toyota’s 86 and other models, the Camry engine uses dual fuel injection for efficiency and also to improve engine longevity.

And despite running a high 13:1 compression ratio, it happily consumes 91 unleaded.

On top of that, dual (VVT) variable cam timing further improves engine performance and efficiency.

I will admit to being surprised at the Camry’s level of performance and handling as it has a decided sporty feel in a car that was once known as a fairly bland drive experience.

Not anymore.

Get on the gas and you can hear the engine snarl and it has instant response thanks in part to the slick shifting auto transmission. No drive mode select though.

There are front wheel drive limitations to the handling but nobody buying a Camry is going to drive it like that… trust me.

Whizzing along the freeway clocking 5.4 litres/100km is pleasing and the car could easily do long interstate runs without inflicting pain on its occupants.  It’s a comfortable commuter too.

Toyota Camry Ascent

Camry Ascent Safety

Five stars but this time around, Camry scores a swag of advanced driver assist technology as well as autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist recognition. Keeping you safe is what’s called Toyota Safety Sense that utilises camera driven emergency steer assist, traffic sign recognition, active cruise control, lane trace assist, intersection turn assist, pre-collision preparation and auto high beam.

The chassis itself uses ultrahigh strength steel in critical areas for additional strength.

Good Bits

  • Impressive performance and economy
  • Feature rich
  • Safe

Not So Good Bits

  • Satnav optional
  • Black plastic grille
  • Some intrusive driver assist features

Toyota Camry Ascent


For the money, Camry Ascent represents excellent family car value especially with fixed price servicing and the 5 year/unlimited km warranty. Be different and don’t buy a front wheel drive SUV……

Also Look At


2021 Toyota Camry Ascent

Model Price$ 31,790 MLP*
Engine2.5L 4 Cyl Petrol
Drivetrain8 Speed FWD
Power131 kW at 5,700rpm
Torque221 Nm @ 3600-5200rpm
Safety5 Star ANCAP
CO2 Emissions194 g/km
Economy ADR/ Capacity8.3 L/100km / 51L
Towing/Tow ball1200 Kg / 120Kg
Servicing12 Months / 15,000 km
Warranty5yr/ Unlimited km with 5 Yr. roadside assist

*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.

  • 8.2/10
    Overall Rating - 8.2/10


For the money, Camry Ascent represents excellent family car value especially with fixed price servicing and the 5 year/unlimited km warranty. Be different and don’t buy a front wheel drive SUV……