|Hybrid LE||2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$25,715||$27,950|
|Hybrid SE||2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$27,279||$29,650|
|Hybrid XLE||2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Front Wheel Drive||$29,808||$32,400|
by Chris Wall
When you mention hybrid cars from Toyota, many first think of the Prius thanks to the car being one of the first commercially and easily available hybrids worldwide, but in fact the automaker has a lineup that includes five more hybrid cars over and above the four different Prius models. One of these is the Camry hybrid. What you get here is a sedan full of all the best features that has seen the model remain a best seller for many years, but with the added benefit of a hybrid powerplant to make it the eco-friendly option for long time Camry fans.
One of the selling points of a Camry in any guise is the amount of space available, and that space is filled with a comfortable cabin with more than enough space for 5 adults and a good amount of luggage in the 15 cu-ft trunk. There’s a combination of hard and soft plastics that work well together and you’d never know which ones were the hard ones without physically touching them thanks to good design.
Depending on the trim chosen, seats will be in fabric, SofTex or leather and the fronts are 8-way power adjustable while the rear have the 60/40 folding split setup for when more cargo space is needed. The dash layout features a fresh new design with a sweeping line dividing the driver side and the infotainment system, which in itself looks really good too. The instrument cluster is typically Camry with a 4.2-inch driver information screen flanked by a power gauge and a speedometer. You’ll also find brushed aluminum or faux wood inserts, trim dependent.
When there’s a hybrid powerplant in a car that’s as popular as the Toyota Camry, you can bet it’s been sorted out properly because that’s a large market that you don’t want upset. The Camry Hybrid is actually much better since the added multi-link rear suspension and a 30 percent stiffer chassis since being given Toyota New Global Architecture List underpinnings. The drive will likely never excite, but there is improved steering feedback that weights up as speed increases and a drive with the right amount of stiffness so that the car never feels wallowy yet is compliant enough to flatten out undulations too.
In the right mode the acceleration feels better than the numbers suggest and the CVT-like transmission can be set to a manual mode with six simulated gears to make things feel less like a hybrid. Brake feel is better in this Camry Hybrid too making it feel more like a regular car and hiding the sometimes annoying regenerative braking.
All three trims of the Toyota Camry Hybrid make use of the same powerplant, a gas/electric hybrid that produces a total of 208 hp. The 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cyilnder creates 176 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque and that’s mated to a single permanent-magnetic synchronous AC motor that’s rated at 118 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque. Power is stored in a 1.6 kWh nickel-metal hydride battery located under the rear seats so space isn’t compromised. The front wheels are driven via an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. The combination is capable of 0-60 mph under 8-seconds and returns figures of 46 mpg in the combined cycle, 44 in the city and 47 on the highway.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid is as the same as the rest of the range when it comes to safety and equipment. There’s an advanced airbag system with ten airbags used, the Toyota Safety Sense pre-collision system that has features like pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist and dynamic radar cruise control. You can also find a blind spot monitor with rear-cross traffic alert. Most of the usual new car features are standard in the Camry Hybrid range with few options over and above like the Audio package that includes a power tilt/slide sunroof.
There’s a reason that the Toyota Camry has been a best seller for so many years, it’s one of the few sedans on the market that ticks all the boxes a modern family could possibly want, all at a good price point. For those that care a bit more about the environment than most and who also value good mileage the Camry can be options in hybrid form without sacrificing any other specifications or features. As far as hybrids go, the Toyota Camry is one of the best around and will remain a popular choice.