by Ian Wright
Despite what internet comments like to tell us, the midsize sedan is not dead. Sure, crossovers are outselling them, but that only seems to have encouraged automakers to make their stalwart sedan models the best possible. Toyota is one of those automakers, and the current generation of Camry offers chiseled styling, a comfortable and spacious interior, crisp driving dynamics, and fuel-efficient engines. With the latest iteration of the Camry Hybrid, fuel efficiency has reached an all-time high. The Camry Hybrid boasts a return of 51/53/52 mpg city/highway/combined for the base model. That's Prius territory and means nobody has to trade size and comfort for fuel economy anymore.
The Camry Hybrid isn't the only player in the market, though, with the Honda Accord Hybrid always ready to fight. However, the Camry is prepared to do battle with Toyota's legendary reputation for reliability, and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a mild-hybrid system to deliver a total of 208 horsepower with 163 lb-ft of torque.
While the standard Camry range sees the addition of the track-tuned TRD version, the rest of the range remains relatively unchanged. Changes for 2020 include the addition of Android Auto, which joins Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility in the infotainment segment. Possibly the biggest news is the addition of Toyota's Safety Sense-P driver assistance program, which becomes standard across the range. This package includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and automatic high beams.
2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
The exterior design of the 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid isn't groundbreaking, but it's not bad to look at either. Toyota calls it an 'emotional' design, and its coupe-like shape does look good from certain angles, but at the end of the day there's no hiding the fact that it's a cost-effective sedan with a few flourishings. Base models feature bi-LED headlights, while XLE models get full-LED units. LE models get a dark gray front grille, SE models wear a black grille with sport mesh insert, and XLE models use a bright metallic piece. Base models roll on a set of 16-inch steel wheels, while SE models ride on 18-inch black machined wheels. XLE models get a set of 18-inch silver machined-finish alloy wheels.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid is classified as a midsize sedan, and its dimensions fit that title to a tee. The overall length is 192.1 inches in LE and XLE trim, growing to 192.7 inches in SE guise. Its width is 72.4 inches, and the car is 56.9 inches tall. It rides on a 111.2-inch wheelbase, and all models have a ground clearance of 5.7 inches. The lightest model is the LE with a curb weight of 3,472 lbs. The SE weighs 3,549, and the heaviest car, the XLE, tips the scales at 3,572 pounds.
Toyota offers a mixed bag of colors for the 2020 car. In the base form, you don't exactly get a ton of options, and those you do get are slightly demure: the LE is offered in Midnight Black Metallic, Super White, Celestial Silver Metallic, Predawn Gray Mica, and, Brownstone, which looks cooler than it sounds. But you also get access to slightly more vivid hues of Galactic Aqua Mica, Blue Streak Metallic, and the only premium color, Ruby Flare Pearl for $425. The sporty SE trim loses out on Brownstone and Ruby Flare, switching the latter out for a similarly priced Supersonic Red. The top of the range XLE adds Wind Chill Pearl as a trim-exclusive color option for $425.
The Camry has never been about outright performance. Instead, it aims to carry its occupants with enough pace to tie in with its comfortable persona. This is even more prevalent in hybrid models that do away with the powerful V6 found in certain gas-powered models. Instead, you get a moderately sized four-cylinder engine mated to a hybrid system that delivers mild performance. The fact that the car has the 'Hybrid' suffix attached to it should discourage most from accessing all of its performance potential as the main focus here is fuel economy, but with a little motivation, the Hybrid Camry can get up and go with convincing enthusiasm. Independent testing shows that the Camry Hybrid will accelerate to sixty in around 8.3 seconds, and the car will top out at 112 mph. Not exactly thrilling is it?
The 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid does away with turbocharged mills that offer a hefty low-down punch, and instead focuses squarely on fuel economy. How does it achieve this? By employing an efficient 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a mild hybrid system. This combo delivers a maximum power output of 208 hp, with the combustion engine contributing 176 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque to the mix. Power is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission.
Driving at the speed limit is where this car feels most comfortable. The engine emits minimal noise, and there's enough low-down pull for busy city driving. Stab the throttle, however, and the engine has to quickly reach the upper rev range, which, in this case, sounds somewhat unrefined and strained. Out on the highway, the Camry Hybrid is a capable cruiser, but again, overtaking will require the revs to shoot up. There's enough of a low-down kick to make town driving pleasurable, but don't expect to be king of the traffic light drags.
A mid-size hybrid sedan is not something anyone expects to thrill on the road. The Camry Hybrid holds to that, but still provides some sporty driving dynamics. Those dynamics blend well with the ride quality, which does a sterling job of evening out choppy roads and keeping passengers comfortable while they sip on a latte. Overall, the Camry Hybrid handles well, delivering a well-controlled ride and responsive handling.
The only area of discomfort we found is the brakes. Blending friction with regenerative braking to recharge the battery pack is a tricky exercise in engineering. The brake pedal is firm and responsive, but at lower speeds, it becomes over-sensitive. It's not a deal-breaker, but it does require a bit of practice to bring the Camry Hybrid to a smooth stop.
This is where the Toyota Camry truly shines. Its whole existence is focused on delivering excellent gas mileage figures, and boy does it achieve them. Well on paper at least. With that 2.5-liter engine and hybrid system in play, as well as relatively low curb weight and slippery body design, Toyota has hit the nail on the head. EPA figures suggest fuel consumption figures of 51/53/52 mpg city/highway/combined for the base model LE, dropping to 44/47/46 mpg for the SE and XLE.
Our test model arrived in XLE trim, and, by the end of the week, we were showing an indicated 42 mpg. That fuel economy was consistent all week, though, and no matter how or where we drove it. Even after driving up and down the mountain to Big Bear in California, we saw 42 mpg.
The 2020 Toyota Camry won't dazzle you with a stylish interior that offers German levels of refinement and class, but it sure is comfortable. The seats are superbly cushioned, and the driver's seating position is on point, although the seat could be positioned an inch or two lower down to accommodate taller occupants. The best word to describe the interior design would be reserved. The lines are clean, and the controls are centered slightly towards the driver for ease of use, especially the controls surrounding the shift knob, which is to the left of center. The use of soft-touch plastics is noticeable, but there are a few hard plastics here and there. Toyota build quality is prevalent; you won't find any squeaks or rattles in this interior.
Inside the Camry is enough room to seat five people comfortably. The cabin is roomy, and six-footers have nothing to complain about sitting in either the front or back, despite the Camry having a couple of inches less legroom than Honda's Accord. Up front, there's 42.1 inches available and 38 inches in the back. The seats are comfortable and make driving long distances easy. However, it's worth noting a wide gulf in the quality of materials used between the basic LE model and the XLE trim. The LE is strictly bare-bones, while the XLE is flirting with quality more typically associated with Lexus.
The interior color options depend on trim level or exterior paint choices and include Ash, Black, or Macadamia. On the LE, these options take the form of cloth upholstery, but on the XLE, the seats are wrapped in leather. The mid-spec SE takes a sportier turn with Softex simulated leather in Black or Ash on better-bolstered sports seats. Dash and door inserts differ by trim, with the LE boasting layered wood trim, the SE receiving embossed mesh, and the XLE receiving Tiger Eye wood.
Midsize sedans have to juggle between offering generous front and rear legroom, as well as providing substantial trunk space. Toyota has managed to balance the two very well, and the end result is a car with a generous trunk and cargo capacity, perfect for families or salesmen and women that need the extra space for hauling products and displays. Pop the trunk lid and you are met with a space that runs deep and wide and that can be extended further thanks to 60/40-split folding rear seats. The Camry Hybrid's batteries are located under the rear seats which means they don't intrude on this space, giving you the same 15.1 cubes as the regular sedan. It's still shy of the 16.7 cubes found in the Accord Hybrid. One issue we found with the trunk space is that is small items roll to the back, you basically have to climb inside to retrieve it. That's not good for elderly drivers.
The cabin also has plenty of practical storage nooks for the occupants, including the usual door pocket, cupholders in the front and rear, a center console storage bin beneath the armrest, a small one ahead of the shifter, and a glovebox of a typical size.
Toyota has historically been generous with its standard features, and the 2020 Camry Hybrid is no different; you get your money's worth here. The LE and SE are similarly specified, both on the receiving end of dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and trunk access, and Toyota Safety Sense P encompassing almost all assistance systems like collision avoidance. Only blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert are optional, but both appear as standard on the XLE. The latter also gets wireless device charging, dynamic guidelines for the rearview camera, a seven-inch driver display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and the option of both a 360-degree camera and a head-up display. A power moonroof is optional on all trims.
Out of the box, the LE trimmed base model comes with a seven-inch touchscreen hooked up to a six-speaker sound system. As well as an AM/FM radio, the infotainment system has Bluetooth streaming and Android Auto, Apple Carplay, and Amazon Alexa compatibility as standard. It also comes with three months of SiriusXM and Wi-Fi Connect as a trial period. One USB media port and two USB charge ports are standard.
Moving up to SE trim doesn't add anything to the infotainment system. However, going to XLE trim upgrades to an eight-inch touchscreen and adds HD Radio, a CD player, and HD Traffic Real-Time Traffic Display. This system is optional on the LE and SE, but the XLE is the only trim with the availability of a premium nine-speaker JBL sound system and features like navigation with dynamic POI search.
The Camry has a penchant for being ultra-reliable, a reputation that seemingly improves year-on-year. The 2020 model has been at the center of just one recall so far for a potential coolant leak - an issue that affected 44,191 Avalon, Camry, RAV4, and Lexus ES hybrid models
Toyota covers the Camry Hybrid with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty. You also get corrosion cover for five years, drivetrain protection for five years or 60,000 miles, and hybrid electric component cover for eight years or 100,000 miles. Roadside assistance is provided for two years, and you also get a two-year/25,000-mile maintenance plan.
Simply put, the 2020 Toyota Camry and its Hybrid derivative are some of the safest cars you can buy today. Thanks to the inclusion of many active driver safety systems, the 2020 car has a greater chance of keeping you in one piece during an accident than most other cars on the road today. When tested by the NHTSA, the Toyota Camry returned a perfect score of five out of five overall, and the IIHS awarded it with its top prize, the Top Safety Pick Plus award.
It should be no surprise that the 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid comes stuffed to the gills with the latest safety features. How else would it be able to take home a Top Safety Pick Plus award? The safety offering in the Camry Hybrid starts with basics such as traction and stability control management, as well as ten airbags, including driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, and rear seat-mounted side airbags. You also get an energy-absorbing steering column and side-impact door beams. The Toyota Safety Sense P package included on all trim levels includes pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control. Optional safety systems include blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic monitoring.
There's no argument to the fact the Camry Hybrid has never been a better car than it is now. However, the Honda Accord is still its most ardent competitor. The Camry offers a better hybrid drivetrain in terms of performance and economy, while the Accord brings better overall driving dynamics. If fuel economy is more important than dynamics, then the Camry becomes the clear winner and the best car in its category based on the lowest trim model. However, because its fuel economy drops outside the base model, then the choice between the Accord and Camry in hybrid form becomes a matter of personal taste. However, if you're thinking about a mid-size sedan with a hybrid drivetrain, you should be cross-shopping the Camry.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid is priced at the higher end of the scale, and many equally talented rivals undercut it on price. The base model LE starts off with an asking price of $28,430. This price does not include tax, registration, and a destination fee of $955. The base Honda Accord Hybrid, for instance, goes for around $25,500. The mid-range SE will set you back $30,130, and the top of the line XLE goes for an even higher $32,730. With all the options boxes ticked, you're looking at a car that costs just over $40k.
Toyota offers the Camry Hybrid in three different trim levels: LE, SE, and XLE. All cars are powered by the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and hybrid system, and send power to the front wheels via the same CVT transmission.
The base LE features bi-LED headlights, a dark gray front grille, and 16-inch steel wheels on the exterior. The interior features dual-zone climate control, an integrated backup camera, push-button start, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and a six-way adjustable passenger seat, as well as three USB ports, wood interior trim, and an electric parking brake. A seven-inch touchscreen plays host to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The SE model adds exterior features such as a black sport front grille, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a color-keyed rear spoiler. The interior gains Sport SofTex trimmed seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters, as well as embossed mesh interior trim.
XLE models add LED headlights with fully integrated LED DRLs, LED taillights, blind-spot warning indicators, and silver 18-inch alloy wheels. The interior gains rear-seat vents, a backup camera with dynamic gridlines, a seven-inch driver display, wireless phone charging, as well as an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, wireless device charging, and an eight-inch infotainment screen.
All cars are equipped with the Toyota Safety Sense P package which includes pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.
Starting with the base model LE, you can opt to go for the power tilt/slide moonroof package with options which, for $2,705, adds blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and the contents of the Convenience Package which adds a HomeLink transceiver and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A power moonroof is naturally included as well, along with wireless smartphone charging and dual-zone climate control. This package is also available on the SE at $2,590.
The range-topping XLE is offered with two packages. The Navigation Upgrade Package costs $2,670 and adds a premium JBL sound system, dynamic navigation, and a power moonroof. The $5,460 Driver Assist Package includes a surround-view camera system with perimeter scan and cross-traffic braking, ventilated front seats, adaptive LED headlights, premium audio, and navigation, as well as the sliding moonroof.
The fact that there are only three trim levels and a couple of package options for the Camry Hybrid keeps things simple.
For outright frugality, the base LE model can't be beaten for its price and Prius-challenging fuel economy. While it might be spartan on the inside, it's still a full package, and we would strongly consider adding the moonroof package, which includes blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The SE strikes us as the sweet spot for value for money with the interior material upgrade and added style and performance from the larger wheels and stickier tires. The drop in fuel economy is the tradeoff, although the EPA estimated 44/47/46 mpg isn't to be sniffed at.
At $32,730, we wouldn't be too tempted to tick too many options boxes on the XLE trim. However, it's a complete and tempting package for those that don't mind spending the extra on a car they plan to keep for a long time. We wouldn't blame anyone for being tempted by the LED exterior lighting, blind-spot monitoring, wireless phone charging, and the excellent seven-inch driver display.
Ther Honda Accord is a tried and trusted offering in a competitive market, and alongside the Toyota Camry, make up the bulk of sales in the midsize sedan market. The 2020 Accord Hybrid is a handsome looking car and is arguably better to look at than the Camry. Under the hood lies a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors. Combined, this setup produces a total power output of 212 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque. The Honda is more powerful, and you can feel it behind the steering wheel. In terms of fuel economy, the Accord will achieve 48/47/48 mpg city/highway/combined, so just slightly off the best numbers offered by the Camry. On the road, the car feels more dynamic to drive and is a comfortable cruiser. In terms of the interior space, the Honda is just as comfortable, and we prefer the general design of the dashboard, the range of features is also on par, and you get a ton of driver assistance features. What the Accord does offer is a bigger trunk, but the trunk opening is on the narrow side. Both are great vehicles, but the Honda edges the competition.
The Toyota Corolla Hybrid slots in below the Camry in Toyota's hybrid lineup and is smaller, less powerful, and cheaper to buy. The exterior of the corolla is cheerful when compared to the Camry. Power is provided by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a hybrid system and develops only 121 hp. Power is sent to the front via a CVT transmission. Power is noticeably less potent in the Corolla which can feel breathless under hard acceleration. Fuel economy comes in at a stunning 53/52/52 mpg, though, matching the larger and more powerful Camry. The interior of the Corolla feels younger and more contemporary but offers fewer high-quality materials. Features are also not as impressive as in the Camry, but safety is still excellent. In the back, the Corolla doesn't impress with its trunk space, even when compared to its smaller rivals. These cars don't compete in the same class, so the choice will depend purely on what you need out of a hybrid. The Camry is more expensive, but it's worth the extra outlay.
Check out some informative Toyota Camry Hybrid video reviews below.