Remember when hybrid cars were new to the market? They looked a little funny, they didn’t exactly woo you with the goodies we’ve been spoiled by over the years, and some folks were just downright scared of them.
To steal a line from the old Virginia Slims commercial, you’ve come a long way, baby. Ain’t nothin’ scary about the new Camry hybrid. In fact, it kicks butt. (Get it? Cigarette butt? Never mind.)
Toyota is very serious about their hybrids. The Prius blazed a trail, and today the company employs the fuel-saving technology throughout their lineup.
The engineers aren’t just sitting on their hands, either. This year the Camry hybrid is almost entirely redesigned, with some changes that will no doubt boost already-impressive sales stats even more.
(For the record, the Camry sold 387,000 units in the U.S. last year, making it the best-selling sedan. Essentially a thousand cars a day? Nobody wants to screw with that kind of success.)
You can choose from three trim levels, the base LE, the SE, or the XLE. If you want the best mileage possible, then opt for the LE. No, it doesn’t have as many bells and whistles in standard fare, but the little guy will produce about 52 mpg. Whoa.
I drove the XLE, because I’m spoiled.
The Camry combines a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder gas engine with the requisite battery system. Now, on the surface you might think that doesn’t sound like a lot. And, well, maybe it’s not. But you wouldn’t know it when you drive.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the Camry isn’t shy about acceleration. It has more than enough get-up-and-go for your suburban lifestyle, and it handles like a charm.
Just before turning it back in, I took the car out for one last spin around the ‘hood. I particularly liked the feel of the car around turns, and its gas engine is pretty darned quiet.
And you know what? It looks good, too. Unless you just gotta have a sports car for posing, you’ll find the Camry more than adequate.
The Toyota folks know they have a winner with this car, so they’re not gonna skimp on interior touches as long as they can stay competitive in price.
The seats are not only comfortable, they provide ample room for front and rear passengers alike. And I appreciated the visibility. So many cars these days have awful blind spots, but the Camry allows a good view around you, which makes the ride more enjoyable.
Storage space in the front seat area is about average, and you’ll be happy to know that the redesigned battery system won’t cost you trunk space. And there’s a fold-down to the back seat, to boot.
I like the center screen on the Camry, and all of the audio/climate controls are easy to understand and manipulate.
Toyota does a good job, too, with an assortment of tools to assist the driver. From adaptive cruise control to blind-spot monitors, it does its best to keep us from doing something stupid. Work with it, will ya?
Your phone connects using Toyota’s Entune system, which never really gets rave reviews. So there goes perfection. But everything functions.
The Bottom Line
In successive weeks I drove both the Camry and the Corolla. I hate to say to the Corolla, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?”
But it’s #real. The Camry hybrid is the goods, a well-made, fun-driving, and super-reliable choice on wheels. Granted, the price tag dwarfs the Corolla by more than ten grand, but you’ll certainly see some savings on fuel to help make up some difference.
How much? The XLE I tested pulled in a nice 46-mpg in combined driving. And, again, if you take two steps back and choose the LE you’ll likely surpass 50-mpg.
Toyota did a great job with their redesign. The car looks sharp and drives like a champ. Goes test drive it, okay?
2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
2.5-L 4-cylinder with Hybrid Synergy Drive
As tested: $37,255
Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer