Pros--Very fuel-thrifty. Roomy. Smooth ride. Decent acceleration. Sure handling. Top-selling mid-size sedan.
Cons—Average driving fun. Rather numb steering feel. Small door pockets.
Bottom Line—Comfortable, economical, dependable mid-size hybrid sedan.
Those looking for a smooth, gas-stingy dependable sedan might try the Toyota Camry, which has been the best-selling sedan in America for the past 20 years. It does everything it is supposed to do without fuss..
The 2023 hybrid version adds icing to the cake with its estimated fuel economy of 44 miles per gallon in the city and 47 on highways. Power comes from a sophisticated 2.5-lite four-cylinder engine which works with two electric motors and a battery to provide good, if not startling, acceleration (0-60 m.p.h. in 7.8 seconds). Nobody buys this thing to go hot rodding, although you can get a Camry with a 301-horsepower V-6.
Actually, the XLE Hybrid sedan is most likely the best model of the Camry lineup. Energy from braking charges the battery pack.
The near Lexus-style interior has a push-button start, easily read gauges and clearly marked manual controls that include large sound system volume and tuning knobs, a touch screen that’s pretty easy to quickly figure out and a 7-inch multi-information display.
There is plenty of room for five tall adults in supportive long-distance seats partly because this is a fairly big car. The center of the rear seat is even comfortable, which can’t be said for many vehicles I test. If not occupied, the seat has a center fold-down armrest with cupholders. And rear seat backs, with trunk located release controls, flip forward to enlarge the spacious cargo area. However, the cargo floor isn’t prettily flat when they are folded forward.
Front cupholders are easily reached in the curvy and asymmetrical center console, and there’s a wireless phone charger under the center stack. Cabin cargo storage space is generally good. There are various small covered storage areas for objects such as a cell phone, and the console has a deep bin with a cover. But all four door pockets are too small to be of much use.
Acceleration is good from the sophisticated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which works with two electric motors and a battery to produce 208 combined system net horsepower and 184 pound/feet of torque. Only 87-octane gas is needed for the 15.8-gallon tank.
An electronic continuously variable automatic transmission helps provide smooth acceleration. A driver can choose between “Econ,” “Normal” and “Power” driving modes.” “Normal” is best for most driving, but “Power” can be used for a little faster freeway merging and highway passing.
The ride is smooth, thanks partly to this car’s 111.2-inch wheelbase and supple suspension, While rather numb, the steerings quick and handling is good. Regenerative braking of hybrids sometimes causes an odd-feeling brake pedal, but that’s not the case with this car.
However, the Camry XLE Hybrid is essentially a family workhorse and isn’t much fun to drive.
This $32,970 Camry looks sleek. The XLE Hybrid is part of a long line of Camry models that start at $25,945 and end at $33,370. Options on my “Supersonic Red” Camry XLE Hybrid put the bottom line price at $40,232. But that included $1,095 freight and options. They included a 10-inch color heads-up display, ventilated front seats, cold weather package with a $150 heated steering wheel and $860 power tilt/slide moonroof with a shade.
Actually, my test car had lots of standard equipment. It included leather-trimmed heated power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, push-button start, 9-inch touchscreen and a sound system with 6 speakers.
This is essentially a family vehicle, so it’s loaded with standard safety features. They include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane-departure assist with steering assist, lane-tracing assist, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and road sign assist.
The Camry is in its eighth design generation. Toyota has been building Camrys for so long that it’s no surprise that the XLE Hybrid sedan is hard to fault.