2023 Toyota Camry Review

2023 Toyota Camry - Owning its hybrid heritage and delivering a strong case for sedans.


The Camry name dates to 1982 and is one of the longest-running nameplates in the industry. It has seen eight generations and for 20 straight years has been America's #1 selling midsize sedan. The most recent 8th generation debuted for the 2018 model year and saw a slight refresh to some models in 2021.  For 2023, the Camry is available in 18 different choices total spanning between four different powertrains. It's one of the most diverse lineups in a single model available. To best simplify it, Toyota provides this chart:

* Five 4-cyl. FWD grades - LE, XLE, SE, SE Nightshade, XSE
* Five 4-cyl. AWD grades - LE, XLE, SE, SE Nightshade, XSE
* Five hybrid grades - LE, XLE, SE, SE Nightshade, XSE
* Three V-6 grades - XLE, XSE and performance-tuned TRD

The Camry is a five-passenger midsize sedan in all trims and has grown significantly in size since its original debut back in the early eighties.  As noted above, it's available with front or all-wheel drive, 4-cylinder, V6, or hybrid, and up to six different trims.  Base 4-cylinder LE models start at $26,220 and climb to a $36,645 starting price for the XSE V6. Competition includes models such as the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Kia K5, and Volkswagen Jetta. I spent time in a 2023 Camry XLE Hybrid so this review will focus on the hybrid models.

Exterior Style (+)
Toyota has done a nice job designing a base Camry platform that looks good no matter how it's dressed up. With such a wide variety of options, you can get a very vanilla looking base Camry or go all out and opt for the more extreme performance TRD option. Most will land in the middle somewhere, but all have the same basic design elements. When it was redesigned in 2018, Toyota went bold with a wider stance and overall, more aggressive look. It's given this mainstream sedan character all around. The proportions are well-balanced, and it looks good from all angles. LED lighting gives it a more upscale feel and the grille variations up front further define which Camry model you're driving. All hybrid models get the blue-outlined Toyota emblems. The side profile features large window openings and smooth silhouette. And around back wrap around taillights are connected via a trim piece with C-A-M-R-Y spelled out. The lower valance varies with trim level. Overall, it's a well-designed car that shook off Camry's prior image of being stale and forgettable.

Wheels (+)

Along with all the various style and engine configurations comes a plethora of wheel options on the Camry that all further define its overall look. Base LE models come standard with 17" alloys while the LE Hybrid models get 16" steel wheels with wheel covers. From there, the sizes range from 18" up to 19" depending on the trim. My XLE Hybrid came with 18" dark gray machined-finish alloys, the XSE Hybrid gets 19" gloss-black alloys, and the SE Hybrid Nightshade Edition gets bold 19" TRD matte bronze-finished alloys for a custom look. All the designs are fresh and complement the Camry's style.

Performance (+)

All Hybrids come with a 2.5L 4-cylinder DOHC powertrain that pairs with an electric motor to deliver a combined 208 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. All hybrids are front-wheel drive and utilize a continuously variable automatic transmission. Off the line the Camry Hybrid gets from 0-60 in a peppy 7.4 seconds. It's a smooth acceleration that is quiet. Although, once cruising at highway speeds, the engine seems to emit more effort and noise when pushed to pass other vehicles. Overall, it's slower than the Honda Accord Hybrid, but faster than the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. The Lithium-ion hybrid battery pack is installed beneath the rear seat and contributes to a lower center of gravity. Along with the traditional Camry Hybrid NORMAL, ECO and EV drive system modes, a SPORT mode allows for an increase in power from the hybrid system for improved acceleration response relative to throttle pedal input.

The Camry is not tuned to deliver an overly engaging or dynamic driving experience, which it doesn't. However, it does provide a well-balanced and comfortable ride. Road imperfections are well-absorbed to deliver a smooth ride. It takes corners smoothly and remains grounded to the pavement. Steering is pleasantly weighted and controlled. Braking is responsive and not too soft. The regenerative braking is a little harsher as it captures the braking energy to store it in the battery. It takes some getting used to compared to a non-hybrid, but it's not a hindrance to its overall ride quality.  The front wheel drive Camry Hybrid also handled snow and winter weather well in Chicagoland with minimal slippage and good traction. Toyota does offer an AWD version of the Camry in non-hybrid form if you're looking for even better traction.

Fuel Economy (+)

When it arrived with a full 13.2-gallon tank, it offered a driving range of around 600 miles. EPA estimates are best in the LE Hybrid where it gets an estimated 51/53/52 MPG city/highway/combined. Stepping up in trim to the XLE hybrid that I drove, it gets 44/47/46 MPG city/highway/combined. After a week of primarily suburban driving in winter weather, I garnered 45.4 MPG. Overall fuel economy is good and among the best in class for the midsize segment.

Interior (+/-)
Hopping inside, the Camry has a bold non-traditional looking interior layout with a stark divide down the center of the dash that separates it from the gauge cluster. The non-conventional layout may be polarizing to some and does feel a bit disjointed.  Behind the steering wheel is a traditional gauge cluster with either a 4.2" or 7" multi-information display with customizable settings. Popping out from the center of the dash is the infotainment touchscreen with vents and climate controls below it.  The center stack consists of a traditional gear selector, cup holders, heated seat controls, and a wireless charging pad tucked deep behind the gear selector. The overall fit and finish is good. It's comprised soft-touch premium materials with patterned metals, wood inlays, and various color options. The buttons and knobs throughout feel and look basic.  Overall, it is generally functional, but the style will be a personal preference.

Technology (+/-)
Camry models are equipped with either a 7 or 9-inch central touch screen that sits atop the dashboard. The screen features phone-like icons for navigating the screens and includes some menu buttons and volume dials on either side of the screen. It integrates with Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and Apple CarPlay through a cord. Connectivity was easy and intuitive to operate. Audio plus is also offered with a JBL 800-watt, 9-speaker premium audio system with a subwoofer. Available on XLE and XSE models is a 10" color head-up display that projects information, including speed, turn-by-turn navigation, and more on the lower portion of the windshield. The Camry delivers all the basics in terms of tech, but nothing overly complicated or advanced.

Seating (+)
Once inside, drivers and passengers will appreciate the roominess all around that includes plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room for all five passengers. Cloth upholstery and an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat come standard. Synthetic leather upholstery, genuine leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel are available. The seats are comfortable with good support. It's easy to find a good driving position for drivers of all sizes. The back seats easily accommodated my three kids and also offers sufficient room for any adults that need to sit in the back.

Cargo (+/-)
The trunk of the Camry Hybrid offers 15.1 cubic feet which is average for the class. There are sedans such as the Nissan Altima (15.4), Dodge Charger (16.5), Honda Accord (16.7), and Volkswagen Arteon (27.2) that all offer more space. That said, the Camry's space is large enough for most purposes. It also has a 60/40 folding rear seat backs that add versatility and space into the car.

Safety (+)
The Camry has been a repeat IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ recipient. This is the organization's highest rating, and one that acknowledges the standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ system that includes:

* Pre-collision System with Pedestrian Detection with Intersection Support
* Road Sign Assist (RSA)
* Dynamic Radar Cruise Control standard on LE and SE gas grades
* Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control standard on TRD, XLE gas and Hybrid, LE Hybrid and SE Hybrid grades
* Lane Keeping Technology: Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) and Sway Warning System
* Automatic High Beams (AHB)

In addition to the standard list, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are also available and standard on the TRD, XLE, and XSE trim grades. All 2023 Camry models have 10 standard airbags and Toyota's Star Safety System, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System and Smart Stop Technology. All Camrys also come equipped with a standard backup camera.

Final Statement
There's no denying that the Camry is an all-around great vehicle. It does everything well-enough to please its audience and looks good doing it. It has a proven record of reliability and holds its value well. It's like a fine wine that continues to get better with age. It may sound cliche to say the current version is the best yet, but it's hard to argue that when it has such a diverse portfolio of offerings. Specifically, the Camry Hybrid offers impressive range and fuel economy which makes a strong case for going hybrid. While many sedans have gone away, I think the Camry is here to stay and we'll likely still see 2023 models still on the road 20 years later.

First Impression Summary:

Test Vehicle:
2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid
Exterior Color: Supersonic Red
Interior Color: Macadamia Perforated Leather
Notable Options: Driver Assist Package ($1,430), Adaptive Headlights ($615), Navigation Package ($1,760), Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof ($860), Special Color ($425), Illuminated Door Sills ($345)
Price as tested: $40,232 (with destination charge)

Jim OBrill

Jim is Director of Marketing for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show and a co-host of Drive Chicago Radio on WLS 890 AM Chicago. His passion for cars started young and he’s often referred to as the ‘car-guy’ among family and friends. As a former auto detailer, he has an eye for identifying solid used cars and tags along on many car buying adventures. Early in his career he worked at several car dealerships in various areas of the business. As a co-host on Drive Chicago and member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, Jim has had opportunities to attend track school and drive vehicles on multiple circuits such as Road America and Gingerman Raceway. With a background in photography, taking pictures of vehicles has always been a hobby.

Jim also enjoys the trails and taking trucks like his 4Runner off road. He has a special appreciation for older cars and can often be found spending free time at cruise nights or home washing one his four vehicles. Jim resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three kids. Follow Jim on Instagram at @jpcars22 for new vehicle content or @forgotten_survivors.312 for shots of older cars still on the streets of Chicagoland.