Now in its seventh generation, the Toyota Camry continues to offer the mix of reliability, comfort and quality that has made it a perennial bestseller. To that equation, the Hybrid variant adds Toyota's latest gas-electric technology for a significant boost in fuel economy.
Under the hood of the Camry Hybrid is a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle inline four-cylinder gasoline engine that puts out 156 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 156 lb-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm. An electric motor offers its own 105 kW at 4,500 rpm and 199 lb-ft. of torque from 1,000 to 1,500 rpm. Working together, the two powerplants offer up a maximum of 200 horsepower, and torque is plentiful. Power is sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable transaxle while regenerative brakes grab otherwise lost energy to charge a compact nickel metal hydride battery.
Fuel efficiency is suitably impressive, with government testing figures of 43 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, though mileage drops to 41/38 mpg on XLE models due to less-efficient 17-inch wheels.
Toyota decided not to mess with success in terms of the foundations of the Camry and has kept its basic platform intact. The latest model stretches 189.2 inches from heel to toe and rides on a 109.3 inch wheelbase. A few changes to the interior give it marginally more passenger space and careful repositioning of the headliner and B-pillar trim covers help give an increased sense of roominess.
The latest Camry's exterior styling is edgier than that of models in past years, though it's still unlikely to elicit strong opinions. The interior features higher-quality materials, a stitched dashboard panel on all models as well as a center stack designed to resemble high-end electronics.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Camry Hybrid is available in two trim grades: LE and XLE.
The LE model boasts standard features like A/C, power everything, dual zone front automatic climate control, keyless entry, phone pairing via Bluetooth, cruise control,16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps and a six-speaker stereo with an iPod input jack.
Stepping up to the XLE nets a power-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, rear seat A/C vents, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with a compass, 17-inch alloy wheels and a "Display Audio" 6.1-inch touchscreen that provides access to the soundsystem.
Optional features are plentiful and can be bundled together in myriad combinations. Buyers can choose from heated, power-adjustable leather seats, a smart key system with push-button start, a power moonroof, a navigation system, a blind-spot warning system and a JBL premium audio system with 10 speakers. Also available is the "Entune" infotainment system, which offers apps like Bing search services, iheartradio.com and Pandora music and concierge programs like OpenTable and movietickets.com.
Let's Talk Safety
Regardless of trim level, the Camry offers ten airbags: dual front, side, knee, seat-cushion and rear-side airbags, to be exact. ABS, traction and stability control systems are standard, as is a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and seats designed to lessen the likelihood of whiplash round out the Camry's safety features.
With a focus on fuel economy in a midsize sedan packaged, Camry Hybrid is often cross-shopped with the segment-leading (fuel economy) Ford Fusion Hybrid, along with the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Chevrolet Malibu Eco.