As we start to see hybrid technology progress into the super cars agenda to maximize performance, Toyota continues to progress with their hybrid technology by maximizing fuel efficiency. As we’ve seen with the all-new Camry XSE V-6, the once, loathed family sedan that roams our suburbia streets with dented bumpers from the supermarket, has a few new hidden secrets to share.
When it came time to develop the next generation Camry, Toyota’s focus was set to developing a car that consumers may actually want and enjoy. With three engine varieties that push the boundaries of the mid-sized sedan market, the two four-cylinder Hybrid and Non-Hybrid variants deliver over 200-horsepower while the gutsy V-6 sees 100-horsepower more. Backed by a more athletically engineered structure, the Camry supports a more energetic dynamic for drivers of all types.
In XLE form, our top tiered hybrid is everything we expected out of a Camry. With a plush ride, subtle steering, and airy cabin, it carries the right ingredients as a proper people carrier. Available in the LE and SE models as well, all trims come with a carried over 2.5-liter four-cylinder from the previous generation Camry. It has been returned to deliver roughly 208-combined hybrid/engine horsepower. Acceleration from the crisp little engine is surprisingly spry and torquey from the CVT-like transmission. Holding the rpms at the high end of the rev counter, the nearly 8-seconds to 60 mph almost seems like it’s quicker than that.
Even with holding the more premium title, the XLE exhibited a well-composed steering system with a decent amount of heft in its motions and at low speeds it felt like we were actually turning something outside of a wet noodle. With three drive-modes available, the one to stick with is Normal – Sport and Normal modes appear to follow the same driving pattern; however, Sport mode tends to demand more from the engine, ruining, what accentually, the hybrid is engineered to do, our fuel economy. Toyota’s claim is a bit ambitious on our XLE with a claim of 47 mpg on the highway – yet after our 400 mile highway road test and 150 mile in town city drive, we did manage to squeeze just over 44 mpg combined. An even higher claim goes toward the entry-level LE with 51 mpg city and 53 mpg highway.
In the past, the Camry hybrid has been semi-known to be a torturous set up. As we find with the new Camry, it’s something we’ve grown more fond of. The brake pedal for instance used to be very spongy an unconnected – here it carries a firm balance with braking pressure held at the top of the pedal backed by a fairly quick stopping response time and distance. The switchback from electric to gas is completely unnoticeable. Toyota also managed to make the Camry Hybrid more achievable to access electric mode at higher rates of speeds. We noticed, traveling upwards to 70 mph that with a little bit of light footedness, we could access automatic EV Mode for a short period of time. The Camry also continues to offer a manual way to access EV mode when the battery is fully charged as long as it’s under 25 mph.
Toyota’s attention to detail when it came to the interior cabin space is more exclusive than one would realize. The way they finished the aluminum and wood trim is unique in its curvature and composure. The door handles are integrated into the trim for a flowy feel and the way the wood wraps down the dash is comforting and ascetically pleasing. The white leather found in our XLE, while not pet nor kid friendly isn’t a site for sore eyes – its quite attractive with three tones of colors and a quilted stitched pattern embedded in the seats. Comfort is right where we expected things would be during our long 12 hours on the road.
Loaded with technology, the Camry’s party piece is the large 8-inch touch screen interface with their latest version of Entune 3.0 as part of the $1800 Audio Package that also gets premium JBL Audio, Navigation and Qi-Compatible Wireless Charging. The button surrounds give a touch screen like appearance with little detailed chrome trimming. Upgraded with the $1,050 Driver Assist Package, this Camry had incorporated a crystal bird’s eye view camera. Even with standard LED headlights, ours featured the $415 Adaptive headlights that swivel and automatically go up and down based on the position of the car and the wheels.
Now including over 10-airbags as a standard safety measure, Toyota has taken it step further. Recognizing that distracting driving is on the rise, Toyota has implemented what they call Safety Sense as a standard crash protection system in all cars including every single Camry from the base LE to the top of the lineup. With Forward Collision Alert and Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Automatic High Beams and Adaptive Cruise Control, the Camry is now able to help avoid situations when life smacks us in the face.
While we may be more in favor of the Camry’s XSE V-6 and sport tuned suspension, the XLE Hybrid fits right at home in the Camry garage providing all the comforts of the family essentials while achieving over 40 miles to the gallon.
|2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid:||$32,250|
|As Tested (including Options & Destination):||$37,255|
|2.5-liter Four-Cylinder & Electric Motor – 208-Combined Horsepower, CVT Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±8.0 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 44/47/46 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average: 43.3 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±470 Miles|