The Toyota Camry has the reputation of being a boring car for old people. That’s disrespectful for both the car and older drivers. I think if you spent time with the 2018 Camry Hybrid, you’d agree this is no longer just your grandmamma’s car.
Designers knew they needed to spice up the styling, making it more aggressive without peeving off very loyal buyers. They did it–and then some. The front is much more aggressive, with a wide expanse of grille, lower splitter, and black insert above. LED headlamps and driving lights shine the way. Look closely at the body in person and you see all of the deft sculpting. Hood creases blend into the bodysides, which pick up ridges that add the appearance of strength and run into the tall decklid. I especially like the C-pillar that is steeply raked, but also creased to give the impression of formality as in old Rolls-Royces. It’s a beautiful blend of sport and luxury, all placed over 18” wheels with low profile tires.
Stylists had their way inside too, arguably making an interior worthy of a Lexus without all of the joy-stick nonsense. Curved woodgrain swooshes across the passenger side towards the glassy center stack that contains an easy-to-use touchscreen and dual-zone automatic climate controls. Buttery cream vinyl with bronze stitching adds elegance. JBL audio, sunroof, Bluetooth, and head-up display add enjoyment. Safety is covered by adaptive cruise, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, rear cross path detection, blind spot warning, and lane keep assist.
Looking under the hood, you’ll only see half of the powertrain–a 2.5-liter gasoline engine–because this hybrid also packs lithium-ion batteries beneath the rear seats. All in, drivers enjoy 208 horsepower. While that doesn’t sound like much, the car gets underway with smooth electric torque before the engine starts. Regenerative brakes, which recharge the batteries when decelerating, and auto stop/start enable fuel economy ratings of 44/47 MPG city/highway.
It wasn’t long ago that a Prius barely managed those MPGs, and early models weren’t happy at interstate speeds. This is a comfortable five-passenger car that is happy at any speed that won’t grant you scrutiny by the professionals driving squad cars. I find it more serene in city driving than most cars because you’re often in electric mode. Drivers can also choose between Eco, Normal, and Sport modes that adjust the throttle sensitivity for varying degrees of get-up. In XLE trim, the steering is heavy and suspension is firm, but it’s rarely harsh or uncomfortable. It’s obvious Camry shares architecture with the Lexus ES.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid is no longer your grandmamma’s car, but it’s one she would still enjoy very much. It’s far more stylish, luxuriously equipped, and notably efficient–a car capable of seducing drivers of all ages and persuasions. A base price of $27,800–about the same as a Prius–or $37,139 as-tested makes it a good value, too. Competitors include Honda Accord, Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, and Kia Optima hybrids.
2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid
Five-passenger, fwd Sedan
Powertrain: 208 hp – 2.5-liter I4, Li-Ion Batteries
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 18”/18” alloy
Brakes f/r: Regen disc/disc
Must-have features: Style, Efficiency
Fuel economy: 44/47-mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Georgetown, KY
Base/as-tested price: $27,800/37,139