All-new Camry Hybrid has improved ride, safety features


The Toyota Camry has been a best-seller in the midsize sedan segment thanks to its comfortable accommodations, pleasant ride, and solid reputation. For 2018, Toyota has significantly revised the Camry and Camry Hybrid, giving them more expressive styling, improved driving dynamics, increased efficiencies and added standard safety features.

The 2018 Toyota Camry models sport a sleeker profile, sculpted flowing lines and an aggressive nose highlighted by sweeping lighting assemblies and a massive lower grille. Like it, or not, Camry’s exterior styling is more provocative than it has ever been.

Those shopping for a fuel-efficient sedan should know that the 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid is much more efficient and now delivers 51 city/53 highway (52 combined) mpg in LE trim, or 44 city/47 highway (46 combined) mpg in SE and XLE trim.

The difference in fuel efficiency between the trim levels is mainly due to the fact that base Camry Hybrid LE models utilize a lighter and more energy-efficient 259-volt lithium-ion battery pack while SE and XLE trims feature a heavier 244.8-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack.

Regardless of which trim you choose, those are significant improvements over last year’s models. With 52 combined mpg, the Camry Hybrid LE now offers the same combined fuel economy as the Toyota Prius.

Powering all Camry Hybrid models is a 176-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a 118-horsepower electric motor. The combined output rating is 208 horsepower.

There is adequate power available for pulling out into traffic or merging onto highways, but as you may expect, the Camry Hybrid is not going to deliver neck-snapping acceleration. The Camry Hybrid system offers drive modes of Normal, Eco, EV and a new Sport mode that improves acceleration response.

Camry Hybrid operation is impressive and the transitions between engine off operation and engine on are very smooth. Suspension system enhancements and hybrid system upgrades provide the Camry Hybrid with a more refined driving experience. During most driving conditions, you forget you are driving a hybrid.

For me, the sweet spot for the Camry Hybrid is the base LE model priced at $27,800. It is more efficient and it is hardly basic. It includes keyless entry and ignition, full power accessories, dual zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, power driver’s seat, six-speaker audio system with 7-inch touchscreen, voice controls, rearview camera, and Toyota’s Safety Sense P system that includes forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and mitigation, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control.

The Hybrid SE trim ($29,500) adds 18-inch alloy wheels, sportier styling and simulated leather upholstery. Hybrid XLE models ($32,250) add LED exterior lighting, heated outside mirrors, leather upholstery, wood trim, power front passenger seat, head-up display, auto-dimming rearview mirror, two extra USB ports and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

An upgraded audio system with 8-inch touchscreen is available in all three trim levels, as well as a power moon roof. The redesigned 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid is a stylish and impressive midsize sedan.