• 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid: Forget What You Think You Know About Camry [Review]


    2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid
    Toyota completely redesigned the Camry for 2018. [Photo: Toyota]
    When you’re a manufacturer and you sell one of the most popular cars on American roads, you rarely revolutionize when it comes time to bring out a “new” model. After all, why spoil a formula that works? The Camry is a spacious, comfortable, and reliable means by which to get around. However, as steadfast as the Camry has been, every once in awhile a revolution is needed. This 2018 model brings major changes to the lineup, and the 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid pictured above is the top of the model’s hybrid line.

    To put the new Camry Hybrid to the test, I did more than just drive it around metropolitan Denver, as I’d normally do. I moved into a new apartment this past weekend, so I used that opportunity to see not just how well the new Camry drives, but also how well it can handle all my belongings as well.

    What’s New

    In short, everything. The 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid, and all the other models down the range, are completely new from the ground up. The exterior still wears a Toyota badge, but that’s about it. De rigueur for the Hybrid models, its badge carries the familiar blue halo. It’s longer, lower, and wider than the previous generation. And you feel that lower ride height – the car sits low to the ground, almost to the extent I felt I was touching the road. The definite up side of a wider, lower stance is better handling. The ride is more compliant and the steering is much tighter than in the previous generation Camry.

    The exterior appearance does change depending on which Camry you get. Toyota has attempted to split the ranks between its more conservative, comfort-conscious buyers and those seeking some sportiness, and the Camry’s exterior appearance reflects that split. Down the more traditional line, there’s the L, LE, and XLE. On the sportier side, there’s the SE and XSE. The revised front end styling seems to crib cues from Lexus models. That can be for better or worse, depending on who you ask. It’s a bit busy, but it certainly grabs your attention more than the rounded styling of the last Camry.

    Inside, the Camry gets a much more aesthetically pleasing interior for 2018. The center stack dominates the cabin, and houses a 7.0-inch touchscreen and all the buttons and knobs for media and climate controls. The use of higher-grade plastics throughout the interior create a much nicer feel than in the old Camry. Even better than how the new interior looks, however, are some of the toys. Toyota offers a 10.0-inch heads up display unit in the new Camry, projecting speed, navigation, and entertainment information onto the windshield. If feeling like a fighter pilot while you drive isn’t enough for you, there are also optional birds-eye view cameras to see what’s coming when you stop at an oblique junction.

    Comfort and Convenience

    You’d expect comfort to reign in a Camry, and in this model, it does. The 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid has extremely comfortable seats, a comfortable ride, and a commodious interior. Even better, the hybrid models aren’t down on trunk space this time, either! Toyota moved the battery from the trunk to under the rear seats. So, at 15.1 cubic feet, the Hybrid’s trunk is just as ample as any other Camry. That proved quite useful during my move – its trunk and the 60/40 split-folding seats (also a first in the Hybrid) proved more than enough to carry most of my belongings without issue.

    For the $32,250 MSRP of the 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid, you get a fairly healthy amount of standard equipment. Toyota offers their Safety Sense-P, which includes a Pre-Collision System, Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Automatic High Beams. There’s also Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, LED headlights with integrated running lights, and an anti-theft system.

    As far as entertainment features go, Toyota gives you the Entune 3.0 entertainment and navigation app suite. Sadly, there’s no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay support. Options on this particular model include the $1,050 Driver’s Assist Package, with the Bird’s Eye View camera. You can also get adaptive headlights for $495, a power moonroof for $845, and the Audio Package with premium JBL Clari-fi and Qi Wireless Charging for $1,800. All in, this Camry costs $37,255, including destination charges.

    2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid
    The Camry Hybrid offers a choice of three drive modes – Eco, Normal and Sport. [Photo: Toyota]

    Performance

    The 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid’s base 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine puts out 176 horsepower at 5,700 RPM and 163 lb-ft of torque at 3,600-5,200 RPM. The permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, operating in pure EV mode, makes 118 horsepower and 149 lb-ft of torque. When both are working together, these systems work in harmony to push 208 horsepower to the Camry’s front wheels. The best thing about how the Camry Hybrid delivers its performance is just how normal it feels. The auto stop/start was fantastically smooth, and the transitions between pure EV mode and hybrid drive was nearly imperceptible.

    All Camry Hybrids are mated to an ECVT for fuel economy. While that helps the XLE Hybrid achieve over 44 MPG (50+ in the LE models), its sluggishness reminds you that you’re not in a performance car. Fuel economy is name of the game with the hybrid, though, and it does well there. I managed just over 44 MPG in city-biased driving during my test. Steering is more heavily weighted than the previous Camry, which does help offer a more secure feel on the road. However, while it is heavier, it doesn’t give you great feedback of what’s going on at the front wheels.

    TFLcar’s Take:

    The 2018 Toyota Camry XLE hybrid is an impressive revolution on Toyota’s wildly successful mid-size hybrid. It’s all-new, and it’s all the better for it. Its new appearance and suite of features makes it an appealing choice against its main rival, the Honda Accord. However, its ECVT and slightly numb steering make it less than thrilling to drive. Despite that, even those weak points aren’t that bad. It’s a perfectly good car in nearly every aspect – exactly what you need when you have one of the best-selling cars in America. If you’re looking for a more dynamic experience, there’s always the sportier XSE.

     

    SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

    Base MSRP: $27,800 (LE Hybrid)
    Price as Tested: $37,255 (including destination charges)
    Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder w/ dual injection and dual VVT-i and Hybrid Synergy Drive System
    Horsepower: Engine: 176 hp @ 5,700 RPM
    Electric Motor: 118 horsepower (EV mode)
    Combined: 208 horsepower
    Torque: Engine: 163 lb-ft @ 3,600-5,200 RPM
    Electric Motor: 149 lb-ft (EV mode)
    Transmission: Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT)
    Suspension: Front: Independent MacPherson strut w/ 25.4 mm stabilizer bar
    Rear: Double-wishbone multi-link w/ 25.0 mm stabilizer bar
    Brakes:  Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) w/ ABS, ECB, electric parking brake
    Tires: Hankook Kinergy 235/45R18 94V
    Fuel capacity: 13.0 gallons
    Fuel economy (EPA): 44 City/47 Highway/46 Combined MPG

    Dimensions:

    Wheelbase: 111.2 inches
    Length:  192.1 inches
    Width: 72.4 inches
    Height:  56.9 inches
    Cargo Volume: 15.1 cubic feet (trunk, w/ seats in place)
    Passenger Volume: 99.9 cubic feet (98.8 w/ moonroof)
    Turning Circle: 38.0 feet
    Curb Weight: 3,571 pounds

    Zach Butler
    Zach Butler
    Zach Butler is the Managing Editor for The Fast Lane Car. A Colorado native, he spends his free time exploring the hidden gems and scenic vistas of the Rocky Mountains. Zach is a life-long automotive fanatic and is based in Boulder, Colorado.
    http://tflcar.com

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    17 thoughts on “2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid: Forget What You Think You Know About Camry [Review]

    1. Has anyone lost their Blue Whale?

      OMG that front end grill is atrocious! I wouldn’t buy this car no matter how good it is – I could never get past the front end!!!

      1. Pure electric drive will give you 126 mpge if we dump the dead weight of the motor. We just need the infrastrucure to charge the cars. If you stay near home within limitations you only need a Tesla model 3. Independent studies show the Tesla is simplier with more neat tech inside with 126mpge not 44mpg with the complications of a motor and exhaust fumes.

          1. Jim the Tesla will be cheaper to own vs the Camry. It is cheaper to own over a 5 year study. Google search Tesla model 3 vs civic vs Bmw. There is an independent 5 year study on the 3 cars, hypothetical and the Tesla wins out and it is a car with more Tech and a lot faster without the noise or exhaust smells.

    2. This article left me confused. 176HP gas motor and 118HP electric motor does not equal 208Hp unless there is an explanation for that which was not indicated as to why in this article. You guys are failing to educate your readers here, just cunstructive critisism. We need informative reviews to educate people in this industry or ideas fail and the automotive industry remains in an outhouse.

      1. Hi Rambro,

        I wrote in the review that the electric motor, by itself, makes 118 horsepower. That means when you’re in pure EV mode, the motor makes 118 horsepower. When the engine and electric motor are both operating, the combined output is 208 horsepower – at least that was my interpretation of the information Toyota presented in their spec sheet.

        I apologize for the confusion, and I updated the review to reflect the horsepower figure for the electric motor refers to its EV mode operation (it is listed in the spec table at the bottom of the review that way). Thanks for pointing that out!

        1. The full power of the electric motor is not unleashed when the gas motor is contributing–for efficiency etc.

          But it would be great for a hacker to break ludicrous mode on this Camry!!!!

        2. Thanks Zach, this will undoubtedly get very confusing for the buyer as to what to expect from a performance perspective which will make 1/4 mile and 0-60 runs that you guys do that much more important. Even in 2015 we seen a 236HP Tacoma beat a 305HP Colorado in the 1/4mile and 0-60 on 4 wheeler magazine. Just google the compare in 4 wheeler mag with Tundra, Tacoma, Colorado and Power Wagon and the Tacoma beats the power in the Colorado that year likely due to throttle lag and poor gearing in the Colorado which was trying to save fuel. Now the new Tacoma has traded fuel economy for performance as your own review on TFL shows the 236HP Tacoma beating the 278HP 3rd gen Tacoma. So if we thought power rating were getting confusing then this is a whole new convoluted mess now. I don’t think you guys as journalists will even be able to explain it to us hapless wonders, honestly, this is confusing and I don’t see how car companies are going to sell it. The Tesla cars are far more relevant with just the battery. This Camry would be less complicated if the motor was only a generator for a battery pack.

    3. I think a great idea for TFLcar would be to run some of these electric cars up the gauntlet. There are a lot of people interested in Tesla’s that can pull small trailers but wonder about how that affects range. I have asked on TFLtruck how you guys will measure mpge up the gauntlet when an electric truck becomes available. Some of these cars do have a trailer rating so before electric drive gets here in trucks it would be interesting to see how the cars do which would give us an indication of how well an electric truck will do even Tesla’s semi LOL, but it is the rave right now and it would bring a lot of attention to TFLcar if you did some gauntlet runs with electric cars and I for one and many of us want to know how much mpge will be given to these cars on the way down the gauntlet?

      1. And I mean tow with the electric car, drag the rated trailer load package behind the electric car up the gauntlet and lets see how limited they are or not. It would be a great video!

    4. Before reading I originally thought that this was the Avalon hybrid as they’re both exactly the same design and obviously is the same chassis but if you can’t tell the difference why buy one over the other. Honda and Toyota throw the same vehicles in one class and water their own substance down.

    5. Rambro the only person who cares as much about electric vehicles as you are the 80-year-old people who drive golf carts so if you want to post pages get a YouTube account respectfully

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