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.
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.
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.
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|
|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|