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The Toyota Camry has long been America's favorite family sedan. Toyota also makes the Prius, a byword for gas-electric hybrids. When the company combined the solid, practical features of the Camry with the technology of the Prius, it made for an extremely efficient, extremely sensible hybrid sedan. The Camry Hybrid represents a logical choice for people who like the comfort of the standard Camry but want more efficiency.
Redesigned for 2012, the Camry Hybrid gets no major changes for 2014.
Aside from its grille and minor trim, the Hybrid looks like an ordinary Camry. Some buyers might wish it were more distinctive, but others may appreciate the premium model's unpretentious profile. The interior follows this theme, differentiated from standard Camrys only by unique gauges for hybrid systems.
Among hybrids, the Camry is one of the most spacious and accommodating, with big doors and a vast back seat. The trunk is reasonably spacious, though a bulky battery pack in the trunk almost negates the usefulness of the split-folding rear seats.
Interior quality is hit-or-miss. While everything is assembled well, competitors are using better colors and richer materials. Cross-path detection, smartphone integration and blind spot monitoring are available, but auto-braking features are not.
Under the Hood
The Camry Hybrid gets a stronger powertrain than the Prius, but it's a similar set-up. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine pairs with an electric motor for a combined output of 200 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission is the only choice, and sends power to the front wheels. Fuel economy is the real story, rated at 43 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. Opting for the upscale XLE with its 17-inch alloy wheels drops efficiency to 40/38.
Performance is similar to a regular four-cylinder Camry, and the Camry Hybrid remains a comfortable cruiser for long distances. The CVT contributes to some drone, though, and competitors like the Passat TDI are better able to provide passing power on demand. Also, unlike the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Camry Hybrid isn't a fun car to drive.
The Camry Hybrid LE comes well-equipped, much like the standard Camry. It includes 16-inch wheels, power windows, power mirrors, cruise control, automatic headlamps, solar glass, dual-zone automatic climate control, steering wheel audio controls, keyless entry and start, and a touchscreen radio to control the six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, USB input and iPod connectivity. There are no options available for the LE, though, so buyers looking for alloy wheels or navigation have to step up to an XLE.
XLE buyers get 17-inch alloy wheels and more chrome trim, along with heated mirrors, a chrome exhaust tip, vents for rear seat passengers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass. Navigation with Toyota's Entune system is optional, as is leather upholstery, a sunroof and JBL audio system with 10 speakers. A Convenience Package adds a backup camera and Homelink transmitter.
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Stylish, strong powertrain with great fuel economy, but optional technology features can push price up
Striking looks, good price, but not the most refined powertrain
Well-priced with good looks and lots of space, but lacks the polish of the best hybrids
Spacious, diesel engine offers superior highway fuel economy, but can get pricey