Even though hybrids are among today's most fashionable vehicle choices, some drivers prefer to have their eco-minded drivelines wear mainstream sheet metal. For this more discreet group, Toyota's Camry Hybrid provides a complete set of hybrid benefits installed in the all-around goodness and normalcy of a Camry.
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2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid Overview
What's New for 2017
The XLE receives an upgraded Entune infotainment system with navigation and an optional JBL sound system. If you prefer the sounds and maps on your mobile device, the XLE also now features a Qi wireless smartphone charger. The trendy Blue Streak paint which was part of 2016's Special Edition is now available on SE models. Otherwise, the Camry Hybrid carries over unchanged -- even the MSRPs for each trim level are the same as for 2016.
Choosing Your Toyota Camry Hybrid
The Camry Hybrid fits Toyota's well-proven multi-mode HSD hybrid system into the definitive modern family sedan. Bodywork that combines aerodynamic slipperiness with contemporary style encloses a comfortable interior loaded with convenience and tech equipment. A multitude of standard safety features either try to prevent accidents (Toyota's all-encompassing Star Safety System) or protect occupants when they happen (ten airbags, whiplash-mitigating front seats).
Power comes from a 2.5-liter inline-4 and an AC electric motor working in concert to crank out a maximum of 200 horsepower. EPA estimates vary by trim level; the LE earns scores of 42 MPG city and 38 MPG highway while the SE and XLE come in at 40 MPG city and 37 MPG highway. Each wheel is suspended independently and stopped by a disc brake. The steering uses electric power assist which further reduces inefficient drag on the driveline.
The Camry Hybrid is available in three trim levels:
The only option available for the LE is an upgraded Entune infotainment system. Read the list of standard features closely and check to make sure it lives up to your desires and expectations to make the call on LE versus XLE.
2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review
The 2017 Camry Hybrid is the fuel efficiency leader of the Camry lineup. But a number of drivability issues limit its appeal.
Pricing and Equipment
Prices for the 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid starts with the LE trim, which has a starting price of $27,675 (including an $885 destination charge) and can top out at over $35,155 for an XLE with all the bells and whistles. Most buyers will choose the base LE, with standard features like:
- 6.1-inch infotainment touchscreen
- Bluetooth phone and music streaming capability
- iPod connectivity, Siri Eyes Free
- Dual-zone automatic climate control
- Keyless ignition
- Rear view camera
- Auto on/off headlights
- Auto start/stop
- Driver and front passenger auto up/down windows with jam protection
Our mid-level $28,830 SE tester added a few sport-inspired items including a leather-wrapped steering wheel, larger 17-inch alloy wheels, a mesh front grille, rear decklid spoiler and sport-tuned suspension. Our tester was also equipped with the $775 Entune Audio Plus option, available on both the LE and SE. It adds a larger seven-inch touchscreen, satellite and HD radio, traffic and weather, and a navigation system. Additional options for the SE include wireless smartphone charging, a power moonroof, and an even fancier Entune infotainment system.
Stepping up to the $30,975 XLE will net you LED daytime running lights, leather seats (powered and heated in front), Qi wireless charging, and standard Entune Audio Plus that adds JBL audio.
Major options include a $915 power moonroof and a suite of advanced safety systems available only on the XLE. The $515 Safety Connect Package includes an emergency assistance system as well as automatic collision notification. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are available as another $500 stand-alone option, while a separate $750 Advanced Technology Package includes forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, and automatic high beams.
All 2017 Camry Hybrids use a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that work together to generate 200 system horsepower. As with all Toyota hybrids, an electronic continuously variable transmission puts the power to the front wheels. The most efficient Camry Hybrid, the base LE, returns 42 miles per gallon in the city, 38 mpg on the highway, and 40 mpg combined.
- The electric motor offers a welcome kick in power when merging into traffic and passing on the freeway.
- Our Camry Hybrid’s mileage came very close to the EPA-estimated highway figures – we observed a vehicle-measured 37.7 miles per gallon during our freeway-heavy testing.
- The Camry Hybrid delivers a smooth, controlled ride, easily absorbing most bumps and road irregularities.
- There is very little feedback through the accelerator pedal, making it especially difficult to maintain a constant speed on the highway.
- Unlike the latest Prius, the transition between normal and regenerative braking isn't seamless, making modulating the brakes more difficult.
- The steering feels almost overly heavy, with very little feedback to the driver.
- The infotainment system features a very intuitive interface along with distraction-reducing hard buttons for many of the major functions.
- Front seat occupants and three adults in the back seat will find plenty of leg, hip, shoulder and headroom.
- The red contrast stitching on the upper dashboard, steering wheel, shift boot, and seats gives the interior a touch of sportiness.
- A fixed back seat limits the Camry hybrid's cargo-hauling versatility.
- With the lower ride height that's typical of a sedan, the view of the road ahead is less expansive that that of a crossover.
- The brushed silver trim on the dashboard and doors looks low rent.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
In an era of what seems to be ever-increasing complexity, Toyota's infotainment system continues to impress with its intuitive interface and redundant hard buttons.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The Camry's smooth ride is overshadowed by heavy steering that lacks feedback and a stiff accelerator pedal that makes it difficult to maintain a steady speed on freeways.
The Bottom Line
Despite a smooth ride and excellent EPA numbers, the drivability concerns we experienced with the latest Camry Hybrid make it a difficult vehicle to recommend in a segment raft with excellent competitors from Honda, Ford, Kia, and Hyundai.