As the sister model to the next-generation Lexus ES, the 2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid is a sleek sedan combining gas and electric power. It majors on tech, with Apple CarPlay and Amazon compatibility, while the starting price checks in below $30,000.
2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid Overview
What's New for 2019
Following a comprehensive redesign earlier this year, the 2019 mode is mechanically unchanged. Apple CarPlay is standard for the first time, while the third-generation of Toyota’s Entune multimedia system is also Amazon Alexa compatible.
Choosing Your Toyota Camry Hybrid
The Camry Hybrid continues to stand apart from the rest of Toyota’s flagship sedan range. Every model is powered by a 2.5-liter gas engine augmented by an electric motor for a combined system output of 208 horsepower. Power is fed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission with sequential manual override – a different system to the eight-speed automatic gearbox fitted to conventionally-powered Camry models.
Unusually, Toyota quotes different fuel economy levels for the base LE model compared to the SE and XLE. The base Camry Hybrid achieves an EPA-estimated 51 miles per gallon city, 53 mpg highway, and 52 combined, compared to 44/47/46 mpg (city/highway/combined) for the upper trims. This may be partially explained by the inclusion of a superior nickel-metal hydride battery in SE and XLE models, whose curb weights are also higher thanks to extra equipment.
With a head-up display and wireless charging as standard, the 2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE will appeal to technology lovers. The small price premium over SE trim seems worth it, especially since certain driver assistance options are only available on the range-topping model.
2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review
The 2019 Camry Hybrid doesn’t quite manage to be exciting, although it’s a step up from a Prius. Instead, it’s sensible, safe, and comfortable – along with extremely economical. In our eyes, that’s a win.
The clear winner in the Camry Hybrid lineup is the base LE trim. Of the three Hybrid trims available (LE, SE, and XLE), it’s the only one to use a lithium-ion battery. Oddly, the other two use a heavier nickel-metal-hydride unit, which diminishes efficiency considerably.
The LE trim provides enough luxury for most, anyway. It gets a power driver’s seat, alloy wheels, keyless entry, push-button start, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The wheels are 16-inchers with low-resistance tires on them, but you weren’t buying this car for its handling anyway.
Other than accessories and paint, the only decision left to make is a single package that costs $2,690 and adds a moonroof, some convenience and active safety features, and an upgraded audio system. We’d skip it. It's a significant price increase, and the Camry Hybrid’s standard active safety tech already includes the best features: adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, traffic sign recognition, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking.
This leaves a comfortable cruiser that slides under the $30,000 mark:
- Model:2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE
- Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder / 88-kW electric motor / 1.0-kWh lithium-ion battery
- Output:208 hp / 163 lb-ft
- Transmission: Electronic continuously variable transmission (CVT)
- Drivetrain:Front-wheel drive
- MPG:51 City / 53 Hwy
- Options: None
- Base Price:$29,070 (including the $920 destination fee)
- Best Value Price:$29,070
The real attraction of the hybrid powertrain is its fuel economy, which is exceptional. The Camry Hybrid LE gets an EPA-estimated 52 miles per gallon combined, and even the heavier SE and XLE get a respectable 46 mpg combined. Even better, the system works without frustrating the driver. Switching between gas and electric power is hardly noticeable, and the CVT gearbox is well behaved around town. The ride is soft and comfortable, and the steering is light but precise. This isn’t a car for racing enthusiasts, but it’s a nice way to get around.
While the torque from the electric motor helps, the powertrain still strains to execute passes on the highway. Our larger complaint is the nickel batteries in the upper trims. It boosts capacity to 1.6 kWh, but decreases fuel economy. For commuters whose primary concerns are comfort and efficiency, that’s a real downside.
The Camry’s looks may be polarizing, but we like when automakers take risks, and this one pays off. The exterior is clean and eye-catching, especially with alloy wheels. On the inside, a sweeping dash surrounds the high, seven- or eight-inch infotainment touchscreen. Seats are firm and supportive, and upholstery can be real leather on the higher trims. Standard features are reasonable, and the lineup is highly customizable. Perhaps most impressive is the Camry’s safety ratings – it earned five stars in all of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's categories and a Top Safety Pick Plus award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Cargo capacity is middling, with only 15.1 cubic feet available in the trunk. The infotainment system is mostly good, but the base screen is more reflective than competitors. While Toyota added Apple CarPlay compatibility this year, it dropped Pandora and still lacks Android Auto.
The Best and Worst Things
A better-looking hybrid is a good thing in our book, but we wish the upper trims could keep up the strong fuel economy.
Right For? Wrong For?
The Camry Hybrid is perfect for commuters who don’t want to advertise their love of wheatgrass juice. It’s comfortable, safe, and economical, but it has the looks of a well-styled sedan. It may not be quite as upscale as the Honda Accord, but it gets better mileage.
Drivers looking for sportiness will be disappointed. The powertrain is sedate, and the suspension leans in the corners. It’s practical and friendly, but it'll never be called exciting.
The Bottom Line
In Hybrid form, the Camry is a hit. Fuel economy in the 50s will ensure that visits to the pump are few and far between, and the cabin will keep passengers comfy and safe. This is the Toyota take on a cruiser: mild-mannered, relaxed, and easy on the wallet. That's a package that's easy to recommend.