When Toyota redesigned the Camry for 2018, they gave it more room, bolder styling and far better driving dynamics just to name a few of its improvements over the old. In the case of the Camry Hybrid, increased fuel economy and performance come along for the ride.
Right up front, styling has been amped up across the board from the 2018 Camry Hybrid LE up to the top-line XLE we tested. Grillework, headlamps, colors and wheel designs all vary depending on the trim you choose, giving each its distinct look and character.
Our XLE for instance came with bright 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps and tail lamps and a metallic finish on its grille. The look is decidedly premium and the only indicators you have the Hybrid are the blue highlighted Toyota badges and the Hybrid emblems on the front fenders and rear decklid.
Inside the XLE is a handsome new interior treatment specifically with a cross stitched pattern leather seating here in two tones. A warm tiger-eye wood look accent and bright work adorn the dash along with generous use of stitched soft trims throughout.
The new dash is sweeping in its design and pleasing to the eye with high quality materials and tactile switchgear, well above rental grade. Function it is also with plenty of storage spaces, charging ports and connections for the infotainment system.
Our XLE came with niceties like heated leather seats, power adjustable up front as well as an optional sunroof, Qi wireless phone charger, and the full driver assistance package with lane keeping, blind spot warning, and other safety nannies above the standard Toyota Safety Sense package.
Its a comfortable place to drive or ride with more room than before, a driving position somewhat lower to the ground and more spread out. It feels like a large traditional American car from behind the wheel, no mistake.
A bonus for 2018 is the fact the battery pack is now mounted under the rear seat. This now allows a folding rear seat back with full access to the trunk which now has no compromise in space when you choose the Hybrid model.
Powering the 2018 Camry Hybrid is a heavily revised and updated powertrain. Its 2.5 liter Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine is more efficient and clean burning than before, not to mention smoother and quieter.
It’s mated to an all-new two-motor hybrid drive unit that offers stronger electric motive power and at higher speeds. In all there is 208 system horsepower with EPA fuel economy of 44 mpg city, 47 mpg highway and 46 mpg combined in the XLE we tested as well as the SE.
It’s worth noting that the LE has significantly higher mpg at 51 mpg city, 53 mpg highway and 52 mpg combined because it has narrower tires but also a more efficient Lithium Ion battery. The XLE and SE have a heavier and less efficient Nickel Metal Hydride battery instead.
Power comes on strong and with enthusiasm when asked, especially when you choose the new Sport driving mode from the console mounted selector. The transition between electric and gas power is more transparent than ever, with the starting and stopping of the gasoline engine near imperceptible.
We enjoyed this Camry Hybrid for once, the powertrain no longer a detriment to driving enjoyment or livability from day to day in traffic. We achieved 45 mpg in our week combined city and highway, near what is promised.
Also pleasing is the handling and ride character of the new 2018 Camry Hybrid. It benefits from one of the best investments Toyota has made in their products, an all-new chassis architecture known as TNGA that underpins this and a variety of other new models.
The suspension and steering are miles away and far above anything that has come before it in handling enjoyment, ride quality and simply having a life to it. Steering is communicative and lively in its feel, the suspension rewards your challenges with some spirited response.
If you enjoy a quiet solid ride, you will also be glad to hear this Camry brings more of what you love as well with a sense of premium quiet and stability previously felt in the more upmarket Lexus models of the past.
Priced at $37,255 our Camry Hybrid XLE was fully loaded with all the option packages available with exception of dealer added accessories. At this price it certainly felt a good value in terms of features for the money and payback for its additional fuel economy. It’s improved style, character and fun to driveness is an extra added bonus.