The current Toyota Camry Hybrid has been a reliable and solid choice in the mid-size sedan market, its top rivals being the Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata. In it’s final years of the current generation the refreshed for 2023 SE Nightshade Edition sports it up with a number of key styling features that I really found quite attractive.
Our tester showed up in a new solid hue of Reservoir Blue which contrasted nicely against its new 19-inch matte bronze alloy wheels. It sits a little lower too by way of the sport tuned suspension on the SE trim grade.
A black front grille with sport mesh comes over from the Camry TRD. It’s Bi-LED headlamps feature black surround as do its LED combination tail-lamps. Black accents are also added here and there including a lip spoiler on the trunk lid, the mirror caps, and black emblems.
The 2023 Camry Nightshade is available on the SE trim grade in FWD and AWD for 2.5-liter gas models as well as the FWD hybrid we tested here. In such the 2.5-liter Hybrid system in this trim was rated at 208 horsepower with fuel efficiency of 44 city, 47 highway and 46 combined.
In my week with it I measured 43 mpg combined and found that the power from its well proven hybrid drivetrain was plenty to feel sporting when you wanted. Add in a selectable drive mode and paddles shifters on the steering wheel for simulated shift feel and it’s almost a credible sport sedan.
I also though the handling with its slightly lower and tighter suspension along with its more aggressive tire and wheel combination was just enough to make it fun to drive – not what one always expects from a hybrid sedan. It was definitely a step up from rental grade.
Our tester rang in at $32, 610. Based on the SE trim, this Camry is definitely in the middle of the lineup from base to fully-featured. This means the interior was well appointed with an upgraded level of trim and features, but not all the way.
Seating was SofTex vinyl with a nice looking striped cloth insert. The driver seat is power operated buy the passenger seat is manual. I also noted there were no heated seats at this level. They were comfortable however, quite so and a welcome place to hang for a long drive.
The 7-inch base touch-screen audio system is what I would call adequate in sound quality. It features a basic backup camera, wired Apple Car Play and Android Auto, and satellite radio. It’s easy to use with lots of hard controls to bypass layers of menus. The downside is a smaller screen than many competitors now have, and a few less features offered. If you want more here you need to step up the trim grade ladder.
At its price I was more than pleased with its overall packaging of sport character, performance, efficiency and handling. Even at six years old it more than keeps up I think with the current Honda Accord hybrid though the Hyundai Sonata does offer a newer design and feature set to contemplate.
An all new Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are both due in 2024 so the race will reset then. For the here and now, you have the chance to get the last Camry with all of its bugs worked out and likely for a better deal.