2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
Excellent fuel efficiency.
Interior trim is exquisite.
A new infotainment system has been installed.
Under severe acceleration, the CVT becomes noisy.
While sedans are rapidly becoming extinct due to consumer demand for crossovers and SUVs, the Toyota Camry has been America’s best-selling car for the past 15 years for a reason. And, with to head-turning exterior style, a luxury-like interior on the highest trim level, and a new version of Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, the all-new 2018 Camry Hybrid makes a better case than ever for sedans. It also has plenty of passenger and baggage space, a long list of standard comfort and convenience amenities across the board, and various driver assistance functions as standard equipment, even on the cheapest model.
Of course, the best reason to buy a hybrid is the fuel economy. Despite the fact that the 2018 Camry Hybrid has the same engine as the previous model, the base LE grade gets 52 mpg combined, which is 12 mpg greater than the previous model and the same as a Toyota Prius. The 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE we drove makes a solid case for the ride, roominess, and fuel economy of a hybrid sedan, earning our Editors’ Choice.
Design and Pricing
The 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid is available in three trim levels, all of which use a 176-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and an 18-kilowatt/118-horsepower electric motor for a total of 208 horsepower. The electric motor is powered by a 1.6-kwh lithium-ion or sealed nickel-metal hydride battery, which is charged by the gasoline engine and regenerative braking. An electronically controlled continuously variable transmission sends power to the front wheels (ECVT).
Exterior features include 16-inch steel wheels, automatic bi-LED headlights and daytime running lights, combination LED tail lights, a dark gray front grille, body color power side mirrors, keyless entry, intermittent windshield wipers, high solar energy-absorbing windows, and an acoustic noise-reducing front windshield, among others.
Dual-zone automatic climate control, fabric-trimmed upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat, a six-way manually adjustable front passenger seat, and 60/40 split fold-down rear seats with a center armrest are among the standard interior features. A tilt/telescopic steering wheel, soft material upper door trim, wood inside trim, push button ignition, power windows and doors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, a HomeLink garage door opener, and an automatic parking brake round out the features.
Bluetooth for phone and audio streaming, a 4.2-inch LCD instrument cluster, and the Entune 3.0 Audio system with six speakers, AM/FM/CD, an aux-in line, a USB port with iPod compatibility and control, and a 7-inch touch screen are all standard technology features. Scout GPS with a three-year free trial, the Entune App Suite, Siri Eyes Free, built-in voice recognition, a backup camera with guidelines, and a complimentary three-year trial subscription to the Safety Connect telematics system with automatic collision notification, emergency assistance, stolen vehicle location, and roadside assistance are all included. Adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automated emergency braking, lane keeping assist, and hill start assist are all standard driver aids.
The SE trim adds 18-inch black machine finish alloy wheels, a black front grille with sport mesh insert, body color side rocker panels and rear spoiler, dual chrome exhaust tips, sport-tuned shock absorbers and springs, Sport SofTex-trimmed front seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters, embossed-mesh interior trim, and a tire pressure monitor system with direct pressure readout to the starting price of $29,500.
The XLE we tested comes with 18-inch silver machine finish alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, LED tail lights, a bright metallic front grille, body color heated power side mirrors with turn signals, rear seat climate control vents, a backup camera with dynamic guidelines, leather-trimmed front seats, an eight-way power front-passenger seat, and adjustable rear headrests. A 10-inch color heads-up display, Tiger Eye inside wood trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, three USB ports, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and clever clearance sonar with rear cross-traffic braking are all included.
A $1,050 surround-view camera, $415 adaptive headlights with auto-leveling, a $845 tilt/slide sunroof, and the costly $1,800 Audio package with a quality JBL audio system and wireless smartphone charging were also included in our test car. The ultimate sticker price was $37,245, including a $885 delivery processing and handling fee.
The Camry has traditionally been associated with middle-of-the-road style, but the 2018 Camry Hybrid is more angular and powerful in appearance. The muscular two-part grille is colored blue and features a larger Toyota emblem in the center. Our XLE test car’s interior is almost as good as a luxury sedan’s, with outstanding fit and finish, high-quality materials, ample passenger capacity, and exceptional vision. Despite having to accommodate a hybrid battery, Toyota was able to maintain a full-size trunk that is identical to a conventional Camry.
Connectivity and the Infotainment Interface
The 2018 Camry is the first Toyota to offer the all-new Entune 3.0 infotainment system with an 8-inch screen, as well as the first to employ the Automotive Grade Linux operating system (AGL), which will eventually replace the existing QNX OS in other Toyota vehicles. Because of its ease of use and clear (and free) connectivity possibilities, Entune has always been one of our favorite infotainment systems. For a thorough summary, see our entire evaluation of the Entune 3.0 system.
Many of the Camry Hybrid’s driving aids are standard, even on the base model, and most of them may be adjusted for sensitivity. Intelligent Clearance Sonar, a novel driver assist that uses eight sensors surrounding the vehicle to alert when an item is nearby, is also available on the XLE model we tested. When the automobile goes too close to an object, ICS will automatically use the brakes in addition to generating an audio indication. The surround view camera also features a “see-through” option that allows you to see what’s going on around you.
The XLE variant also comes with one of the largest and nicest head-up displays we’ve ever seen on a car.
EV, ECO, Normal, and Sport are the four driving modes. Sport boosts the hybrid system’s power for faster acceleration, while ECO reduces performance for better fuel economy. In ECO mode, the Camry Hybrid also boasts a new Auto Glide Control feature that helps the car save gasoline while coasting.
Although the CVT becomes noisy under heavy acceleration, the 208 combined horsepower gives acceptable performance for daily use, and passing other cars and climbing hills isn’t an issue. The gasoline engine and electric motor work well together, and regenerative braking is barely visible when the throttle is lifted. The ride and handling are smooth, and given the vehicle’s size and weight, the lack of body roll at sharp curves is impressive.
While the top XLE variant of the 2018 Camry Hybrid boasts a sumptuous interior and other creature comforts, most buyers will choose the base LE trim level, which has more standard equipment and higher combined fuel economy—and is over $4,500 cheaper. Regardless, we feel that most drivers will be satisfied with any 2018 Camry Hybrid model they select—and that you should consider one even if you don’t require all-wheel drive. It confirms why the Camry has been so successful for the past 15 years, and it receives our Editors’ Choice for sedans.
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