Full 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Toyota Camry Hybrid receives rear cross traffic alert functionality as part of the optional blind spot monitoring system. Inside, all Hybrids have the 6-inch central display screen as standard and slightly upgraded door panel trim.
As with the standard Camry, Toyota gave its Camry Hybrid a complete redesign last year that brought about a sharper look, notably improved the interior quality and pumped up its driving dynamics. The 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid stays the course, but gains a few features that enhance convenience, safety and cabin ambience.
Forget those notions of a hybrid being sluggish in the name of fuel conservation. The Camry Hybrid provides both brisk acceleration and high fuel economy. Zero to 60 in just 7.4 seconds might not be sports car territory, but it's quicker than the regular four-cylinder Camry and you get an impressive EPA estimate of 41 mpg combined in the deal. For most folks shopping this segment, the Camry Hybrid will strike an ideal balance between its expectedly plush ride and decent handling.
Compared to the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid offers a smoother-operating hybrid system and better fuel economy. The new Ford Fusion Hybrid, however, is tough to beat, as it boasts the segment's highest mileage ratings along with solid performance and handsome styling. There's also the new Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, which looks good on paper but is yet unproven in this new-for-VW segment. As such, the Camry Hybrid stands as one of the top picks for a well-rounded, gas-sipping family car.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid is offered in LE and XLE trim levels.
The LE features 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6-inch display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio, an auxiliary input and a USB/iPod interface.
The XLE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, heated exterior mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an eight-way power driver seat.
Additional options are available for the XLE but can vary depending on which region of the country you live in. These include a sunroof, a rearview camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a four-way power passenger seat, a navigation system, voice recognition, Entune smartphone integration, a premium 10-speaker JBL audio system and a hard-drive-based navigation system with a larger touchscreen display.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 156 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque with an electric motor/battery pack. At low speeds the car can be propelled solely by the electric motor, which is why the Camry Hybrid is so fuel-efficient in city driving. Working together when full power is needed, the two power sources crank out a combined output of 200 hp. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) delivers power to the front wheels.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Camry Hybrid XLE accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds. That's the swiftest acceleration in this admittedly small class of hybrid sedans.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the Camry Hybrid LE is 43 mpg city/39 mpg highway and 41 mpg combined. Interestingly, the XLE achieves figures of 40/38/40, likely due to the higher rolling resistance of its larger wheels and tires.
The 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid comes with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front- and rear-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, and knee airbags for both driver and passenger. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert is also available.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Camry Hybrid came to a stop from 60 mph in 116 feet, an excellent result.
In government crash testing, the otherwise similar standard Camry received a top five-star score for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Camry Hybrid the best possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests. It scored a "Poor" (the worst rating) in that agency's new "small overlap" frontal impact crash test, but only a handful of cars have been subjected to it, and most have earned a similarly low score.
Interior Design and Special Features
The interior of the 2013 Toyota Camry feels roomy and its thin front pillars provide good outward visibility. What the cabin design lacks in cohesiveness, it makes up for with generally good materials quality, especially the handsome stitching on the dash and door panels of upper trims. The spacious rear seat is complemented by a nicely reclined seatback angle that helps the Camry match the Honda Accord for the most comfortable backseat in the class.
The Camry's upgraded audio system also includes Entune, a suite of smartphone-connected services that includes features like the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio, real-time traffic, sports and stock information, and the ability to reserve movie tickets or a table at a restaurant on the go. The touchscreen interface and accompanying steering wheel controls are usually pretty easy to use, but sometimes the virtual buttons' unwillingness to respond is frustrating.
With 13.1 cubic feet of available space, the trunk offers respectable capacity for a hybrid, as their attendant battery packs usually greatly intrude upon trunk space.
The 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid is dynamically well-rounded. Thanks to careful suspension tuning, it sticks well to the road and is mostly undisturbed by bumps and ruts. The electric-assist steering is precise and quick enough, though it suffers from a lack of feedback and some drivers may find its effort too light.
Toyota's hybrid system remains the most sophisticated and refined on the market. The transition from all-electric mode to gasoline engine is less noticeable than in the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, for example, while its acceleration is surprisingly strong for a midsize, non-premium brand hybrid sedan.