2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE (2.5L 4-cyl. Hybrid CVT Automatic)
Driven On 12/03/2013
The competition has caught up to the Toyota Camry Hybrid. You'll still want to factor this midsize sedan into your shopping because of its decent fuel economy, strong acceleration and competitive pricing/warranties. We were bothered by its numb steering, difficult-to-modulate brakes and cheap-ish materials.
PerformanceThe Camry Hybrid's 156-horsepower four-cylinder plus electric motor combo give 200 horsepower in total. This results in class-leading accleration. Unfortunately, in just about every other performance parameter the Camry is merely mediocre.
The Camry Hybrid's 200 horsepower gives 0-60 mph in 7.6 sec. Only the Honda Accord Hybrid can match that. Heavy throttle action causes the CVT to hold revs annoyingly high, other times it lugs the engine.
The brakes are hard to modulate and have little feeling during slow driving. Some hybrids have improved here, but not Toyota. The Camry's panic-stop number was average at 122 feet from 60 mph.
The Camry Hybrid's heavily-weighted steering worked fine during instrumented testing. But in normal driving it exhibited an odd reluctance to return to center. Meaning, if you turn the wheel left, it stays pointed left.
The car doesn't give the same kind of feedback to the driver as the Ford Fusion Hybrid, though it feels more connected to the road than the Hyundai Sonata. Uninspiring, like most hybrids.
The Camry doesn't feel as "normal" as some competitors, due to the operation of its CVT and some highway rpm surging. We do appreciate the good outward views, backup camera and supple throttle. Not the wonky brakes.
ComfortA combination of rough-riding tires and thinly-padded seats add up to a less-than-cushy ride. We do like the soft Ultrasuede seat material though. Wind and engine noise are pleasantly subdued at highway speeds.
Front seats are on the thin side padding-wise, but the optional Ultrasuede inserts are soft and grippy. Armrests could also use more cushioning. Rear seats are quite comfortable, with ample rake to seatback.
The tires felt overly harsh across Botts' dots and other road imperfections. The suspension doesn't feel as cushy as you'd expect, transmitting freeway expansion joints into the cabin too frequently.
At highway speeds the engine and wind noise are barely noticeable, but tire hum is prevalent, especially on cement surfaces. The Camry is reasonably quiet at full throttle, though the CVT keeps revs high.
InteriorAside from below average headroom front and rear, the Camry Hybrid's interior offers a lot of positives. Easy entry/exit, excellent outward views, plenty of storage cubbies and a larger-than-average trunk.
Mostly simple ergos with easy-to-navigate 7-inch touchscreen. The steering wheel controls aren't labeled well. Large temp knobs, but the detents are mushy. Easy phone pairing. Driving position too high.
Front doors don't open wide but are long, so there's still a large entryway. Easy to hit heel on the wide rocker panels. Fairly expansive opening to get in/out of the rear seats.
A surprising lack of front headroom for taller drivers, and it's even more problematic in the rear. Nice elbow cutouts front and rear and very good rear knee room, though tight foot space.
Narrow pillars all around the car, giving excellent outward views. Makes lane changes easy. Large rear window, plus a good-sized optional rearview camera for parking duty.
Superb. Center console cupholders have excellent anti-tip, 10 total. Large center armrest bin, handy front bin with a privacy door. Coinholder. Trunk has large opening, big space for segment at 13.1 cu-ft.
ValueThe Camry Hybrid offers decent value, although we've come to expect "excellent" from Toyota. It's marred by some cheap-feeling interior materials, and several rival hybrids returned better fuel mileage in our real-world driving tests.
Build Quality (vs. $)
We were a bit let down by the materials in this Camry Hybrid. The hard dash feels cheap, there are few pieces of soft-touch and controls aren't damped well. Should be better at the XLE's $28,465 starting price.
The Camry Hybrid XLE comes with dual-zone climate control, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, USB and aux-in ports, an 8-way power driver's seat, cruise control, heated mirrors and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Option packages brought our XLE to an as-tested $35,170. The added items include a blind-spot monitor, backup camera, Ultrasuede seat inserts, heated front seats, a 7-inch touchscreen and a power sunroof.
The EPA rates the Camry Hybrid at 40 mpg Combined (40 City/38 Highway). We only averaged 37.4 mpg overall, although we did manage an impressive 46.4 mpg on our 100-mile fuel economy loop.
The Camry's 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and 5-year/60,000-mile drivetrain warranties are no better than average. Hybrid components are covered for 8 years/100,000 miles by law (10 years/150,000 miles in California).
Roadside assistance for 2 years/25,000 miles and free maintenance also for 2 years/25,000 miles. The Ford Fusion Hybrid and VW Jetta Hybrid offer longer roadside assistance.
Fun To DriveWith 200 blended horsepower (gasoline engine plus electric motor) the Camry Hybrid is one of the quickest in this segment. That makes it more interesting than some, but few people buying these hybrids get hung up on 0-60 times.
These days we like hybrids that drive more like normal cars, with less CVT rubberbanding or highway rpm surging. From this perspective, the Ford Fusion Hybrid provides a better driving experience.
Toyota Camrys are known for getting the job done delivering you from A to B. With its odd steering, CVT transmission and only adequate comfort, the Camry Hybrid offers even less personality than usual.