Full 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid is largely unchanged. Midway through the model year, Toyota introduced a "2014.5" Camry Hybrid. Highlights of this midyear update include a new SE Limited Edition trim level, a newly standard rearview camera and a revised naming of the car's infotainment systems.
Given the popularity of the Prius model line, it's easy to forget that Toyota makes other hybrid vehicles, too. That would be a shame, though, because the 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid has the same refined powertrain characteristics and small appetite for fuel, along with the added space and comfort of the traditional Camry sedan.
The sedan body style is a plus for consumers who prefer the Camry Hybrid's more formal look over the Prius' hatchback body style. But Toyota's hybrid family sedan also has something you might not expect -- energetic acceleration. With a 0-60-mph time of 7.4 seconds, the Toyota Camry Hybrid is downright quick for a four-cylinder midsize sedan, let alone one that also puts up an impressive EPA combined rating of 41 mpg.
Like other Camrys, the hybrid also boasts comfortable seating front and rear, good outward visibility and an ideal balance between a smooth, quiet ride and responsive handling. The Toyota's downsides include steering that offers little feedback, some odd design elements and subpar trim within the cabin and an occasionally finicky touchscreen with a complicated setup process for smartphone integration. The Camry Hybrid also comes up a little short in the mpg bragging rights department, as the LE's 41 mpg EPA-rated combined fuel economy trails the mpg ratings of some rivals.
Compared to the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the Toyota offers a smoother-operating hybrid system and better fuel economy. There's also the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, which offers a sportier drive but far less interior room. The 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the new 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid beat the Camry Hybrid in both fuel economy and driving enjoyment, and our staff picked them over the Toyota in a comparison test. But overall, the 2014 Camry Hybrid still merits consideration from shoppers looking for a comfortable gas-sipping family car.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid is offered in LE and XLE trim levels. The 2014.5 Camry Hybrid, which debuted in December of 2013, is offered in an additional trim, SE Limited Edition, and differs slightly in its equipment levels.
The 2014 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 6.1-inch display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary input and a USB/iPod interface.
The 2014 XLE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated exterior mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rear seat air vents.
Additional options are available for the XLE but can vary depending on the region of the country in which you live. These include a sunroof, a rearview camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a four-way power passenger seat, Entune smartphone integration (includes Bing search engine, Internet radio, concierge services and traffic, sports and stock information), blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, the Safety Connect telematics system, a premium 10-speaker JBL audio system and a navigation system (includes a larger 7-inch touchscreen display, the Entune system, satellite radio and HD radio).
For the 2014.5 Camry Hybrid, there's also a SE Limited Edition trim level. It's equipped similarly to the XLE but has sporty styling cues and the sport front seats of the non-hybrid Camry SE. A rearview camera is standard on all 2014.5 trims. Additionally, Toyota renamed the audio and infotainment systems for these 2014.5 Camrys. The Camry Hybrid LE's unchanged audio system is called Entune Audio while the XLE's system is dubbed Entune Audio Plus, and compared to the '14 model adds satellite radio, HD radio and traffic/weather reporting. Optional on the SE Limited Edition and XLE is Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite. The latter adds the navigation system and smartphone app integration (featuring Bing, OpenTable and Pandora). On top of that, one may also opt for the 10-speaker JBL sound system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid pairs a 156-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and 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, 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 7.6 seconds, a quick time for a hybrid midsize sedan.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the Camry Hybrid LE is 41 mpg combined (43 city/39 highway). Interestingly, the XLE achieves 40 mpg combined (40 city/38 highway), likely due to the increased rolling resistance of its larger wheels and tires.
The 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid comes with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, a rearview camera, 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 alerts is available on the XLE, as is the optional Safety Connect telematics system that includes roadside assistance, stolen vehicle location and automatic collision notification.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Camry Hybrid came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, an average result.
In government crash testing, the non-hybrid Toyota 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 the best possible rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. The car scored a "Poor" (the worst rating) in that agency's "small overlap" frontal-impact crash test but a "Good" for its head restraints/seatbelts for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The interior of the 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid feels roomy, and its thin front roof pillars provide good outward visibility from the driver seat. Drivers over 6 feet tall, however, may find that the seat doesn't go low enough to ensure an optimal driving position. The cabin's design lacks cohesiveness, and although build quality is solid, some plastic trim looks a bit cheap compared to rivals' more luxurious materials. The spacious rear seat is enhanced by a nicely reclined seatback angle that makes it easy to sit back there on long trips. Along with the Honda Accord, the Camry is tops in the midsize sedan class for backseat comfort.
The Camry Hybrid's upgraded audio system includes Entune, a suite of smartphone-connected services that includes features like the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio, traffic updates and sports and stock information. Getting started with the smartphone integration system can be a hassle, though, since you have to install an app on your phone and register for an account, plus you always need an active data connection to use Entune's functions. The touchscreen interface has straightforward menus, but it's sometimes unresponsive to user touch.
With 13.1 cubic feet, the trunk offers respectable capacity for a hybrid sedan (hybrids typically sacrifice some space to their under-floor battery packs).
The 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid is, for the most part, dynamically well-rounded. Thanks to careful suspension tuning, it grips the road well and the ride is mostly undisturbed by bumps and ruts. Most drivers will find the steering precise, but if you're more demanding, you might be annoyed by its lack of feel. In that case we'd steer you toward the Fusion Hybrid, which has crisper, more direct steering.
That said, Toyota's hybrid drivetrain remains the most sophisticated and refined system on the market. The transition from all-electric mode to the gasoline engine is less noticeable in the Camry Hybrid than in the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, for example. All the while, acceleration is strong for a midsize, non-premium-brand hybrid sedan. The car's brake pedal feel is more natural than in most rivals, mainly because Toyota has managed to make the transitions between the hybrid regenerative braking system and the car's conventional brakes far less obvious to the driver in normal traffic situations.