Toyota Camry Hybrid Review
The Toyota Camry is back after a 15-year hiatus, offering a punchy but fuel-efficient hybrid engine and lots of standard kit. That said, its infotainment is average and it’s quite pricey.
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The humble saloon has had a tough time of late. You see, the higher-riding, chunkier-looking SUV has barged its way in and stolen sales, but there’s still a decent list of options if you prefer your motoring sleek and lower-slung. The Toyota Camry Hybrid is the latest to join said list after 15 years off-sale in the UK.
The Camry climbs back into the ring to face cars like the Skoda Superb, Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, VW Passat and Mazda 6, but what makes it different is its engine options – or rather, lack of. Yep, with the Camry, you can have any engine you like, as long as it’s a 2.5-litre petrol paired with batteries and an electric motor. And to keep things even more simple, Toyota offers just two trim levels: Design and Excel.
And, you’ll struggle to tell the difference between the trims inside because most of the difference comes externally – the Excel, for example, adds LED daytime running lights. Inside, all Camrys get lots of soft-touch plastics, leather seats, attractive trims and solid switches. In short, it easily rivals a Passat or Superb for quality.
Where it doesn’t rival them, though, is on infotainment. All Camrys come with a 7-inch driver’s info display as well as a second 7-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard, but they look decidedly old-hat next to the class’s best systems and aren’t as easy to use. Even more frustrating is the fact that there’s currently no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring, although Toyota is working to add it later down the line.
Still, space inside the Toyota Camry Hybrid is much better. Four adults will be able to stretch out inside for starters (although a fifth in the rear middle seat will be less comfy) and the driver gets plenty of standard electronic seat and wheel adjustment, not to mention a broad but supportive driver’s seat. At 524 litres, its boot is a generous size, too, and the rear seats split 60:40 and fold flat. Even so, for the best interior space, you’re still best off with a Skoda Superb.
The Camry’s 2.5-litre petrol engine might sound big and thirsty, but thanks to there also being an electric motor, you’ll see 50mpg if you drive it carefully. That’s not bad at all.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid holds its own to drive, though. Its hybrid engine produces 178hp which is sent through a CVT automatic gearbox. That means, rather than individual gears, the power is delivered continuously, and this, in turn, usually means lots of unpleasant revving when accelerating. However, In the Camry, the revving is there, but engine noise is kept nicely in check, so it doesn’t grate.
And you won’t be doing too much revving as the Camry Hybrid offers decent performance for overtaking, and really, the car’s strength lies in its relaxing, silent electric operation at low speeds in town. OK, so a Passat is slightly better over lumps and bumps at low speeds but the Camry is certainly one of the more comfortable choices. Even better, drive it sensibly and you’ll see it return 50mpg, while its 98g/km CO2 emissions betters all its alternatives’.
On faster country roads, the Camry Hybrid is less impressive; it grips hard, but there’s no doubt most of its rivals are more engaging to drive quickly. At a motorway cruise, it’s more likeable, because there’s little wind or road noise and its engine settles down nicely, too.
Which brings us to price. From £30,000, the Camry is a fair bit more expensive than your entry-level Passat, Superb or Mondeo, and certainly Insignia. The Camry does have a very generous standard equipment list, but unless hybrid power is an absolute must or you’re running your Camry as a company car, we’d investigate the cheaper, more spacious and better-to-drive Skoda Superb first.