2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid review with video


The basics:

Starting price: $31,490 + taxes
As tested: $40,990 + taxes
Average fuel economy over a week: 7.4 L/100 kms (32 US MPG) (on a very cold week)

The new Camry Hybrid has done something that’s key to the success of the hybrid market: it’s more efficient than ever yet has a more dynamic drive feel. Toyota’s done it by shaving weight where they can and adopting new tech – not the least of which is a next generation hybrid powerplant and the arrival of Toyota’s global design platform. We spend a week driving this car around to see how it compares to its conventional gasoline sibling that we were in last week. Take a look…

 

Pros:

– Toyota kicked standard equipment up by a considerable notch for 2018: 17 inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, a smart key with push button start, a big, clear 7 inch infotainment system with a rear back-up camera and Toyota’s new Entune software featuring Scout GPS. There’s a drive mode select function that allows you shift between economy, normal and sport modes depending on your mood. And the Toyota Safety sense suite is now standard, too. Adaptive cruise, autonomous braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and auto high beams all give you a nice piece of mind on every single new Camry.
– This car is now based on the company’s new global design platform which vastly improves the ride of this car with a more rigid body and also helps with its handling because of a lower centre of gravity.
– Then there’s the next generation Toyota Hybrid system – a 2.5-litre four cylinder engine that’s smaller, lighter and far more efficient than the outgoing Camry. When I say that Toyota started shaving grams here, I’m not kidding – everything from the motor to the computer chips to the batteries have been lightened
– And Toyota says the result is a car that’s 17% more efficient than the outgoing Camry hybrid. The company pegged the 2017 LE trim at an overall average of 5.9 L/100 kms. Now they’re saying we should see 4.9 L/100 kms
– The batteries are smaller and lighter for 2018 which means they can now be moved from the trunk – where they gobbled up available cargo space – and are now stowed away under the second row seats
– Here’s something I really like about the new Camry hybrid, its continuously variable transmission! It totally had me fooled that I was driving a conventional automatic until I drove home to look at the specs. This CVT pairs up well – delivering power when you need it without the surging that can plague some cars

Cons:

– While it’s great to see improved reported efficiency out of the Camry Hybrid, I just haven’t been able to achieve those numbers from the Camry this week. Granted, we have had some chilly, snowy days. Cold weather kind of kills a hybrid’s efficiency – keeping the cabin warm, more demands on the batteries, beefier winter tires. It all adds up. But under exactly the same cold conditions last week,we aw pretty well exactly the same economy in the conventional 4 cylinder Camry last week. That’s in temperatures below -10 Celsius. And while there were marked improvements when it warmed to above freezing – I saw 5.3 L/100 kms for brief moments – I never hit the numbers that Toyota suggests
– And if you’re hoping that this EV button might come to save the day… it doesn’t. EV stands for electric vehicle mode and lets you run the car strictly off the battery pack without dipping into the combustion engine. But even if I THOUGHT about putting my foot down on the gas peddle, I was booted out of EV mode and forced back into the more typical hybrid system
– A touchier braking feel in the hybrid takes some getting used to. It’s because of the regenerative brakes that take the energy out of all those braking forces and put that power back into the battery. It’s not necessarily a bad brake feel but be ready for a bit more grab than the conventional Camry

 

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 4/5 (63 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 4/5

Family Wheels overall score: 35/50= 70%

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