The Toyota Camry has been the standard-bearer in terms of quality, reliability and resale value. It has simultaneously earned a reputation as being extremely boring, the plain vanilla of family conveyances.
Recently the company has been injecting it with some interest, if not excitement. Visually, the latest generation Camry has a more youthful look, with crisp details and novel character lines, particularly in the rear quarters.
To ensure Camry buyers, many of them loyal repeaters, have something to suit their needs, the current model is available in no less than eight trim levels. There are front or all-wheel-drive versions, four and six-cylinder engines and several hybrids from which to choose.
Toyota Camry – an exceptional value
The test vehicle was in base SE trim with a hybrid drivetrain – a four-cylinder engine paired with Toyota’s well-proven Synergy Drive system, continuously variable automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. This is an exceptional value!
The combination of Toyota reliability, the security of all-wheel-drive, and a fuel-saving hybrid drivetrain is pretty attractive. It is not too hard on the eyes either.
Even in it’s most basic trim level, this version of the Camry is extremely well-equipped, with the features most of us want and use: power windows, locks, mirrors etc., smart key system, LED headlights, heated mirrors, steering wheel and front seats, power driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt & telescope steering wheel, and cruise control.
2023 Toyota Camry: A complete suite of active and passive safety features is also standard.
That includes forward collision and lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane keep assist, road sign recognition, and a rear seat reminder.
The tester came with a $2,340 Nightshade package, bringing the total to $39,500 before taxes. I could easily do without the Nightside package, and most of the related components, making the bottom line closer to $37,000. This is a lot of vehicle for $37,000!
That price puts it up against a vast array of smaller cars. But, the Camry offers a serious back seat, a commodious trunk, and thanks to the hybrid system, fuel economy that is as good as, or better than those smaller cars. Heck, if your daily commute is 25 km or less, you don’t even need to buy gas!
Unlike purely electric vehicles, when you do need or want to venture beyond the confines of charging stations, the fuel-sipping four-cylinder engine allows you to do so.
Warning – electric vehicle rant to follow!
As a reviewer I am supposed to remain impartial. BUT, after driving a number of electric vehicles, and enjoying their benefits, I am all too aware of the two important shortcomings. The first is the range, which, in some cases, is sneaking up on nearly acceptable.
The second shortcoming is the woeful lack of a reliable charging infrastructure. Admittedly, more are being installed, but the sad fact is that so many are out of order.
The driving range of non-electric or hybrid vehicles is restricted only by your bladder. Most will go from 750-1,000 km on a tank of fuel.
When you run out or your bladder is bursting – whichever comes first – there will be a gas station with a washroom nearby. While there is a degree of stress involved in needing gas or a restroom, at least you know there will be one within a decent distance.
Compare that to searching for a charging station only to find it does not work, and you don’t have enough juice in the battery to get to the next one!
You can counter this of course, by not allowing the range to slip this far. But that means increasing the number of times you have to stop, and the distance between those long stops.
I live far enough from the city that a same-day return trip is a lark in a conventional, or hybrid vehicle. With an electric one, I have to plan to recharge somewhere along the way in order to get back home. Oh, and when I do plug in at home, I get a friendly reminder from the folks at Nova Scotia Power that my power consumption has spiked.
OK back to the review of the 2023 Toyota Camry Hybrid.
The current Toyota Camry is a big, comfortable car capable of carrying five adults with ease over long distances.
In this latest generation, the smooth and comfortable ride is accompanied by more nimble handling. In most ways, it remains dull or boring. But for the vast majority of consumers, that is exactly what they need.
Most are not enthusiasts looking for the joy of tackling a twisty piece of blacktop or the rush of acceleration that stretches your neck muscles.
The eighth-generation Toyota Camry, especially in hybrid guise, is all the vehicle most folks will ever need.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2023 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE
As tested: $39,563 including freight
LED headlights with automatic high beams, pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, lane trace assist
Push button start, remote keyless entry, 19-in bronze alloy wheels, heated front seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, dual zone automatic climate control, heated tilt & telescope steering wheel, full-speed dynamic cruise control, garage door opener
Nightshade package, $2,340: Power sunroof, blind spot monitor with RCTA, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, six- speakers audio system with three-month satellite radio subscription, Audio Plus with remote connect (1 year trial), Safety Connect (1 year trial), Service Connect (up to eight-year trial) 23-cm Touch Screen, Qi-compatible wireless charging tray
2.5-litre four-cylinder, 176 -horsepower, 163 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel, 118-horsepower electric motor, combined output 208-horsepower. Continuously variable automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (5.3/5.0 litres/100km city/highway): 5.1 l/100km combined
Length, 4,880 mm; width, 1,839 mm; wheelbase, 2,825 mm; weight, 1,575 kg
Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata