By on October 7, 2014

2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE white profileAt any one moment, it is both easy and difficult to see why the Toyota Camry is perennially America’s best-selling car.

Taking up residence in a 2014 Camry Hybrid SE for a whole week, I was saddened, but I could see how a Camry owner would feel emboldened when contemplating the future. This is not a happy place, you see, not from a design standpoint; not for a car reviewer who wants material quality to impress and edges to be softened and seat cushions to be lengthy under thigh.

And yet, just as an example, I suspect that the ghastly steering wheel buttons will operate effectively for the Camry’s fifth owner, a college sophomore who buys the car in 2024 after it lived a trouble-free, maintained-at-the-dealer, 150,000-mile commuter existence.

I don’t say this because of Toyota’s reputation for quality, as this car lacks the sense of overarching solidity with which you acquainted yourself in a 1997 Lexus ES when you were a college sophomore. Rather, one falls under the spell of perceived durability because, for instance, the interior is ruggedly refined. It’s like my son’s yellow dump trucks. They’re not as cool as his silver Gullwing model, not as nicely painted or equipped with doors as beautifully hinged, but they will outlast whatever his childhood can throw at them. Born less than a year ago, he’s not allowed to touch the Benz yet.

2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE corneringThe smoothness of the drivetrain can rarely, if ever, be questioned, from the stop-start system to the delivery of passing power on a two-lane road. It’s not fast, the Camry Hybrid, but it’s not ponderous, either. We were party to very little EV operation, but the Camry is rather quiet regardless. Wind noise is kept to a minimum, though the hum of the Michelin Primacy MXV4s was conspicuous. Rear-seat occupants are blessed with an impressive amount of legroom, but the trunk is 15% smaller than in a conventionally powered Camry.

This is a car we all know well, however. We know it’s lacking personality. (My mother-in-law, always interested to see what’s in our driveway, didn’t notice the previous week’s Legacy had been switched out for the Camry, and she’s a loyal Camry owner.) We know it’s spacious and affordable and provides what may be the planet’s best reputation for durability, ISIS-driven Toyota pickups aside. But in advance of the refreshed 2015 car’s arrival, Toyota began marketing a slightly different Camry. For the first time, they applied the TTAC-favoured SE alterations to the hybrid model.

Camry Hybrid SE interiorThat’s a bit confusing when first pondered. The SE is the Camry that can be driven swiftly through corners, but the Camry Hybrid is the Camry that ought not be driven swiftly if fuel economy numbers are going to live up to the official EPA ratings.

This Camry can, in fact, be driven quickly on a fun road. The steering is more than decent and would become even better if only the car would turn in with more immediacy. Body roll is toned down. For the most part, ride quality remains comfortable, although interactions between the rear suspension and especially rough pavement send a shudder through the whole car. Pushed hard, the SE never feels less than sorted.

A moaning CVT (even if it’s calibrated nicely with the powerplants) and 156 horsepower aren’t the kinds of attributes one looks for in a car you plan to hustle often. The Camry Hybrid SE, priced from $28,655 with destination for MY2014, therefore becomes of interest to buyers who want their Camry to appear more youthful, the buyers who want more bolstering in the front seats and an added dose of agility. Driven quickly too often – not because it was fun but because I wanted to challenge the car – we averaged just 31.4 miles per gallon over the course of the week. That’s far worse than the official figures: 40 mpg overall.

Last winter, we averaged similar mileage in a diesel-powered Passat in an attempt to see whether diesels were hampered by intentionally aggressive acceleration. The Passat TDI exceeded its city rating in spite of the driving style and, in truth, was more pleasant to drive and sit in than the Camry Hybrid SE.

Toyota has already updated this car, however, with an improved interior and, to my eyes, improved exterior design. And if we’re going to discuss vehicles with sterling reliability reputations, perhaps we should be comparing the Camry Hybrid’s real-world efficiency to the fuel economy achieved by the pickups in Mosul. Who wishes to make the necessary inquiries?

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89 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE...”


  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    This proves that not all automobile drivers are automobile enthusiasts. And that they will trade some driving excitement for a worry free experience.
    Toyota and Honda have capitalized well on that market segment.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Most automobile drivers are not automobile enthusiasts. And that’s OK.

      • 0 avatar
        Hank

        Auto enthusiasm is a much bigger tent than often portrayed on automotive sites these days. There performance enthusiasts, off-road enthusiasts, classic car enthusiasts, luxury car enthusiasts, and yes, even efficiency enthusiasts, among several others. Not every auto enthusiast is looking for 911 (maybe not even most, if you ask Clarkson). Some are James Mays.

        • 0 avatar
          Zackman

          Perhaps, but nonetheless, all are narrow envelopes of enthusiasm that really don’t influence the mass-market gurus all that much.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @Hank, true. Some guys with classic muscle cars drive Toyotas on a Daily Basis so they have more money to spend on the muscle car.

        • 0 avatar
          steevkay

          There is something satisfying about a product that just works, works, and continues to work for years without (major) fault.

          I’ve come to appreciate at least a few things about every car, seeing as how my daily driver is a MY2009 Hyundai Accent.

          My preference is towards the Accord/Mazda6 rather than the Camry, just because I find most Toyota products to be rather bland to look at (no need to point out that I drive an Accent, I know).

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Well said. I’m a very logical person – simple, well designed, reliable machinery brings out the enthusiast in me.

            It doesn’t mean that passion isn’t there – it is, but perhaps the definition isn’t the standard one.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          >Auto enthusiasm is a much bigger tent than often portrayed on automotive sites these days. There performance enthusiasts, off-road enthusiasts, classic car enthusiasts, luxury car enthusiasts, and yes, even efficiency enthusiasts, among several others. Not every auto enthusiast is looking for 911

          This is definitely true. I once met a Chevy Corsica enthusiast.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “This proves that not all automobile drivers are automobile enthusiasts. And that they will trade some driving excitement for a worry free experience.”

      The big difference being, of course, that Honda shows you can build a “worry free” car that has some style, is actually fun and rewarding to drive, and doesn’t look or feel the least bit cheap. Even people who aren’t car enthusiasts can appreciate all that. The most recent sales figures reflect that.

      http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2014/10/usa-midsize-car-sales-figures-september-2014-ytd.html

      Said it before and I’ll say it again: Toyota is coasting on reputation with the Camry. And I think they’re going to pay a price for that.

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        “Toyota is coasting on reputation with the Camry.”

        So are the new ones less reliable than previous iterations?

        Someone’s sense of “fun and rewarding” is awfully tough to predict and impossible to quantify. But it’s mighty easy to quantify whether a certain make of car has ever stranded you; yes=1, no=0.

        The great Salient Majority will continue rewarding the brands and models that never strand them. Honda and Toyota have always made that “Job 1” and deserve all resultant loyalty.

        (I realize that stranding may be more foreign a concept to younger drivers than to a boomer. But the Salient Majority is mostly boomers).

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          Agreed. I am far from the typical enthusiast. Send me up a windy road in a low slung manual two seater and I will probably stall and get motion sickness.

          I like to cruise down long straight highways in an automatic truck or SUV. Does that make me any less of an enthusiast? No.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            This thread does a nice service in bringing out the fact that many of us are enthusiasts about things other than speeding and crazy cornering.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Pete, if this was 1990, I’d say you had a great point. Back then, you had the Camry, a few marginally less reliable Japanese cars, and a whole slew of P.O.S. domestics (Luminas, Tauruses, and whatever garbage Chrysler was hawking back then). So, yes, you had the choice between the ultra-reliable but boring Camry, versus cars that might have been a bit flashier, or sportier, or faster, but far less reliable.

          People who didn’t want to buy garbage bought Camrys.

          That’s not the case today. There basically are NO unreliable cars anymore…but the Camry is still boring.

          I do think Toyota is coasting…maybe not when it comes to ultimate mechanical reliability, but when it comes to tactile quality feel, styling, and a lot of other things, it’s still 1990.

          And I think that will cost them.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Mike, here’s what you don’t get because you’re a car guy: Most People Want Boring From Their Cars.

            Boring like the elevator, boring like the local power substation, like the furnace, the internet connection, the washer & dryer.

            They just want the damn things to work every time they jump in. Most can be persuaded to regularly fill the tank and adhere to warranty maintenance in exchange for such reliability. Some will also insist on maintaining a certain level of cleanliness. But THAT’S IT.

            There is no further emotional, aesthetic or intellectual engagement between most owners and their cars. That’s because they’re not car guys.

            They don’t have Car Guy Narcosis that narrows life’s focus to that thing with 4 wheels where its every little trait looms huge in their consciousness and the car becomes a public totem of their very essence.

            It’s just an effing car and so long as it doesn’t cause any inconvenience beyond scheduled maintenance, fill-ups and monthly payments they’ll likely keep buying the same model until their life circumstances change to require something else.

            Boring is good. Boring is safe, predictable and dismissible. We love boring, it frees us up to attend to other things and keeps the ownership experience affordable.

          • 0 avatar
            LectroByte

            Boring? It all depends. I thought the last V6 Camry I drove was way more interesting than the Fusions and Cruzes I’ve driven.

          • 0 avatar
            mechaman

            Boring, to me, means, “I can drive while I do something else with my time, since I really have no interest in driving.” At least that’s the way it seems, with the way many people drive.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Pete, no one says a midsize sedan has to act like an M3 or CTS-V, but if you offer even the most conservative buyer a little more style, a little more performance, and a little more “rich” feeling materials, are they going to turn it down, as long as it doesn’t mean sacrificing reliability? I’d say no.

            I’ll be interested to see if they can do that with the refreshed model.

        • 0 avatar
          WildcatMatt

          To be fair, the only car that has ever NOT stranded me eventually is the car I have right now.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “The big difference being, of course, that Honda shows you can build a “worry free” car that has some style, is actually fun and rewarding to drive … The most recent sales figures reflect that.”

        One man’s sporty is another’s harsh and noisy.

        The current Civic is far and away the least harsh and noisy that it’s ever been and 2013-14 are on pace to be its best two year sales run ever. Reading Honda sales as any kind of repudiation of Toyotaness is some serious revisionism.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Have you driven the Accord? It’s a long way from harsh and noisy. But it feels far more connected and responsive than any other midsize I’ve driven…and that includes the last Camry I drove a few years back.

          You don’t have to be a white knuckle, balls-out driver to appreciate a car that feels responsive.

      • 0 avatar
        spw

        well, thats not really a good point because they are down due to switchover to new model… and actually up 5% this year, easily outselling Honda. This will be best year for Camry since 2007, 2nd best in the history of brand.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        The difference between the current Accord and Camry is huge. We had both for rentals and the Camry continues to puzzle why it is still in the sales lead. As for the interior the rental SE 2014.5 was already showing signs of wear with less than 10K on the clock with the shift indicator already fading, the leather wheel dull where your hands go and the dash vents coming dislodged going too quickly over railroad tracks so I seriously doubt many examples will hold up really well over the long haul in that regard. It was also less refined than Camry’s of past. There is a reason Toyota scrambled to redesign the 2015. That was very obvious with our rental.
        Surprise- it also never achieved the indicated 35 on the open or the combined rating either just like the hybrid in this review.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised the Camry Hybrid SE doesn’t have a three-spoke steering wheel, like the non-hybrid SE. Then again, it seems that Toyota is going to do a three-spoke across on *all* Camry trims for 2015. Moreover, Toyota and Lexus are putting solely three-spoke wheels in all of their new and refreshed cars (Highlander, Avalon, Sienna, LS, etc), but I wonder what they’ll do about cars that are traditionally more rugged, like the Land Cruiser/LX 570, 4Runner, GX 460 and Tacoma. Then again, the FJ Cruiser has a three-spoke, and the Land Cruiser has had one before…

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I recently bought its competitor, the Optima Hybrid, and it’s entertaining because it’s not so smooth at low speeds, unless you switch it out of Eco mode.

    At least it has a real 6-speed automatic – no CVT – and it meets or exceeds its 36/40 mpg rating. We’ve never seen mileage below 34 mpg. The integration of the gas engine, EV motor, and 6-spd is a real feat – it’s very busy under the hood.

    I will admit that riding in the back seat once was awful. It was loud, but now I’m thinking it’s the OEM tires which made it so.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I can’t get imagine going for any $27k+ Camry over an Avalon.

    Because the tactile quality isn’t really there right now, I think this generation Camry works best in base spec.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The vast majority of automobile drivers are not enthusiasts. Thus we have the perennially top selling Camry in the USA and the Civic in Canada.

    With the change from mechanical to electronic components, increased fuel and insurance costs and the virtual elimination of auto shop classes in high school, even fewer will become enthusiasts.

    Add in the renewal of older, ‘inner’ cities and the increased number living in condos and the urbanization of the younger generation and this trend will not come to a halt.

    Eventually prices on ‘collector’ cars will also drop as classics from the 50’s and 60’s are seen as the playthings of old people and have little to no cultural or sentimental relevance to the generation now entering the workforce.

    This is just another reason why most auto ‘journalism’ is considered an oxymoron. Most writing auto columns for magazines and newspapers serve as nothing but shills for the auto industry. Each new introduction is better than the previous regardless of its flaws. And they are forever recommending the most expensive version of any vehicle.

  • avatar
    zach

    I love the Camry SE, why does Cadillac get praise for the same window/c pillar that the Camry has, but it’s slammed by most?

    • 0 avatar

      You mean the way the bend in the rear-door window starts well before the fixed windowlette? I don’t think anyone had a problem with that. I was fine with it. It was on the previous two Camry generations as well. I thought it looked tasteful, especially since most other manufacturers have gone the “Hoffmeister Kink” route. I’m *not* fine with the giant piece of faux-window plastic that accompanies the windowlette on the refreshed Camry.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Re: the first 4 paragraphs…

    Makes me think of GM circa 1972 when the glory days were behind them, the long downhill was starting but few Impala buyers realized it yet.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The difference is that Toyota’s stuff is still reliable, whereas GM et al were peddling poor durability as well as a mediocre experience.

      That said, I really can’t recall many non-Lexus Toyotas that are holistically “good” cars to drive. They’ve always been mid-pack, but solidly reliable and very cheap to own. Which, for most people, is fine.

      • 0 avatar
        rentonben

        The point, in my opinion, still stands: Today Toyota’s virtue is their reputation for reliability – the 1970’s GM cars had the virtue of being fashionable.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          Substance trumps style.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          It’s not just a reputation: with few exceptions (and usually those are teething issues) they actually are reliable cars.

          And we’re not talking “reliable for the price” or “reliable because they’re simple”: that extends from Scion and the Yaris up to the LS 600h.

          For most people, they really don’t expect anything more. An Elantra, Cruze or Focus might be a nicer car to sit in or drive than a Corolla, or might get a few MPG better, but when you’re nailing red circles in Consumer Reports year after year, people tend not to care.

          People seem to get confused by what I’ll call “four speed automatic syndrome”: that because Toyota and GM both sold cars with four-speed automatic transmissions well past the time that the competition was selling five or six-speeds, that Toyota is doing what GM did and why, oh why, are they getting a free pass.

          The answer is that Toyota is not doing what GM did.

          Consumers really don’t care about how many gears the transmission has. GM could have shipped a Cavalier or Cobalt with a 6AT when Toyota was selling 4AT Corollas, and it wouldn’t really have mattered because the Corolla was apparently made from unbreakium.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Yeah.

            My parents got a high-ish spec Camry hybrid last year (which I believe makes it an MY14); I’ve driven it a bit, and frankly found no problems with it.

            (I’d *prefer* they toned down the pointless and possibly fake “stitched leather” crap, but it’s comfortable and the interior is far less “cheap” feeling and looking than the Corolla it replaced, unsurprisingly.

            The only real knock I have against it is that the OEM nav and music system is ludicrously poorly programmed*.

            (* But I’m a software guy and I do UI/UX for a living, so take the level of ire with a grain of professional scorn salt.

            There’s just no excuse for truncating song titles in a display that wide…)

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          In the 1970s, GM cars were also more reliable than their domestic competition (except for the Vega). This was particularly true of the intermediate and full-size Oldsmobiles and Buicks.

          Family sedan buyers were not cross-shopping Impalas with Toyota Coronas or VW Dashers (which had their own issues). They were cross-shopping Impalas with LTDs or Furys, or perhaps a Delta 88 or a LeSabre. The Delta 88 and LeSabre had the twin advantages of being reliable for the time AND fashionable.

          If they wanted something easier to park and handle, they went for a Cutlass Supreme.

          The trouble really started in the late 1970s and early 1980s. That era witnessed the introduction of cobbled-together drivetrains to boost mileage on the cheap, along with a wholesale switch to front-wheel-drive platforms. GM used that opportunity to cut as much cost (and, as a result, quality) out of the vehicles as possible.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            Exactly. The myth that all 1970’s cars are garbage is more due to vehicles like the Vega/Pinto/early Volare/Aspens etc. The reality is many 1970’s models like the new GM downsized B and C bodies were actually on the top for build quality, MPG and reliability and certain Fords such as the LTD and T-Bird were actually well liked if thirsty cars. My parents and other family members owned Malibu’s, Cutlasses and LTD’s and various larger Chrysler products and they were for the most part good vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            bomberpete

            All good points. PrincipalDan is on to something. The Camry is to today what the big Chevy and Olds Cutlass were to that era. We’ll see if history repeats by giving it an arse-kicking as well.

  • avatar
    zach

    I personally like the “angular” Camry, the more 90 degree angles the better.

  • avatar
    tubacity

    Saw this note above glorifying Honda. Was not true in my experience.

    “The big difference being, of course, that Honda shows you can build a “worry free” car that has some style, is actually fun and rewarding to drive, and doesn’t look or feel the least bit cheap. Even people who aren’t car enthusiasts can appreciate all that. The most recent sales figures reflect that.”

    My bought new Honda was not reliable, worry free, fun to drive. Transmission, doors, evap, power windows, other things broke. No not the fault of the owner. All maintenance done on time. Insta-Scratch grey plastic looks and feels cheap. Did not go straight on a straight road. Needs lots more steering correction on a straight road continuously compared to Camry, Taurus. Dealer experience in sales, finance, service was crap. I did not expect an enthusiast’s car and my Honda was not bought to be one. I wanted reliable grocery getter that did not break down and went straight on a straight road. My Honda was not. Have not been back to Honda for my next 3 vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      Statistically it wasn’t glorifying though. You just had really bad luck, and probably a bad dealer too. For every 1 customer that has your experience in a Honda or Toyota there will be 30 who has that bad experience in a Chevy(if they even survive)or Ford, or 40-50 in a Chrysler or or Jaguar/Land Rover. Considering how many cars Toyota sell, there are bound to be a bunch of unhappy Toyota buyers out there too.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      YMMV of course, but my Honda has needed nothing but fluids and tires in 97K miles. My Pontiac, on the other hand, is ready for its third set of brake rotors, the tire pressure sensors are failing, and I just had to fix a broken power window. At 50K miles. Looking at the forums, these are all common issues. I sure hope the new GM is better than the old one, because all that corner-cutting really shows.

    • 0 avatar
      an innocent man

      >My bought new Honda was not reliable…<

      There's always going to be outliers, of course. You may be one. I may be another. I have a 2004 TSX and a 2005 Odyssey. They have 350,000 miles between them, and I'm taking the Ody in for the first ever non-routine maintanance issue on either vehicle: Replace the rubber seal on one of the sliding doors. That's it in 10+ years. Unlikely I'd revert back to the Chrysler's and GM's I had owned previously. YMMV.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        We’ve always had good luck with our Hondas, but even I would stay far, far away from a 1999-2004 Odyssey.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          I can’t tell you how many lemon 99-05 Odyssey’s our dealership has had to work on, especially for trans axle failure, power door failures, A/C failures and electrical gremlins. Just go behind any Honda dealer at any given time and look in the service area. 95% of the time you will see at least 2 of these on a lift pulled apart.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        My 05 Odyssey was a lemon from Day One, and I fought with the dealership for 20 months until I traded it away the minute I won the lemon suit against Honda. Many problems, but the actual lemon issue was the power sliding doors.

        Every minute with that car was awful.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      My next door neighbor had a 1987 Mercedes-Benz 300E that was a complete lemon. The W124 was probably the best car ever made by a cost-little-object manufacturer of great pride and heritage before the accountants and marketers took over. His was a disaster. I don’t recall everything that broke in its first couple of years on the road, but I remember that the several thousand dollar recirculating ball steering box was what prompted him to trade it in. Anyone can make a bad car. There are lemon indexes like True Delta’s that show Honda and Toyota make them less frequently than others.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Yeah, statistics matter more than anecdotes.

        I’m *amazed* that a W124 had its steering fail within a few years; frankly I’d be shocked if more than .5% of them had failed by *now*.

        Most of those cars should go to the crusher with a perfectly functional steering box; Mercedes had that system pretty much perfected by 1987.

        (Hell, as far as I can tell, they had it perfected by 1968…)

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I wish I remembered the full list of failures. It was absurd. He talked about switching to the newly-introduced Lexus LS400, but wound up buying four more Mercedes, including an R129 SL500 that also was problematic. My favorite of his cars was a W124 E420, purchased new and then traded on a W210 E320 4-matic less than three years later. I never heard a bad thing about that one, but he had it the shortest amount of time. I think he still has the E320, which is now pretty old.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      All car manufacturers have areas of core competency with other areas that they don’t do as well. Honda is a relatively small manufacturer of cars, motorcycles, lawn mowers, and generators. If you keep buying small normally aspirated 4 cylinder manual transmission versions of cars like the Fit and Civic, those cars will last hundreds of thousands of miles. Scaling up to the Accord, the 4 cylinder manual transmission ones are closest to the core competency, but the automatic models do ok until roughly the 2nd decade of their life. Where Honda started to have reliability problems was when they scaled up into the larger, heavier models with V6 and automatic.

      Toyota, unlike Honda, is a huge full-line automotive manufacturer with the ability to make trucks along with cars. Toyota also makes relatively conservative choices in engineering tradeoffs that work well with the level of neglect many cars experience in the US. Toyota traditionally makes work horses, not race horses.

      • 0 avatar
        HydrogenOnion

        That’s exactly right George.

        For VW, it’s the TDIs that have always been the best in practice. And their manual models have been better than their automatics.

        For BMW, the I6 models are the way to go… also with the manual.

        And Toyota does hybrids best… but is also great at daily driver type vehicles. And if you want reliability with your luxury, Lexus has been consistently at the top for that.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    I was in Oregon last month – rented a Camry SE – drove from Portland to Bend – over 3 hours and averaged (according to the trip computer) about 40 MPG – this was up and down Mt. Hood.

    So – my question is – who needs a hybrid?

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I have quite a bit of seat time in my girlfriend’s 2012 4 banger SE Camry, as well as her family’s 2013 Camry XLE Hybrid (purchased after the SE, it replaced a 2009 Prius). I love the drivetrain smoothness of the regular non-hybrid car, extremely well sorted and torquey. And driven sanely, very efficient. Staying around 65mph yields a very real 40(!) mpg, the engine is just barely turning over at those speeds. Road tripping south at about 75mph with some A/C use yielded a hand calculated 33- mpg.

    Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain, while acknowledged as the smoothest among hybrids, still has some jerks to it when kicking over from the electric motor to the regular one, makes me prefer the regular-motored car. And in the hybrid we averaged about 38 mpg driving 3 people over a mix of 55-75 mph roads with some A/C and defogging along the way. Not bad I guess, but I had hoped for better. I’d say if you want some serious MPG buy a prius, otherwise stick to the regular 2.5/6A camry.

  • avatar
    maderadura

    This has 200 Hp, not 156. You use the combined system HP in a hybrid.

  • avatar
    JohnA

    I bought a 2013 Lexus ES300h a year ago. I believe that it has the same drive-train as the hybrid Camry. The CVT works well, the stop-start is almost un-noticeable, and the power is decent. There is hesitation if you floor it to pass, but once the power kicks in, it accelerates well. I’ve averaged 39.6 mpg since I bought the car, but I live at a high altitude and do mostly highway driving. For the times when I visit the city, I find mileage about the same. The handling seems a bit ponderous, but my previous car was a MINI Clubman, which drove like a go-cart!

    I should mention the interior. I almost bought the hybrid Avalon (about equivalent to the ES300h), but found the dashboard hideous – with its capacitive touch “buttons” (more like zones), crappy black plastic, and giant swooping chrome pieces that reflect the sunlight into your eyes. I was willing to pay the extra few thousand to get the very classy dashboard and overall better build quality of the Lexus.

  • avatar
    Fred

    This review hit the Camry on the head for me, it feels solid and reliabile, even if half the “feeling” is reputation. The interior does have some issues, especially for me coming from an Audi. I liked the Camry but didn’t really want it. Which gave me reason to keep shopping and eventually bought somethign else.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The buttons on the steering wheel look like two halves of a PSP unit. Bleh!

    And the dash pad up top looks warped. I just hate the current Camry interior. The outside isn’t so bad though.

    But overall, come on, the Accord is a better car.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    I will also add that the tires can be incredibly loud on certain surfaces.

  • avatar
    waltercat

    Amen to John A. I bought a ’14 ES350 after test driving an Avalon (both non-hybrid). Driving them back-to-back, it’s obvious that the two are built on the same platform – but the seats, trim, dash, navigation screen, finish quality, noise isolation, and general impression of solidness of the Lexus is worlds different from the Avalon. Not that the Avalon was a bad car – it’s just a car I would have regretted if I bought it. Not so the Lexus, which is superb. I just had my first extended trip in the Lexus – mostly 70-75 mph cruising with the air on. For a 300 mile trip, she averaged 33.25 mpg. My suburban commuting is averaging 29 mpg.

    For people of my era (growing up with 60s and 70s Detroit iron) – that combination of performance, comfort, size and MPG was impossible at any price until very recently.

    So far (only about 2K miles on the new car), every aspect of workmanship appears perfect – panel gaps, paint quality, freedom from odd noises, accessories working well…). From my narrow perspective, the Toyota/Lexus quality reputation is deserved. (But I’ll let you know after some more miles…)

  • avatar
    superchan7

    It’s so trendy for so-called “enthusiasts” to deride Toyota buyers as sheep, attracted by the reputation of reliability.

    Problem is, they actually ARE reliable as long as you buy basic models. Check out the famous YouTube video of a medical courier’s 400k mi Yaris. A Corolla with the 4-speed slushbox may not impress your local car geek, but it will last for-freaking-ever with fluid changes and maybe brake pads.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      “In practice, of course, one will never use the t distribution with so small a number of degrees of freedom since no one would hope to draw conclusions from 2 or 3 observations.” -M. G. Bulmer

      Well, no one that cared about making objectively accurate comments, anyway, Dr. Bulmer.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Do these have a conventional, i.e. some sort of belt/chain, CVT, or do they have the Hybrid Synergy Drive (two electric motor differential torque splitter thing) like a Prius? I’m not sure how an HSD could moan. I do think the HSD is a brilliant piece of engineering, but it only can work in a hybrid.

    I have much seat time in nearly every model and model year of Camry back to ’96 when I started travelling for a living. Hertz LOVES them some Camry… They are, without a doubt, the perfect car for people who don’t care about cars. They are literally a transportation appliance, mid-size. The Corolla of course is the transportation appliance, small-size. And Prius are transportation appliance, extra economy.

    However, as someone who actually loves to drive, I would literally walk before I owned one. Utter reliability is simply not enough, especially now that the difference between worst and first is getting towards rounding error. Would I have taken a Camry over a late-90s GM, Ford, or Chrysler POS? You bet. But I would have taken a VW over any of them, and brought wine and roses to the service department if necessary. For me, life is just too short to drive the equivalent of a Maytag dryer every day. And the Camry SE is just the least bad, not the best. But grounded to the ground, yo! And I completely agree that Toyota is coasting with them – each generation is less pleasant than the last. But when non-car people ask me what to buy, I still point them to the Toyota dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Camry should have the electric motor CVT.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I think you have a poor understanding of the word “literally.” You’re saying you’d rather walk everywhere, to the store, down the side of the highway? Oh god forbid the ‘enthusiast’ sully his driving palate by driving a Japanese midsize sedan! We test drove the 2012 Passat SEL when it came out, it had a lot of road noise and the 2.5 I5 is nowhere as smooth or efficient as the Camry. The vehicle dynamics were in no way superior either. I’ve ridden in a 2.0T Passat wagon of the ‘pre-USA centric’ generation and it didn’t feel like anything that special, and rode really harshly on its rubberband tires. Not to mention the plethora of issues those VW direct injected 2.0Ts have. German “Engineering” at its finest.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I didn’t say I wouldn’t drive one. I probably have driven more miles in Camrys than a lot of their owners over the past 18 years, hence my utter hate of the things. I would however walk everywhere before I would *own* one of the blandtastic appliances with wheels.

        Even if you don’t like German cars, every single JAPANESE competitor to the Camry is a better car to drive, and these days likely just as uneventful to own. And then there are fine choices among the Americans and Koreans too. I’m no fan of Accords either, but I would infinitely rather have one than a Camry. Or an Optima. Or a Mazda6. Or a Dodge Charger. Or a used just about anything European for the money. So many more interesting choices for the money.

        If you just love, love, love, your Camry, more power to ya.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          “every single JAPANESE competitor to the Camry is a better car to drive”

          Having driven every single MY2012 midsizer save the Malibu, I really don’t agree with that statement regarding a Camry SE. The Camry SE drives very well for a midsize sedan, nothing like its marshmallow antecedents, and far more similar to an Accord, Altima, 6, than the cars you prefer to own, so grousing over the comparatively minor differences is rather pointless. Since you have repeated ad nauseam that your refined tastes are too discerning to be bothered with this class of car, I’m not sure what your interest is in the matter anyhow. You are more enlightened than the appliance-buying proles, now take comfort in that knowledge, do the proper thing and quietly keep it to yourself.

          I don’t think gtemnykh is being blinded by brand bias or Jack was hallucinating when he wrote his very favorable track test of that car. Perhaps Jack doesn’t love to drive as much as you do, but until you can author as compelling an argument as he did, I will continue to have my own opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      Camry “transmission” is HSD just like the Prius and uses planetary gears, not a belt driven CVT

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    That’s horrible fuel economy. I drive a PHEV Fusion, and I’ve never seen less than 40 MPG except for an extended highway trip at 75 mph, during which I got 37 MPG.

    One thing I’ve noticed about the Fusion is that the amount of gas you can get in it is extremely dependent on the pump, more so than any other car I’ve ever driven. My car has a pressurized fuel system, I wonder if the Camry has the same.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “Born less than a year ago, he’s not allowed to touch the Benz yet.”

    Unfortunately, I was allowed to touch not just my 300SL, but my Gemballa Slant-Nose far too early. They’re not around any more. :(

    My Tonka dump, however, is still truckin’.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    On a vehicle like the Camry, would it cost any more or detract from the mission statement to tune the suspension and steering for better handling? The dynamic qualities that make a car “fun” for enthusiasts also make a car easier and safer to drive for everyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Wider, more aggressive tires and alignment settings would reduce fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      You’ve described the “SE” trim precisely. It is in fact a very competent driving car, very stable in corners and a lot of grip from the wider alloy wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        The primary difference between the driving experience in a Camry SE vs. a Camry LE is that the LE suspension is set up relatively soft compared to most of its competitors while the SE is somewhat firm. I’ve driven a rental SE for 15 hours on the interstate and didn’t have a sore back, so I don’t think it’s too firm for daily use. However, my impression was that Toyota’s idea of “Sport” would be just the normal setup for its competitors.

  • avatar
    zach

    I guess I am the only sub 30 year old who finds the current Camry sexy , in a subtle way.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    I’ve had more than one of these as a cab in Chicago, usually in LE form. Not a bad ride, but usually a lot of road noise. More room in the back seat IMO than a Crown Vic. I asked a driver once on what he thought and he gave a “thumbs up”….it had 80K miles on it with no problems.

    The Prius V’s that I’ve had though were full of rattles. And not from the added cab equipment either, usually the hatch and trim pieces.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Toyota and Honda are great automobile brands. Most Detroit brands are garbage as witnessed by the black dots in Consumer Reports, and the poor resale value. The hole boring and appliance tags stuck on Toyota and Honda are nothing more than a desperate smear campaign run by Detroit auto marketing departments.

  • avatar
    SELECTIVE_KNOWLEDGE_MAN

    “A moaning CVT”

    What does this mean? Is Mr. Timothy Cain unaware that the car doesn’t even have a CVT?!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      It certainly does have a CVT. All “CVT” means is the transmission can vary ratios continuously over a range. The HSD does exactly that, just by a different method than a belt or chain driven CVT. And a method that can only work in a hybrid, as you need the electric power to drive the second motor that makes it work.

      I’m with you on the moaning though. I’ve driven this car (previous gen, anyway) for a week and never heard more than a faint electric motor whine out of it when the engine is off.

      • 0 avatar
        SELECTIVE_KNOWLEDGE_MAN

        No. The PSD in Toyota hybrids has a single gear ratio, the “range” you mention is thus degenerate to a single point (OK. Mathematically speaking the degenerate range is still a range). It has as many gears as an electric car.

        The only reason why it is called eCVT is for customers to get an idea of what is going on and to identify reviewers who do not do their homework when they complain about “moaning”, “whining belt”, etc.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    I would love to see Ford, GM ,Hyundai, Kia, or Dodge/Chrysler put together a test that transforms theirs cars into to a Toyota. Put, Toyota emblems and that cheap looking clock radio that has been in every Toyota for past 35 years. Then have testing for all masses including the “it will last forever sheep”. Kinda like that Nissan commercial where they turn the Altima into a so called “Race Car”. Then bring out the real car with the real emblems. That would be an awesome test for all of those “automobile Reliability enthusiasts” and have them eat some crow. I am not by any means stating the Camry is a crappy car. It is just damn blahhhhh in every way, even with the durable interior. Like an old Buick Century. Which probably had better longevity over any Camry.

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