2023 Toyota Camry Hybrid brings smoothness, power, comfort | Jobs Reply

2023 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited vs 2023 Toyota Camry Hybrid XSE: The hybrid sedan battle.

This week: Toyota Camry Hybrid

Price: $38,254. A cold-weather package heats the steering wheel for $150, and adds carpet and mats for $299. More is mentioned below.

Conventional Knowledge: Motor Trend likes the “good fuel economy, plenty of safety features, sharp Nightshade version” but not that “handling is as good as rivals, so the interior design isn’t particularly fast.”

Marketer’s Pitch: “More power to you.”

Reality: Smooth as a Camry, and the XSE trim adds some fun.

catch: In our last episode, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid seems to have dropped a few steps from the previous versions and is now rough in acceleration and shifting and no fun to handle. But it was spacious for passengers.

Competition: Besides the Sonata, there’s the Honda Insight, Honda Accord Hybrid, Toyota Prius, Kia Niro, and Hyundai Ioniq.

What’s New: The XSE Hybrid was new for the 2021 model year. It’s a sportier-looking and sportier-tuned trim level available on most of the corporate lineup. The hybrid adds a regenerative motor that boosts fuel economy, but without the plug-in option. It previously worked wonders on the Corolla in Mr. Driver’s Seat test.

To speed up: The Camry Hybrid features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system that produces a combined 208 horsepower. It hits 60 mph in a fairly slow 7.4 seconds, according to Motor Trend, but that’s more than half a second faster than last week’s dogged Sonata Hybrid.

Shiftless: The Camry Hybrid’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) delivers the smoothness that Toyota is known for, meaning it has it all over the shaky Sonata in this segment. Paddle shifters allow changing “gears”.

On the way: We had a chance to put the Camry Hybrid through its paces: We brought it home after landing at Newark Airport, then visited the Sturgis Grandma 1.0 up north and also made the 40-mile trip to Center City. The sedan is a delight on the highway, smooth and powerful, easily passing other cars in a hurry and rushing to very hybrid-like speeds when needed. It’s not grandpa’s Prius.

But the Camry Hybrid continues to prove what the XSE package offers on country roads. It’s not exactly fun in tight curves, but it’s smooth and assured, albeit a little lean when you let yourself get a little out of hand.

Driver’s Seat: The leather-trimmed heated and cooled front seats looked and felt very firm and MazdaLike sitting first. (The cooling feature comes as part of the $1,430 Driver Assist package.) But even after all these miles, Mr. Driver’s seat never felt sore or tired. The lovely Mrs. passenger seat supported this as well, as she was along for most of those rides

The Toyota experience becomes more enjoyable as a clean dashboard is loaded with information that is easy to find and control.

Friends and things: I don’t want to say that the back seat is spacious. It’s not bad, with tolerable legroom, legroom and headroom, but no extra space. Sturgis Kid 4.0 spent a lot of time there and thought it was awesome. Advantage, Sonata.

Cargo space is 15.1 cubic feet. The back seat doesn’t fold down, something that sometimes happens in hybrid sedans, as the batteries get in the way. Extras, Sonata.

Play some tunes: The 9-inch touchscreen sits like an iPad in the center of the dashboard. It is easy to navigate and manage. Dials also provide additional controls for volume and tuning, and buttons outside the touchscreen make features even easier. This is a truly winning system.

Premium audio with nine JBL speakers ($1,760) sounded pretty good, about a B+ or A-. It plays some tunes just fine, but lacks the extra touch you might find in a Mazda CX-50 or Honda Odyssey.

Keeping warm and cool: Dials control temperature and buttons control fan speed and air source. The display is also clear and easy to follow.

Fuel Economy: The Camry XSE Hybrid averaged 40 mpg in a high-speed, hard-acceleration test. I imagine, most drivers will be able to get at least 10% better between both hybrids.

Where it is built: Georgetown, Ky.

How it is constructed: Consumer Reports predicts a 4 out of 5 reliability rating for the Camry Hybrid.

At the end: Unless you absolutely need superior rear passenger room and a rear seat that needs to be folded down, there’s not much reason to choose the Sonata Hybrid.

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