Vital Stats

Engine:
2.5L I4/105kW AC Motor
Power:
200 HP
Transmission:
CVT
0-60 Time:
7.6 Seconds
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,190 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
13.1 CU-FT
MPG:
43 City /39 HWY
Giving Vanilla A Good Name



"Vanilla." Taken in modern context, that's not a compliment, but it should be. Vanilla actually has exotic origins, and as spices go, only saffron is more costly. Despite the realities, calling something "vanilla" is not whistling in admiration. The Toyota Camry has been called "vanilla" countless times since its debut, but both the car and the bean have something up their sleeves.

Scoff all you want, but vanilla is the most popular ice cream flavor, and there is no mainstream sedan that outsells the Camry. Apparently, vanilla has an underlying tinge of filthy lucre. We didn't feel rich, exactly, wheeling around in the Camry Hybrid, but we came away impressed, nonetheless.

"When I go to an ice cream parlor for the first time, I always order their vanilla," says Ralph Hannabury. Why vanilla? "When you're making ice cream, everything builds off vanilla. If they have that right, you know they know what they're doing," Ralph explained. Who is Ralph Hannabury? For more than two decades, he made ice cream for Russo's Candy House in Saugus, Massachusetts. Ralph knows vanilla, and good vanilla is hard.

It's the same thing with cars. Supercars are easy compared to a good, bland sedan that starts faithfully every day for hundreds of thousands of miles and exhibits none of the bad habits that are "features" when you're talking exclusive machinery. The Camry is a riot of dispassion to car people, and the Hybrid only moreso with its Hybrid Synergy Drive sopping up whatever visceral treats you can find in the standard Camry.
2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid side view2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid front view2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear view

The Camry Hybrid is understated about its fuel efficiency.

Keeping the recipe metaphor going, even the best ingredients can't stand up to a poor chef. If the seasoning is overbearing or cooking technique flawed, you'll ruin expensive raw materials. With the Camry Hybrid, Toyota proves its skill at making the tricky Hybrid Midsize Sedan Souflee.

The Camry Hybrid is understated about its fuel efficiency. Look once, it's a Camry, just like the thousands of other Camrys that Toyota sells every couple of days. Look twice, it's still just like every other Camry and it's got extra little badges on its front quarter panels. Look a third time and you might notice the Hybrid-specific 17-inch tire and wheel package, but probably not.

2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid headlight2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid wheel2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid taillight2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid badge

Just like every Camry audio system, this one had an unpleasant trebly edge.

The Camry Hybrid interior is more distinctive, with its own gauge cluster, different plastic trim replacing the fake-wood-patterned standard trim, and Hybrid-specific seat fabric in quick-to-dinge ivory or light gray. The Camry Hybrid shares its acoustic glass windshield with the V6 model to keep noise out, and our car had the JBL GreenEdge audio system for making it. Just like every Camry audio system, this one had an unpleasant trebly edge that was only somewhat mitigated by selecting analog-only radio reception instead of the HD Radio default.

Our test car was also equipped with navigation and the Entune multimedia system. Entune is Toyota's answer to SYNC and MyFord Touch from Ford, with app support (apparently using Bing, making restaurant reservations with OpenTable and using movietickets.com to secure access to a matinee) plus weather, traffic, stocks and sports. With all those distractions pumping at you from the 6.1 inch LCD, it's a good thing the Camry Hybrid also has 10 airbags, high strength steel in the B-pillar and rocker panels, electronic nannies like stability control, radar-based Blind Spot Monitor and Safety Connect to call for help when you do wreck.

2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid interior2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid front seats2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear seats2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid trunk

The dynamic compromises Toyota made for the Camry Hybrid were the right ones.

The tech isn't quite as easy to use as systems like Chrysler UConnect or even the half-reviled MyFord Touch, but it becomes an innocuous part of the experience quickly. Except for that horrible-sounding audio system. It's like they designed in tinnitus from the start. The rest of the interior impressions are the same as other Camrys. The seats are comfortable and decently supportive, the dashboard is topped with stitching in an attempt to class up the joint, though the panel doesn't blend into the doors gracefully and there are a lot of hard plastics around. It's roomy, comfortable, and the trunk doesn't even take much of a hit with the addition of the 244-volt hybrid battery pack, and it's in fact up 2.1 cubic feet over the last-gen Camry Hybrid.

Driving the Camry Hybrid is not going to light any enthusiasts' hair on fire, though it'll put electrons and molecules to work when you mash the throttle all the way to the carpet for a 7.6-second run to 60 miles per hour, slotting neatly between the more-than-fine four-cylinder model and bonkers-rocketship V6. Low-rolling-resistance tires are also low capability tires, so there's little point in trying to achieve thrilling cornering speeds. Driven like a normal person, of course, the dynamic compromises Toyota made for the Camry Hybrid were the right ones.

2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid engine

Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system is flat-out the best implementation of such a setup we've yet to sample.

While it's not a high performance car in the hot rod sense, the Camry Hybrid is a high performer in its own right. Toyota's continued development of its Hybrid Synergy Drive system is flat-out the best implementation of such a setup we've yet to sample in a midsize sedan. The new Ford Fusion is looking to challenge that, but other comers like the Hyundai and Kia twins can't touch the Camry Hybrid's level of refinement, seamless handoff between electric propulsion and gas engine, and isolation from the judders of engine stops and starts.

The gas engine is a larger 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder with more torque than before. It's been tweaked with a water-cooled EGR system that reduces the temperature of exhaust gas that gets re-routed to the intake to control emissions, a move that was previously accomplished by enriching the mixture. The new way saves more fuel, and the Hybrid Synergy drive system has been tweaked to increase efficiency by reducing transaxle losses, improving motor control, and an EV Drive mode has been added this time around, too. Toyota rates the net power from the electric and internal-combustion sources at 200 horsepower, which is more than plenty when you consider the surprisingly svelte 3,190 sub-3,500 pound curb weight and slick 0.27 drag coefficient.

2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear 3/4 view

The Camry Hybrid is exceptional for its normality.

That EV Drive mode only lasts for 1.6 miles, and if there's a hill in the way, forget it, you're not getting far without firing the motor. There's still the ECO mode you can select if you want to really be infuriated by unresponsive controls, too. When you just treat the Camry Hybrid like a normal car, i.e. stick it in Drive and go, only the brakes give away the hybrid-ness. Even at that, Toyota's got the regen-to-friction braking switchover very well managed.

The regular Camry isn't a standout in any category, while the Camry Hybrid is exceptional for its normality while returning EPA fuel economy estimates of 43 miles per gallon city, 39 mpg highway in LE trim, which drops to 40/38 in XLE guise. Our highway-heavy drive cycle returned us 38 mpg, bang on the estimates. Or, you could get a diesel Passat. There is only one car that offers the Camry nameplate and this kind of fuel economy, and that's the Camry Hybrid, and it's perhaps the most outstanding Camry of all.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 133 Comments
      domingorobusto
      • 1 Year Ago
      I actually like the hybrid the best out of all the Camrys. I hate the Camry for being a souless pile of warm beige pudding, but at least the hybrid makes no bones about that mission statement. It isn't trying and failing to be sporty like the V6 and those pretty awesome economy numbers make it better as an appliance than the regular 4 cylinder. So this is one very rare instance where I find the hybrid to almost be the best of the line.
      throwback
      • 1 Year Ago
      Toyota's been at the hybrid game longer than anyone else. They know how to do hybrids. They used to know how to do fun to drive cars, (celicas, supras, Mr2s etc) but it seems those days are gone. Perhaps the FRS/BRZ experience will get the enthusiasts out of the corporate dog house.
        Donny Hoover
        • 1 Year Ago
        @throwback
        Yes, hopefully they will get back to making fun cars and get away from this idea of marketing this "sports car" image of the Camry to idiots. Grounded to the ground, sleekness of the body. Please.
          NightFlight
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Donny Hoover
          Don't forget its got things that guys like.
      maggiesp7
      • 1 Year Ago
      I am in my mid fifties, when we were young and stupid we bought Fords, Chevy's. Then a relative Started a towing company and guess what? The car least towed was a Toyota. If you want to know what car is reliable ask a tow truck driver, Ford stands for Found on the Road Dead or Fix and Repair Daily. For over twenty years we have owned nothing but Toyota's, We bought used with 20 to 40 thousand miles on them. They just won't die, my son had one he got from us at 16 when he was 24 it had 289,000 miles and he didn't change the oil right or even check to see if it needed oil. When he finally got rid of it for 400 dollars it was still running. So now we are buying a Toyota Camry Le Hybrid or an XLE trying to decide, But one things for sure it will be a Toyota.
      lizzy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Buy a Honda,77000 miles and my camry is giving me problems.Just out of warranty so im out of luck. My mechanic warned me years back calling them sludge motors and he coudn\'t be more right .My 02 accord has 317,000 miles and runs like a champ,never seeing a shop til the cat failed at 250,000miles. And the cost was around $500 total at the dealer compared to 900 to 2200 depending on which cat(toyota has two).I am in regret I should have listened.Just look up Toyota P0420 and see how common it is and also look up maintenance for the the first 100,000 miles you will see plenty for the toyota none for the honda just regular oil changes.
      ilmhmtu
      • 1 Year Ago
      Thanks, Dan!! What a well-written article!
      Patrick
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well I bought the 1st generation Camry Hybrid in 2007. It is quiet, uses very little gas, trouble free and worth a lot of money even it gets old. After test drove many other cars 4 months ago, I cannot find any car that worth considering to replace my 5 years old CAmry Hybrid. Conclusion is I bought another Camry Hybrid XLE. It is much more better than the last model and is $3,000 less money than the last one that I bought! Can,t beat that. Oh of course it is trouble free. Between me and my wife , we bought 2 x Camry Hybrid, Corolla, Sienna and 4 runner in last 20 years. We now own one Camry Hybrid and several bicycles.
      Mazdaspeed6
      • 1 Year Ago
      Cue the wave of comments referring to the camry as an appliance. Why do autoblog commenters think that all cars should be either sports cars or diesel wagons. As if building a comfortable, reliable, fuel efficient vehicle is a bad thing. Granted, many people don't care about reliability and build quality, which is why the big three were able to get away with disgusting products for so many years before people woke up. People should understand what Toyota did for the manufacturing world. They implemented a process known as The Toyota Production System/lean manufacturing, which is the standard for the entire manufacturing world. Every company uses this model. It revolves around "just in time" production and the workers and it's goal is to reduce waste from the manufacturing process. That is why Toyota products have the best exceptionally build quality and reliability along all their lines. In conclusion, you don't have to like Toyota, but you NEED to respect them, because of how they revolutionized the manufacturing world. They have pushed other auto manufacturers to build better products and paved the way for the ford production system, bosch production system, porsche production system etc.
        KCyclone
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        Mazdaspeed6: Although I don't think anything you said would be incorrect or even wrong, the irony or your comment is because of cars like the Camry and their popularity, cars like the Mazdaspeed6 are a dying breed!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        [blocked]
        Donny Hoover
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        I wouldn't be caught dead driving a car that bland. It absolutely is an appliance but it is also a cheap and dependable way to get from a to b. It may not be my cup of tea but anybody who thinks this car is anything other than a smart purchase is a fool.
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        The "wave of commenters" has never bought or maintained a car, so they have never had to evaluate their needs and their budget before dismissing a car that's "boring" or "underpowered".
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        [blocked]
      zoom_zoom_zoom
      • 1 Year Ago
      People should review the IIHS crash video of the Camry totally falling apart in the crash test. SCARY
        zoom_zoom_zoom
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zoom_zoom_zoom
        BUT, at least it's faster than a Veloster Turbo. Cheaper, and probably better driving dynamics than any FWD Hyundai.
          randyjackson34
          • 9 Months Ago
          @zoom_zoom_zoom
          True , Hyundai`s are crap ! they just made JD powell `s list of the 5 most unreliable cars... Check it out!!
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zoom_zoom_zoom
        People should stop repeating a test result that is expected to be bad. Newer test + older subject usually doesn't do well.
          zoom_zoom_zoom
          • 1 Year Ago
          @superchan7
          Lame excuses, across the board, Toyota and Lexus products do very poorly in the IIHS test. Look at the OLD Suzuki, it passed with flying colors. You just have EXCUSES for your Toyota.
          mapoftazifosho
          • 1 Year Ago
          @superchan7
          What's lame is when the all the cars get onto a "level" safety playing field...the IIHS and NHTSA determine new weakpoints in the vehicles and exploits them...driving people to new fears. Which is great for progress, but this really doesn't make the current vehicle a death trap on wheels. What do you drive? How does it drive? Do you ever ride a bike? How does that crash with a car? There's plenty of ways you can keep yourself awake at night by thinking up new ways to die... unless you're gonna become bubble boy... At the end of the day...this car has a NHTSA 5-star rating and is STILL, I repeat STILL an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2013...it's just not a Top Safety Pick Plus...
          superchan7
          • 1 Year Ago
          @superchan7
          So did Audi A4, BMW 3 and Mercedes-Benz C. They must all be horrible cars. It's a new test, and most of the cars did poorly. Nice try, but I don't have a Toyota. I do, however, respect their prowess and market understanding and I do expect that they, along with the other makes that did poorly, to provide the updates in their upcoming model changes.
          Donny Hoover
          • 1 Year Ago
          @superchan7
          You people can make excuses all you want but there's something to be said for doing well in a crash test that you didn't prepare for. The Suzuki and the Honda did well and the Toyotas did not. Maybe if they picked another strange crash scenario, the Camry would excel and the Honda and Suzuki would fail. Based on this, I'd say it us much more likely that it would end up the other way around. Benefit of the doubt to those who have demonstrated excellence. No excuses.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zoom_zoom_zoom
        [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zoom_zoom_zoom
        [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zoom_zoom_zoom
        [blocked]
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Joseph Gillum
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Giving Vanilla A Good Name" Wow... Perhaps you should reread your review of the 2012 Toyota Camry V6 in which you summarized the article "Prognosis Negative" . I think all that Toyota sponsorship in the upper left corner of the page is creating a "slight" bias toward TOMOCO. If GM or Ford would put out a next gen product with this little innovation from the previous model you would light them up... Nice to see the bias never changes...
        NightFlight
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joseph Gillum
        Nice to see that you didn't fully read the review. Let me summarize since you can't be bothered: The regular Camry is far from a standout in its segment, and doesn't do anything particularly well compared to the competition. The Camry HYBRID (key word, Hybrid), is a standout due to its power train, efficiency, and ability to feel like a "normal" vehicle compared to the other hybrid competition. Make sense now? It has nothing to do with bias. Also, Autoblog doesn't decide what banners go where. There is an algorithm and programming that puts advertisements where they would make the most sense. You wouldn't see an ad for a Corvette above this article for a hybrid Camry. We clear now?
        audiohack
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joseph Gillum
        Jeff Sabatini wrote that article, I wrote this one. I have driven the V6 Camry, and while I may not feel as strongly negative about it as Jeff did, I can certainly say that of all the Camry iterations, the Hybrid is the best version of this model. No bias - we have no idea what the advertising operations are doing. -Dan
      mbukukanyau
      • 1 Year Ago
      This car sells and the Malibu does not or the Fusion? A good name is a good thing.
      BF4ALTF
      • 1 Year Ago
      Let me get this straight. The Malibu Eco cost $5 more in MSRP but get an average 12 mpg less, costing $500 more per year in fuel, is less reliable, has a lower resale value, and looks old an out dated compared to the Camry, yet Chevy can't figure out why they haven't been able to meet their sales targets. Maybe there aren't as many brain dead car buyers as they thought.
        Oolly
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BF4ALTF
        Not to mention nearly a second quicker to 100km/h.
          Oolly
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Oolly
          The Camry that is. Maybe it's the nearly 250kg extra fat the Malibu carries around.
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BF4ALTF
        The people who think Camry buyers are brain-dead actually don't like Malibus either. They prefer daydreaming about Hyundai Veloster Turbos and, for the more ambitious of the armchair crowd, Lancer Evolutions.
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