~ A DriveWays Review ~
by Frank A. Aukofer
Over its four decades in the U.S., the Toyota Camry was often referred to as the “family Camry,” a bit of alliteration that recognized its years as the country’s favorite midsize sedan. The honorific has faded as families increasingly buy crossover sport utility vehicles.
Despite that, the Camry’s reputation for durability, reliability and longevity has hardly been dented. For 2023, it is available in 18 versions, called trim lines in the industry, that range from a base LE four-cylinder model with a $27,040 price tag, to an XSE with a V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission at $37,465, including the destination charge.
Best of all for inflation addled buyers, the lineup includes four stingy hybrids with exceptional fuel economy. They range in price from the LE’s $29,175 to the XSE’s $34,615. Tested for this review was the XLE Hybrid, with a base price of $34,065 and a tested price of $39,605—again including the inescapable destination charge.
In Camry-speak, an XSE designation denotes an orientation toward a sporty personality, while XLE leans toward luxury. For most drivers it’s a distinction without much of a difference, though sensitive test drivers likely could discern subtle clues.
Standard on all Camry models, including the tester, are automated emergency braking with forward collision warning, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control. The tested XLE also came with rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, lane tracing assist, LED headlights with automatic high beams, and road sign recognition.
Other equipment included machined alloy wheels, nine-inch infotainment touch screen, USB media and charge ports, SXM satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple Car Play, dual zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery with heated and powered front seats, and smart key system with pushbutton starting.
The tested XLE also came with options totaling $5,539 that included a navigation system, premium audio with nine speakers, driver assist package with a color head-up display, front and rear parking assist with automatic braking, motorized sunroof, and a cold weather package with a heated steering wheel.
Among the super cool things about hybrid power trains—and Toyota is among manufacturers with the most experience producing them—is that hybrids can deliver better performance than vehicles with gasoline-only internal combustion engines (ICE).
With 208 horsepower and its smooth continuously variable automatic transmission, the tested XLE Hybrid does the 0-60 acceleration run in the six-second range, which is respectable among midsize sedans. It does way better in fuel economy, rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 44/47/46 city/highway/combined miles to the gallon of regular gasoline. An electric-only temporary driving mode can be selected.
Contributing to those numbers is built-in regenerative braking to keep the battery pack charged. The system is nearly imperceptible and seamlessly combines and alternates between the ICE and electric motor. It does not need to be plugged in.
At 16 feet long with 100 cubic feet of space for passengers and a trunk of 15 cubic feet, the Camry XLE fits neatly into the EPA’s midsize class. It’s low slung at just 4 feet 9 inches in height, which can make it a bit awkward to enter and exit, especially into the back seat.
Once inside, however, it delivers more than adequate head and knee room for the front passengers and outboard rear passengers. As is regrettably usual in many cars these days, the center-rear position offers a high, hard cushion and a floor hump that compromises knee and head room.
The interior of the tested XLE would do justice to any of Toyota’s Lexus luxury models. It was meticulously crafted with quality materials, and cruised quietly with a comfortable ride at Interstate highway speeds. It also artfully maneuvered twisting two-lane roads, responding smoothly to the driver’s steering and throttle inputs.
The Camry name was derived from the Japanese word kanmuri, which means “crown.” It had been used on previous models and is making a comeback with a new Crown in the Toyota lineup. It’s a tall hybrid sedan with all-wheel drive that replaces the larger Avalon. Other models also used Latin variations of the word: Corona (crown) and Corolla (small crown).
In 2021, 313,795 Camrys were sold in the U.S., making it the best-selling car in the Toyota lineup. It was bested only by the RAV4 crossover SUV, which is classified for sales statistics as a truck, and had sales of 407,739.
- Model: 2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid four-door sedan.
- Hybrid Synergy Drive System: 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with electric motor; combined 208 hp, 186 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: Electronic continuously variable automatic with front-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 16 feet.
- Height: 4 feet 9 inches.
- EPA/SAE passenger/trunk volume: 100/15 cubic feet.
- Weight: 3,565 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 44/47/46 mpg. Range: 607 miles.
- Base price, including destination charge: $34,065.
- Price as tested: $39,604.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. Photos © Toyota