The 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid is a midsize sedan based on America’s best-selling car. The front-wheel drive Camry Hybrid offers room for five, is available in three trim levels, and averages up to 41 mpg.
Now in its 10th year, the Toyota Camry Hybrid utilizes the same technology powering the popular Toyota Prius, the world’s best-selling hybrid. The 2016 Camry Hybrid’s sporty styling, roomy interior and great build quality make this sedan a segment winner and a fuel efficiency champion.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid is unchanged for 2016. As before, this sedan remains available in three trim levels: LE, SE and XLE.
The current-generation Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid were introduced in 2012. Last year both sedans were drastically overhauled as part of a product refresh that included new front and rear fascias and body panels. Only the roof remained the same.
The Camry Hybrid’s front fascia has an aggressive look that’s marked by a trapezoidal grille with a narrow upper portion and a gaping lower section. Pronounced wraparound headlamps are also present, as well as chrome or piano black trim. Distinct incisions are found at the base of the grille on either side, which house the available fog lamps.
This sedan’s profile is marked by an upper character line, lower body sculpting and a slightly rising beltline. At the rear, oversized wraparound combination lamps are connected by chrome ornamentation. The trunk features a built-in lip spoiler, and a single exhaust tip is also present.
The SE Hybrid adds a color-keyed spoiler, 17-inch alloy wheels and chrome trim.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid’s interior mirrors that of the gas-only Camry. One important difference between the two models is found in the instrument panel, where hybrid meters are added to the traditional displays. The cabin is open, uncluttered and attractive, featuring a two-tone dashboard, oversized in-door pockets with bottle holders and a simply organized center stack.
Power accessories are standard and all models feature a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescopic steering column with audio and Bluetooth controls on the face of the steering wheel. The center stack is marked by a pair of vents at the top with a color display underneath. Supplemental knobs and switches are located on either side of the display.
Beneath that is a climate control system with the related knobs and switches. At the base of the stack is a covered storage compartment. The transmission stick, two cup holders and hybrid switches are also present. A deep storage compartment that doubles as an armrest also resides between the front seats.
Available factory options, depending on the trim level selected, bring in a power tilt-and-slide moonroof, Qi compatible wireless smartphone charging and audio system upgrades.
The seats are trimmed in fabric, leatherette or leather upholstery, depending on the trim level chosen. An eight-way power-operated driver’s seat and a manually operated four-way front passenger seat are standard. To the rear is a 40-20-40 split-folding bench seat.
The Camry Hybrid offers excellent head- and legroom up front and nearly as much space in the rear, even for three passengers. The drop-down center compartment in the rear reveals two cup holders and allows for optimum room for two passengers.
The Camry Hybrid’s battery pack eats up some of the trunk space that’s available in the non-hybrid model. Trunk space measures 13.1 cubic feet, and all models come with a temporary spare tire located underneath the floor of the trunk.
The Camry Hybrid’s hybrid system is composed of many parts, including an electric motor and an electric generator contained within the front axle. A nickel metal hydride battery pack, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) round out its main parts.
In total, the hybrid powertrain provides 200 horsepower, with the gasoline engine contributing 156 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. Off-the-line acceleration is admirable, causing the front wheels to spin at times. There’s also no loss of power on the highway.
Beyond its respectable performance, the Camry Hybrid’s handling corresponds to what other sedans in this segment provide: a relatively uninvolved experience. Steering is light to the touch, which many shoppers should find tuned to their satisfaction. The suspension is sport-tuned in the SE and XLE editions. Braking is firm and confident.
For hybrid drivers that want to optimize fuel economy, the sedan should be operated in Eco mode. The normal mode is the default and does not have a corresponding button. Both EV and Eco modes are controlled by separate switches located between the front seats. EV mode allows the Camry Hybrid to operate as an electric vehicle at speeds of up to 25 mph, but not for more than one mile. Operating in anything but normal mode impedes performance, but the trade-off is improved fuel efficiency.
The EPA rates the 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE at 43 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. SE and XLE models deliver slightly lower estimates of 40/38 mpg city/highway. This driver averaged 33.5 mpg over 280 miles, as cold temperatures impeded the Camry Hybrid’s fuel efficiency, even when operated almost exclusively in Eco mode.
All Toyota Camry Hybrid models come equipped with Entune Audio, a multimedia system featuring a standard 6.1-inch display. Six speakers, a CD player, an auxiliary input jack and a USB port are included. Bluetooth connectivity, Siri Eyes Free, voice recognition and an integrated backup camera are also standard.
The XLE Hybrid edition brings in a navigation system with a 7-inch color display. It adds SiriusXM satellite radio, HD Radio and integration for a number of popular smartphone apps.
The tested Camry Hybrid was an LE model, which does not include a navigation system. However, I’ve tested this system in other Toyota models and found it easy to use, with clear and accurate turn-by-turn directions.
The 2016 Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid are Top Safety Pick+ recipients according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In IIHS crash testing, the Camry achieved top marks across all categories. The IIHS also gave the Camry Hybrid an Advanced rating for front crash prevention, which is achieved with an optional Technology package that adds a pre-collision system and dynamic radar cruise control.
All Camry Hybrid models include a rearview camera, anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control and 10 air bags, which include driver and front passenger knee air bags.
Hybrid models typically command a price premium over their gas-only counterparts. The 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE costs $26,790, which is $3,770 more than the related Camry LE.
When gas prices are $3.50 or more per gallon, recouping the higher cost is always possible, especially for motorists looking at a long-term investment decision. At the time of this review, fuel prices are below $2 per gallon, which makes it harder to recoup the Camry Hybrid’s higher upfront cost. Further, the fuel economy differences between the Camry and Camry Hybrid are narrower during certain climate and driving conditions. Unless you are committed to “green” energy, shopping for non-hybrid Camry will allow you to pocket the difference or upgrade to a higher trim level.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid is a competent model with a pedigree that’s second to none. It competes with the Kia Optima Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid.
Buyers desiring navigation will find it standard on the XLE or as a $1,300 bundled navigation and audio package with the SE edition. The hybrid market is shrinking as fuel prices fall, making it difficult to recommend any hybrid at this time. With the gas-only Toyota Camry available at a lower price, buyers may find the Camry Hybrid too costly to justify the purchase.