Keeping up with the times: 2023 Toyota Camry Hybrid – Review

Before I was lent the current generation Toyota Camry Hybrid, something hit me. I realized that it represents the last of a dying breed of vehicles, the mid-size segment. In the past the mid-size sedan segment was king, with most brands trying their best to compete in that segment, but as time went on, one by one, almost all of the Camry’s competitors have faded away.

So what about the Camry that has made it stand the test of time and bucking the trends?

2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid Exterior Rear

2023 Toyota Camry Hybrid Exterior

When it comes to looks the Toyota Camry has always fluctuated per generation, some have been great and some have been ‘meh’. This latest one though is a style icon if you ask me, it blends a modern and sporty philosophy without forgetting that it needs to exude class and luxury.

The aggressive front fascia, and the flowing character lines on the side all the way to the classy rear end make it a package that would appeal to both young and old successful individuals. This being the hybrid it has some blue trims on the outside, and of course, it comes with full LED headlights, foglights, DRLs, taillights, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid Interior Dashboard

Interior

Inside is a typical Camry, very understated and muted in terms of colors. The main colors are black, silver, and if you look very closely some dark brown trims (like the RAV4). The design is much like the exterior, you know it’s a modern car but it retains some touches like analog gauges, physical buttons for the infotainment, and other features.

2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid Interior Passenger

It does have a small digital screen in between the gauges that displays some vehicle information and features, and the infotainment screen does have Apply Carplay and Android Auto, not to mention wireless charging. Sitting in the driver’s seat, I could tell that this Camry was also thinking about how the driver would feel and not just the rear passenger executive.

2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid Interior Passenger Control Panel

Speaking of that, given that this Camry is much bigger than before the sitting room in the back is spacious, and I had more than enough leg and headroom to relax. Also, the center armrest comes equipped with a control panel that enables rear passengers to change the temperature, put up the rear sunblinds, and even tinker with the infotainment system.

Overall, the interior is what you’d expect from a Camry, ergonomic, straightforward, and pleasing to be in. After all, typical buyers have no time nor interest to waste on gimmicks.

2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid Engine

Engine and Safety

The Toyota Camry Hybrid is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter gasoline engine that’s paired with the brand’s signature hybrid system, for a combined output of 211 PS and 221 Nm of torque. The transmission is a CVT unit with no paddle shifters but the Camry does have a manual mode put in the shifter.

This of course being a halo model, the car comes with the full Toyota Safety Sense suite of features that has adaptive cruise, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic, and more. The brand is keen on keeping the occupants as safe as possible.

2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid Interior

Driving Impressions

Here’s where this generation of the Toyota Camry sets itself apart, because it is now made with the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform the brand says it’s much better to drive.┬áNow to give context my 2007 Camry feels like a sofa with wheels, supremely comfortable, and taking it to a race track would not only be insulting but downright embarrassing.

This new one though with the TNGA platform can move and steer much sharper than I was expecting, it felt like a driver’s car which is a complete paradigm shift compared to the Toyota Camry’s of old. It was light in the city and going in and out of tight roads wasn’t like driving the Titanic through the metro. It really felt agile and precise during some spirited driving which elicited some giggles from me, I couldn’t fathom that a car this big and this comfortable could move like an athlete.

The best part is there is no trade-off in terms of comfort, we took the car to some spotty roads and it bounced and rebounded well, there were no unsettling body movements. This is a plus, you wouldn’t want to wake your sleeping executive in the backseat and catch an earful of expletives.

Another highlight for me is the uncompromising powertrain, despite being a hybrid it doesn’t suffer in terms of performance. Under normal driving, it is very very smooth and quiet, not to mention economical. In the city, I was able to get 18 Km/l, and on the highway, it went up as high as 23 km/l. After a week of daily usage (because no coding for hybrids) and highway stints as far as Subic and Clark, I had only consumed half the tank before the car was picked up.

However as frugal as the hybrid system is, it also does help elevate the performance. Once the batteries are charged and you put the car in sport mode, it comes to life and roars its way up the speedometer. What was nice though is that the Camry surges forward comfortably, you can feel it speeding up but not the shove you in your seat type. It wafts along and cruises well at high speeds, and could honestly keep up with much faster cars. It’s not like the V6 before, but it certainly is no slouch.

Points for improvement

As much as I like the Toyota Camry hybrid there are some (almost deal-breaking) pitfalls, like the 360 camera. While I do appreciate that the system is present, I wish the resolution was better. Also, the brand needs to update the graphics of the infotainment system, it really ages the car in a negative way.

2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid Exterior Side

Verdict

At PHP 2,457,000 the Toyota Camry Hybrid is priced at a premium, but in my opinion, it is a premium that befits it’s status. I figured out what made the Camry still a sellable model for Toyota.

It’s the fact that it represents something most cars aren’t able to do, the Camry is a statement to the world that you’ve made it, and that you’re an important successful individual. That plus the fact that you don’t feel the need to shout to the world just how important you are, it’s the symbol of understated success and no compromise.

I still see a lot of the new Camry plying our roads, and I know for a fact that very important people are driving or riding them, people who make big decisions that affect us normal individuals, and yet I don’t judge them. Many of the successful individuals I know, who have enviable car collections either still drive a Toyota Camry on the daily, or used to own one.

Anybody who asks what you drive or own, and you return with “I drive a Camry” is met with some sort of admiration. Nobody ever asks why you bought a Camry, they just get it plain and simple.

 

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo's first word was probably "Car", and this has developed into a personal passion that has consumed his professional life as well.

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