2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE – Impresses with Styling and Great Fuel Economy
Once the butt of most jokes among automotive journalists, the 2016 Toyota Camry is challenging what a Camry is with improved styling, great fuel economy and loaded with smart features.
During my week of driving the Camry, I mostly put highway miles on it after picking it up at the airport. I learned a lot about the car over the course of the next 200 miles – a 3.5 hour stretch (yes, I live that far away from a major airport). My biggest takeaway was twofold: the Camry is designed with all sorts of people in mind and the hybrid doesn’t suffer any real performance differences between a straight gasoline engines.
Since I have had the pleasure of reviewing many Camry models on this site, let’s focus on what’s different with the Hybrid XLE. For reference, this model of Camry is the top trim you can buy. It is the hybrid model with a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine, electric motor and battery pack mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission. This powertrain combined produces 200 HP and returns an EPA estimated 40/38 city/highway MPG. Checking the fuel economy after my long drive, it showed an average of 38.3 MPG.
Besides the hybrid powertrain and XLE upgraded features, our base $30,140k tester came with $5k+ of options:
- Safety Connect: includes Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Roadside Assistance and Automatic Collision Notification. $515
- Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. $500
- Convenience Package: includes HomeLink Universal Transceiever and Anti-Theft System with Alarm. $345
- Entune Premium JBL Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite. $1,330
- Advanced Technology Package: includes Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Automatic High Beam. $750
- Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof. $915
- Qi Wireless Charging. $75
While some of these features will stand out to others, the ones that stood out for me are the safety features. Frankly, I was exhausted when I drove it after being on vacation for 5 days in Myrtle Beach, SC. These safety features like Blind Spot Monitor, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Assist and Automatic High Beams make a real difference on long trips and when you are worn out. As I cruised 80 MPH across Colorado, Wyoming and Western Nebraska, I used each and every one of these features.
One final point on the safety features, the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is arguably the best feature of the past few years. This system manages your cruising speed by slowing you down when approaching vehicles from behind and speeds you up after switching lanes or if the vehicle exits the roadway. While there are those who don’t like it (you can often forget it is on and drive for a while at the slower speed), I think it is simply a fantastic feature and it is a shame it isn’t available on the Tundra. People drive long distances with their trucks these days (especially with gas so low) and I don’t understand that decision.
Anyway, back to the Camry! While the features are nice and the cabin is pretty dang roomy (it will literally fit all sorts of different body types), the driving is still just OK. As I’ve gotten more experience driving competitor models, I’m getting a different appreciation for the segment. While the profit margin may be razor thin, the ability to grow a loyal customer overshadows that margin. The competition, especially from Hyundai and Nissan is starting to make inroads into the Camry’s market share. In my opinion, this is likely due to the engine performance and suspension setup. Now, there is nothing wrong with the Camry per se, it is just the competition is getting much stronger and better at building either more fun to drive vehicles or those with a smoother ride quality.
At the end of the day, I really like the direction Toyota is heading with the Camry. The hood and side body character lines are a nice departure from the round styling of yesteryear, the interior is laid out for the masses, the powertrain is efficient (40 MPG!!) and the range in trims and price points provides a good entry point for most consumers. The only real problem is the competition is getting pretty strong.
Model: 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
Engine: 2.5L 4-cylinder with the Hybrid Synergy Drive System
Fuel Economy: 40/38 MPG
Price as Tested: $35,405 with $835 destination charge and options listed above
Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com