2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE

The Toyota Camry has been America’s best-selling car for 15 straight years, and there’s probably nobody of driving age that isn’t familiar with it. And by now many drivers also know that the Camry has been completely redesigned for 2018.

The new Camry is wider, longer, and has more power than its predecessor. Two engines are available, a 4-cylinder and a V6, but if you’re looking to line your pockets with a little extra cash you’ll save in gas, you might want to take a look at the hybrid version of the Camry.

While other cars are stopping at the gas station, the 2018 Camry Hybrid will be zipping by with a 47 mile per gallon highway rating from the EPA. In the city it’s 44 mpg and combined it’s 46 mpg. The 2018 Camry Hybrid is available in three trim levels: LE, SE and XLE. My test car for the week was the mid-level SE, which had an MSRP below $30-grand. With a power moon roof and other options plus freight, you’d have to write the check for about $33,000.

If I had been driving the base hybrid LE trim, I’d have gotten an amazing best-in-class 52 mpg combined, which is 30 percent better than the outgoing model. The LE will take you 51 city miles or 53 highway miles down the road on a single gallon of gasoline.

Like the regular Camry, the Camry Hybrid has been engineered to provide spirited driving performance, but with some seriously better mileage.

But just because you’re getting excellent fuel economy, that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun. My “Blue Streak Metallic” test car had excellent road manners. When I took hard corners, the Camry Hybrid stuck to the pavement like a tongue to a frozen flagpole. (Apologies to poor Flick in “A Christmas Story”).

The 2018 Camry Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine supplemented by electric motors that help power the car and charge the battery. The LE trim has a lithium-ion battery pack while the upper two trims have a nickel-metal hydride battery pack.

Total hybrid system power is 206 horsepower. The transmission is a CVT with new sequential shift technology that allows the driver to “shift” the CVT, mimicking a 6-speed automatic via paddle shifters.

Along with traditional hybrid drive system modes of normal, eco and EV, a new SPORT drive mode setting has been added that allows for an increase in power and better acceleration. The 2018 Camry Hybrid also has a new Auto Glide Control that automatically calculates an efficient coasting logic. When driving normally, engine braking slows the vehicle down when the driver lifts off the pedal. To avoid aggressive engine braking, the new system limits the loss of vehicle speed by using an automatic drive setting that is like a neutral gear, allowing the vehicle to coast with less drag to the stoplight. The system works only in ECO mode.

The 2108 Camry Hybrid has not been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the regular Camry is a “Top Safety Pick+,” scoring the top grade of “good” in every category. Toyota’s Safety Sense system is standard, including anti-lock brakes, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic
high beams and all the required stability and traction control systems.

Not as many people will select the Camry Hybrid as select the regular Camry, but if you’re in the market for a top-notch hybrid, you can’t go wrong with this one.

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