If you think that every third or fifth medium-sized late-model sedan on the road is a Toyota Camry, you’re probably right.
We had the opportunity to drive and review the 2023 XLE model Camry hybrid sedan during the latter portion of the Indianapolis 500 gathering—it lasts more than two weeks—and found the Supersonic Red front-wheel-drive sedan with its very light-colored Chateau interior a fine method of conveyance around town and back to Chicago, our preferred airport for long trips to Indy.
Toyota’s Camry model has been around for decades—ince 1982—and the company doesn’t mess with proven vehicles terribly often. The current Camry is considered a ‘wide body” and it’s the sixth generation of that configuration. Probably the most handsome and sportiest looking—and acting—Camry to date, this model stands out for its definitive body lines and its capabilities over the road. With its sloping hood, engaging front fascia, dedicated body lines sweeping to a large-sized trunk, the 2023 Camry gives its buyers visions of quality, comfort and capability.
The current Camry hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a high expansion ratio Atkinson cycle motor that squeezes optimum energy from combustion by extracting the most from the gas-air mixture. It makes 208 horsepower combined at 5,700 rpm, with 163 lb-ft of torque at 5,200. Toyota uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in most of its vehicles, including this one, which does offer manual mode for shifting. While this is not the first current Camry we’ve explored, it is the most recent hybrid model tested and we’ve found the integration of engine and motor seamless.
The 2023 Camry hybrid, which doesn’t have the option of choosing all-wheel-drive, features front strut and torsion beam rear suspensions, together with EPAS (electric power-assisted steering) through rack-and-pinion that’s precise without any central dead zone. There are ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes to stop this 3565-pound front-wheel-drive sedan, aided by 235/45R tires mounted on multi-spoke black and polished 18-inch alloy rims.
Toyota’s XLE model is its top of the line; there’s also an XSE that trends more to sporting tendencies. For a hybrid, it’s unusual to want more sporting attributes but this car has plenty in its latest incarnation. While it doesn’t accelerate wildly, it does everything it’s asked to do capably, including getting 44/47/46 miles per gallon from its 13.2-gallon tank, using regular unleaded. And it’ll happily run on electric power over the road at 70-75 mph without complaint – and still get that mileage. It’s quiet inside and out, all doors fit superbly and seams, panels are fitted exceptionally well.
In the command center, there are three settings for heated and cooled seats, the latter an option, as is the heated steering wheel. The trip odometers took some time to find on the left rim of the gauge cluster, but a look at the books in the large glove box definitely helped. The driver’s seat has full power including lumbar support; the front passenger has all but lumbar. Controls are located throughout this office, either on the steering wheel or located to the lower left of the dash. As is customary for a hybrid, there’s no tachometer but plenty of information about the hybrid system. A temp gauge is located to the left in the hybrid information, with fuel gauge located inside the speedometer. All other info is centrally located, including outside temp and odometer readouts.
When we first got into this vehicle in Indianapolis, it had just 5,000 miles on it. A bit under 500 miles later, we felt at home with the car, enjoying the good-size sunroof with its dual controls, the ability to easily use Apple CarPlay within minutes of syncing our phone, the air for rear passengers (but no power outlets), the huge, 15.1-cubic-foot trunk with its rubber guards that cover carpeting – but no spare tire. We had to access the lower left dash area to work the auto bright lights, turn off the traction control, release the trunk and fuel cap and access the steering wheel heater. The wireless charger at the base of the central stack is excellent and deals well with an enthusiastic driver; it was rare that we had to re-set the phone because it had wandered.
The 2023 Toyota Camry hybrid XLE starts life at $34,065 including freight. There’s a pile of options on this car that bring it to a crescendo of $40,232. A driver assist package ($1,430) gives a 10-inch color head-up display, a panoramic view monitor, front and rear parking assist with automatic braking, and those multi-stage ventilated front seats. The heated steering wheel goes for $150, while adaptive LED headlights with level control and auto on/off features costs $615.
Add the navigation package ($1,760) with its 9-inch premium touchscreen with navigation, 9 JBL speakers including subwoofer and amplifier, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, SiriusXM with three months, and pony up $860 for the power tilt/slide moonroof. Toyota charges $425 for the luscious red paint job, $25 for an LED trunk light bulb, $129 for mudguards to keep that paint all shiny and nice, the very nice illuminated door sill entry lights, $129 for door-edge guards and another $299 for added carpeted floor covers and the trunk mat set. We wouldn’t change a thing.
The reasons so many people flock to Toyota’s Camry are easy to understand: it’s handsome (at least this latest rendition is), comfortable, capable, reliable – and easy to re-sell. There’s no doubt Toyota’s hybrids are the most refined on the market today – they’ve had a couple of decades to dial in their systems really well – making Toyota’s Camry hybrid one of the more refined sedans on the market at a rational price.
With car prices continuing to creep up as more modern technical attributes are added, the 2023 Toyota Camry XLE hybrid locks in great value to any customer. Take it over the road and enjoy the luxury, the comfort, the capability of engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and steering and all the goodness of getting great mileage while employing class-leading luxuries. We sure did.
story and photos by Anne Proffit