2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid vs. 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: Which one to get?

Those in the market for a hybrid mid-size sedan only have three choices but all of them are strong entries. That means, you dear consumer, have a hard choice ahead. What if you want the most efficient options? That leaves the 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid and the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Both cars are solid options but each one has merits that justifies their place in your driveway.

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid vs. 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid exterior

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Photo credit: Toyota / Hyundai

Right away you’ll notice that both the Camry and Sonata don’t advertise their electrified nature. The Sonata only has a hybrid badge on the trunk while the Camry has blue Toyota badges and hybrid badges on the front fenders and trunk. Otherwise, both vehicles look like their internal combustion counterparts. The Camry has a more conventional appearance with an upright greenhouse and three-box design. In comparison, the Sonata has a coupe-like profile and a front fascia you won’t mistake for anything else, especially with the cool LED daytime running lights.

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid vs. 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid interior

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Photo credit: Toyota / Hyundai

Each mid-size sedan has its way of doing interiors. The Sonata’s cabin exudes an upscale feel with its materials, which feel expensive and is well insulated from noise. Although it’s also filled with nice materials, the Camry exudes a more utilitarian and mainstream ambience than the Sonata. Both feature a minimalist cabin layout that’s attractive and clean, giving them a modern look. Between the two, however, the Sonata is the quieter of the two thanks to generous amounts of insulation.

Mid-size sedans have expansive interiors and that’s the case with the Camry and Sonata even in hybrid guise. Thanks to the battery being placed under the rear seats, you’ve also got a sizable trunk, adding to both cars’ practicality. If you’re looking for the most space, the Sonata is the one to look at. Despite its curvaceous exterior profile, the Sonata is cleverly packaged. The Camry isn’t that far behind in terms of interior space; however, there’s less small-item storage versus the Sonata.

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid vs. 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid tech features

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Photo credit: Toyota / Hyundai

If you’re a tech lover, the Sonata should be right up your alley because its infotainment system is one of the most intuitive available. Even with the haptic feedback buttons on versions with the 10.25-inch touch screen, the interface is user-friendly, responsive, and intuitive. The available 12-speaker Bose surround sound system is immersive and clear without needing to turn off the volume up too high.

Although Toyota’s interface has controls that are logical and easy to use, it’s not as quick to respond as the Hyundai’s. Grainy graphics even with the optional 9.0-inch touch screen make the system look dated versus the newer unit found in the Sonata. The optional JBL audio system doesn’t cover the cabin as evenly as the Sonata’s Bose system and lacks extensive customizability.

Hyundai has an advantage when it comes to driver assistance features because their Smart Sense suite is one of the most accurate. Lane-keeping and steering assists are proactive yet gentle. Adaptive cruise control brakes and accelerates without jerking you around, allowing it to keep your set distance consistently and follow traffic smoothly at low speeds.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ works well, too, but it’s tuned more conservatively. In traffic, it’s not as immediate to react when the vehicle ahead moves and brakes earlier when slowing down. The distancing is also more than a car length even in its closest setting while the lane-keeping and steering assists are less assertive.

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid vs. 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid driving impressions

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Photo credit: Toyota / Hyundai

Driving the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is as normal as can be. If you’re looking for a sharper drive, the Sonata Hybrid’s steering and handling are tighter, and body motions are better controlled. The Sonata’s ride is comfortable but veers closer to the stiff side, meaning you’ll feel the road more versus the Camry.

The Camry Hybrid is a more compliant suspension setup. As a result, it rolls more through turns but at least body motions are kept in check. You get a nicer ride, though, because the car can filter out bumps and other road imperfections better. Steering, while accurate, isn’t as quick as the Sonata, further making the Camry the cruiser of the two.

You’d think that the Camry Hybrid would be the quicker of the two thanks to its hybrid system having a 16-hp advantage over the Sonata Hybrid. In reality, they’re even, offering good acceleration for all situations. The Camry’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder-based unit, however, is the smoother of the two because it lacks a traditional transmission. Hyundai’s 2.0-liter-based hybrid system can be a little rough at times because of the six-speed automatic gearbox’s penchant for trying to get away with the highest gear it can, especially at low speeds.

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid vs. 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid pricing

The 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid starts at $28,265 for the base LE grade. A loaded XSE model with every option package available will run you roughly $37,000. In comparison, the base 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Blue starts at $28,745. A range-topping Limited trim will run you around $36,000. Unlike the Camry, the Sonata has no options, you simply go up the trim levels if you want more features.

Summary

Get the Toyota Camry Hybrid if you want:

  • A comfort-oriented drive
  • More conventional design
  • Smooth power delivery

Get the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid if you want:

  • The best tech features
  • Sharp handling
  • Luxury carlike build quality
Written by Stefan Ogbac
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