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2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid review: Sensible and electrified

Mention Toyota Camry to anyone and the first thing they’ll visualize is a comfortable, practical mid-size sedan. That’s not a bad thing because those are some of its defining virtues. Times have changed, though, and this sensible four-door has gained more tricks up its sleeve and a nice dose of style. We’ve got the 2021 Camry Hybrid in XSE grade to see how it has evolved.

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid exterior

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear three quarters 05 1
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Unlike other mid-size sedan competitors, the Toyota Camry Hybrid hasn’t fully abandoned the three-box look. Yes, it’s swoopy but not to the same degree as the Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata. Each trim has a different appearance and in the case of SE and XSE variants, a unique grille, rear fascia, and dual exhausts distinguish them as sportier iterations. Completing the XSE’s looks are standard black 19-inch alloy wheels.

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid interior

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid interior 01 1
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

The Camry’s more traditional greenhouse results in an expansive interior. Four adults, even tall ones, fit comfortably thanks to the generous head- and legroom. Visibility benefits, too, because of the massive windows, effectively cutting major blind spots. There aren’t many intrusions either; the center hump is small, meaning you can easily fit three across in the rear seats.

Thanks to the battery positioned under the rear seats, you get the same 15.1-cubic-foot trunk as non-hybrid Camry variants. You can further expand cargo capacity via the split-folding rear seats. However, the Camry could use more small-item storage. The tray housing the available wireless charging pad isn’t big enough to hold most smartphones and the center console bin is shallow.

Fit and finish lands squarely within the mainstream realm. There are lots of soft-touch materials and padding but they feel more utilitarian than luxurious. More sound insulation would add to the Camry’s overall experience. At highway speeds, there’s a little too much wind noise entering the cabin.

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid tech features

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid gauge cluster 01 1
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Toyota’s latest infotainment system is an improvement over older versions. Examples with the larger touch screens, like the 9.0-inch unit in our Camry Hybrid test car, are quick to respond and it’s easy to customize the home menu with your frequently used functions. This iteration also has fewer submenus, making it more intuitive to use. The nine-speaker JBL audio system is clear and provides good coverage throughout the cabin despite not having a surround sound function. Downsides? The graphics could use a major revamp because it looks a few years old, especially compared to the interface in the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, the latest version of Toyota’s driver assistance suite is the best iteration to date. Adaptive cruise control is calibrated less conservatively, and its distancing won’t give excessive space between you and the vehicle ahead. Braking and accelerating never gets jerky even in stop and go traffic and reacts quickly when it’s time to get moving again. Lane centering does a great job keeping you centered via gentle steering inputs. It’ll even help you navigate sweeping turns at highway speeds and slow the car down ahead of S-curves.

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid driving impressions

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Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Serene and comfortable are the best ways to describe the Camry Hybrid’s road manners. The SE and XSE’s sport-tuned suspension offers a good blend of poise and compliance. Passengers only feel slight hints of road imperfections; big impacts don’t project harshly while smaller ones won’t cause the car to get jittery. Good body control keeps lean and secondary and tertiary vertical motions in check, allowing the Camry to take turns and deal with bad surfaces confidently. It’s a cruiser first, though; steering, while accurate, is slightly numb and disconnected. The Honda Accord Hybrid possesses better handling, thanks to less body roll and tighter, more communicative steering.

Toyota’s hybrid system remains one of the best thanks to its smoothness and power. The Camry’s couples a 2.5-liter four-cylinder to a lithium-ion battery, an electric motor, and a planetary gear set for a total system output of 208 hp. Put your foot down and you get quick responses and even power delivery. The car doesn’t struggle going up a hill and passing maneuvers are a cinch thanks to the electric motor’s instant torque.

Braking is uneventful thanks to imperceptible handoffs from regenerative to mechanical braking. The brake pedal is firm and lets you know exactly how much stopping power you’re adding. As a result, you can come to a halt smoothly without getting jolted around even if you suddenly make an emergency stop.

2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid pricing

The 2021 Toyota Camry starts at $28,265 for the base LE grade. Our XSE test car came equipped with the Driver Assistance and Navigation Upgrade packages and dealer-installed floor mats cost $37,164.

Final verdict

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Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

The Toyota Camry Hybrid takes the formula that makes this mid-size sedan appealing and kicks it up another notch. You get all the standard car’s strengths but wrapped in a highly efficient (up to 53 mpg on the highway) package without sacrificing power. Although it’s not as sporty as the Honda Accord Hybrid and lacks the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s tech features, the Camry fights back with a strong reputation for reliability, one of the best hybrid powertrains in the industry, comfort, and practicality. This results in a car with mass appeal; a solid, fuel-sipping commuter and road trip vehicle that checks a lot of boxes.

At a glance

  • Year: 2021
  • Make: Toyota
  • Model: Camry Hybrid
  • Trim: XSE
  • Type: 4-door mid-size sedan
  • Combined horsepower: 208 hp
  • MPG ratings (city/highway/combined): 44/47/46 (LE: 51/53/52)
  • Pros: Comfortable ride, roomy interior
  • Cons: Dated infotainment graphics, wind noise on the highway
  • Base: $28,265
  • Price as tested: $37,164
Written by Stefan Ogbac
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