2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Tom Sedens

I’ve always had a morbid curiosity about what keeps bringing people back to the showroom to buy Camrys. You never hear a car enthusiast waxing poetic over a Camry, but any manufacturer would kill to have the sales of this model. So what is it about this thing that allows Toyota to sell them by the boatload? Well, it’s competent. Let’s see how often I end up using that word.

Toyota’s now-familiar hybrid drivetrain pulls this Camry around town. A 2.5L inline-four (running on the lean but torque-poor Atkinson cycle) coupled with an electric motor puts out a net 200 horsepower. The front wheels are driven through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that also offers a “B” mode. Putting the shifter into “B” uses regenerative braking as a kind of engine braking “for enhanced control on steep descents”.

The fuel economy is rated at 4.7 L/100 km in the city and 5.1 L/100 km on the highway. I averaged a pretty stellar 6.1 L/100 km during my time with it, which was made up of almost all city driving – mostly slow commuting with a couple of freeway cruises. The fuel tank has a 64 L capacity.

I was surprised to see the Camry only weighs 1,560 kg (3,441 lb).

The styling, as is the case for the last few generations of Camry, continues to evolve. Toyota wouldn’t be silly enough to completely revolutionize the look of something that sells this well. And so it continues to take small steps in slightly new directions, even when it is advertised as all-new. There are updated headlight clusters within a more integrated-looking front end, and the tail lights flow nicely into the upper line of the trunk lid’s vertical segment.

The 17-inch wheels are handsome and are wearing 215/55-sized tires.

The proportions are decent, the lines are clean and… well, Camry. They won’t offend anyone, but they’re not going to get many second looks either.

I found the interior to be relatively spacious. Headroom is plentiful for my 5’10” frame.

There’s an interesting blend of shapes and lines inside, including some new takes on dash sculpting. The materials are nice to look at for the most part and of decent quality. Some surfaces are soft-touch and there’s some attractive stitching across the dash.

2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE. Click image to enlarge

Unfortunately there are a couple of truly offensive touches that Toyota added. I really take issue with the two trim pieces that flank the center stack’s bottom, where it meets the centre console. They are hard plastic, and they have fake stitch-marks cast into them. It looks crappy and that fake ‘stitching’ is insulting.

It’s not a very exciting interior to be in but everything functions well and it is well laid out. Fit and finish was very good.

The large-diameter steering wheel is comfortable to use and has buttons for media, phone and hands-free operations. The control pads look like something the army would use to control a Predator drone – they mean business!

Behind the wheel sits a hooded instrument bin with a gauge cluster exclusive to the hybrid Camry. There’s a large centre speedometer with a driver information screen in the middle. It’s flanked by one-third-of-a-circle gauges on either side. One gauge showing you where the power is coming from on the left with a fuel gauge and analogue average fuel economy gauge on the right. These are cramped together and I found them difficult to read.

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