Last year, Toyota introduced the redesigned midsize Camry Hybrid sedan, which came as part of the makeover of the entire Camry line. The hybrid got a revised Synergy Drive system, with a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and improved fuel economy.
Hybrid prices this year range from $26,140 for the base LE to $27,670 for the top-of-the-line XLE.
In its first year, the new Camry Hybrid was named the best sedan in the midsize segment by Consumer Reports, based in part on its great fuel economy, but also on its price, which is not much more than you would pay for a gasoline-only Camry with similar content.
The newest hybrid model is lighter, with improved aerodynamics, helping it to achieve more than a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy over the previous generation. EPA ratings are 43 mpg on the highway, 39 in the city for the LE model.
With its combination of a gasoline engine and electric motor, the Camry Hybrid is certified as an Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. This is not a plug-in hybrid, so it never has to connect to an outside power source. The onboard nickel-metal hydride battery is recharged while the vehicle is running on gasoline power or slowing down.
Other features also aid fuel efficiency, including a new water-cooled system that recirculates exhaust gas to lower emissions; an EV Drive mode, which allows the vehicle to operate on battery power alone for up to 1.6 miles at speeds below 25 mph; and ECO mode, which optimizes air-conditioning output and throttle response to save gasoline.
This is a very pleasant car to drive, with plenty of power. There is a continuously variable automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive is standard. The drive system has a combined total of 200 horsepower.
My tester came with an audio/navigation/Entune package with a 6.1-inch touch screen. The audio/navigation system included voice activation for navigation and Bluetooth, real-time traffic information, satellite radio, iPod and USB connections, MP3/WMA player, six speakers, and the Toyota Entune system, which includes apps such as Bing, Pandora, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, sports and stocks.
With the redesign, the interior is nicer, with a padded and stitched dash and two-tone textured-cloth seats. The driver's area felt very roomy and wide open. Rear passengers weren't slighted on space, either.
2013 TOYOTA CAMRY HYBRID
BASE PRICE: $26,140
PRICE AS TESTED: $30,555
EPA FUEL ECONOMY: 43 mpg highway, 39 mpg city
ENGINE: 2.5 liter, 4-cylinder gas engine, with electric motor
POWER: 156 horsepower
HEIGHT: 57.9 inches
WIDTH: 71.7 inches
LENGTH: 189.2 inches
CARGO CAPACITY: 15.4 cubic-feet
BOTTOM LINE: Fuel-efficient and fun to drive.