Toyota Camry Hybrid — How to avoid gas stops

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(May 31, 2020) Perhaps the three most important statistics you will need when shopping the 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid are — 51, 53 and 52. Those numbers represent the Camry LE's EPA-rated miles per gallon in city, highway and combined driving respectively. The Camry's sporty SE trim level falls off slightly to 44, 47 and 46. Those figures are probably fairly accurate regardless of your driving habits because we — as members of the "lead-foot club" — were able to realize 45 mpg in a combination of driving situations while behind the wheel of a SE and an XLE.

The fact that the fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain is wrapped in the best-looking Camry in history is certainly a strong selling point. Another selling point is the hybrid's acceptable performance, unlike its smaller brother Corolla, which is also fuel efficient in hybrid format, but one of the slowest vehicles on the market. The Camry has been clocked from 0-to-60 in 7.5 seconds, which is average for four-cylinder gas engines in the mid-sized sedan segment.

Hybrid vehicles are usually more expensive than their gas-only counterparts and that is more important than ever in our new age of inexpensive fuel. And that's true for the Camry as well. The gas engine LE starts at $24,970 — $28,430 for the same car in hybrid format, a $3,460 difference.

Combined gas mileage in the LE hybrid is 52 mpg, 32 mpg in the gas LE, a whopping 20-mile per gallon difference. Even with the big disparity, it would take more than 14 years at 10,000 miles a year to make up the extra off-the-lot cost of the hybrid. The gas engine is predicted to use 312 gallons, the hybrid 192 gallons. At $2 a gallon, the driver of the gas LE would spend $624 a year, the hybrid owner would spend $384. That's a $240 difference. Even if gas climbs back to $4 a gallon it would take more than seven years to recover the cost. The hybrid only makes sense if you are environmentally conscience and you believe the less gasoline burned the better.

After 16 years riding on Toyota's K platform, the current-generation Camry has been moved to the scalable Toyota New Global Architecture that underpins the Prius hatchback and the C-HR subcompact as well as the new Avalon, Corolla and Highlander.

The Camry is slightly lower and wider than the outgoing car and boosts a 30 percent improvement in torsional rigidity giving it better handling traits while more effectively soaking up road imperfections. Along with a compliant ride and capable handling there’s plentiful standard driver assistance technology. The newest sedan is the best-executed Camry that Toyota has ever produced.

The Camry hybrid is offered in three trim levels — LE, sporty SE and luxurious XLE — and all versions are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor to produce a total of 208 horsepower mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The base LE trim uses a lighter and more energy-efficient lithium-ion battery pack, and the SE and XLE hybrids use a nickel-metal hydride battery.  

We were surprised and impressed by the hybrid's performance, which we perceived to be better than the standard 203-horsepower gas engine. But we wish Toyota would have included the eight-speed transmission found in the gas-only models, which we prefer over the gearless CVT. We also liked the consistent braking in the hybrid, which is not always the case in hybrid vehicles.

Inside, the Camry sports an all-new and roomier interior that looks and feels more upscale with upgraded materials. Front seats have been completely redesigned to be more comfortable and better looking. The rear seat benefits from more legroom room  thanks to the new longer platform. Trunk space measures a good 15.1 cubic feet, and Toyota has relocated the Camry hybrid's battery from the trunk to beneath the rear seats, so hybrid owners don't have to sacrifice carrying capacity for the extra mpg.

Toyota's touchscreen infotainment system — called Entune 3.0 — is standard across the Camry lineup, with an enhanced version available as an option. Entune has loads of features and responded reasonably well to our inputs, and — new for 2020 — both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are now standard.

The Camry has earned impressive marks from the country's two safety agencies, with a five-star NHTSA rating and IIHS's Top Safety Pick+. And Toyota has included key safety features across the lineup including standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. Our SE test car also came with the $600 optional blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert.

Hybrid prices start at $29,385 including destination charge for the LE trim, rising to $31,085 for the SE, and $33,785 for the XLE. All prices include a $955 destination charge. Our SE test car with several options including a $900 audio update had a bottom line of $34,179. Our XLE loaded with options came to $39,995. A caveat — says the Fair Market Value of the LE trim is currently more than $3,000 less than the sticker price.

The hybrid comes with an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on the hybrid components, and a five-year/60,000-mile drivetrain warranty.

2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid


Base price: $25,666; as driven, $34,179
Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, electric motor
Horsepower: 208 @ 5,700 rpm
Torque: 163 pound-feet @ 5,200 (engine)
Transmission: continuously variable
Drive: front wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 111.2 inches
Length: 192.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,549 pounds
Turning circle: 38 feet
Luggage capacity: 15.1 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: (SE trim) 44 city, 47 highway, 46 combined
0-60: 7.5 seconds (Edmunds)
Also consider: Honda Accord Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The Good
• Outstanding gas mileage
• Comfortable interior
• Android Auto now available
• Excellent performance for hybrid

The Bad
• Grabby brakes at times

The Ugly
• May be undercut by low gas prices