The 2018 Toyota Camry is the latest generation of the car that launched a category—the mid-size hybrid sedan—way back in 2007.
While competitors in that segment now include the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, and Kia Optima, the Camry Hybrid remains one of the most popular and best-selling hybrid sedans.
Now we've had a chance to drive the new 2018 model, and discuss among ourselves how it's changed and improved, and where it sits these days.
DON'T MISS: 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid first drive
There are actually two versions of the 2018 Camry Hybrid.
If you want the highest-rated fuel economy, go for the base LE trim level. The EPA rates it at 52 mpg combined.
That falls to 46 mpg combined if you upgrade to the sportier SE or the more luxurious XLE versions. Both are heavier, and add more features at higher prices.
We tested an XLE version over 150 miles in Colorado that blended highway, urban, and suburban driving, and confirmed the onboard computer's reading of just over 50 mpg.
We like the looks of the new 2018 Camry, which is lower and sleeker, though the electric-razor front end came in for some criticism by a few of our editors.
The 2018 is about an inch lower than the last generation, and we found that made access to the rear seat a bit more challenging for full-size adults—slightly puzzling in a mid-size sedan that often carries three or four people.
The inside isn't as futuristic as the latest Prius, which is a good thing. It's largely predictable, with knobs for the climate-control and sound systems.
The 7.0-inch central touchscreen is bright and crisp, though for 2018 we think there's no excuse for not including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
They let a driver safely use a smartphone as a navigation system, not to mention streaming radio and other apps.
2018 Toyota Camry SE Auto (Natl) Instrument PanelEnlarge Photo
2018 Toyota CamryEnlarge Photo
2018 Toyota CamryEnlarge Photo
The Camry Hybrid is powered by a specially tuned 2.5-liter inline-4, paired to an 88-kilowatt electric drive motor, for a total output of 208 horsepower. That's enough to move the Camry Hybrid through traffic without difficulty.
The battery pack is now located under the rear seat, meaning no more intrusion into trunk space compared to the non-hybrid model.
Behind the wheel, the Camry Hybrid clearly handles and holds the road better than its predecessor. That's one of the benefits of all-new underpinnnings shared with the Prius and other models.
It's quiet under most circumstances, although the downside is that it makes engine roar is considerably more noticeable under maximum power.
But that engine noise is better isolated and more remote than in previous generations of Camry Hybrid, which were coarser.
When the Camry Hybrid launched back in 2007, hybrids and natural-gas vehicles were the greenest cars out there.
Eleven years later, things have changed. A lot. Cars like the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Bolt EV, and even Toyota's own Prius Prime plug-in hybrid are far greener than the Camry Hybrid will ever be.
Granted, electric cars are still a stretch for many buyers, who remain unaware of what it's like to live with a long-range electric car on a day-to-day basis.
The 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid is a good mid-size sedan that delivers the best gas mileage in its segment. We have some concerns over rear-seat access and trim materials, but those are minor issues.
It's a good hybrid sedan, and we expect it to sell in substantial volumes to buyers who value its 50-mpg fuel efficiency.
For what it is, it's a good alternative. It's just not as green as it used to be, relatively.