Maybe the Prius won. The 2025 Toyota Camry will only be available as a hybrid, ditching any conventional gas-burning engines, even as an option. Hybrids are well and fully the mainstream.
Though, it's hard to say that a midsize sedan like the Camry is mainstream anymore. Toyota's best-selling vehicle here in America is the RAV4. It's crossovers that have gone mainstream, and it's this sedan that is now an outlier. The Camry has become something more that you are driven in rather than something you yourself buy. It is the definitive Uber, cab, ride-share whatever these days, and from that perspective, a hybrid makes incredible sense. This is a car that will do primarily short-distance urban and suburban trips. This is where a hybrid shines.
To be honest, this is a character arc that came for the Prius first. As more and more models across Toyota's lineup (and across the industry) got hybrid drive, people didn't need to buy a Prius, and it got more and more specialized for a distinct audience. Now that crossovers deliver a car-like ride, with car-like performance, and car-like fuel economy, cars and sedans grow specialized for their most dedicated buyers. For the Camry, that means it gets to ditch anything that doesn't help you run a successful ride-share operation or crush highway miles.
The hybrid "has represented about 16% of Camry sales for the current generation," according to a Toyota representative when reached for comment. This is no small step for the Camry as a model.
But that is a somewhat high-minded train of thought. Let's drill down on the basics here with the new Camry, as there's some fun stuff.
The first is that the fifth-generation hybrid system that Toyota is using here, imaginatively called THS 5, has an interesting quirk. Standard for this new Camry is front-wheel drive and two electric motors, which gives a combined 225 hp. Optional is all-wheel drive, but this is not a traditional mechanical system, which directs engine power to all four wheels as needed. In this case, Toyota just slapped another electric motor at the rear of the car to drive the back wheels as needed. This is functionally all-wheel drive, and gives the AWD Camry a combined 232 hp. Both the new Prius and the new Camry use that same hybrid system.
Toyota says it also retuned the hybrid drive to provide more low-end torque, both in that the system increases power from the traction battery and also that the transmission holds the car at lower RPM so it feels like there's more low-down oomph.
What Toyota is not telling us yet are two key metrics for this hybrid-only car. We don't know how big the battery pack is and we don't know its rated fuel economy. The current Camry gets 51/53/52 city/highway/combined, and I don't suspect we will see a huge deviation jumping to the new generation. The Prius has stayed largely the same, only picking up a few MPG across the board, per FuelEconomy.gov.
The other big news is in the screens of the car. If the hybrid drive is tuned to feel more like an EV, the interior is redesigned to look more like one, too.
The lower LE and SE trims get 7-inch digital gauges, which go up to 12.3 inches in the upper XLE and XSE trims. Meanwhile an 8-inch touch screen on the dash is standard on all models, which you can upgrade to 12.3 inches also. Only the XLE and XSE trims come with a heads-up display, which seems oddly large at a claimed 10 inches. All the cars get standard CarPlay, a wireless phone charging pad, as well as USB-A and USB-C ports, three in the front and two in the back.
Toyota also says it has re-tuned the suspension of the car, though it is somewhat hard to parse if it is any real bit sportier than the current generation. The 2025 Camry enjoys "enhanced responsiveness and agile handling which adds a sense of thrill when taking on those twisting and turning roads," as the press release puts it, but clarifies that only the sporty trims get "specific sport-tuned suspension with increased comfort, while still providing even greater stability, handling, and confidence behind the wheel."
However it feels, I am not mad that Toyota is giving up on non-hybrid drivetrains for the Camry. These are workhorses of the road, high-mileage machines. The current hybrid Camry gets 20 more MPG than its non-hybrid equivalent. The more we can squeeze better fuel economy out of these things, the better it is for everyone.
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