The 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid is undoubtedly a commuter car. What stands out the most for us is how well it functions on the highway. While previous versions of the Camry have been underpowered and ill-suited for long, repetitive drives, the latest generation ticks all the boxes earlier generations missed.
Who is the 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid for?
Small families, executives, passenger transport companies and of course budget savvy buyers. It truly is difficult to classify the Camry hybrid as just as taxi or even a family car these days. The redesign in 2018 yielded a more aerodynamic and aggressive styling that caught the eyes of some tuners with the XLE version and the contrasting, two-tone colours. Toyota left few potential buyers behind. Most notably the ones who cannot afford the $27,250 CAD base price and should opt for a Corolla instead. A suggested read is our article on securing dealer invoice pricing if you are wanting to buy a new car.
The 2020 Camry Hybrid covers nearly all demographics of buyers. Including highway commuters who were left behind by previous versions that felt underpowered, with inadequate technology. The 2.5L I-4 engine is designed for the highway in a sense that the powerband engages at higher speeds, if you need to pass or accelerate for a traffic light that is about to change, this feature makes a massive difference. We noticed at lower speeds, similar torque was not available and the engine wailed to get similar acceleration. Even with all wheel drive, there could be performance improvements here.
Dynamic radar cruise control is an option that should not be ignored if you are often on the road. Compared to conventional cruise control, the dynamic radar comes with pinpoint precision that is hard to find on vehicles without radar. What makes this model of Camry standout is simple adjustment that locks in a speed and distance between vehicles ahead. Want to change your speed? Just push the +/- buttons for each km/h you wish to go up or down! When compared to cruise control in other vehicles, this level of precision is difficult to find and makes highway driving far more relaxing and tolerable. Then comes perhaps the biggest surprise, fuel economy. We drove this hybrid for 300 highway kilometers and the fuel cost was only $15.95 CAD, we were left speechless.
It’s great on the highway, we get it but what about the city?
For city driving, with this 2.5L hybrid engine, the focus is more on economy over power. Acceleration is slow if on battery power only and eyeballing the gauge to stay in the eco range can leave a lineup of cars behind you. One noted deficiency is how weak the powerband is when accelerating from a stop. If of course you want to use battery power only.
Another issue with the Toyota Camry in general is suspension components and how rapidly they deteriorate. One can always tell if a Toyota has been loved or abused by how it will handle a speed bump. Get a jarring impact while rolling over one and chances are it was abused, even in a Toyota with under 40K kilometers. Toyota has definitely made some advancements in suspension durability and lifespan but hitting one too many potholes can impact this rapidly. Furthermore, the 2020 Camry is also prone to premature wheel bearing damage which can be indicated by a whining noise at higher speeds. Taking your Camry over uneven, rutted road will definitely introduce higher repair bills even under 50K km mileage.
For the sound hounds out there, the media system is on the low end, we found the operation was marginal though Carplay, Android Auto and Alexa integration is a huge plus. A weak speaker system combined with buttons and a touchscreen that were hardly tactile, almost sticky is definitely representative of Toyota’s dedication to economics. Placing all the right details in places that matter the most and not in their media systems.
How about preventative maintenance?
Toyota breaks down maintenance into 8K km intervals for the Camry adding service types #1, 2 and 3 to confuse and overwhelm any customers of their dealer service departments. For every 8K km service type (package), the tires are rotated (or seasonally swapped) though we recommend buying a jack/jack stands and taking this task on yourself. For anyone budget minded this can save thousands over the life of a vehicle as recommending a tire rotation every 8K km does seem like a cash grab.
Unbelievably the first oil change is not until the 16K km interval. By using our supplied images of service types #1, 2 and 3 one can easily see that a lot of these [upsold] service items are DIY if you are mechanically inclined. Even if you request that the dealership does the oil changes (they will do inspection of fluids and top up for free) and you buy a re-usable air filter/cabin air filter when the time comes to change them, these easy to change parts can net large savings. If you are looking for a more economical vehicle with lower service costs our 2014 Toyota Corolla review will give you all the details.
Fluid changes like brake fluid can be difficult to contain and disposal is a chore in itself. Electing to have your mechanic or dealership take care of fluid changes saves you the hassle of transporting used fluids, this is even if you can find a place nearby that accepts them. Brake service is another area to have a professional look after. While there are spray on cleaners nothing replaces a certified mechanic taking apart brakes, cleaning, lubricating the pins and reassembling them. Almost all Toyota models will get groaning and squeaking coming from the brake area in drier months if attention is not given to routine servicing.
Will I have to change the hybrid battery?
A hybrid battery is meant to last the life of the vehicle with some hybrid taxi’s already up near half a million kilometers, the passenger transport industry has put this claim to the test. It is very rare that a hybrid battery needs to be replace outside of the warranty it will be covered under the 10 year or 240,000 km (whichever is first) warranty that Toyota recently increased for 2020 hybrid vehicles.