Toyota proudly showed off a redesigned 2018 Camry earlier this week at the Detroit auto show, a car its maker says will be more “emotional” than its predecessor. Perhaps it was all that emotion that distracted journalists from asking how the update would affect the Camry Hybrid, a car barely mentioned in Toyota’s presentation on the new family sedan.
As it turns out, the Camry Hybrid did get some significant attention in this redesign, most of which has to do with the car’s battery and where it’s located.
According to Green Car Reports, the new Camry Hybrid — like the Prius — will come with one of two different battery packs depending on the car’s trim. Specific details haven’t been revealed, but higher-end models will use a lighter-weight lithium-ion battery, leaving speculation to suggest the base model may get a lower-tech, heavier nickel-metal-hydride battery to help save costs.
Furthermore, According to Green Car Reports, the new hybrid sees its battery moved from the trunk to a space beneath the rear seat, where it frees up cargo space and, according to Toyota, lends the hybrid a lower centre gravity (and, we assume, better front-to-rear weight distribution) that contributes to “noticeably enriched handling feel.”
Another nod to making the Camry Hybrid less of a snooze is a revised drivetrain with a sport mode that commands the continuously variable transmission (CVT) to simulate a six-speed transmission, and SE trim adds steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Sport mode also changes how the powertrain controls use the electric motor, employing it more to boost acceleration rather than prioritizing economy. The Camry Hybrid will use the same new 2.5L “Dynamic Force” four-cylinder engine announced for the standard model.
Toyota says it expects the new Camry Hybrid to achieve best-in-class economy, but opted not to answer questions about whether this latest model would spawn a plug-in (PHEV) powertrain.
Among 2017 models, the existing Camry Hybrid‘s fuel consumption estimates go as low as 5.8/6.3 L/100 km (city/highway), figures bested by the Honda Accord Hybrid‘s 4.9/5.1 ratings, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid‘s 5.5/5.7. The standard Prius‘ ratings are 4.4/4.6; Ford and Hyundai offer PHEV versions of their mid-size hybrids, but Toyota’s sole PHEV is the Prius Prime.