While some consumers have been making the move to SUVs, others are still perfectly content to stick with sedans. And what better way to go than with a mid-size hybrid? Both fuel-efficient and spacious, the 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid strikes a superb balance for buyers wanting something practical and comfortable. Oh, and affordable.
This model year sees some stylish upgrades made to the interior and exterior of the Camry Hybrid. Also, the sport-oriented XSE trim level makes its debut on the 2021 line-up. The optional infotainment system is now bigger, and there are even more advanced driver aids that get included.
The 2020 models had finally gained Android Auto smartphone app integration, which had been a long time coming. But that was the extent of its updates, and the 2020 was in dire need of a refresh. Stylistically, it wasn't as contemporary as some of its rivals, and the amount of standard features was fairly average.
So, which Camry Hybrid model year should you get? And which trim level has the best features for the cost? We will go over all of that, plus the technology that comes on it, how it performs, how safe and reliable this hybrid sedan is known to be, and what some of the alternatives are to the Camry Hybrid.What Do the Various Trim Levels Offer?
The 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid offers three trim levels: the base LE, the sportier SE, and the line-topping XLE. For 2021, the line-up goes in this order: the LE, XLE, SE, and the brand-new, much sportier XSE. The base LE starts you off with automatic LED headlights, styled wheel covers on the 16-inch steel wheels, a power adjustable driver's seat, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, keyless entry to the trunk and front doors, smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a 7-inch touchscreen display.
Take note that each trim level comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, Toyota's newest bundle of standard driver aids. This means that even the LE gives you forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control.
You can opt for a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and a sunroof on the LE. The Audio Upgrade package gives you more remote connected service plans, dynamic lines on the back-up camera, and a 9-inch touchscreen display. The Cold Weather package adds heated side mirrors and heated front seats. A universal garage door opener and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror come with the Convenience package.
The SE has a sportier design with a sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels. It also comes with simulated leather seats that have fabric inserts. You still get the same options that come on the LE.
The XLE adds the three optional packages from the LE, making them all standard features. Chrome exterior accents grace the revamped exterior, and 18-inch wheels are equipped. You also get power adjustability on the front passenger's seat, leather upholstery, rear HVAC vents, ambient interior lighting, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and the larger infotainment display. Options include the sunroof, a JBL premium sound system with integrated navigation bundled in, adaptive headlights, and a heated steering wheel. The optional Driver Assist package adds a head-up display, ventilated front seats, rear automatic braking, and a surround-view camera.
The new line-topping XSE trim level gives you everything from the SE and XLE, except it has metal interior trim, gloss black trim on the grille, lower-profile tires, and 19-inch alloy wheels.Which Trim is Right for Me?
We'd recommend sticking with the LE if you are just looking for something affordable. You have some good customization options available on it but already have a good number of standard features. If you want something slightly sportier, the SE is still affordable and easy to customize. The XLE and XSE are nice, but they might not reside within everyone's budget.What Kind of Technology Does it Have?
The Camry Hybrid is loaded with standard technology. Smartphone app integration is standard, so you can sync your smartphone for app use. The head-up display is a great upgrade if you can afford it, as is the JBL sound system with the navigation system. And as far as driver aids go, the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 bundle is extremely inclusive. We do recommend adding the blind-spot monitoring system if you need extra help seeing into your blind spots.How Does It Perform?
The 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid is a solid daily driver with its ability to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8 seconds. That's better than what many mid-size sedan hybrids can do. Braking feels predictable and secure, and the low-rolling resistance tires (which are commonly used for hybrids) get enough road grip. Steering and handling feel adequate.
Comfort is where this vehicle excels. The climate control system works exceptionally well, and the optional ventilated front seats are comforting on hot days. Ride comfort does dwindle if you have the bigger wheels, but the smaller wheels do just fine at handling road imperfections.Is It Safe and Reliable?
The 2021 Camry Hybrid nabs a perfect score on NHTSA's tests - across the board, it gets five out of five stars. Considering how detailed NHTSA's tests can be, this is downright impressive. Of course, IIHS also gave it "Good" marks on its safety tests.
But what stands out are consumer reports. The Camry Hybrid gets people from point A to point B, but it continually does so without breaking down.What's the Interior Like?
The newly styled interior is comfortable and user-friendly. Spaciousness abounds, and finding the right driving position takes almost no effort. Neither does getting in or out. Controls are well-labeled and placed within the driver's reach.What are the Alternatives to this Model?
The 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid is definitely the Camry's biggest competitor. It offers competitive fuel economy numbers, prices, and a spunky performance that outdoes the Camry Hybrid. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is another direct rival, offering a similar fuel efficiency and exceedingly generous warranty coverage.
Note: All Toyota Camry Hybrid lease prices and dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.