Tag Archives: #Toyota

2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

Camry Hybrid may just be the perfect family sedan …

This may surprise you, but it’s exceedingly rare that I long for a test car that has been returned, but this week even I was surprised at my disappointment when of all things a 2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid left the Savage abode.

You might suspect I’d have saved my tears for a Nissan Z, a Genesis GV60, or a new Corvette. Those too can tug at the tear ducts.

Several people even poo-pooed my fortunes for having to test the “dullest” car in America, but I quickly corrected them. Maybe they were thinking of the Prius.

There are reasons why Toyota’s Camry has been the top-selling sedan in the US market for roughly 20 years. It’s becoming the Ford F-150 of sedans via its longevity atop the market.

Camry is a champ and rocks on so many fronts I’ll try to be brief in my summary, but there’s a lot to unpack.

Start with looks, something I bet you’d never suspect I’d say. But a couple years back Toyota chose wisely and drank from the better styling cup. Ever since the once blah Camry has turned edgier with a sleek, beautiful nose that makes its Lexus luxury brand look downright gaudy. The headlights are slim and wonderfully blended with the grille and hood. The profile is slim and elegant, and the tail, well, just fine.

Bathe the handsome, sophisticated Camry in Supersonic Red (just $425 extra) and the sedan becomes Lady Gaga in a sequined gown.

Love engine choices? For internal combustion (gas) engine lovers there are two choices, including a powerful V6, but for families on a budget and with even a smidgen of social consciousness the Camry Hybrid is a rock star.

Camry’s 2.5-liter I4 combined with Toyota’s proven (20+ years) hybrid system nets a 44 mpg rating city and 47 mpg highway from the EPA, yet still delivers 208 horsepower. And get this, in about 80% highway driving I got a stellar 48.2 mpg. For more than 450 miles of driving I spent $25. Your weekly commute gas budget just giggled.

“Parental unit, can we stop for frozen custard on the way home from soccer practice?”

“Yes, my children.”

Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the 2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid – YouTube

But if this were an econobox that was cramped and had no digital doodads or safety gear … Well, it’s not.

Camry is a mid-size sedan but rides on a 111.2-inch wheelbase to give it an excellent ride, coupled with good, easy, well-controlled handling. Comfort reigns, but is never grandma’s plastic-covered living room dowdy.

The power from the hybrid system that gets its electric charge from regenerative braking is quickly delivered, but acceleration is smooth, mild, but steady. An electronically adjusted CVT (continuously variable transmission) is partially responsible for that and for the excellent MPG.

There’s a Sport mode on the console to kick up the acceleration some, and is handy for highway entry. Still, this will not resemble a sport sedan’s quickness. Normal and Eco mode also are available. Normal is what you’ll stick with 90% of the time.

Finally, a good-sized touchscreen with buttons all around and is easy to use.

Interior comfort is guaranteed too with the XLE being Camry’s luxury-leaning trim level that provides 8-way power leather seats with the front ones being heated. Seats are mildly contoured so pleasant on a long drive and there is plenty of room in back for three adults. XLE also upgrades the standard 8-inch info screen to 9 inches.

But it’s the design of the touchscreen that impresses beyond its size. Instead of a silly knob on the console or a mix of onscreen and dash buttons, there are 8 key buttons around the screen (4 to a side) clearly labeled Home, Menu, Audio, Map, Seek, Track, Phone and Apps. Smartly there also are volume and tuning knobs.

All this makes the info screen and JBL sound system (standard on XLE) a breeze to engage while driving. Take that you tech-for-tech’s-sake luxury brands.

Camry delivers a good-looking interior with everything logically located.

Another plus, Camry’s interior is sharp looking in addition to being functional.

This bright red car’s leather was a cream color and the seats perforated for better airflow from its heated and cooled seats. Heat is standard while the cooling is part of a $1,430 package that includes a 10-inch color HUD, panoramic view monitor, front/rear parking assist with automatic braking.

Elegant streamlined designed, even in the door panels.

The dash and door tops are black to create a two-tone interior, pretty common these days among the sharper vehicles. Trim is a graphite gray around the air vents and other dash trim, plus the armrest trim by the power window controls and the console’s top. There is a bit of gloss black trim on the stack, but not enough to create reflection woes.

Overhead is a sunroof ($860 extra) and for a modest $150 the leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated, a Wisconsin necessity.

Standard features include a wireless phone charger under the center stack, smart cruise control and a bevy of other safety equipment, all part of Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.5. That includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, a lane departure system with steering assist, automatic high beams, lane tracing assist and road sign assist.

Toyota also allows a driver to override the lane departure system, so if you’re in a congested and construction-heavy city or highway driving situation you can punch a button and not have the system beeping or trying to keep you centered in your lane. Bravo. Having this choice often is a safety concern these days.

Assuming you have five adults on board, which again IS possible here without amputations or forcing anyone into a socially embarrassing position, there’s oodles of trunk space for luggage. At 15.1 cubic feet the deep trunk will hold luggage for the entire crew, even several sets of golf clubs.

The only thing I missed, the only negative here, is large map pockets in the doors. These were tiny and tight to get at, so of limited use.

Pricing is amazing, a bargain throughout the lineup and should push more dollar-conscious buyers toward a sedan and away from mid-size crossovers and gas gulping SUVs.

The base Camry Hybrid, the LE, starts at $29,105 including delivery. There are five trim levels with the XLE being mid-level luxury at $34,065 including delivery. The sportier XSE is just about $500 more. The SE and SE Nightshade (featuring blacks and dark blues) also are available in the hybrid model.

Adding 11 options pushed the test car to $40,232, still an average new car price, so certainly one could be had mid-$30k range. No AWD feature is available, same as its main competitor, Honda’s Accord.

Gas-powered Camrys are available in that same price range, topping out with the TRD model featuring the 308-horse V6.

Stylish lights and nose help keep Camry atop the sedan market.

But for families on a budget, yet not wanting to look like it, the Camry Hybrid in any form is a bargain to buy, and operate, but with a luxury look, feel and all the digital goodies one actually needs.

Camry remains king of the sedans.

FAST STATS: 2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

Hits: Sharp styling, great mpg, excellent ride, good handling, decent power in comfy family sedan. Good rear seat and trunk room, sunroof, heated steering wheel, heated/cooled front seats, super info screen and buttons, wireless charger, smart cruise control and on/off lane departure, plus 3 drive modes, JBL sound system, comfy power seats. Bargain pricing!

Misses: Small door map pockets

Made in: Georgetown, Ky.

Engine: 2.5-liter I4 hybrid, 208 hp/163 torque

Transmission: ECVT automatic

Weight: 3,565 lbs.

Wheelbase: 111.2 in.

Length: 192.1 in.

Cargo: 15.1 cu.ft.

MPG: 44/47

MPG: 48.2 (tested)

Base Price: $34,065 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $31,358

Major Options:

Driver assist pkg. (10-inch color HUD, panoramic view monitor, front/rear parking assist w/auto braking, multi-stage cooled front seats), $1,430

Heated steering wheel, $150

Adaptive headlights, $615

Nav pkg. (premium audio, 9-inch touchscreen w/nav, 9 JBL speaker w/subwoofer & amplifier, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay compatible, satellite radio for 3 months), $1,760

Power sunroof, $860

Supersonic Red paint, $425

Trunk LED bulb, $25

Mud guards, $129

Illuminated door sills, $345

Door edge guards, $129

Carpet floor mats/cargo mat, $299

Test vehicle: $40,232

Sources: Toyota, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Toyota

#Toyota Camry hybrid

Toyota Century, 2018 Limo

AutoArt’s 1:18 beauty is the epitome of Japanese luxury …

To most of us, me included, we think of Toyota car badges like Camry, Corolla and Celica, but Century? Welcome to the luxury limo world, one few of us live in and in the States, the luxo-liner Century is virtually invisible.

But in Japan the car is a symbol of wealth and prestige, what many consider the Rolls-Royce of Japanese cars.

That’s fine, and probably deserved since even Toyota’s Lexus brand garners attention for its near perfect build quality. But with Century it’s not the average Joe or Asahi being chauffeured about. It’s the big money execs and famous folks being driven to their exclusive homes or hotels curtained off in the rear seat.

Despite few of us in the States hearing about it, Century was launched in 1967 as the premier Toyota and happened to coincide with Toyota Industries founder Sakichi Toyoda’s 100 birthday. Get it? Century!

Now AutoArt has gone and created a 2018 Century in 1:18 scale in multiple dignified colors, two offering the limo with curtains hanging in the rear windows. Cool!

The History

A bit of history beyond Century’s origins in 1967, it was the first rear-drive, front-engine Japanese car with a mass-produced V8 and later a V12.

The stately first generation lasted 30 years until the second gen launched in 1997. That was replaced by the third in 2018 and still carries the styling cues of a Lincoln, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and a touch of Rolls. This third gen is the one AutoArt has so deliciously delivered.

Century started on Toyota’s Crown platform, debuting with an aluminum alloy block 2.6-liter V8 generating just 150 horsepower. Remember this was 1967. By 1973 it had a 3.4-liter V8 and in 1992 that was upgraded to a 4.0-liter model. A 2-foot longer limo version arrived in 1989.

The second gen upgraded to Japan’s first V12 making 276 horsepower for the home market and 295 horses for exported models. Along the way automatic climate controls were first used in Century, then reclining rear seats with a massaging feature and power footrest. All those back seat wonders now are available in the large Lexus LS sedan.

Soft-closing doors is another feature first found in Century. These are offered in a variety of high-end sedans now where the doors electronically pull themselves shut once partially closed by the occupants. In back there also is an 11-inch screen and wood trim everywhere, plus the car comes with a noise cancellation system, double-glazed windows, and four mufflers. It’s quiet inside!

This third gen has all that and a more powerful 5.0-liter V8 with hybrid system to boost gas mileage from what had been 24 to 32 mpg. Power jumps to 425 horses and is put to the pavement via an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT) for smoothness and efficiency.

The lacy curtains are embedded in the glass, so will stay pristine over time.

Century now rides on a massive 122-inch wheelbase, is 210 inches long, weighs about 5,200 pounds, rides on a revised air suspension and is bathed in seven layers of paint. To assure luxury build quality Toyota assembles (much by hand) just 50 a month.

Oh, and you’d need about $180,000 to buy one, if they were sold in the US. They are not.

 The Model

What strikes you about this Seika Radiant Silver Metallic model is the chrome, from the finely presented narrow vertical bars in the grille to the trim around windows and front and rear bumpers, including lower cladding along the rocker panels. All align perfectly to carry the chrome theme nose to tail.

Not only great door detail, but a superb dash and console too.

But the interior if fabulous. Open up all four doors and the rock star interior features lacy gray curtains in the rear side windows and back windshield. On the real car these are crocheted lace and they reflect that look here, but are wisely embedded in the clear plastic windows so as not to soil over time or be damaged by handling.

The curtains are partially open so I suppose the celebrity, or his or her handler, will have to shut them for privacy.

Beyond the curtains, the right-hand-drive Century features wood-look trim atop the doors, door armrests, seatbacks and dash. It’s a bit shiny, but still impressive.

Wood trim and realistic console and screen make the rear seat special here!

All the detailing looks realistic in here too from the big rear seat console with glass-like touchscreen and big screen behind and between the front seats, even a couple of air ducts above that screen. The dash is loaded with buttons, knobs, a big info screen, and detailed digital driver’s screen. Even the gearshift knob is sufficiently thick and includes appropriate markings for each gear in the gate. The black steering wheel has a thick three-spoke hub.

Seats are gray and resembled leather, which is optional on the car. Wool seats are standard as they are quieter to sit in, and get out of, than leather, so preferred in Japan. No rude noises allowed!

AutoArt includes shoulder harnesses with photo-etched metal clasps and mold in the appropriate power adjustment buttons on the side of each seat’s lower cushion.

Flip up the hood and like most of today’s cars, the Century’s V8 and hybrid system are covered with a gray/silver plastic shroud with the remainder of the under-hood area covered in black plastic, so no fluid bottles, dipsticks, etc. are visible. Pretty boring, but realistic.

Note, the hood is released via a tiny black lever under the car’s nose, otherwise latches in place.

Naturally the hood, trunk lid and all four doors open, plus those front wheels are steerable, actually turning the steering wheel.

Other exterior features include realistic taillights and jewel-like headlights with each lamp featuring twin rectangular settings with twin bulbs in each lamp. There also are horizontal bar-shaped turn signals embedded in the front bumper.

Atop the hood is a fine gothic style C emblem that represents the Century name while centered in the grille and on the trunk’s face between the taillights is the gold phoenix logo, the traditional Fushichō badge that has its origins in Sinospheric mythology. Hey, that’s what I read. On the real car it takes an artist six weeks to hand engrave these. Wow!

That Century gothic C is also in badges on the C-pillars with the term Hybrid below. I tried magnifying these to see the word. I can tell it’s there, but hard to read. Hope your eyes are better than mine.

The phoenix is on the wheel cover, but tires are unbranded.

Tires are treaded, but not branded and the sharp sunburst style wheel covers are chromed and feature the phoenix logo inside the center ring.

All these features come at a price, but then this is a luxury limo, with an MSRP of $250.

Silver not your thing? The Century also is available in black with curtains, or black or white without. C’mon, you gotta have the curtains.

There’s also a sportier (sort of) GRMN model, the abbreviation standing for Gazoo Racing (Toyota’s long-time team) Meister of Nürburgring, costing $10 less and a black version for the US market, although still right-hand drive, for $230.

The Century’s headlights are beautifully reproduced.

Vital DC Stats: Toyota Century (w/curtains)

Maker: Autoart
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: 78770
MSRP: $250

Link: Autoartmodels.com

#Toyota