The Toyota Camry as we know it is in its twilight years. A radically redesigned 2018 model launches in summer 2017, so, actually, the outgoing Camry has three tires in the ground already. We had one last romp in a 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid leading up to the redesigned car's launch to remind us what the Camry does well, what it does badly and what's just plain ugly.
The Camry's key to success is that it's not bad at anything. The sedan does everything pretty good, but not really good. Fuel economy, for example, is EPA-rated at 38 mpg combined (40/37 mpg city/highway) in the XLE trim we tested, which is on the low side compared with newer competitors like the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid (46 mpg combined) and 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid (48 mpg combined) and even the base Camry Hybrid (40 mpg combined). The Camry Hybrid returned fuel economy as high as 37.8 mpg in my 10-mile bumper-to-bumper commute with an average speed of 14 mph — not the greatest considering I was driving in the Camry's economy mode. The Camry Hybrid's starting price is more affordable, however.
Laying on the brakes in the Camry Hybrid triggers all sorts of hybrid system regenerative wizardry, though you might as well be pressing down on a "Cruis'n USA" arcade game brake pedal. The brake pedal is lifeless, spongy and contributes to a jerky driving experience in stop-and-go traffic. To be fair, very few hybrids have a brake pedal that responds like a non-hybrid pedal. It's one area we hope is improved for 2018.
A spacious interior in both the front and backseat isn't as well-appointed as competitors like the Mazda6, which on higher trim levels approaches luxury levels of detail. Even the nicer parts of the Camry's interior, like the stitching on the dashboard, don't look genuine. It's what you'd expect from a top-selling sedan like the Camry that must appeal to so many people, which is what makes the upcoming 2018 so interesting: It's breaking the mold Toyota's been using to churn out Camrys for decades.