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2023 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid Nightshade – Review by David Colman +VIDEO


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2023 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid Nightshade

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Terrific value in the midsize sedan segment

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David Colman
Photos and Story By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL


Every couple of weeks I meet up with an old friend whose first question is invariably "So what are you driving this week?" When I told him it was a Toyota Camry he looked crestfallen and chided me for driving something so ordinary: "You're a Porsche guy - how can you drive a Camry?" The fact that it was a just-released 2023 Hybrid model done up in special edition Nightshade trim carried no weight at all. But guess what? Despite my friend's carping, the Nightshade Camry SE Hybrid ($30,615 base price; $32,839 delivered price) is an inflation buster that offers terrific value in the midsize sedan segment.


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Our test Camry relied on a combination of power sources to produce 208 net hp. Under the hood was a gas-fed 2.5 liter inline 4 equipped with double overhead cams, dual variable valve timing, and direct injection to produce 176hp and 163lb.-ft. of torque. Supplementing the gas engine was a 118hp electric motor making 149lb.-ft. of torque. This 650V motor fed energy to a 259V traction battery. The net result of the Hybrid amalgamation was a surprisingly responsive Camry.

Thanks to the extra torque infusion of the electric motor, the Nightshade scooted when called upon. Acceleration was aided by the provision of a Sport Driving Mode which configured the throttle for immediate response to driver input. Eco, Normal and EV Drive Modes were also available. This Camry will amaze you with its gas stinginess. With a combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 46MPG, the Hybrid is capable of covering 662 miles on a single refill of its 14.5 gallon fuel tank.


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The latest Nightshade selection from Toyota offers the Camry in three shades, Black White or Blue. In addition to the new color choices, the package blacks out the mesh front grill, headlight, and tail light trim, window moldings, shark fin antenna, rear spoiler, mirror caps and badges. The final touch is a set of 19 x 8J matte bronze TRD wheels which were fitted with 235/40R19 Bridgestone Turanza EL440 radials on our test car. While it may seem counterintuitive to paint a Nightshade model in anything but black, our Dark Blue test car looked exceptionally handsome with its muted trim and low sheen bronze rims.


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Toyota offers a mind boggling 9 varieties of Camry, starting with the price leading LE ($27,040) and peaking with the XSE Hybrid ($34,615). The thrifty SE Hybrid we test-drove ranked 3rd of the 9 models on the expense scale. While it was fully equipped with a 7 inch touchscreen, hands-free Bluetooth Phone and Music controls, a 6-speaker stereo system, USB media port and 2 USB charge ports, there were a number of significant niceties lacking. Top of the list was a heated steering wheel plus heated front seats, both amenities available as upgrades on the SE or standard on the XLE or XSE Hybrid models. We did appreciate the comfort afforded by the SofTex front seats. The driver's side provided power adjustments for fine-tuning while the passenger side made do with a trio of mechanical levers. The key fob remote contained a useful button for popping the rear trunk open when you hands are full. The 15 cubic foot trunk contains a jack and space-saver spare tire as well as a lug nut wrench. Those bronze Nightshade rims are secured with lug nut locks operated by a special key stored in the spare tire compartment.


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For the past 20 years, Toyota's Camry has been the sedan segment leader in sales in the USA. For 2023, Toyota is adding 7 new Nightshade editions to its overall model lineup. The Camry we drove was emblematic of the visually detuned new look. Instead of screaming "Look at Me" like so many jarring appearance tweaks, the Nightshade whispers "Don't Look at Me." The SE Camry we drove makes a convincing case for the adage that less is more - in both appearance and in price.

2023 TOYOTA CAMRY SE HYBRID NIGHTSHADE

    • ENGINE: 2.5 liter inline 4, DOHC, Direct Injection, Dual VVT-i plus 650V Electric Motor and 259V Traction Battery
    • HORSEPOWER: 208HP Combined System Net
    • TORQUE: N/A
    • FUEL CONSUMPTION: 44MPG City/47 MPG Highway
    • PRICE AS TESTED: $32,839

HYPES: Incredible Range, Hybrid Go Juice

GRIPES: SE Too De-contented

STAR RATING: 8.5 Stars out of 10