Sacramento, California -- In this tale of two hybrid sedans, the buyer comes out a winner in either case. It’s just a matter of how much you want to spend.
I tested the 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE (pictured) and the 2017 Lexus ES 300h, respectively, over two consecutive weeks, and frankly, it was difficult to favor one over the other. That’s saying something given that the bottom line on the Lexus was a hefty $48,415, or $12,000 more than $36,351 on the
The Camry’s monster-selling characteristics were fully evident in my ride, with generous comfort/convenience features, excellent safety ratings and a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine nicely assisted by an electric “
Hybrid Synergy Drive” system. Yes, you’re paying some for the hybrid
technology, but 40 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway feels
Road manners on the Camry were exceptional, and the hybrid propulsion system demonstrated admirable oomph when asked.
My Camry was loaded up with an incredibly long list of extra goodies, including illuminated door sill enhancements. It was all very nice, but the basic XLE with hybrid technology stood tall on its own.
My Camry was dressed up with a wide assortment of communication/audio perks, and even though the Camry has been around for seven generations now, it’s hard to imagine a young motorist walking away from this tech-ready ride.
Moving to the Lexus ES 300h demonstrated to me that the two sedans shared similar charms, but this being a Lexus, there were subtle things that stood out. The ride seemed a bit smoother, a bit firmer. Fit and finish was more perfect. The solid “ka-chunk” of closing the driver’s side door spoke of a solid, sure-footed machine.
I was somewhat surprised to see that the Lexus hybrid got a little better fuel mileage than the Camry, coming in at 40 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.
The Lexus stood out for its lengthy list of safety features, which included “smart stop” technology, intelligent high beam headlights and a pre-collision system.
The tester featured a silky-smooth, quiet freeway presence, with a strong response when it came time to zip around weekday commute pokes.
Again, it comes down to money.
The Camry radiates reliable performance and long-haul comfort for a relatively affordable price, given its hybrid technology. The Lexus, appropriately, is more of a luxury liner. And it shows.
Performance history indicates that both will run forever, creating zero or very few surprise trips to the service center over the years. Tough choice, but both are safe bets.