Home » Does Anyone Else Get Car Sick In Camry Hybrid Ubers? No? Just Me?

Does Anyone Else Get Car Sick In Camry Hybrid Ubers? No? Just Me?

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By and large, I don’t get carsick. I’ve rarely had problems reading on a long drive, or flicking through Twitter while friends are at the wheel. But every so often, it hits me. It’s a twisted, sick, queasy feeling that leaves me uptight, anxious, and wanting to puke. What I’ve noticed is that whenever it happens, one thing seems to be the same. I’m in a Toyota Camry Hybrid, with an Uber driver at the wheel.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, and by interesting, I mean stressful and annoying. It’s not something that occurs every time under those conditions. But 99% of the time, if I’m queasy in the back seat, it’s a Camry Hybrid doing Uber.

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What’s causing this? I have a theory. The Camry Hybrid, as the name suggests, has an electric motor assisting the internal combustion engine. One of the main benefits of electric motors is that they deliver maximum torque at an instant, right from 0 rpm and up. It’s quite unlike an internal combustion engine that needs to rev higher to produce maximum torque.

That torque delivery is why EVs are so good at giving you that instant push in the back when you touch the throttle. As soon as the electricity hits the motor coils, that motor is thrusting the car forward. An electric motor often only make up a small amount of the hybrid drivetrain’s total output. However, they’re excellent at providing low-down torque near-instantly.

How does this make me car sick? Well, a lot of Uber drivers with Camry Hybrids tend to have a very unique way of driving. They don’t drive up to a certain speed limit and just hold the car there. Instead, they seem to drive up to the speed limit, and then roll off the accelerator. Then they pulse the throttle on and off regularly to keep bumping the car up to that speed. Every time they tap the throttle, the instant-on torque from the electric motor gives you a little shove in the back. And again. And again. You’re sort of gently getting rocked back and forth in an unpleasant, nauseating motion.

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The Camry Hybrid is one of the most popular cars for use on Uber in Australia.

I find the problem is at its worst when being driven on straight roads with moderate to heavy traffic. The driver will pulse the throttle up to speed until they get too close to the car ahead of them, then they’ll back off a bit, and start the cycle again when they get more space. Suburban rat runs are also bad, due to the many accelerations and decelerations involved in weaving through those streets.

It bears noting that this isn’t a rare thing, either. The Camry Hybrid is one of the most popular cars for Uber in Australia. Drivers prize the car for its fuel economy and perceived reliability as a Toyota product. (Personally, I think they’re pretty solid cars, but I will say it’s incredibly difficult to change the headlight bulbs in one. It took us an HOUR.)

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I believe the XV50 models are most likely to be the cause of my problem. This is based on the fact I only got access to Uber in 2015, and it was the generation where hybrid models became most popular. Currently, only models from 2016 and later are usable for Uber passenger transport in Australia.

 

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid Camry Hl
It’s not that I get in a Camry and instantly feel ill. It’s that every time I notice I’m carsick, I realize I’m sitting in a Camry Hybrid.

I haven’t had this problem with other hybrids. I’ve spent plenty of time riding around in Toyota Priuses and Honda Insights and never had an issue, though those were mostly driven by friends. Similarly, I have a friend who owns a Camry Hybrid, and he seems to be able to drive it perfectly smoothly. He’s even an Uber driver, but he has a relaxed, laid-back driving style.

I think the problem is a combination of things. The instant-on torque of the electric motor is an enabling factor. The throttle pedal calibration of the Camry Hybrid likely plays a role as well. Combine those with an erratic, rushing, bumper-hugging driving style that uses many repetitive throttle inputs, and hurrah! – you’re making a vomit milkshake.

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Indeed, the fact I haven’t experienced this problem in other cars is telling. Admittedly, I haven’t been driven around in many EVs, but I have been in a ton of other hybrids without issue, even though they’ve all got the same potential for instant-on torque. As stated, I think it’s that magic, terrible combination of the Camry Hybrid’s throttle calibration and a certain kind of pedaling style typical of a driver in a hurry.

There’s not much I can really do to avoid this problem. I’ve tried looking out the windows and doing whatever I can to settle myself, but nothing really works. I guess I could cancel on every Camry Hybrid I get on Uber, but it would probably lead to my account getting disabled in short order. I’ll probably just have to deal with it until natural attrition sees the offending Camry Hybrids drop out of the Uber fleet. I have a suspicion that the problem is more with earlier models, with later versions having a smoother torque curve.

What I really want to know is this: am I crazy? Am I imagining this problem, or is this as real as the scourge of male shoppers on Instacart, the inevitability of a blue shell appearing as you’re about to win your Mario Kart race, and the very definite existence of Bigfoot? I’ve been trying to air this story for years, and it’s only now at The Autopian that I’ve had the chance to put this issue under the microscope. Please, sound off and tell me: are there hybrids or EVs that are making you queasy?

Image credits: Toyota, Uber, Google Via Screenshot

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Leo T.
Leo T.
3 months ago

I’m pretty sure the MTA reprogrammed their hybrid buses when they first got them because the off the line torque was making too many people fall over.

Oldskool
Oldskool
3 months ago

Late to the pukey party here. But this is another big reason I prefer the older cars. You can feel and hear everything. As cars get newer and more insulated from the road (by feel, sound, and visibility) I find it more difficult to keep a stable stomach. The way people drive with modern cars doesn’t help (accelerate, brake, and turn quicker).

I already quit eating anything before or during a long ride.

Having a lifetime of digestive issues means I’ve tried a lot of things. Dramamine? No. Wristbands with the button? No. Zofran, Compazine, Reglan? Forget it, not even close.

So what does work for me? Nauzene pills, but they’re expensive and I’d eat up a whole box on a long ride. Hard peppermints, or Life Savers, but the wrappers were a static cling nightmare cleaning up. Then Wintergreen Altoids, I used to buy them multiple cases at a time and buy out stores. Until I needed to start saving my teeth. Then I switched to sugar free Cool Blast mints. It’s not just the peppermint, but the act of keeping a constantly fresh flavor moving in the right direction.

Thankfully my life situation has changed to where I really only need to do a short ride to work and back, or to town. But when it’s car show time, I make sure I’m locked and loaded with all types of remedies, and eat next to nothing, just a few non perishables I bring along.

Last edited 3 months ago by Oldskool
Ivan256
Ivan256
4 months ago

The Camry has 50% of the throttle map in the first 2% of the pedal travel.

Makes the car feel faster. Back seat passenger nausea be damned.

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