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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Camry Uber 2
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.)

74 Camry Sl Hybrid Ag7q8584.jpg
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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Cerberus
Cerberus
4 months ago

It’s unusual for me to not get sick in the back of any car, though jerky driving, like from traffic, definitely makes it more likely to happen. Even buses are about 50/50. Not going for self-driving cars.

BobWellington
BobWellington
4 months ago

We rode in a Model 3 in London (we wouldn’t have used rideshare there but my dad was having foot issues and didn’t want to walk half the time) and the driver drove like a total knob enabled by the car’s electric nature. I was glad to get out of that one as soon as possible.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
4 months ago

Well, it’s ok because anytime I see an EV/Hybrid/Ford/new BMW I cringe and want to throw up too…doubly so for Tesla’s

Ted Fort
Ted Fort
4 months ago
Reply to  Freelivin2713

You might want to see a doctor.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
4 months ago
Reply to  Ted Fort

Ha ha for what? Not being a stan?
Differences of opinion- I don’t have to like these…also it was a joke ha ha

Ted Fort
Ted Fort
4 months ago
Reply to  Freelivin2713

If you’re almost throwing up dozens of times in day to day life? That’s not a good sign.

Kurt Hahn
Kurt Hahn
4 months ago

About 10-20 years ago, there was this competition to drive from coast to coast with the least amount of fuel as possible. I don’t remember any of the rules, but it was done in a way that you had to drive reasonably fast (there might have been checkpoints to reach every evening). Obviously a tiny car with a tiny engine won the competition (I think it was a 3 cyl Audi A2 diesel, so it was definitely before dieselgate), but what was interesting is that there were more than one of these A2s competing, and there was one team beating the others by several miles per gallon. The reason they gave was the exact pulsing technique that you’re describing here. I don’t know if they came up with it by themselves, but it seemed promising during their tests, so they went with it (and won). I can see that this could work even better with a hybrid.

Cerberus
Cerberus
4 months ago
Reply to  Kurt Hahn

Pulse and glide is a long-known technique for maximizing range. What’s less known is that it can be done without being obnoxious (if not quite as effective).

Mike F.
Mike F.
4 months ago

My dad used to do the on-off throttle thing years ago. Never made me sick but it annoyed the living hell out of me and made my wife suspicious that he was dangerous to ride with. I don’t know about that – he’s not been in any accidents that I know of. It was hard for me to argue with her, though.

Turkina
Turkina
4 months ago

Back in the day I had a friend who would do that pulse thing in this Saturn. I wanted to throttle him due to lack of throttle discipline. Slow is smooth, smooth keeps the upholstery clean!

Madewithgenuineparts
Madewithgenuineparts
4 months ago

The regen braking in earlier ones is also great for carsickness, my ex’s parents had a RX hybrid and I’d get queasy every time we all went somewhere in it

Taxi maniac
Taxi maniac
4 months ago

Have you tried driving with taxi drivers that drive camry hybrids ?

Our fleet is avalon hybrids and lexus 300h.

Our drivers don’t pulse to the speed limit….. that doesn’t sound like a good way to drive if you’re trying to be a professional driver

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
4 months ago

I’m not sure which Ubers I’ve been queasy in the back of because typically if I’m feeling that way in an Uber, it’s because I’m quite inebriated and I’m not paying attention to what vehicle I’ve poured myself into. That said, no car will ever be more nauseating than my grandpa’s Buick LeSaber.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
4 months ago

Mate, that’s just every taxi driver ever.

Danny Zabolotny
Danny Zabolotny
4 months ago

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.”

Honestly, that’s how a lot of normies seem to drive. Aka why I hate being in a car if I’m not the one driving.

My biggest beef with Uber/Lyft is that almost every single car I’ve gotten a ride in has had terrifyingly rear bad wheel bearings that are growling/howling the entire time. In my opinion it’s because a) the driver can’t hear them and b) they don’t really do much in a FWD car so nobody notices them until the wheels literally fall off.

Taxi maniac
Taxi maniac
4 months ago

You literally can’t drive a car as a taxi or uber till the wheel falls off from wheel bearing failure.

Bearing would be screaming so loud no one would ride with you eventually

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago

All Camry’s make me sick with boredom!

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
4 months ago

I don’t recall getting car sick, but I do find it very uncomfortable to read in a moving car. I also don’t do poopers, screw them. But my local taxi favourite has lots of hybrid Camrys and it’s never bothered me.

I will say that I do often come close to throwing up in my mouth when looking at a lot of Toyota’s styling these days.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
4 months ago

To me, it sounds mostly like an issue with the driver with the car as a contributing factor. I used to get carsick all the time in my wife’s old Chevy HHR. Then the sickness followed to the Toyota Prius. Now it’s followed to the Scion iQ. I’ve been dealing with this since 2019 when I was with an ex who drove a Kia. Before then, I never got carsick except for when I had some really bad food.

I took note of something both my ex and my wife do behind the wheel. The ex treated the pedals like on and off switches, so I got thrown around, violently. I could never predict where my body was going to get thrown to next and it always made me sick. My wife is hard on her brakes all the time. She is not hard on the gas pedal, but she maintains speed by lifting her foot entirely off of the accelerator before putting it back down. She’ll do this once every couple of seconds and it creates a gentle rocking that frequently makes me sick. Thankfully, since the iQ doesn’t have a ton of power, she doesn’t do it as much.

The tv show Canada’s Worst Driver had entire lessons about learning how to modulate your throttle. Constant pressure, not pulses!

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
4 months ago

That’s an interesting way to drive. I wonder how many different ways people reach and maintain speed, and how those methods are learned/taught.

Unimaginative Username
Unimaginative Username
4 months ago

I could definitely see this being annoying with full lift rather than gradually reducing pressure that you keep applying. I have unfortunately been trying in vain for nearly 20 years to convince my wife that there’s a third option between gas and brake called coasting – if you’re approaching a red light or stopped traffic it’s okay to lift a good few seconds before grabbing a foot full of brake. She thinks I’m a madman for acting like this, and I have never gone more than 15-20k miles between front pad changes on her cars.

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
4 months ago

I’ve ridden in Ubers exactly twice in my life. On both occasions, I was too drunk to make an objective assessment of the driver’s abilities. If I was feeling at all nauseous, it likely wasn’t due to the ride quality.

I do spend an awful of time commuting on the mean streets of Adelaide, South Australia. Here are Ubers are identifiable by a huge blue “PV” sticker in the back window that indicates the vehicle is a “Private Vehicle hire”. (In medical parlance, PV means “per vagina”, but I digress).

A Camry Hybrid with a PV sticker is a red flag to other motorists: “WARNING – this driver will behave erratically.” I think that explains the car sickness phenomenon.

DysLexus
DysLexus
4 months ago

Hey Lewin:
This is the first time ever that I fell fully qualified to respond to your dilemma. And I have a reasonable answer!!!

1.) I have the world’s weakest stomach. I inherited my extreme motion sickness from my grandmother. Since childhood, I’ve gotten sick in every type of motored vehicle. Cars, buses, trains, planes, boats, helicopter (the worst), and IMAX theater, merry-go-round, roller coasters, elevators, motorcycles, etc. You get the idea of my 50+ years of this.

2) I also own a 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid. It has very touchy brakes. There is just no way to modulate them smoothly at all especially at stop and go traffic. It’s jerky like no other car and many have discussed this.

3) why Camry? It’s all in your head. You had the initial jerking once after some unsettling food or drink and got sick. I work in a Cancer Center. The mere thought of a prior nausea will repeat in the brain and TELL your brain to get sick again. The more repetition just feeds the cycle.

4) Try Dramamine (meclizine 25 mg) or some similar. Kicks in about 15 mins and lasts for 24 hours. I’ve lived on this or some such for the past 50 years. After a few positive experiences, you will retrain your brain.

Good luck.

DysLexus
DysLexus
4 months ago
Reply to  DysLexus

One more thing: smell is one of the strongest triggers of memory. Cars have a distinct smell. Mixed with jerky brakes and visual nameplate. This is the trigger.

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
4 months ago

It’s called not paying attention. If you put the phone down and pay attention to your surroundings your body will understand and compensate. We’re all staring at a screen with video doing one motion while the vehicle doing another.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
4 months ago

Well, not all of us. At the very most it’s only all of you who have cell phones.

Gubbin
Gubbin
4 months ago

Throttle-stabbers, man. Make me think of the New York chapter of Night On Earth, with Armin Mueller-Stahl as a bewildered clown attempting to drive Giancarlo Esposito home. Vroom-screech, vroom-screech…

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
4 months ago
Reply to  Gubbin

Ugh… I hate that so much too. I truly don’t understand that people do that, or that some people use two feet for gas/brake.

Kurt Hahn
Kurt Hahn
4 months ago

It takes some learning, obviously maybe without passengers and on empty roads, but two feet driving can be done just as smoothly as with one foot. I had lower back problems, and using both feet allowed me to sit just a little differently, and that actually helped me. Not a huge deal, but it was definitely better.

Ben
Ben
4 months ago

I have a friend who can only ride with some drivers because the others make her carsick. It’s not just bad drivers either. There’s just something about different people’s driving styles that doesn’t agree with her stomach.

Although come to think of it she just got diagnosed with Celiac, so maybe it was really gluten all along?

Isis
Isis
4 months ago

You’ve actually described how my wife drives any car on the highway. It’s nauseating.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
4 months ago
Reply to  Isis

My wife is a pretty aggressive driver so I think I’m too hopped up on stress hormones to feel nauseated.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago

Not surprising, prolly unconscious thoughts of being in a vehicle that 1000 people were in recently. Since COVID the thought of how dirty people are sticks in our mind. Though there’s nothing worse than the massage chair at the mall….

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
4 months ago

This problem is not your imagination, I have it happen sometimes as well.

Problem #1 regen settings being very aggressive, they should be chilled out a bit or at least offer options for all models.
(Full EVs like Teslas being a worse example)

Problem #2 (the real issue) is that drivers don’t understand how their hybrid or EV works and don’t adjust their driving style to work with the regen/powertrain vs. against it.

I don’t have the problem so much in most hybrids, but it was noticeable if the driver wasn’t great. But the first time I took a longer trip in a Model S (with the driver being a key force in Tesla’s success early-on, so he should have known better), I thought I was going to barf. But on the flipside, I’ve driven long distances with other Tesla drivers that were MUCH smoother… mostly because of the driver.

Lots of people need to learn how to do the “limo stop” and apply the same practices to Hybrids and EVs. Some people get it and do it well, others are terrible at it.

There is actually the same problem on big diesel transit buses that have brake retarders in the transmission… some drivers don’t know how to drive those smoothly and I’ve gotten very barfy because of it, and I’ve had the pleasure (?) of riding on about a million buses of all fuel types available.

Trouthawk
Trouthawk
4 months ago

I got a bit queasy in an Uber Tesla Model 3 when the driver insisted on driving no more than 18 inches from the bumper of the car in front and weaving in and out of moderately heavy traffic. I got to the airport a few minutes earlier than the app predicted and didn’t lose my lunch, so I guess all is well that ends well.

Naterator
Naterator
4 months ago

I never get carsick, but felt quite queasy in the back seat of a Tesla Model 3 for some reason. Not sure if it was the driver, or the overly uncomfortable padding in the seat.

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
4 months ago

If you think the Camry hybrid is bad with this, wait till you’re in a Tesla uber. It’s the same exact problem just magnified and gets me every time. It’s why I can’t use Revel even if they’re cheaper than uber/lyft a lot of times.

Naterator
Naterator
4 months ago

This is so weird you posted this. I just posted the same time as you about how I only get sick in the back seat of a Model 3.

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
4 months ago
Reply to  Naterator

The brake regen doesn’t help, but most everytime I sit in the back of a Tesla I get a little queasy. My sis has a model x and she doesn’t like the regen so turned it off and it’s the only tesla I sit in with any regularity that I never feel anything negative in.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
4 months ago
Reply to  Naterator

There have been articles recently about rental car companies dumping their EV fleets b/c of increase accidents as opposed to ICE vehicles. Regen breaking + insta-acceleration = a different driving experience. Sounds like the same reasons it would make you car sick.

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