The Toyota Camry is the automobile someone buys when they just need “a car.” It’s got enough size to fit people and things, it has for years gotten enough fuel economy to get you at least 30 freeway miles on a single gallon of gas, it’s got good enough crash test ratings to carry your children, it’s cheap enough to justify to your accountant/spouse/self, it looks fine, and decades worth of people you know who have owned one tell you the thing will never die. While it may not sound exciting, that combination of attributes is enticing to a lot of people, which is why the Camry has outsold every other car for 19 years, and why this 2025 model — which has an electric motor solely for the rear wheels — is so important.
The current 2024 model Toyota Camry — you know, the car that your Uber driver picked you up with — comes with either a 200-ish horsepower highly efficient 2.5-liter Atkinson Cycle four cylinder engine (thermal efficiency of over 40 percent!) or a 301 horsepower 3.5-liter V6, with the former offering a hybrid variant that makes 176 horsepower from the engine and 208 horsepower as a total system. Fuel economy on some hybrids reaches MPGs as high as 51 city, 53 highway, 52 combined, but none of those hybrid trims offer all-wheel drive. That changes now.
The 2025 Toyota Camry is powered solely by a hybridized 2.5-liter inline-four, making 225 horsepower in front-drive guise or 232 ponies with all-wheel drive, which is available on all trims and adds an electric motor to power the rear axle. Here’s what Toyota has to say about the new powertrain/drivetrain:
Combining the engine’s power with two electric motors, this dynamic new HEV has a standard 225 net combined horsepower on Front Wheel Drive (FWD) models and 232HP on Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive (AWD) equipped models. Toyota engineers have also tuned the new HEV system at lower speeds to reduce engine RPMs and increase power from the traction battery to provide satisfying acceleration and torque feel. T
For the first time ever on a Camry Hybrid, Toyota’s Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system will be available on all grades. For added peace of mind, the AWD system provides additional traction when needed, like during inclement weather or while cornering. The AWD system’s capability comes from a dedicated rear electric drive motor generator that automatically supplies power to the rear wheels when needed.
Here’s a look at that rear drive unit:
It’s not mentioned in the press release, but I’m fairly certain the front wheels will receive torque via an electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT), not dissimilar to the one in the outgoing Camry Hybrid.
As you can see by the images, there have been some changes (subtle ones if you ask me) to the styling, as well, with Toyota touting:
The ninth generation Camry, designed by CALTY’s Newport Beach, California and Ann Arbor, Michigan studios, delivers a sleeker, athletic look to the popular sedan’s design. The distinctive hammerhead front fascia adds a fresh clean look that is sure to turn heads. All grades will feature slim LED headlights, daytime running lights and taillights.
The SE and XSE grades have sporty exterior styling with a sleek roofline and a chiseled body. The sport grades feature racing-inspired functional aerodynamic air ducts, front-side canards and a rear diffuser. The rear also has an exposed dual-tip exhaust as well as a rear lip spoiler. The XSE will further the sporty style with a unique color matched front grille and black trunk garnish. With standard 18-inch multi-spoke black-finished alloy wheels on SE grades and standard 19-inch multispoke black and smoke gray-finished alloy wheels on the XSE, these models will be a sure standout amongst its peers.
Here’s the outgoing model, for the record:
Toyota also talks about the Camry’s new interior, especially its new seats, saying:
The Camry will also have enhanced seat comfortability. Toyota engineers achieved this by changing the shape and density of the seat cushion and by increasing the cushion length. The headrest was also softened and moved rearward to enhance seat and ride comfort. That comfort can be extended on the XLE and XSE grades with available front heated and ventilated seats that can be adjusted to three levels. These higher-end grades will also have a quieter cabin thanks to the standard front-side acoustic laminated glass to help reduce wind noise and harshness.
Here’s the outgoing Camry’s interior:
The 2025 model’s main infotainment screen is more nicely integrated into the dash. Plus, whereas the outgoing model came with either a seven or nine inch screen, the new Camry comes with either an eight or 12.3 inch screen.
Let’s talk about why this new Camry is so important.
The year is 1983. The best-selling car in America is the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, a traditional body-on-frame embodiment of American family car ideals. Six-cylinder or eight-cylinder engine up front, drive to the back, available with acres of velour. It’s in this model year that the first official Toyota Camry came to America. Sure, there was technically the Celica Camry before that, but this is the start of something great. However, instead of going after the midsize market, the first-generation V10 Camry was sized to compete with the Pontiac Sunbird and Chevrolet Citation. Needless to say, compared to the domestic competition, the Camry was aces. As per Car And Driver:
If you’re wondering what in the name of Bonzo the Toyota Motor Company is going to do to our nation’s automakers next, the answer just rolled into your friendly dealer’s showroom. It’s not enough that Toyota has already bombed us with the poor man’s BMW 633CSi (the Supra), the world’s best Chevette-class econobox (the Starlet), and one of the niftiest mudslingers in captivity (the Tercel 4WD wagon). No, this car company keeps trying harder, as if it were struggling to survive or something.
It was the start of something great, but Toyota wasn’t done trying. It wasn’t content to merely compete with J-Cars and X-Cars, it wanted global domination. A few years later, it would get it.
The Big Break
While the first-generation Camry was followed up by the V20, the really big move came in 1991 for the 1992 model year, with the first wide-body U.S.-specific Camry. This car was incredible, a feat of engineering that hit Detroit like a sucker punch. It was no longer a small sedan designed for the Japanese market, it was now a mid-size sedan designed specific for the U.S., and it took the Toyota to the next level, which is why Road & Track refers to it as “The Most Toyota of All Toyotas,” writing:
It has earned no racing glory, appeared in no iconic movie roles, and the guys wearing big watches at the Barrett-Jackson auction aren’t outbidding each other to obtain one. It is, however, the ultimate Toyota; the Toyota that embodies and exemplifies all the virtues that keep Americans buying Toyotas. It was overbuilt but affordable when it was new. And since then has become one of the greatest used cars of all time. No, scratch that, it IS the greatest used car of all time. It’s the Camry XV10 sold during the 1992 to 1996 model years.
As the article points out, the XV10 teed up the XV20 successor to make the Camry — for the very first time — the best selling car in America.
The Camry Hasn’t Fallen Off Its Perch Since
Ever since the XV20, the Camry has remained the sales king, thanks in part to incremental — and not sweeping — changes. The 2025 Toyota Camry, which will hit Toyota Dealerships in the Spring of 2024, seems to be following the same formula.
More official Toyota pics:
This story is breaking news and is therefore being updated. Additional writing by Thomas Hundal.
Images: Toyota or Thomas Hundal