Toyota Camry Hybrid vs. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

It’s style vs. substance when choosing the best hybrid family sedan

Toyota Camry Hybrid vs. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Established as a segment-leader at its launch, it’s no surprise that Toyota is pushing back against the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid with a revamped gas-electric Camry. Rivals, yes, but these green mid-size sedans take two very different approaches when it comes to everything from styling to their respective powertrains.



Matching up closely in price and fuel efficiency the Toyota Camry Hybrid starts at $25,990 for the base LE while our XLE tester begins at $27,500. Both prices are comparable to various trim options of Toyota’s smaller, style-challenged Prius. As for the Sonata, its starting price is $25,850.

While the base Camry LE Hybrid averages 43-mpg city and 39-mpg highway for a combined 41-mpg, our XLE tester gets a slightly lower score at 40/38-mpg and 40-mpg combined. The Sonata Hybrid, once the segment leader, now falls slightly short at 35-mpg city and 40-mpg highway for a combined 37-mpg.

Both hybrids achieve their numbers in very different ways, though more on that later.


In the style department the Camry offers a basic Toyota touch while the Sonata is defined by Hyundai’s modern-mojo. The Camry’s interior is set up with all the no-frills necessities such as a multi-information display, dual-zone climate control, smart key entry with push button start, and bluetooth capability. Hospitable, the Camry easily accommodates five passengers and rear seating offers a fold down center armrest and dual cup holders. Lugging cargo is also made easy with a rear seat 60/40 split and trunk storage exceeds that of the Sonata.


Our XLE tester had additional accessories such as an 8-way power adjustable driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, rear air vents, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio controls. For more luxury, the $3,820 Leather Package includes leather-trimmed Ultra suede heated front seats and leather door trim, as well as a few other leathery touches. The Premium HDD Navigation Package includes those items and adds more tech and safety features for $6,320. With several other packages in-between, Toyota lets customers define their hybrid for a price.

Inside the Sonata’s cabin it’s certainly more forward-thinking, though lacking in material quality and decidedly less-premium. What makes the Sonata unique in this category, however, are special features like a panoramic sunroof. And beyond those style points, the Sonata incorporates finishings like premium cloth or perforated leather seating surfaces, metal accents, simulated leather inserts, chrome accents, rear seat vents, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and Bluetooth. Getting more bells and whistles to the standard package requires an additional $1,500 for the Leather Package (adding comfortable leathery accoutrements) or $5,500 for the Ultimate Package (more tech and tweaks).

Similarly equipped, the Sonata wins in the looks department but once you get close and begin to touch and feel, decades of refinement in the Camry show through.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.


Exterior styling reflects the interior of each car with the Camry’s bodywork hard and stiff, with rounded off lines and a robust shape. Conventional for a mid-size sedan, the Camry Hybrid stands out as a subtly-styled hybrid.

Compare Specs

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Vehicle 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE Advantage 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Engine Gas/Electric 2.5L I4 Gas/Electric 2.4L I4
Horsepower 200 Sonata 206
Max. Torgue 199 Camry 196
Fuel Economy 40 MPG city / 38 MPG hwy Camry 35 MPG city / 40 MPG hwy
Transmission Electronic CVT 6-Speed Elec. Automatic
Trunk Space (cu. ft.) 13.1 Camry 10.7
Starting Price $27,500 Sonata $25,850

Conversely, there’s the sculpted and emotive Sonata, which exudes Hyundai’s new confidence. However, what Toyota engineers did with the Camry Hybrid was allow it to have a timeless look that instantly evades stigmas that come with eco-friendly cars – something many a mid-size sedan buyer might prefer. True, looks are subjective, though it’s hard to argue that the Sonata is the more attractive vehicle due to its contemporary feel.


Fuel economy numbers aside, it’s perhaps the driving experience that differentiates these two cars the most, notably the Camry’s CVT transmission versus the 6-speed automatic in the Sonata.

Camry Interior

While technically boasting more power, on the road the Hyundai was lethargic and unresponsive. This is in part due to the its standard Blue Mode, which dulls throttle response excessively and demands almost maximum throttle pressure before the gas engine turns on to assist. When turned off, it’s more livable, but then fuel economy suffers significantly.

Surprisingly, the CVT is the superior transmission in this case, allowing for a smoother, more controlled, responsive and fuel-efficient commute. Smoothness goes without saying, but the real difference-maker is that when paired with the electric torque it’s also more responsive than the Sonata in day-to-day driving.

Along with the Eco button, the Camry also gains an EV mode, which helps ensure only the electric motor is moving the car. It‘s designed for travel at low speeds for a short time and has to be manually enabled. However, drivers have to be conscious of their driving style in this mode, or else EV mode will be disabled by accelerating quickly or reaching higher speeds – neither of which are hard to do.

Sonata Interior

Generally, the experience of driving the Camry is that it is a surprising pleasure since it often exceeded expectations both in exasperating traffic and long-distance commutes.


When it comes to real-world numbers, the answer is clear. The Camry time-and-again delivers better fuel economy numbers than the Sonata, something that was not entirely unexpected thanks to Toyota’s experience with hybrid vehicles.

On some occasions, the Camry manages to see numbers far exceeding the EPA’s ratings. Overall though, at 39-mpg, the Camry was slightly below the EPA-rated numbers during our testing. However it’s entirely feasible that one could achieve 40 miles per gallon or better in variable driving conditions, especially if the driving is done in a non-aggressive manner.

The Sonata’s fuel economy numbers, already below the Camry, failed more significantly to match up in the real world with a 34-mpg average rather than the claimed 37-mpg.


Outmatched in this green-car battle, the Sonata Hybrid’s best features remains its style (inside and out) as well as a selection of unique options. Overall, there’s little question as to the better car, with the gas-electric Camry delivering, as expected, superior fuel economy. Comparing the two cars head-to-head, however, also showed the Camry’s superior ride and interior quality, making it the clear choice for those searching for an ultra-efficient family sedan.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. * is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of, 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked