It’s no secret I’m a bit of a Toyota fan girl.
The only cars I’ve ever owned have been Toyotas. First, my 1996 RAV4, and now my 2019 RAV4 Hybrid (It’s worth noting that the 1996 RAV4 lasted me until I bought my 2019 Hybrid). So when Toyota asked me if I wanted to take a road trip in the new 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid, I knew I was going to love the car and the trip before I even read the details.
Three years ago, I fell in love with the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Three, and I made the decision then, that my next car would be a hybrid. The gas mileage was too amazing for me to ignore, and I spend too much time on the road for me not to get excited over the savings. So when Toyota announced the RAV4 Hybrid, yours truly freaked out.
Since then, every hybrid that Toyota has announced, I’ve geeked out over. And the 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid has been no exception. We were able to spend a full week with the car and take it on a pretty amazing road trip to Charleston, SC.
So with all of that being said, let’s dive into why I’m geeking out over this car!
My husband, Doug, and I hit the road for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival on a Friday morning in early March. Neither of us had been to Charleston, South Carolina before, and neither of us had been behind the wheel of a Camry before. So we were excited for both parts of the experience, as we’re both huge car geeks – and I mean, who doesn’t love food and wine festivals?
My first impression? It reminded me a lot of the Prius. Amazing gas mileage, great handling, and spacious. Yet, it felt more sexy and sporty to me than a Prius. And the leather interior and ample room for stretching out on a road trip were reminiscent of the Lexus GS 300 – but at a starting price of $30,130!
While I normally like riding “higher” up in an SUV than I do in a sedan, I rather enjoy sedans for road trips, because they feel more spacious. Being able to stretch out your legs during a long ride can make all the difference. Granted, Charleston, SC is actually a pretty short drive from Atlanta, GA. It only took us about 5 hours to get there, which made me question even further why we’d never made the drive before. It’s kind of the perfect weekend trip from Atlanta.
But I digress! Back to the Camry!
My Driving Experience
My first impression, not even 3 minutes into the drive, was just how amazingly smooth it was. That’s one of the cool things about Hybrids – they’re incredibly smooth and quiet (and when in reverse – I swear it sounds like angels singing). And this is saying something, because 3 minutes into our trip we were still in Atlanta, and the roads are anything but smooth (looking at you i285).
Another thing I’m really picky about is the size of a car. I’m kind of like Goldilocks – I need enough room to feel like I can stretch out, but I also don’t want to feel like I’m driving a tank. The Camry, to me, felt the same width as my RAV4, which gave me an instant sense of comfort when driving.
I’m saving the really amazing part for last though. I didn’t fill up for gas one time between Atlanta and Charleston. And when we got to our hotel, we still had half a tank left. How freaking cool is that?! We ended up getting about 47 miles to the gallon, which for a 300-mile trip – meant we used about 6.5 gallons. And with the current price of gas, that would cost Doug and I less than $20!! (Advertised MPG for city/highway/combined is 44/47/46)
Let’s Get Geeky – The Key Features
Features worth noting with the new 2020 Camry:
- Engine: 2.5L 4-Cylinder ECVT Hybrid Engine; 176 Horsepower; 163 Lb.-Ft. Torque
- Key Features: Sport-tuned suspension and Smart Key System with push start button
- Mechanical & Performance: Electronic On-Demand AWD System and Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV)
- Safety & Convenience: Toyota Safety Sense (TSS-P): Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA) and Automatic High Beams (AHB), Star Safety System, driver and front passenger Whiplash-Injury-Lessening (WIL) seats, and Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)
- Exterior: Bi-LED combination headlights with auto on/off feature, LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) with on/off feature, 18-in. black machined-finish alloy wheels and P235/45R18 tires, and color-keyed outside door handles with touch-sensor lock/unlock feature
- Interior: Dual zone automatic climate control with air filter, electric compressor and humidity sensor, integrated backup camera with projected path, embossed mesh interior trim, and soft-material upper door trim
2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid Technology
I wouldn’t be your Geek Girl if I didn’t dive into the technology. So let’s do it!
- 4.2-in. TFT Multi-Information Display (MID) with odometer, outside temperature, fuel economy and trip information, current/average fuel economy, speed, distance information, and important messages
- Three USB ports (one 1.5A and two 2.1A)
- Leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic 3-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters, audio, Multi-Information Display, Bluetooth® hands-free phone, voice-command, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), conventional cruise control and Lane Departure Alert (LDA) controls
- Electric Parking Brake (EPB) with Brake Hold function
Of course, there are other bells and whistles you can get with other versions of the Camry as well. The above is all based off on the Camry Hybrid SE.
Charleston, South Carolina Road Trip
To experience the new Camry, Toyota set us up with a road trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Before this road trip, my only knowledge of Charleston was that it is similar to Savannah. The look and feel of the cities are definitely alike. However, Charleston has more of a tropical Spanish vibe to it. Same Southern hospitality, yet you kind of feel like you’re in Europe. All of this to say, I fell in love.
If you’re considering a trip to the coastal town, I have a few recommendations for what you should check out.
Charleston Wine + Food Festival
First of all, the Charleston Wine + Food Festival is an absolute delight. Those that know me know that I’m a bit of foodie. I’ve attended multiple festivals like this. However, this festival has numerous areas where it outshines the rest. First, the time of year. March weather has warmed up from the winter months but not quite yet met the heat of summer. It was cool in the mornings, but it was absolutely perfect in the afternoon.
There was also ample shade and places to sit and eat without having to juggle your food and your beverages. Also, Toyota provided us with what I’ve lovingly referred to as my new favorite necklace. There’s simply not a better way to carry your wine around.
Food and wine festivals are a great way to experience a city, or a region, in a short period of time. You have a plethora of restaurants bringing their best dishes and beverages to share with attendees. So after a few hours, you know exactly which restaurants you want to visit with your remaining time in the city, or even for your next visit.
The tastiest dish we had at the festival was the house-made tavern burger from Little Jack’s Tavern. It was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. If you’re in Charleston, stop by and grab one – you won’t regret it.
Take A Walking Tour
Another great way to see as much of the city as you can, in a relatively short period of time, is to take a walking tour. We took a tour the morning of the festival and got to see a lot of the city’s history. It was also a great way to take notes on what you wanted to come back and visit before the end of your trip.
Have a Night Out at The Establishment
Charleston has no shortage of good food and drinks, and you’ll find the best of both at The Establishment. You’ll also find a stunning bar, live music (piano player), and a refined and relaxed atmosphere. Oh, and you’ll also find an incredible Old Fashioned cocktail.
Visit The Battery
If you’re looking for an area to take a stroll with the backdrop of the water and some beautiful southern houses, visit The Battery. It’s a landmark defensive seawall and promenade that was named for a Civil War coastal defense artillery battery at the site. It’s bordered by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers and stretches along the lower shores of the Charleston Peninsula. It’s a great area to go jogging, have a picnic, or take a few photos!
Thank you for a fantastic trip, Toyota! it was a delightful experience getting to know the new Camry – and seeing Charleston for the first time with my geek guy. 🙂
Your Geek Girl,