Now in its second model year, the Camry Hybrid uses Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, the system used in the Prius hybrid. The electric motor and four-cylinder gasoline engine combine to produce 187 horsepower while yielding combined gas mileage of around 34 mpg. Like most hybrid versions of existing gas-only models, the Camry Hybrid is based on one of its predecessor's most expensive trim levels. Compared to the regular Camry's CE, LE, SE and XLE trims, the Camry Hybrid falls somewhere between the SE's and XLE's standard equipment. With the Honda Accord Hybrid discontinued, the Camry competes with hybrid versions of the Saturn Aura, Chevrolet Malibu and Nissan Altima. (The latter is offered only in select states.)
Unlike the unmistakable Prius, the Camry Hybrid is virtually indistinguishable from most other Camrys. The main difference is a full chrome grille. Toyota says the car has an acoustic noise-reducing windshield, something exclusive to the hybrid car. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels are standard. Heated side mirrors and a moonroof are optional.
Five occupants can fit inside the Camry Hybrid. Cloth seats are standard, but leather is optional. As the car's hybrid battery pack sits behind the rear seat, trunk volume is reduced from about 15 cubic feet to 10.6 cubic feet. A backseat center armrest, which comes standard on other Camrys, is not available in the hybrid model. The backseat does fold forward, but the opening to the trunk is little more than a shorter, wider version of the pass-thru some cars have behind their fold-down backseat armrests.
Interior additions include dual-zone automatic climate control, a multi-information display with real-time readouts for energy usage, keyless push-button ignition and a six-CD JBL audio system.
Under the Hood
The Camry Hybrid teams a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor to make a combined 187 hp. Electric power comes from a high-voltage battery, which is recharged from the car's braking friction. A continuously variable automatic transmission is standard.
The hybrid comes with an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty for all hybrid components, including the battery.
Toyota says the Camry Hybrid accelerates from zero to 60 mph in less than nine seconds. Estimated gas mileage is 33 mpg in city driving and 34 mpg on the highway.
All 2007 Camrys have seven standard airbags. They include the required dual front airbags, plus front-seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. A driver's knee airbag is also included. Four-wheel-disc brakes have standard ABS, and an electronic stability system — optional in other Camrys — is standard in the hybrid.
Under anything short of full-bore acceleration, the Camry Hybrid feels unconventional. Without the sound and feel of a traditional drivetrain revving through its gears, it's an awkward sensation: I felt like I was gaining speed, but I didn't quite know how.
Around town, the electric motor is useful for gas-free (and silent) acceleration. Once I trained my right foot to know exactly where the threshold was, I was able to drive in electric mode as high as 20 mph before the gas engine started up. Drivers behind the hybrid may have little patience for this, as engine-free acceleration is slow. Acceleration with the engine and electric motor combined is reasonably swift, though it lacks the all-out punch of the Camry V-6.
Like other Camrys, the hybrid car's cabin is well-appointed. Dual-zone automatic climate controls leave something to be desired, as some of the buttons are small and feel cheap. The backseat is comfortable for two, but three passengers will find it cramped. Up front, I found plenty of head and legroom, and I'm just short of 6 feet tall.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Joe Wiesenfelder||Cars.com National||October 19, 2007|
|Kelsey Mays||Cars.com National||November 7, 2007|
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