EXPERT REVIEW

Mother Proof's view


One of my favorite new shows on television is “Heroes.” I haven’t missed an episode yet. I want to believe that there are heroes out there saving the day all the time, or that I could wake up one day and find out I have some special power. Until then, I guess I’ll stick with my own small heroic gestures. Like actually moving all the chairs out of the way when I vacuum under the table, or completely sorting all the laundry before I wash it. I’ll make do with waving at people when they let me in while driving in traffic, and I’ll use my blinker every time. I am more and more convinced every day that I should make the next car I buy a hybrid. Wonder Woman, look out!

In my time as a Mother Proof mom-reviewer, I have never had so many people ask about a particular car. My 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid draws inquiries like moths to a flame. It doesn’t hurt that it’s as green as Jim Carrey playing the Riddler. And my Camry comes with a “Hybrid” badge emblazoned on either side of the car, just like a superhero might. Unlike your regular hybrid, the Camry goes incognito as a regular Camry. It looks just like a regular car, no phone booth necessary for it to switch into electric mode. In addition, the Camry Hybrid is fun to drive. The novelty of the gas/electric system never wears off, I love when the car goes silent at a stoplight, I feel like it’s in stealth mode. Equally cool is the fact that when I step on the gas it gets up and goes like a champ. Many people ask me if the car is sluggish, as that seems to be the overwhelming impression given by hybrids. Not this one! It’s no Ferrari, but it certainly doesn’t get left in the dust of the K-Car next to me.

As for cargo space however, the Camry Hybrid is not very heroic. The trunk doesn’t have much room, it can handle about one errand at a time due to the space the batteries take up. I can fold the rear seats down, but only get a small hole to perhaps pass things through, or use for skis or something. The trunk does fine for a regular grocery store trip, but an outing to my local membership warehouse would require some rope and space on the roof. An umbrella stroller or small single-child stroller work fine, but I’m not able to test our double stroller as it is on loan. My assumption is that while it might fit in the trunk, not much else will. So our Camry’s superpower does not reside in its the cargo department.

Where the Camry shines is when I drive it and watch all the gas I’m saving. There is a cool display on the instrument panel illustrating where the car is getting its energy from. I can see when I’m driving solely on the engine, or on batteries. I can also see when the car’s charging the battery (either with the engine or with the front wheels during braking or deceleration). This system enables operation without needing to plug the car in. I love that the sticker on the car tells me the average cost of fuel per year is $845. Compare that with the usual $1,500-$2,000 annual fuel cost on the cars I drive, and I become a convert.

Top it off with the fact that the Camry is an AT-PZEV vehicle, I get another heroic bonus with this super clean car. Don’t worry, AT-PZEV isn’t a secret code used only in the Bat Cave, it is the acronym meaning Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. A vehicle with this designation is 90% cleaner than the average new car. In addition, an AT-PZEV has almost no evaporative emissions. This means that there are almost no leaks of fuel or fuel vapors from the fuel system. Maybe you can call me the Green Mama, or the Blue Marble for my new status as paragon of fuel-saving, clean-running, greenie carpooling.

Let me be clear here, as far as the typical mom-mobile is concerned, the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid lacks a bit in cargo space. This little champion compensates with the legacy I’ll leave my kids. Nothing beats the good juju I put out there while driving this car, and while Superman might mistake the green paint for Kryptonite (others have called it grasshopper, and lime sherbert), no one (not even Christian Bale as Batman) could keep me away.

*For more information on the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid and its safety features visit Cars.com.

LET’S TALK NUMBERS

LATCH Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times

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