Toyota Camry Hybrid Review

Toyota Camry Hybrid Review

Fuel Economy: 33 / 34 mpg

Base Price (MSRP):$ 26,150

Technology: Hybrid

Body Style: Sedan


The Toyota Camry is one of the most popular automobiles ever made. First released in 1980, the Camry has consistently outsold its competitors in car markets across the world, from the United States to Cambodia. Since 2000, around four million Camrys have been sold in the US alone.

With the popularity of the Toyota Prius and the rapidly expanding market for hybrid cars as well as the advent of domestic hybrids like the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Toyota began the process of converting its most popular model into a fuel efficient hybrid in the early part of the 21st century. The Toyota Camry Hybrid was released for Model Year 2006 and has sold well since, accounting for nearly 15% of all Camry sales since then.


Toyota Camry Hybrids For Sale

US $8,200.00
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The basic concept behind a hybrid car is simple: use both electric and gasoline powered engines to optimize the miles per gallon (MPG). Electric motors have far better efficiency than gasoline motors at low speeds, but there are several problems facing pure-electric vehicles. One such problem is the lack of a proper infrastructure for refueling. No matter how effective a charging system is, it takes much longer to charge a battery than to fill a fuel tank. Pure electric cars, though emission free and efficient, need a network of electrical charging or battery pack switching stations.

Since the kind of infrastructure necessary to serve a nation-wide pure-electric fleet of cars, a compromise between electric and gasoline cars was necessary. This concept was developed by Toyota to take advantage of the greater efficiency of electric motors and the wide availability and familiarity of gasoline powered cars. Toyota released a purpose-built car, the Prius, as a testbed vehicle for both engineering processes and sales. The Prius sold exceedingly well, quickly outstripping the manufactured supplies.

However, the Prius was widely considered a niche vehicle. As a new model, it had many problems that needed to be worked out. Additionally, the Prius has a unique and unusual aesthetic that did not appeal universally. The real goal was to adapt an already successful model to use the hybrid technology.


The Camry

The Camry, as an established and popular model, was selected for this conversion process. The current 2007 Camry is a seventh generation model, having undergone decades of modification and upgrades which resulted in a very efficient, very long lasting vehicle. Camrys typically last for hundreds of thousands of miles and previously owned Toyota Camrys have consistently had high resale values. These traits made the Camry ideal for conversion to gas-electric hybrid status.

The conversion process was relatively simple, especially since Toyota was the company that had developed the Prius. A smaller gasoline engine replaced the Camry's 4- or 6-cylinder engine and a 650 Volt electric engine was added. Power generated by the gasoline engine can either be used to charge the battery for electric driving or routed directly to the wheels to move the car. When working in tandem, the electric and gasoline motors combine to produce 187 horsepower, which exceeds the power from the traditional 4-cylinder Camry.

Also added was the CVT system. CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission. Unlike conventional transmissions, which use staged gearing to optimize the car's output at different speeds, the CVT does away with gears. Instead of four to six gears for different speeds, a CVT has millions of gears. This means that there is no noticeable gear changes while driving. It also improves engine efficiency and as a result, the gas mileage.

Toyota added several other features to the Toyota Camry Hybrid starting with the 2006 model. Several measures were made to reduce the car's drag by adjusting body shapes, wheel profiles and undercarriage structures. Climate controls were adjusted so that they do not rely on the gasoline engine to operate, and electrically driven power steering and an integrated computer control system was adapted for the Toyota Camry. The 2010 model even added more efficient LED head- and signal lights.


Owning a Toyota Camry Hybrid

So how much does a Toyota Camry Hybrid cost? That depends mostly on the year and specifications for the car. Used Toyota Camrys retain bluebook values of around $15,000 USD and are generally the models from 2006, 2007 and 2008. These tend to be stock vehicles still on the maintenance schedules and in good shape. New models are more expensive of course, with the stock model costing around $38,000 USD after financing is taken into account.



The Camry Hybrid is designed to appeal to people who want a regular car rather than a philosophical statement with wheels. As a result, its performance specifications are remarkably similar to the original Camry. Acceleration is nearly exactly the same as the pure-gas Camry, taking slightly longer than 7 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour. The Camry Hybrid shares the dual airbags, side impact protection and anti-lock/computer controlled braking from its predecessor as well, scoring four stars in most crash safety tests. Of course, the mpg for the Toyota Camry Hybrid is significantly greater than the basic Camry: 41 mpg versus the basic model's 26 mpg.


Pros and Cons

Some Camry Hybrid problems are common to even the best hybrid cars. For example, there is growing concern that the expensive batteries with which these cars are outfitted may be pricey to replace. However, some manufacturers offer warranties to cover the batters for 80,000-100,000 miles. Another concern for the Camry hybrid is that it's been noted that the engine is a bit sluggish to warm up, and MPG for Toyota Camry Hybrid may be low for short city trips.

Reliability concerns stemming from transmission problems concerning the fairly new CVT system have been worked out on both the Prius and on earlier models of the Camry.

Finally, cost is an issue. A new Camry Hybrid is more expensive than competing models, but for the most part, the Toyota Camry Hybrid gas mileage allows for significant savings later on. Additionally, the Camry's history of maintaining its bluebook value ensures that resale value of used Toyota Camry Hybrids will most likely remain high even in a decade's time. Depending on the specifics of your driving requirements, the increased gas savings can easily offset the associated costs of a Toyota Camry Hybrid. If gasoline prices continue to increase, this savings could be substantial.