The 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid uses the Hybrid Synergy Drive system which, like the Prius, employs a frugal four-cylinder engine teamed with a powerful electric motor. Unlike the Prius, the Camry Hybrid does not stand out in a crowd, an important difference for the eco-friendly driver who prefers to remain anonymous. In fact, about the only noticeable differences between the Camry Hybrid and its gasoline-powered equivalent are a smaller trunk (due to the placement of the battery pack), a slightly smaller fuel tank and the obvious Hybrid Synergy Drive badges.
YOU'LL LIKE THIS CAR IF...
If you care as much about reducing greenhouse emissions as saving fuel, then driving a 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid is one way to appease your social conscience while still providing your family with a roomy and comfortable car. The Camry's strong resale value carries over to the hybrid version as well.
YOU MAY NOT LIKE THIS CAR IF...
With highway fuel economy figures nearly identical to its city numbers, those who do more highway driving may have a difficult time rationalizing the car's nearly $7,000 premium over the equally-frugal four-cylinder Camry.
WHAT'S SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THIS CAR
The Camry Hybrid receives a modest freshening, with a new grille and wider lower air intake, new front fog lights and restyled 16-inch wheels. Inside, the Camry Hybrid receives a new meter cluster and seats made from a combination of silk protein and synthetic fiber, which Toyota claims is gentler to the skin.
To start the 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid a remote key fob informs the push-button starter that you are indeed the car's rightful occupant. Once engaged, there is no sound of a starter motor or idling engine. Place the shift lever in drive and touch the accelerator pedal and the Camry glides forward in eerie silence. Push a bit harder on the pedal and the gasoline engine seamlessly comes online. With a combined output of 187 horsepower, the gasoline engine and electric motor provide brisk acceleration for passing and merging and, although the electrically-assisted power steering feels a bit numb, it never leaves the impression of being disconnected from the road. The Camry Hybrid's cabin is amazingly quiet and the capable suspension delivers an impressively smooth ride.
OUR FAVORITE FEATURES
Push Button Start
With the Smart Key System, one only needs the remote key fob at hand to unlock the doors and start the vehicle with a dash-mounted push-button starter.
Steering Wheel-Mounted controls
The Camry Hybrid's redundant steering wheel-mounted functions include controls for the audio mode, volume, hands-free phone, fan speed, temperature and optional voice command.
The 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid offers a spacious and airy interior, with a commanding driving position and dashboard design that sits low and away. Seating is firm and fairly comfortable, although the passenger's-seat bottom could be angled up for better thigh support. The audio and ventilation controls are within easy reach of the driver, and many of the functions, such as fan speed and audio settings, can be operated via the steering wheel-mounted controls. The instrument cluster features legible white numerals against a black background and, in the spot normally reserved for a tachometer, the Camry Hybrid features a fuel economy indicator. There's also a small blue-banded area to indicate when the vehicle is being powered solely by the electric motor.
The 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid has a low, swooping nose, large chrome grille and a bustle-style rear end. The side glass is more curvaceous than on previous-generation Camry models, enhancing the car's silhouette by creating a less slab-sided appearance. Unfortunately, the sweeping rear-window design creates a narrow trunk opening, making it difficult to insert wide or bulky items. Also adding to the car's sporty good looks are a long wheelbase and standard 16-inch wheels and tires. The Camry Hybrid's chassis features a number of crumple zones designed to absorb collision-impact forces, which in turn can help minimize damage to the passenger cabin and its occupants.
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
The Camry Hybrid is nicely equipped with such features as a CVT automatic transmission, Smart Key System with push-button starter, tire pressure monitor, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with touch controls, automatic on/off headlamps, AM/FM radio with single CD and satellite radio capability, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power driver's seat, power windows, 60/40-split folding rear seat, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, front side-impact airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags and a driver's-knee airbag.
Popular options for the Camry Hybrid include a power moonroof, voice-activated DVD navigation system, a 440-watt JBL audio with eight speakers, JBL Premium audio with USB Port, Bluetooth and streaming music capability and six-disc CD/MP3 capable changer, leather seating, remote start, 16-inch alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, heated front seats, dual illuminated visor mirrors and a number of dealer and port-installed accessories, including security upgrades and exterior protection treatments.
UNDER THE HOOD
Power for the 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid comes from two sources. A 2.4-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine produces 147 horsepower, while a small electric motor generates an additional 40 horsepower. An efficient Continuously Variable Transmission, or CVT, routes power to the Camry's front wheels. The Hybrid Synergy System uses a computer to switch between the electric motor (usually used during low-speed stop-and-go driving) and the gasoline engine, which is used at speeds above 30 miles per hour. The electric motor is also brought online during full-throttle acceleration, where its powerful torque helps move the Camry with surprising speed. The motor derives its power from an onboard battery that is continually recharged via the gasoline engine as well as by energy recaptured during deceleration, a process known as regenerative braking.
2.4-liter in-line 4 with 105-kilowatt Permanent Magnetic Synchronous Electric Motor
147 horsepower @ 6000 rpm/40 horsepower @ 4500 rpm (187 horsepower combined)
138 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm/199 lb.-ft. of torque @ 0-1500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 33/34
The Toyota Camry Hybrid's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just under $27,000. Add navigation, heated leather seats and the power moonroof, and the price rises to over $32,000. The fluctuating popularity of hybrid cars sometimes makes them a hot commodity, so many dealers may be charging MSRP – or even more. Competitors to the Camry Hybrid include the the Ford Fusion Hybrid, which starts at about $1,000 more. Before you set out to buy be sure to check the New Car Blue Book Value, which shows what others in your area are paying for their cars. As for resale, the Camry Hybrid is expected to retain excellent residual values, right in the range of its gasoline powered brothers, and above the values of the new Fusion Hybrid.