Toyota’s Camry is one of the best-selling cars in America, a sedan that can still be found in almost every driveway. So it’s no surprise that the automaker would want to entice owners with the promise of better gas mileage by way of a hybrid version of its popular midsized sedan.
Powered by both a gas engine and an electric motor the Camry Hybrid generates a combined 200 horsepower. Its electric propulsion system does double duty by capturing the kinetic energy that’s lost during braking and storing it in a nickel-metal hydride battery pack for later use.
The system works well enough to give the Camry Hybrid impressive low-end torque grunt, able to propel it from a dead stop to 60 mph in a relatively rapid 7.6 seconds. The gas engine takes over when you start to push harder, though its transition isn’t as seamless as in some other hybrids.
Camry Hybrid’s eerily quiet drivetrain makes for an unobtrusive companion when creeping along in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The transmission’s CVT holds revs at a high level during full-acceleration bursts, but otherwise the drive experience is smooth and linear.
In the cockpit, my tester’s leather-trimmed XLE featured premium soft-touch materials and attractive stitching, and it came equipped with plenty of comfort, convenience and safety features. That included the Safety Connect emergency assistance suite, blind spot monitor, advanced technology package, power moonroof and Entune Premium JBL audio with navigation. In back, there’s ample headroom and legroom for tall passengers, and the trunk offers a respectable 13.1 cubic feet of storage space (with a rear seatback pass-through). However, unlike competitors that offer split-folding rear seats, the Camry Hybrid’s batteries take up some of that space.