Test Drive: 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid toyota car test drives hybrids greenreviews
2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Paul Williams

Photo Gallery:
2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid

When the price of fuel rises to unacceptable levels, sales of hybrid vehicles rise too. Obviously, consumers believe that hybrid vehicles will lower their costs at the pump.

Well, consumers are right about that, as hybrids do use less fuel than equivalent gasoline-powered vehicles, especially in city driving. And now that the price of hybrid vehicles has dropped to within shouting distance of similarly equipped non-hybrid vehicles, the long-term economic case can also be made.

Take the 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid, for instance. At $31,310, this generously proportioned, front-wheel drive midsize car comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, a continuously variable (automatic) transmission, auto up/down power windows, XM satellite radio, USB connectivity, dual automatic air conditioning, Bluetooth, Smartkey remote entry, electronic gauges with multifunction display, automatic headlamps, two accessory outlets, tilt/telescoping steering with remote controls and pushbutton start and auto dimming rear-view mirror with compass, among other features.

Leather interior, moonroof and navigation system are available at extra cost, but the “base” vehicle is sufficiently equipped that buyers won’t feel they’ve short-changed themselves.

Test Drive: 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid toyota car test drives hybrids greenreviews
2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Our test vehicle, however, was priced at $32,400, due to the presence of the Moonroof package, which also included fog lights, illuminated vanity mirrors and rear reading lamps.

If you want the voice-activated Navigation system, it arrives bundled with leather seating surfaces, heated power seats and four-disc CD player, along with the Moonroof package, and brings the price of a fully loaded Camry Hybrid to $36,535. Still, in my opinion, feature-competitive with non-hybrid equivalent vehicles.

Test Drive: 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid toyota car test drives hybrids greenreviews
2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Under the hood you’ll find a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder gasoline engine that operates in conjunction with a 105-kilowatt electric motor. The output of the engine alone is 147 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. In combination with the electric motor the output is 187 hp and 199 lb-ft torque. The system also uses a nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery to power the motor, which is charged when braking and decelerating (there is an eight-year warranty on the hybrid components, by the way).

The operation of these two sources of motive power is managed by software and requires no special skills or practices by the driver. It is rarely noticeable on the road once you are underway.

Test Drive: 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid toyota car test drives hybrids greenreviews
2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Nor is the Camry Hybrid particularly identifiable as an alternative-powered vehicle, wearing only a couple of special badges and a revised grille to separate it from other Camry models.

The exterior design is pleasant, but not exciting. It’s middle-of-the-road, sharing standard Toyota/Lexus family cues.

The interior is likewise familiar and functional. It’s roomy, easy to enter and exit, has several useful storage areas and comfortable seats. Visibility is excellent; headroom is generous, and with the seat and steering column adjustability, the vast majority of drivers will find a satisfactory and safe position behind the wheel.




About Paul Williams

Paul Williams is an Ottawa-based freelance automotive writer and senior writer for Autos. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).