Power up, fuel down

Truth be told, I’m a bit of a closet greenie, which is why the Camry Hybrid suits me just fine.

Truth be told, I’m a bit of a closet greenie, which is why the Camry Hybrid suits me just fine.

I don’t wear my respect for the environment like a badge — no beard, no sandals, no baggy cargo shorts with 101 pockets. And I don’t feel the need to drive anything that shouts ‘hybrid’ to passersby.

The 2010 Camry Hybrid, save for subtle badging on the sides and trunk, is nearly identical to its gas-powered sibling. It enjoys same taut lines, wide shoulders and cladding-free sheet metal — and an even nicer front grille treatment.

The 2010 Camry Hybrid is available in one model, powered by Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which has been installed in more than one million hybrids since 1997. In this configuration, it mates a 2.4-litre, 16-valve DOHC four cylinder gas engine with a high-torque electric motor, storage battery and energy management system.

The system can deliver a combined 187 hp across a wide band of engine speeds. This is partly due to the electric motor’s ability to deliver maximum torque almost instantly, unlike gas engines which do so at higher RPMs.

The beauty of this hybrid system is that the gas engine and electric motor can work independently or together, switching seamlessly back and forth depending on demand. At startup, and if you’re easy on the pedal at low speeds, the Camry will run on the electric motor only.

Push the accelerator a little harder and the gas engine joins in smoothly and quietly. Ease off again, and you’re back to electric drive.

When you really have to go, such as when passing or merging on to a highway, both gas and electric work together. And coupled with the standard equipped continuously variable transmission (CVT), this powertrain delivers surprisingly brisk acceleration. The Camry Hybrid will go from zero to 60 mph (96 km/h) in about 8.4 seconds.

The Camry Hybrid is rated at 5.7 litres/100 km (50 mpg) for both city and highway driving. These ratings, of course, are difficult to match in the real world, and by the end of the week, my results were closer to 7.0, which is not bad for a sedan of this size.

Aside from all this green tech, the Camry Hybrid gives you all the comforts you’d expect in one of Canada’s most popular mid-size sedans. Standard equipment includes eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, dual zone climate controls, smart key system with push button start, a JBL AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA eight-speaker audio system with six-CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, Optitron electronic gauges with a multi-function display and more.

2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Type: Mid-size hybrid sedan
Price: from $30,900
Engine: 2.4-litre, 16-valve DOHC four cylinder gas engine with high-torque electric motor (combined 187 hp, 138 lb/ft)

Highlights

• Impressive acceleration
• Plenty of standard equipment
• Sophisticated look

 
 
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