Maybe driving a hybrid will save you money, maybe it won’t. Either way, consuming less energy is the right thing to do. All that remains is to find out which car does it best … and that brings us to Toyota.
Sure, the automaker’s Prius is the ‘green’ choice of Hollywood celebrities, and the Highlander Hybrid handles the SUV side quite nicely, but let’s not forget that the ever-popular Camry Hybrid family sedan offers gasoline/electric power too.
Its combination of a 147 horsepower, 2.4-litre, four-cylinder gasoline engine, two motor generators (chipping in an extra 40 hp) and a 245-volt battery pack delivers near-V6 acceleration and performance yet fuel economy’s better than most four-cylinder ‘compact’ cars. The mid-size Camry Hybrid is rated at 5.7 L/100 km (50 mpg) in city driving and delivers similar results in highway use. That can take you a long way on the Hybrid’s standard 65-litre fuel tank.
The icing on this enviro-friendly cake is that the $30,660 Camry Hybrid is priced right in the heart of the mid-size sedan market, meaning it’s a compelling choice when combined with Toyota’s long-standing reputation for quality.
Like its Altima competitor from Nissan (which uses the same electrical power system as the Camry, under licence), the Camry Hybrid shuts down the engine when stopped in traffic. It can also run on battery power alone for brief but useful periods at urban speeds. Under hard acceleration, the batteries also assist the gasoline engine to a significant degree.
For a four-cylinder mid-size sedan the Camry is commendably quick; for one that’s also so fuel-efficient, it’s almost miraculous.
But the Camry’s initial response to a prod of the gas pedal is gentle and demands an assertive right foot to extract brisk acceleration.