The Australian Toyota Hybrid Camry – a first look

hybrid-camryIt’s the version that’s built here in Australia and the Government and Toyota have great hopes for the Toyota Hybrid Camry

The Toyota Hybrid Camry was released just 12 days ago and from the information here at the Hybrid Camry is selling well. And that’s not surprising, this is a car that makes you feel good because, by owning it, you’re obviously doing something for the environment and at the same time you’ve in a car that makes you feel comfortable.

Sure it’s a very high-tech car and it does a lot of things differently to how other cars do them but it doesn’t flaunt those differences. When you first sit in the Hybrid Camry it still looks and feels like a conventional vehicle.

The front of the new Toyota Hybrid Camry

You don’t notice that even the 2.4-litre conventional engine that is the primary power source for the Hybrid Camry does things differently; it uses an Atkinson operating cycle while conventional petrol engines use the Otto operating cycle. The end result of that is a much quieter engine and one that is far more economical to operate.

At first you don’t notice that the gear selector is hinting at a vastly different form of transmission to what you might expect. Instead of a normal automatic gearbox the Hybrid Camry has two linked sets of planetary gears so the vehicle is always in the ‘right’ gear no matter what the driving situation might be. And because there’s no torque converter and no conventional gearbox there’s far less transmission noise.

Of course some of the dash displays and a closer look at the gear selector do tell you that this is a different car … but you don’t notice that when you first sit in it and first impressions are very important.

So how does it work?
The Toyota Hybrid Camry uses Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive to give it the ability to mix and match the power from its petrol engine and electric drive motor – for better performance and efficiency.

Power from the two sources is finely controlled to maximise efficiency and comfort and delivered seamlessly through an electronic continuously variable transmission (E-CVT).

The motor in the new Toyota Hybrid Camry

In Hybrid Camry, the electric drive motor alone is used for gentle take-off and reversing, and assisting the petrol engine when accelerating and hill-climbing.

In normal cruising, both the engine and the electric motor drive the wheels; with surplus engine petrol power routed to the generator (MG1) to recharge the battery.

Under hard acceleration, the battery supplies additional energy to the electric motor while the engine and motor provide smooth acceleration response.

When the driver brakes, the motor recovers the kinetic energy that is normally lost as heat, converts it into electricity and stores it in the HV battery – a feature known as regenerative braking.

The petrol engine typically switches off when the car is stationary or coasting, to save fuel and reduce exhaust emissions (provided the engine and HV battery have reached operating temperature.)

The new Toyota Hybrid Camry

Hybrid Camry requires no special training to drive. Its computer-controlled constantly variable transmission allows the car to operate in a similar way to an automatic – but with no perceptible gear ratio changes.

The only difference is that Hybrid Camry has a “B” position on the gear-shift gate that works just like selecting a lower gear on a conventional automatic transmission.

Toyota Hybrid Camry gear selector

All this gives the Hybrid Camry a combined fuel economy of 6.0L/100km yet delivers more power than the conventionally powered Toyota Camry.

Toyota says that such a low fuel consumption figure equates to the average Hybrid Camry driver getting the equivalent of a year’s free mileage every three years or 7,000 of every 20,000 km they drive for free.

The centre stack on the new Toyota Hybrid Camry

The interior
The Toyota Hybrid Camry is available in model grades – the Hybrid Camry and the Hybrid Camry Luxury.

Both model grades have the key mechanical features of a 140kW hybrid powerplant, Electric Power-assisted Steering (EPS), unique suspension calibration, 16-inch alloy wheels (including full-sized spare wheel) and Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM).

Standard safety equipment in Hybrid Camry includes rear-view camera, rear sonar parking sensors and six SRS airbags.

Hybrid Camry has numerous unique features in the built-in-Australia Camry range, including EPS, VDIM and brake-by wire (ECB).

In addition, it has a unique front mask (headlamps, radiator grille, front bumper and fog lamps), rear combination lamps, noise-reduction windscreen, satin chrome rear garnish with camera, Optitron instruments, push-button heating and cooling, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning with LCD climate-control panel and ECO mode, and Hybrid front-door scuff plates.

Hybrid Camry is priced from $36,990 plus dealer delivery charges and on-road costs.

The all important battery does take up some space in the boot of the Hybrid Camry

It is also offered with an option pack, consisting of premium audio with eight speakers, satellite navigation and premium three-spoke steering wheel with Bluetooth™ controls.

Hybrid Camry Luxury, the new Camry flagship model, has the additional features of leather-accented seat and door trim, four driver and front-passenger’s seat power adjustments (slide, recline, vertical adjust and lumbar support), electro-chromatic interior rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers and rear lip spoiler.

Hybrid Camry Luxury is priced from $39,990 plus dealer delivery charges and on-road costs.

It is also offered with an option pack consisting of: electric tilt-and-slide moonroof, premium audio with eight speakers, satellite navigation and premium three-spoke steering wheel with Bluetooth™ controls and rear personal lamps.

Standard models also have USB audio input, and share an AUX input with Option Pack variants.

Nine exterior colours are offered including the unique-to-hybrid Crystal Pearl Mica on the Luxury model and Diamond White on the standard Hybrid Camry.

The rear of the new Toyota Hybrid Camry

There are two interior colour combinations – high-contrast European black-on-sandstone or the more sporty black-on-black.

It will definitely be interesting to see what the monthly sales figures will be for the Toyota Hybrid Camry. If nothing else it may show whether the Australian motorist really believes that either we need to save the environment or save money on our fuel bills.

My thanks to the Toyota team at Jack Casey Motors in Hervey Bay for taking the time to help me to sort out a few details for this story

The Australian Toyota Hybrid Camry – a first look
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