There are times when I’m sure that the designers of high-tech motor cars do things just to embarrass wannabe motoring scribblers and there are times when they achieve that aim very effectively. I know that they certainly caught me with the new Toyota Hybrid Camry.
Let me just set the scene … it’s a stinking hot day at Toyota’s Acacia Ridge headquarters and Toni and I are there to pick up the new Toyota Hybrid Camry for a week’s road test. The people who handle the bookings for the Toyota press fleet have opened the security garage for me … given me the key … and gone back to the meeting that I’d interrupted … after all how hard can it be to start a car and back it out of a garage … I’m a motoring writer so I should know how to do it … right?
Meanwhile Toni is standing outside the garage … in the stinking hot sun … waiting for the car to appear and well … you know women … they don’t like to be kept waiting. And what’s happening inside the car inside the garage? I’m frantically reading the instruction manual to find out how to start it.
Sure it looks simple enough … the key is in my pocket … the green light is on the start button so all I have to do is press the button and it will start. What could be simpler?
But when I press it nothing happens … so I press it again and still nothing happens … another press … and another … and another … and I’m getting worried – the dashboard has woken up but the motor hasn’t.
Ok so it’s time to read the manual … and then I discover that I need to be a little patient … the new Hybrid Camry was never designed to be a getaway car … it needs a little time for the Synergy Drive to reach the point where it will actually start.
***UPDATE We have since been advised by a reader that the Hybrid Camry is ready to move on battery power as soon as the “Ready” light comes on.
How do you explain all that to an impatient woman and retain some street cred … especially when she sees the instruction manual sitting on the passenger seat as you finally back the car out of the garage?
Fortunately the new Toyota Hybrid Camry is essentially idiot proof or we might still be stuck somewhere down in Acacia Ridge.
Now you may think that producing a car that even I can cope with must mean that the Hybrid Camry is rather bland and all the fun of driving has been removed from it … but you would be wrong. This is still a car where the driver is in control and it is a lot of fun to drive.
We’ve had the car for two days now and we’ve crawled through heavy peak-hour traffic, we’ve rocked up the motorway north of Brisbane at 110km/h and we’ve driven over the worst piece of highway in the entire country and I’m impressed.
In a nutshell it’s quiet … so quiet that you often can’t hear anything but road noise … it accelerates quickly and it’s economical. Through peak-hour traffic in Brisbane and then up the Bruce Highway to Hervey Bay was done at an average fuel consumption of just 5.7L/100km and that equated to less than quarter of a tank of E10.
The Hybrid Camry is comfortable … there’s plenty of legroom … the driver’s and passenger’s seats offer plenty of support in all the right places. Visibility is good … there’s even a reversing camera and all the gauges and controls … with the exception of the cruise control… are easy to read and easy to use.
This is basically a very high-tech car that even someone like me has no trouble operating.
The handling over some of the roughest highway you could ever imagine was great … and to give you just some idea of how bad this piece of highway is let me tell you about the flashing sign just north of Gympie. It reads:
“Be alert for potholes between here and Maryborough”
And this is part of Australia’s main east coast highway system.
The crew here at AussieMotoring.com are definitely looking forward to the next five days of road testing the Hybrid Camry.