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update 6/11/8:32 am: Reader j.pickens questions the true benefits of a hybrid. Read my response here.

update 6/10/06 2:22 pm: Welcome Instapundit readers! (and others)

update 6/10/06 2:20 pm: I made another roadtrip, this time to Chicago, that revealed some additional insights : In the Chicago freeway system, the DVD navigation does use exit numbers in the audio guidance, but in my local Cedar Rapids area, I just get “stay right“ or “exit right” even though the exit number is displayed on the screen. I do not know why it isn't the same in both cases. Also, Chicago had an additional level of detail in the map, where I could zoom down and see a street level view. This is more than just the 150 foot view that shows street names, it was almost like playing an old atari video game, it was trying to draw the streets from above, including buildings. I do not have this option in Cedar Rapids.  Also, regarding the power of the hybrid engine - While I still say I feel the engine ealier I may have over emphasized this effect in my description below; further, the amount of “drag“ seems to be related to the current battery level. With a full battery, I do not feel the drag at all, but when it is low it is more noticable, because all the power needs to come from the combustion engine. Also, some of the difference is due to expectations from years of driving a normal car. I was driving through town yesterday in electric mode, with cruise control set at 40 mph. The car seems slower than it is, because you don't hear any sound, don't have any engine vibration, etc. This leads to a feeling of slowness, which is entirely subjective, since you are actually moving along at 40mph.

update : Made several corrections and clarifications based on feedback.

I picked up my new hybrid Camry on July 2nd, and have driven in for my work commute several times, plus a trip from Iowa City, to Madison, Wisconsin and back (~173 miles each way)

I am going to keep this review pretty empty of quantitative numbers like horsepower, and volts, etc. These numbers are available all over the web, and I won’t provide any value by repeating them here. This review focuses on my experience and thoughts while driving the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Just to let you know where I am coming from, I upgraded from a 2002 Volkswagen Passat V6 GLX. The Passat is big, nicely appointed, and has lots of power, so I was a bit worried about the transition to the hybrid Camry. Also, I am an aggressive driver, I tend to drive ~80MPH on the freeway, and 40’s on the streets. I notice that I am being less aggressive in the Camry, which might have two reasons. 1) I’m trying to maximize my fuel efficiency, since its very easy to notice in the car, and its one of the reasons for buying the Hybrid Camry, and 2) the Camry does have less power than the Passat, and I am feeling my “push” more.  As I said I averaged around 80MPH in the Passat, but would often find my self daydreaming along in the 90s. I doubt that will happen in the Toyota Camry, because I definitely feel the engine earlier.

I had been looking at the hybrids for a while, in particular the Prius, but I needed more size and more luxury than the Prius provided. I put down my deposit for the Camry as soon as they were announced, and have been waiting (not so patiently) ever since.

After several delays (including repairing some cosmetic damage to the car while it was shipped from Japan :( ), I got my car on the 2nd. The hybrid Camry comes with quite a bit standard, that is optional on the non-hybrid Camry, plus quite a few options. However, in reality, there are only two hybrid builds available: the base model, and the loaded model. There are in between models out there, but they are much more rare. This can also vary by region, but if you want something other than base or loaded, be prepared to wait. The loaded model comes with leather, DVD navigation, and a sun/moon roof. I got the loaded model, in Barcelona Red, with tan leather interior.

Hybrid

Most of the features in the Toyota Camry Hybrid are available in some form in the other models of Camry, or in other non-Toyota cars, so quite a bit of this post applies to every new Camry, or even every new Toyota. But the hybrid drive is what makes this car special.

When you start the car (again, by pushing a button, not by turning a key) some lights turn on, but the car remains totally silent. Depending on the engine temperature (which is based on your climate, or how recently you drove the car) the engine may stay off completely; but usually the engine turns on automatically to start warming up the engine when you need its power later.  If the engine stays off, you can drive around in electric only (EV-Only) mode, until you run out of battery power, get up to 40MPH, or need additional power.  The “power” requirement is pretty low. For the way I drive, the engine turns on pulling out of any stop light, or parking lot, and even going up a modest incline. However, once you get up to speed (while staying below 40) you can engage EV mode by lifting your foot off the gas for a second. Also, going into cruise control will often put the car into EV.

Toyota’s marketing, and the general scuttlebutt claim that the Hybrid Camry (and the Prius and Highlander) are CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). This is not actually true. In a true CVT, you have an effectively infinite number of gears, and you run at whichever one will give you maximum efficiency. For the Hybrid Synergy Drive that the Camry, Prius, and Highlander use, there is actually only one gear, regardless of your speed.   For details of how the HSD works, I recommend reading these articles : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_Synergy_Drive  and http://www.ecrostech.com/prius/original/Understanding/ContinuouslyVariableTransmission.htm

The effect of this engine design is that the engine is always at the same gear, regardless of your speed, but that power can be directed to the battery or the wheels is different ratios depending on current needs. The Hybrid Camry drives like a CVT, in that there are no gear shifts as you apply power.

According to the quantitative reviews, the Hybrid Camry accelerates almost as quickly as the V6 Camry, and faster than the 4 cylinder model. It accelerates fine for my purposes, especially merging into traffic from a parking lot, or getting up to highway speeds, but I do notice some sluggishness accelerating from 40 to 60 MPG.  While I don’t feel that I am over-taxing the engine, I can definitely feel the push and hear the engine when getting up to 60-70MPH, but this may also be due to my aggressive driving habits.

Once up to speed, especially when using cruise control, the engine works much less to maintain speed. When accelerating, my fuel efficiency gauge often shows between 10-20 MPG, but then once I am at speed in the 60 MPH, the fuel efficiency will sit at 60MPG. The FE gauge only goes up to 60MPG, so it is possible that my actual efficiency is even higher.  I wish it had a digital gauge, or went up to 100 or something so you could have more information. When going up a hill, the Camry will drop down to around 30MPG, but then quickly climb up to 60 when flat or downhill.

In my Passat, my fuel efficiency was consistently around 22-24MPG for my commute (90% highway, at 80MPH). With the Camry I seem to be driving slightly slower (70-75) and my efficiency is 38. According to the efficiency database at http://www.greenhybrid.com/compare/mileage/toyota-camryhybrid.html some people are consistently getting 40+ MPG, but they may have better driving habits than I. The average is right around 38/39, which matches right up with the EPA estimates. This is unusual, as the EPA usually overestimates mileage by quite a bit.

(update copied from above)

While I still say I feel the engine ealier I may have over emphasized this effect in my description; further, the amount of “drag“ seems to be related to the current battery level. With a full battery, I do not feel the drag at all, but when it is low it is more noticable, because all the power needs to come from the combustion engine. Also, some of the difference is due to expectations from years of driving a normal car. I was driving through town yesterday in electric mode, with cruise control set at 40 mph. The car seems slower than it is, because you don't hear any sound, don't have any engine vibration, etc. This leads to a feeling of slowness, which is entirely subjective, since you are actually moving along at 40mph.

Gadget Factor

The gadget factor of this car is through the roof.  Everything starts with the smart key system. You walk out of your house's front door, and put the keys into your pocket. Without unlocking the car (either with a key, or with a remote) just walk up to the car and pull on the door handle. If the key fob is close enough to the car (real close, within a few feet) the door unlocks. By default, this only unlocks the drivers door (or the passenger's door if you are on that side, the key distance is really accurate!) but you can reprogram the car to unlock both sides, or all four doors as well (I have not done this personally, but its what I've read elsewhere) You get into the car, and leave the keys in your pocket. Hit the “start“ button, and the car turns on. At this point, the car is ready to drive, even though the engine may not be on! The dash is very modern, with nice LED backlit readouts and displays.  In the location where the tachometer would normally be, there is a Fuel Efficiency gauge that goes from 0 to 60MPG, plus an additional area for electric-only.

I mentioned the key fob, my hybrid Toyota Camry came with two fobs, and no keys! The fob looks just like a normal remote control you might get with any car. There is a very small, hidden key inside the fob, that you can extract. But there are no keyholes on the car doors, or inside the car by the ignition, so I have no idea what they are for. It took about a week to get into the habit of not getting my keys out as I approach my Camry, only to put them back in my pocket when I remembered I don’t need them to start the car.  The downside of this feature is that its easy to walk out of the car while leaving it running, since there are no keys to remove, and the engine is often totally silent (off) when you are not in motion.  I have been told that there are keyholes in the car in the drivers door, for the trunk, and for the glove box, but I haven't seen them yet.

If you have the navigation option, the multi function display shows lots of information about fuel efficiency, and how the battery, electric motor, engine, and wheels are interacting.  Non-navigation models do not have this display. Either way, there is a small LCD screen on the dash that shows some of this information, as well as the odometer, outside temperature, trip computer, etc.

DVD Navigation

The gadget factor continues with the center console of the car, which contains the DVD navigation system, the stereo and CD system, and the climate control area. My previous car did not have built in navigation, but I did have the Garmin Streetpilot III, which at the time of purchase was the top of the line stand alone navigation system. This was the first navigation system widely available that included voice guidance, and turn by turn directions. The Toyota system (actually made by Denso, using NavTech maps) is significantly better than my older Garmin system. The DVD claims total coverage of the continental US, and Canada, with detailed coverage around most population centers. So far, I have not found any areas that did not provide street level coverage, including some very small towns (~5k population) in rural Wisconsin.  The maps seem to be fairly up to date, so far I have only come across two roads which were not on the system, both of which are very recent (within the last year) highways which were moved over about 1/2 mile from their original location. On the other hand, my friend just moved into a new subdivision, where his is the only house on the block, and his next door neighbor is a cornfield, and his streets were there. (I kid you not, he lives on the corner of Abbey Road and Penny Lane!).  The system is very good at finding routes, it even picked my families secret, shortcut route to our lake house, that we have been passing down from generation to generation, using all back roads - over the very easy 3 turn all highway route that takes quite a bit longer.

 One criticism I had of my older navigation system, was the way that it dealt with highway exists. Most often, highway exists are on the right side of the road, even if you eventually end up going to the left (via an under/overpass). My old system would say turn left (the direction of the highway), even when you actually had to turn right (the direction of the exit). The Toyota Camry system handles this correctly , but it still uses “turn right“ or “keep right“ for the exits, when I would prefer (“exit 242 to Highway 380 East“) , which is completely unambiguous, and matches up with the signs that you would be looking at.  I would even settle for “exit right“, which makes sense, but “keep right“ is confusing a bit; especially when there is a clear exit, vs. just a lane split.

The voice guidance is very clear, in a nice natural sounding female voice. You can also have the voice guidance in French or Spanish as well. (The French actually sounds more natural than the English to me, but that may be due to my recognizing subtleties of English better). All the menus for the entire car get translated as well.

 In addition to voice guidance, the Camry supports voice activation. You push a button on the steering wheel, and then can give commands. Commands apply to all parts of the car (including navigation, phone, stereo, climate, etc). To use the navigation by voice you say “Address“. Then you say each part of the address, punctuated by additional pushes of the wheel button. So for example you do:

Button. “Address“, button, “Wisconsin“, button, “Madison“, button, “Main Street“, button, “one-two-one-two“

The system confirms and repeats each section of the address, and if you mess up a section, you can re-do it. This part of the system is a little flakey, and you have to speak very clearly. The system would continually give me “Sarona“ when I was saying “Verona“, and it took several attempts. 

By default the system gives assistance, which makes the process much longer, and requires additional button pushes on the wheel. I turned this off as soon as I figured out how. (Its in the Info->Setup menu)

The navigation screen supports several display modes, including a very useful split screen mode, where each side of the split can display the local map, but at different zoom levels, so you can keep the 2 view on the left, and the 150 foot view on the right.   You can do full screen map, as well as split screen with information on the right, such as upcoming exits (along with which restaurants and gas are at that exit). The navigation does not offer a 3d mode. I think the 3d mode is mainly a novelty, but if you like that type of display, you may miss it.

For safety, the system turns off quite a bit of the screen input when the car is in motion. This is true even if there is an additional passenger in the seat that could be doing the data entry. However, the voice activation remains available at all times.

There is an override back door to the system that allows data entry while in motion. I will tell this secret code here, but recommend it only be used by a passenger, and not by the driver. You use this code at your own risk, and neither I, Toyota, and probably not your insurance carrier will be responsible for any accidents you cause while not paying attention in this mode.

To Override : Push the menu button, push the volume icon in the middle the screen, push the volume icon in the top left corner of the screen, push the bottom left corner (with no icon), push the volume icon in the top left corner of the screen (again), push the botton left corner (with no icon) (again). At this point a new menu appears. Some cool stuff here like the GPS satellite data. I would not mess with stuff though, because you might screw up your car. One of the buttons says “override“ push and hold this button for 5 seconds, then release. The button will stay blue. Then push the back button.

At this point, you can use all input functions while in motion. This code can also be used while in motion. You must re-enter the code every time you turn your car on, but it can be done in 6-7 seconds.

Be careful, if you enter the hidden menu, and then something comes on the screen, you can get locked from the screen, have to pull over, and restart the car. This happened to me when I put the radio into “scan“ mode, then went into the menu and could not get out of the menu or stop scanning, until I restarted.

One thing I found that I did not like about the navigation, is that cities and points of interest are split into regions of the country, presumably to make searches go faster. You have to manually choose the region you are searching for (which gets saved) rather than using your current region by default. This is particularly lame if you live on the edge of a region like I do, where Iowa is in one region, but Wisconsin and Illinois are in the next one over, and I have to keep switching my region as I am looking for my destination.

(update copied from above)

In the Chicago freeway system, the DVD navigation does use exit numbers in the audio guidance, but in my local Cedar Rapids area, I just get “stay right“ or “exit right” even though the exit number is displayed on the screen. I do not know why it isn't the same in both cases. Also, Chicago had an additional level of detail in the map, where I could zoom down and see a street level view. This is more than just the 150 foot view that shows street names, it was almost like playing an old atari video game, it was trying to draw the streets from above, including buildings. I do not have this option in Cedar Rapids. 

Phone

The Toyota Camry supports Bluetooth integration with your cell phone. I believe this is available even in the base model. I use a rather obscure phone, the HTC Universal (also known as iMate JasJar, or Dopod 9000). The Bluetooth integration works great.  You just pair the phone, and then everything else is automatic. You can dial from the car 4 ways: voice dial via number (“eight zero zero, five five five one two one two”) voice dial via name “Mom”, phonebook on the navigation display,  or via the keypad on the navigation display. The car supports phone book transfer via vCard, but only some phones support vCard sending, and mine is not one of them, so I can’t tell you how that works.  You can also dial from your phone either manually or through a phonebook, and the car automatically picks up the call.

 The phone goes through the Camry speaker system, and is very clear to hear, even at high speed. I have the Motorola Bluetooth speakerphone that I used in my Passat, and this is MUCH easier to hear. The microphone pickup seems very good, nobody has complained about me being on a speakerphone or carphone, and they used to do so regularly with the Motorola. I even asked a co-worker if they could tell I was in the car when they called me, and they said no, just sounded like a normal cell phone. I did open up the sunroof once while talking to my mom, and she said it sounded like I got into an accident, so closing windows, sunroof, and perhaps slowing down may be needed to maximize sound quality.

Stereo

The stereo is great, although I am not a huge audiophile, and I don’t have a tricked out audio system in any of my cars. All stereo adjustments are made via the computer display, including adjusting bass/mid/treble, and 4 way balance (left/right/front/back).

The tuner has a dedicated seek knob, dedicated power/volume, and a scan button on the dash, as well as power, volume and seek on the steering wheel. The steering wheel seek only goes between your programmed stations, I would have preferred an option to seek across all channels. The channel display appears in the multi function display (with the nav), and is hidden unless you are changing channels or volume. When displaying the channel, the radio will automatically pick up and display the station call sign, and genre, if the station is transmitting it. (In my area, about 25% of the stations are sending it) This also enables a “genre scan” from the display, which will do a normal station scan, but discard any stations that aren’t from your specified genre.

The Camry includes an in dash CD changer, as well as the DVD player for the Navigation. The Navigation model has a 4 disk changer, the non-nav model has a 6 disk changer. The disk slots are hidden behind the navigation display, which pops out when you press the load button. This is very “James Bond” and produces lots of “oohs and aahs”. You feed disks one at a time into the slot.  You can take out and replace the navigation DVD, but if you put in a movie, it will not play. There are rumors of a backdoor that will enable DVD movie playback, but I do not know it, or know if it is real.

Body

The 2007 Camry looks very nice. It has a sportier, much more luxurious look than previous Camrys. Around here, it seems like ever 3rd car I pass is a Corolla or Camry, and the older models look very economy. The new one does not suffer from this at all. My only objection to the body styling is the nose. The nose is a bit blunt for my tastes, somewhat like a snub-nosed revolver, but it seems like this look is in vogue right now, and you may like it more than I do. Pictures are available throughout the web, so I won't post here, unless someone really wants to see my particular car. 

Trunk

The other negative for the hybrid Camry body is the trunk. Both the regular car battery and the hybrid battery are in the trunk. This leads to significantly reduced trunk space. The official numbers are 10.6 cubic feet for the hybrid trunk, vs 15 cubic feet for the trunk of the standard Camry.  For my trip to Wisconsin, I was able to fit one midsized roller bag, one large duffel, my large camera bag (gym bag sized), and a backpack. There was space for some smaller items (such as a purse or additional backpack) but no more luggage. The roller bag fit widthwise (with the long side of the bag aligned with the rear end (X axis)). It almost fit lengthwise (aligned with the side of the car (Z Axis)) and may have fit with some squishing, but I didn't want to risk messing up the car on the first week. Your bag may fit better, but for a full-sized roller bag, I think you will be stuck with the wide orientation or the back seat. I did notice the trunk is fairly deep (Y Axis) and you can stack more than item on top of each other. The trunk also has a pass-through into the rear seat, but this is largely blocked by the hybrid battery. The actual pass-through is quite small, and would only be useful for some skis or 2x4s or something.  Another problem with the pass-through is that it is above the hybrid battery, which is in the lower rear of the trunk. I would be wary of putting any heavy items in that location.  The Toyota Prius has the hybrid battery in a more form fitting shape, which does not have as a noticeable impact on carrying space. I hope this gets improved in future versions of the Camry.  If your primary concern is carrying things, vs. carrying people, you may be better off with the Prius (or the Highlander, or Escape if you get into SUV territory) One reader said a good idea for cerrying luggage if you are only using the front seats, is to use the fold down seats. Even though you can't use the passthrough for luggage, you can save your cloth/leather by using the back of the seats.

Summary

I am very happy with the new car, but there are a few areas that need some improvement for future models.  I hope this review helps you make a decision!

 

Posted on Thursday, July 6, 2006 1:06 PM gadgets , politics | Back to top


Comments on this post: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Hey dude, glad you are enjoying the new car! Best of all, you are leaving more gas for my gas-guzzler to use! :)

Left by Ed R on Jul 06, 2006 4:46 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Thanks for sharing your experience.
Left by Michael G. Richard on Jul 07, 2006 11:35 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Just curious - did you consider other cars, like the Accord or Civic hybrids?
Left by Jim on Jul 07, 2006 5:45 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Hey, good to see someone with a green car rather than a gas guzzler, but 38mpg. I like the word 'scutttlebutt'!
Left by joshua goodwin on Jul 08, 2006 7:20 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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you shoud be able to seek radio stations by holding on the up/down button on the steering wheel for few seconds (not just pressing and releasing it).
Left by an on Jul 10, 2006 7:11 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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You missed the boat. You should have picked up a 2005 Passat TDI when they were available. I get 42.3 MPG on a highway cruise at 80mph. Now you have to wait until 2007 or later for the Passat diesels to return with ULSD fuel.
Left by Tony Quila on Jul 10, 2006 12:39 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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38 mpg and it cost you how much? Way back in 1991 I bought a Saturn SL four door sedan for $8500. For the next twelve years, I consistently clocked 38 mpg. No fancy mechanical parts, no battery pack that has to be replaced.
Left by Paul on Jul 10, 2006 4:04 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Its really too bad that the net energy use by your new hybrid is actually HIGHER than it would be for the non-hybrid version of the Camry.
This is due to the extra energy cost of the electric motors, wiring, and, especially, the nickel metal hydride batteries which are not present in the non-hybrid Camry.
Add it up, you are getting around an extra 10 to 15mpg for around 150,000 miles of battery lifetime.

So, the 25mpg Camry uses 150,000/25 = 6000 gallons of gasoline.
The 38mpg Camry uses 150,000/38 = 3950 gallons.

The difference is 2050 gallons.
At $3 per gallon, that is around $6000.

Try pricing out the batteries and motors, they cost far more than $6000. Why is that? Because of the energy cost of building them.

Its a fun toy, but don't fool yourself into thinking you are being "Green".
You are being a pseudoenvironmentalist dupe, in my opinion.
Left by J.pickens on Jul 10, 2006 6:18 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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The "net energy" use of many new products are initially higher until the technology and manufacturing processes are scaled and refined. At that point, hybrids will likely be more environmentally sound than standard cars. Also, the R&D going into hybrids now will benefit other alternate fuel vehicles that use fuel cells, solar power, etc.

Of course, you could compare any motorized vehicle to a horse and buggy and say that you're fooling yourself and acting like a "pseudoenvironmentalist dupe" by riding in anything that doesn't eat hay.

Get real!
Left by KTL on Jul 11, 2006 5:35 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Jason, are you running Ethanol? I lose almost 6 MPG in my Civic Hybrid. Oh and wait until winter rolls around you may lose another couple mpg. I get 47 in the summer and about 42 in the winter here in Iowa.
Left by RipRip on Jul 11, 2006 8:44 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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KTL,
So, unlike the Honda and Toyota ad campaigns, and the governmental tax incentive programs, you agree that the current crop of Hybrids wastes energy.

That's my point, exactly.
If they waste energy, then advertise that this is an R&D program, not a solution as currently touted.
Left by J. Pickens on Jul 11, 2006 7:01 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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J. Pickens. While you bring up some valid points, I think you are making some naive assumptions about governmental tax incentives and the overall goal of hybrid cars.

Though the buzz about hybrid cars have been about their low fuel consumption, that is not the only reason I own one, and that certainly isn't the only reason why there are incentives for cars like the Prius or the Camry Hybrid.

The government gives tax incentives for Hybrid cars for the reduction in consumption of fuel, but also because of a dramatic reduction in emissions which is common for all hybrid cars.

Hybrids like this Toyota Camry Hybrid exceed SULEV II emissions standards, and achieve a AT-PZEV rating... they emit 90% fewer hydrocarbons and NOx than your typical new car.

Government incentives for hybrid cars scale based on both fuel consumption and emissions.

While you have made a lot of good arguments about the cost in energy terms, you have not mentioned emissions once.

Emissions is easy to look over. It is an externality, one you don't have to pay for every time you go to the pump. One not as tangible as keeping track of how much you spend on a tangible like gasoline in the course of the lifetime of the car... But emissions is increasingly important because the planet is rapidly warming because of carbon emissions and cities like Los Angeles are covered in thick noxious smog...

Even if hybrid cars waste more energy than regular car, as you say (and I dispute your argument in some ways), hybrids go a long way to reduce NOx and CO2 emissions, especially in urban centers. This is why the US has given tax incentives to hybrid cars.
Left by LaughingMan on Jul 12, 2006 9:08 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Emissions, HAH!!!!!
The Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are produced in factories in Japan, and increasingly, CHINA!!!!
So, you're trading gasoline burning in a SULEV Camry without Hybrid drive, for Coal fired electricity used to process the batteries in China. Japan isn't much better, it uses coal and oil for over 85% of its electricity production.

You pseudoenvironmentalists just can't get it through your head that these cars waste more energy than they "save" and create more pollutants and greenhouse gas CO2 as well.
Left by J. Pickens on Jul 12, 2006 8:54 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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And, by the way, the reason the US has given tax incentives to hybrid cars is because the Congressmen and Senators know that to vote against a "green" initiative is political suicide. That, and they believe the propoganda from the pseudoenvironmentalists as well.
Left by J. Pickens on Jul 12, 2006 8:57 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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hey J.P., let's have a contest
you start your car and I'll start my Prius.
After 4 minutes, you stick the tail pipe in
you mouth, so will I. Loser dies first !

GET THE POINT !!!!!!
Left by lou on Jul 14, 2006 7:34 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hybrid Review
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I've had my Camry Hybrid for about a week. I've always been a non-aggressive driver. Still, it took some driving changes to get higher gas mileage than advertised: always start out slow, pulse and glide (although I can't keep it in "pure" glide mode -- using no energy -- for more than a few seconds, so I have to work on that), minimize use of air conditioning, keep the hybrid in electric mode as long as possible on residential streets with little or no traffic, and rely on cruise control going uphill. I'm averaging around 48 mpg. I sold my Chevy Silverado, and tripled my gas mileage -- and want to aim for 50 mpg or higher in the hybrid. While I would have considered a new low-sulfur diesel car like ones in Europe, one isn't yet available in the US plus the cost for diesel in my area is around the cost of premium unleaded. Ethanol fuel costs too much, it's not that available, and the US can't produce enough now, importing ethanol, and slapping a tariff on it, too. I will get the $2,600 tax credit for my hybrid plus there's no sales tax (saved around $1,900)on a hybrid in my state, and my city provides free parking for hybrids. I don't see gas prices retreating too much, and expect that upward price pressures will continue.
Left by David Knopsnyder on Jul 17, 2006 8:26 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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J.P., Japan is known for it's "new" method of coal usage in factories. Many now clean/filter their air pollution so that the pollutants being released into the air is easier to break up and/or don't contain the toxic chemicals anymore.

Car emission is not just Carbon dioxide. There is also NOx which is very harmful for the human body. So if the Hybrid reduces the amount of emission by such a large percentage then how is owning and using a hybrid not good for the environment? So much gas is also saved by driving a Hybrid, so that less oil is needed, which is also good for the environment.

Maybe you have a point that more electricity is used to create the hybrids but looking at the bigger picture, it really is helping and saving the environment and the owners some money.
Left by KL on Jul 23, 2006 10:51 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Great review. Thanks!!
Left by lilredjettdiwagon on Jul 25, 2006 10:34 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Fantastic Review. Thanks. My Hybrid comes in on next Tuesday.

J.P. You have a good argument. I can see where pseudoenvironmentalist can get caught up. I hope it is not true b/c Canada is not as forgiving, tax wise, on hybrid vehicles.
Left by JFox on Aug 08, 2006 9:09 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Lets say for a minute that the net energy usage is more. I'd MUCH rather give my $$s to a company like Toyota than to the what was it last year, $500 BILLION profit making Exxon and its cronies! It is that simple. At least some part of my money will go towards makign better cars/modes of transportation!!

Ajoy
Left by Ajoy on Aug 12, 2006 5:33 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Jason, I found your review extremely useful and well written. Thanks!
Left by Steve in Seattle on Aug 16, 2006 8:12 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Great review, Jason. Very detailed and comprehensive. It certainly helped me in my decision making process.
Left by Norb Patla on Aug 23, 2006 12:06 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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I was the first one to buy the camry from the local toyota dealer. Picked it up on may 4th. So far really nice. Not just because it's a hybrid... but for it's shape, nav system, keyless entry, noise level, etc.
Thank you all for the reviews...
Left by Asif on Aug 26, 2006 2:36 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Hi! I have a new camry, but not in US...i suppose that it's kindda the same just the shape that have a lil diff. I've try to override the NAV. but i can't do it, also people complained about my telephone bluetooth, they can't really hear what I say.....I wonder if I can do the override the same like u guys or not
Left by Ammy on Aug 29, 2006 2:04 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Any chance of an update on the accuracy of the GPS system over the past few months? Have you still found that its every bit as accurate as you thought in the first place?
Left by Joe on Sep 05, 2006 9:06 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Oh, and Toyota advertises an auxiliary audio input on these- I assume a 3.5" jack. Where is that located? Can you listen to music at the same time that the GPS is giving voice commands? I would think that the music would play and then just be interrupted when there's some sort of turn to make, but I wasn't quite sure.
Left by Joe on Sep 05, 2006 9:10 PM

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Yes the GPS accuracy is still spot on, however in some cases the maps are out of date. However, for when the GPS has a road on it, the turns are exactly right.

Under the center console of the car, where Ash trays would have been in the past, there is a small door that you can store stuff in. At the back of this compartment is the 3.5 jack, as well as an extra DC adapter.

You can just put your iPod in there, and close the door (or leave it open). There are also little holes on the left and right side of the compartment, where you can thread your ipod cable through, and then put the ipod into a pocket on the outside of the compartment for easy access while driving.
Left by Jason Coyne on Sep 06, 2006 5:16 AM

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How does the GPS system react if you're playing music when you're trying to hear the directions? Does the GPS directions play over the music, or is there a separate mode on the stereo that you have to be switched to and then not listen to music? The same goes for GPS and having a call on the Bluetooth handsfree kit at the same time- how does that work, do you lose the voice prompts when on the phone?
Left by Joe on Sep 11, 2006 12:59 AM

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The music sources get lowered volume when the GPS gives directions. As soon as the direction is over, the volume comes back up. This is true for all of the built in sound sources (radio, CD), as well as for the aux in you can use with an iPod. I would assume it is true for a satellite radio as well.

On the phone, the GPS guidance is suppressed, and the phone conversation is not interuppted. If you keep the screen on the map while driving, you still get the visual updates with turn directions and estimated distance to turn as normal.
Left by Jason Coyne on Sep 11, 2006 11:28 AM

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This was a very thorough and thoughtful review. Thank you for posting it.
Left by Richard Anderson on Sep 20, 2006 9:03 PM

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This was a very useful review for me. I currently own a 1999 VW Passat V6 GLX, nearing 100K and looking to buy a replacement vehicle like the Camry Hybrid. Premium fuel (required for my car) is >$3/gallon in California for quite some time now. I am averaging 28mpg but have to drive <60MPH to get this. Thanks again for all the useful information.
Left by babydoc on Sep 24, 2006 8:27 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Bought new from Toyota came with GPS, voice guidance in English and French. Asked sales person for English and Spanish. He conned me into waiting until my first routine service and they will change the disk. Now, at 15,000, I'm told English- Spanish is not available on the 2005 Prius.
I'd still like to have the Eng Span, any suggestions?
Carl c.rea.tion@sbcglobal.net
Left by Carl Jordan on Oct 15, 2006 1:46 PM

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Thank you for a very nice review Jason. I just got the Camry with Navigation and I am very happy with all the gadgets. I was just wondering if anybody found how to play DVDs when the car is parked and if that is possible at all.
Left by Alex on Dec 24, 2006 7:27 PM

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I purchased my 2007 Camry Hybrid May 30, 2006. I am a former Lincoln LS V8 owner-with a lead foot. I thoroughly enjoy my Hybrid. 87 octane and 12k miles later, Im still estactic. I drive alot of highway and city. My highest mpg so far is 43.5 and I never drive under 45mph until Im pulling into the driveway or Walmart. SO I dont know whats going on with other folks, but I have plenty of room for luggage once the back seats are down. My car is fully loaded-and I have everything I need. Averaging 78 to 85 mph on the road, the only thing I need is a scanner. The car is so quiet at that speed, I forget to look at the speedometer. It was the best decision I could have made in 2006. I just wish folks would stop scratching their heads when I pull out of parking spots. NO one hears the car turn on and by the time I have pulled out...they are amazed. What a kick!
Left by clarshar on Jan 07, 2007 11:08 AM

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Does anyone know how to fix the NAV to automatically go from daytime mode to nighttime mode without adjusting the contrast/brightness?
Left by Vader on Jan 12, 2007 1:33 PM

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Yes, you can make the NAV go from daytime to nighttime simply by . . . turning on the headlights manually. This isn't "automatic", but it will put the NAV in night mode.
Left by K on Mar 05, 2007 2:03 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review - Nav Day/Night Mode
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Regarding the Nav screen's day/night mode, make sure you do not have your dashboard brightness set to its maximum, otherwise the Nav screen will not go into Night mode and will stay in day mode. This is what happens with my dad's RX-400h.
Left by kpr on Mar 10, 2007 1:39 PM

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J.pickens wrote: "Try pricing out the batteries and motors, they cost far more than $6000. Why is that? Because of the energy cost of building them. "

A: Price and energy cost are not the same thing. Obviously they are related, but there are a lot of factors that determine the value of an object aside from its costs in energy to produce. This objection alone throws off your entire analysis, which is a rather hazy attempt on your part to make a point in the absence of real data.

B: The batteries used by hybrids contain many valuable components that are recycled at the end of their life into new batteries. For most of the valuable components this process can and does go on indefinately. The upshot of this fact is that ~80 of the "energy" used to make the battery is recovered at the end of its life. Once again, your calculations are dubious.

There may indeed be some pseudo-environmental hopeful thinking going on here, but your arguments do nothing to ferret it out.
Left by Voltairine on Mar 10, 2007 10:06 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Hey Jason,
I am a reporter for a student newspaper at the University of Illinois and am doing a story on hybrids, wondering if I could get a chance to talk to you about your opinions. Email me if you are interested kristen.sackley@gmail.com
Left by Kristen Sackley on Mar 12, 2007 10:17 AM

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The Camry Hybrid utilizes a four-cylinder gasoline engine, 650V electric motors with 30 kW (40 hp) and 270 N·m (199 ft·lbf) and a NiMH 245V traction battery with a maximum output of 30 kW (40 hp) to produce a peak of 187 hp (140 kW). The power steering, brakes, and heater/air conditioning are all electric, which allows the car to run on the electric motors only.
Left by weight loss on Apr 16, 2007 9:02 AM

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In my '07 Camry Hybrid w/ Nav, my Motorola V3 Razr paired fine, and I could hear people find when using handsfree, but people I called were always asking me to speak up. I couldn’t find a microphone sensitivity control in the user menus. I called Toyota service and they told me how to bring up the diagnostic screen (a function reserved for the service technicians). There I was able to adjust the Bluetooth "send voice level". Following are the instructions:

-Turn on car power (doesn’t need to be started)
-Press Map button (hit I Agree first if needed)
-Press Silver “Disp” button (bottom right side of display – physical buttong)

-A kind of divided screen appears with “Display” on top and contrast/brightness on bottom. While this screen is displayed, do the following very fast:

-Alternately touch the screen under the Display line, then above the Contrast line. Keep doing that over and over until the diagnostic screen appears. If it doesn’t work, keep trying. It took me a few tries. Touch the top, then the bottom, then the top then the bottom, all very quickly. Using two fingers might be too quick, as that didn’t work for me. I used my pointer finger. There is no icon, you just have to stay under the top line and above the bottom line.

The System Check Mode screen appears
-Touch Menu in upper right
-Touch Bluetooth Tel Check
-Touch Hands Free Volume Quality Set
-Change the “Send Voice Level to a higher number (press the up arrow next to it).
-Get back to the main menu
-Turn the car power off (there’s no other way that I see to get out of the Diagnostic screen).

The “Send Voice Level” on my ’07 Camry was set at zero. I changed it to 3 (5 is max). I then called my voicemail using handsfree, left a test message, played it back, and my voice was much louder. I haven’t tested it on the road yet.

-Tom. Walker, Littleton, CO
Left by Tom Walker on Apr 18, 2007 9:09 PM

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I bought a Camry Hybrid in April. Saw average mpg around 35-45 for the first month. Then it dropped off to ~20-25 mpg, and now only rarely goes into e-mode. My gas supplier hasn't changed, my driving habits haven't changed, and my car only has 2500 miles on it. I don't know what happened, but it's not making me very happy!
Left by VKJohnson on Jun 06, 2007 6:42 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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The Camry Hybrid utilizes a four-cylinder gasoline engine, 650V electric motors with 30 kW (40 hp) and 270 N·m (199 ft·lbf) and a NiMH 245V traction battery with a maximum output of 30 kW (40 hp) to produce a peak of 187 hp (140 kW). The power steering, brakes, and heater/air conditioning are all electric, which allows the car to run on the electric motors only.
Left by phentermine on Jun 13, 2007 8:08 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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What do you think of the interior finish? We just purchased a Camry Hybrid and the glove box does not seem to fit or line up with the dashboard. Do you have any issue with this?

Thanks!
Left by mwiegert on Jun 13, 2007 8:54 PM

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How well the does the car handle?
Left by maurice on Jun 23, 2007 1:46 AM

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VKJohnson, Did you get a resolution on your problem?

I just got mine and somewhat undecided on the extent of warranty that I should purchase. Your issue is raising my worry level.

I dont get much "pat on the back" at work whether I put in lots of effort or not. But, I get a super adrenaline boost every time I get that "Excellent !!!" eco drive rating. If what you described happens to me, I think I would be to freaking depressed and may need to get on medication.
Left by JJYang on Jul 05, 2007 7:56 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Yes -- resolution. It went into the shop, and we discovered the issue was two-fold. One: Hot hot hot here, and the increased temps have caused some sort of gas expansion issue, causing me to see lower MPG. See link below. Two: hot hot hot is causing me to use my air conditioning so much more, and this is also causing the MPG to be lower. This is confirmed with others I've talked to, and the mpg issue does go away some days. I'm very happy with the car overall. Roadtrip #1: 53 mpg going 55 mph. Roadtrip #2: 48 mpg going 75 mph. I"m not complaining anymore, now that the issue was explained to me. I don't see 50-65 mpg like some, but it's better than the 16 mpg I had with my last car!! The car does have a complex computer on board, and if there was somethign wring, I'm confident they would have found it.
http://www.kttc.com/News/index.php?ID=16113
Left by VKJohnson on Jul 08, 2007 7:56 PM

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Thanks for the update!

Geez... I dont even dare dream about hitting 45 mpg. Those numbers you cite are just awesome! Maybe someday I'll get there! Keep up the good driving! &quot;save some money and save the world&quot;. Woo Hoo.
Left by JJYang on Jul 10, 2007 9:31 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Do you have information on how to reprogram the smart key to automatically unlock all 4 doors from the drivers side while the key is in your pocket?
Left by jim on Jul 14, 2007 11:31 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Just did this the other day. Instruction is on page 40 of your manual. Be sure to that it is what you really need. Have fun!
Left by JJYang on Jul 14, 2007 6:39 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Any idea how to override the "Message not displayed while in motion" function on the radio? I"d liek to see the station, song title, and performer/group information when I'm not in park...
Left by VKJohnson on Jul 18, 2007 12:46 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Very helpful review. About to bring a check to the dealership and I wanted to see if there was any negative talk about the future downside of having the hybrid battery go south. Your review and your readers' comments are great. Love the backdoor codes!
Left by Wayne on Aug 10, 2007 5:37 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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I am thinking about buying a 2008 Camry Hybrid. 2 things: the dealer says there are not issues with the a/c cutting to a lower speed when idle/at light on really hot days like the Ford Hybrid Escape. Is this true? 2nd: Ford guy told me he 'heard' they are going to quit making the hybrid Camry. HUH?? Anyone have a way to confirm/deny this?
Left by Deborah Davenport on Sep 08, 2007 7:18 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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I have had no issues with the A/C cutting to a lower speed as you describe. I'm actually so pleased with my Camry Hybrid, I recommend it frequently!!
In addition -- I have not heard anything about Toyota stopping the production of the Camry. Have you done a search on the "web" for more news?
Left by VKJohnson on Sep 09, 2007 8:56 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Hi, Toyota infact plans to make all vehicles hybrid by 2020
http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/15/2016231
Left by Sharpdriver on Sep 24, 2007 7:22 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Just test drove a private party hybrid Camry and really liked the car. The only issue I am having is the fact that I drive less than the average person and it seems that the gas savings will be offset by the cost of the oil changes using synthenic oil.
Left by JM on Nov 12, 2007 10:53 PM

# Version of Nav Map?
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Does anyone know what version the Nav map is on the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid? I bought the car in July of 2006.

Left by David on Nov 15, 2007 8:13 PM

# Smell of Sulfur
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We are driving the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid and have noticed that we frequently have very strong odors/taste of sulfur. I bought the car in July 2006. Service Department tells me nothing is wrong and I just have to find the right gas station to purchase gas from. New England gas has pretty much all the same additives - so what should we do? The smell is very inconsistent from day to day.
Left by DER on Nov 25, 2007 10:28 PM

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I enjoyed reading this review and comments. Very helpful. I own a '07 Camry Hybrid and a '07 Prius. They both came with NAV Version 06.1. Bought the 07.1 DVD this week from Toyotapart.com for $246.63 (retail $275)delivered. Was able to make a copy that works in the Camry, but not the Prius so I put the original in the Prius. Living in an area with a lot of new roads, I liked getting the updated maps. The v 7.01 came out in October. After 12K miles I get about 35 mpg overall. I drive around town alot (Realtor) and get about 30 MPG. On the road I see around 40. I am pleased. Especially liked that I could pull off the road for a nap and leave the A/C on. The Prius gets 47-50 mpg after 16K miles. Average is 49.
Left by Jim Graham on Dec 07, 2007 6:24 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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HI, your review was very helpful!

Question on voice dialing - I can't just say "Mom" and get it to dial. I have to say "dial by name" and then it takes rounds of prompts to get it to dial. It seems like you've found the shortcut - pls share! (PS. I have the Nav)

Thanks
Left by Arnie on Jan 20, 2008 7:44 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Most of the automotive increase their hybrid & electric car production. Because hybrid cars are more demanded in future & today also. Smart Cars is one of best automaker industries, which is manufacturing Eco-friendly & zero emission cars
Left by Kawasaki Atvs on Mar 20, 2011 8:11 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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As we are facing the Global worming the Hybrid and the electric cars are playing the best roll in the Auto Industry. Due the Electric cars the price of the oil is also became less..
Left by Used trucks on Mar 24, 2011 9:19 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Great benefits! You did a very thorough account. I want a hybrid car, I can imagine how much money can I save if I own one. I didn't know that Toyota is making hybrids. And I heard that they have cheap car insurance for hybrid cars.
Left by denis on Apr 13, 2011 6:15 AM

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It's really a great review.Toyota is the world's top most brand and the models of this company's are very attractive and fully high features.The Toyota Camry Hybrid is really a great car.I really like it.Thanks for sharing such a nice information with us.
Left by Trucks for sale on Apr 26, 2011 8:18 PM

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The Camry is a very comfortable car and has a smooth acceleration, the brakes are great and the the air conditioning is very enjoyable, but Toyota is not being honest about the mileage and that is a shame. I paid a lot of extra money for this technology. If I had been smart enough to read these reviews before purchase, I might have bought a gasoline Camry instead.
Left by car donations on May 04, 2011 9:23 PM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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I rented a Camry to go on vacation and at first I was like oh no not a Toyota, thinking of Jeff Dunham's jokes. To my surprise I liked it so much I'm buying a Camry next month! I love the gas millage and the interior is roomy and the backseat is big enough for two growing children.
Left by Car Repair Palmyra on May 18, 2011 2:35 AM

# re: Toyota Camry Hyrbrid Review
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Nice article written on Camry hybrid, a rare but helpful review..The desirable feature is the electric mode, EV, which lets you access the engine and run the vehicle while without actually starting the car. However, the speed factor is something that is going to dissapoint customers, although better than the worst. So, lets get all set to see it on our roads.
Left by Car review on Jul 05, 2011 4:33 AM

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