The Camry is roomy, well-equipped, and has a very straightforward hybrid monitoring system for the driver. You can look at a needle swinging through a large MPG gauge, which also alerts you to EV mode. I honestly never engaged with this car, mostly because it was so overassisted and underdamped. The front end bobs and wanders, needing constant steering-wheel corrections. The Altima Hybrid weighs 200 fewer pounds, gets better fuel economy, and is a more satisfying car to drive.
Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief
If there’s one thing going for the Camry Hybrid, it has to lie with its refined powertrain. Of the three mid-size hybrids I recently drove, the Camry offered the smoothest transitions between gasoline and electric power. It should – Toyota’s had a good twelve years to work out the kinks in its hybrid drivetrain.
But as Jean Jennings noted, it’s not a very satisfying car to drive – even if you are a tree-hugging hypermiler. Unless you’re traveling downhill at a snail’s pace, it’s near impossible to force the Camry into EV mode. I had the most luck shutting the engine off while crawling through parking lots at 20 mph, but it was quite difficult to run around town on electricity at speeds over 30 mph. In contrast, I cruised the same streets in the Altima Hybrid at 35-40 mph before the combustion engine kicked in.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
As Evan noted, the Camry’s gas-to-electric transitions are smoother than those in the Altima and the Fusion. The Camry’s responses are also more predictable, an opinion I attribute to the countless hours I spent behind the wheel of our Four Seasons 2007 Camry Hybrid.
That 4S example was more highly optioned than this test vehicle, with nav, a sunroof, and more. Strangely, this 2009 Camry seems of lower quality, particularly in its interior plastics. To its credit, though, this car wears a coat of jasper pearl, a perfect hue for a relatively planet-friendly vehicle that actually makes it sort of interesting, at least to look at. Although the Camry Hybrid is a nice, economical cloud to ride in, it is insulated from any inkling of driving fun.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
2009 Camry Hybrid Sedan
Base Price (with destination): $ 26,870
Price as tested: $30,797
Comfort and Convenience Package – $470
– Heated Front Seats and Heated Power Mirrors
Leather Package – $1300
– Power Driver and Passenger Leather Trimmed Seats and Door Trim
Miscellaneous Package – $1150
– 16″ Aluminum Wheels, 6-Disc In-Dash CD Changer with Bluetooth, Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel and Shift Knob, Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
Carpet/Trunk Mat Set – $199
VIP Plus Security System – $359
XM Satellite Radio Kit – $449
Fuel Economy: 33 / 34 / 34 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Engine: 2.4L I-4
Horsepower: 147 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 138 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Electric Motor: Permanent Magnet Synchronous, 105 kW
Net Horsepower: 187 hp
Safety Ratings (in stars, 1-5):
– Frontal Crash Driver: 5
– Frontal Crash Passenger: 5
– Side Crash Front Seat: 5
– Side Crash Rear Seat: 5
– Rollover: 4
Transmission: Electronic Continuously Variable
Weight: 3,680 lb
– 16″ Aluminum Wheels (size)
– W/P215/60R16 Tires