By KBB.com Editors
Using the same Hybrid Synergy Drive as the popular Toyota Prius, the 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid employs a fuel-thrifty four-cylinder engine coupled with a powerful electric motor. But, where the Prius easily stands out in a crowd the humble Camry Hybrid looks exactly like a standard Camry Sedan. In fact, about the only noticeable differences between the Camry Hybrid and its gasoline-powered equivalent are a different front end, a smaller trunk (due to the placement of the battery pack), and the obvious Hybrid Synergy Drive badges. Not that a car's appearance has any effect on fuel economy or lower emissions, however, it's just that eco-friendly drivers usually like others to know at a glance that they are indeed eco-friendly drivers.You'll Like This Car If...
If saving fuel while helping to reduce greenhouse emissions is your top priority, then driving a 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid is a surefire way to achieve your goals without asking the family to sacrifice room or comfort.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you do more highway driving than around town jaunts, the Camry Hybrid's nearly identical city/highway fuel economy figures may not justify the nearly $7,000 premium over the similarly frugal four-cylinder gasoline-powered Camry LE.What's New for 2011
After a modest refresh last year, there are no new changes for the 2011 Camry Hybrid.Driving It Driving Impressions
One need only have the Camry Hybrid's key fob in pocket to gain access and start the car. A transmitter inside the fob lets the car know you are the rightful owner, unlocks the doors and enables the push button starter. Once started, the Camry Hybrid gives no audible indication it's ready to go. The driver must place the shift lever in drive and depress the accelerator pedal, at which point the car glides forward in an eerie silence as the electric motor takes control. Push the Camry past 30 miles per hour and the gasoline engine seamlessly takes over, working in conjunction with the electric motor to move the car up to highway speeds. With a combined output of 187 horsepower, the gasoline engine and electric motor provide brisk acceleration for passing and merging. The Camry Hybrid's cabin is amazingly quiet and the capable suspension delivers an impressively smooth ride. Not so capable is the electrically-assisted power steering, which feels numb and somewhat disconnected from the road.Favorite Features
Push Button Start
With the Smart Key System, one only needs the remote key fob at hand to unlock the doors and start the vehicle with a dash-mounted push-button starter.
Steering Wheel-Mounted controls
The Camry Hybrid's redundant steering wheel-mounted functions include controls for the audio mode, volume, hands-free phone, fan speed, temperature and optional voice command.
The 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid's interior is nearly identical to the standard Camry, with the exception of the fixed rear seatback and the hybrid power displays located in place of a tachometer. The instrument cluster features legible white numerals against a black background, and there is also a small blue-banded area to indicate when the vehicle is being powered solely by the electric motor. The Camry Hybrid's spacious and airy interior provides a commanding driving position and dashboard design that sits low and away. Although the audio and ventilation controls are within easy reach of the driver, many of the functions, such as fan speed and audio settings, can be operated via the steering wheel-mounted controls. For the most part, the Camry Hybrid's seats are both firm and fairly comfortable, although we think the passenger's-seat bottom could do with more adjustment for better thigh support.Exterior
The 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid's curvaceous side glass enhances the car's silhouette by creating a less slab-sided appearance. It's low, swooping nose, unique fog lamp openings, narrow slit grille with chrome accent and a bustle-style rear end further separate it from more generic sedans. Adding to the car's sporty good looks are a long wheelbase and standard 16-inch wheels and tires. Form doesn't follow function, however, as the sweeping rear-window design limits the trunk opening's size to a narrow slit. Combined with the lack of a folding pass through rear seat, it becomes rather difficult to insert wide or bulky items in the Hybrid's trunk. In a nod to maximizing occupant protection, Toyota engineers have given the Camry Hybrid's chassis a number of crumple zones designed to absorb collision-impact forces.Notable Standard Equipment
The Camry Hybrid comes well equipped and includes as standard a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), Smart Key System keyless entry and start with push-button starter, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with touch controls, automatic on/off headlamps, eight-way power driver's seat, power windows, 60/40-split folding rear seat, a tire pressure monitor, satellite radio capable AM/FM radio with single CD, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), front side-impact airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags and a driver's-knee airbag.Notable Optional Equipment
Popular options for the Camry Hybrid include a 440-watt JBL audio with eight speakers, JBL Premium audio with USB Port, Bluetooth and streaming music capability and six-disc CD/MP3 capable changer, a power moonroof, voice-activated DVD navigation system, remote start, 16-inch alloy wheels, leather seating, heated outside mirrors, heated front seats, dual illuminated visor mirrors and a number of dealer and port-installed accessories, including security upgrades and exterior protection treatments.Under the Hood
Power for the 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid comes from two sources: A 2.4-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 147 horsepower, and a small electric motor that generates an additional 40 horsepower. Power is routed to the Camry Hybrid's front wheels via an efficient Continuously Variable Transmission, or CVT. During low-speed stop-and-go driving, the electric motor does most of the work. At speeds above 30 miles per hour, a computer switches over to the gasoline engine but keeps the electric motor engaged to add torque during full-throttle acceleration. The motor derives its power from an onboard battery that is continually recharged via the gasoline engine as well as by energy recaptured during deceleration, a process known as regenerative braking.
2.4-liter in-line 4 with 105-kilowatt Permanent Magnetic Synchronous Electric Motor
147 horsepower @ 6000 rpm/40 horsepower @ 4500 rpm (187 horsepower combined)
138 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm/199 lb.-ft. of torque @ 0-1500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/35
The Toyota Camry Hybrid's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just under $27,500. Add navigation, heated leather seats and the power moonroof, and the price rises to over $32,000. The fluctuating popularity of hybrid cars sometimes makes them a hot commodity so many dealers may be charging MSRP – or even more. Competitors to the Camry Hybrid include the Ford Fusion Hybrid, which starts at about $1,000 more, and the Nissan Altima Hybrid which is a limited production car. Before you set out to buy be sure to check Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price which shows what others in your area are paying for their cars. As for resale, the Camry Hybrid is expected to retain strong residual values, right in the range of its gasoline powered brothers, and on par with the values of the Ford Fusion Hybrid.