The 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid receives high marks from drivers and reviewers for its quietness, smooth ride, and fuel efficiency, as well as for its overall balance. All hybrids, with their fuel-efficient powerplants, lack somewhat in performance compared to gas-powered trims. But according to many reviewers, Toyota achieves an overall good balance with the Camry Hybrid, creating a comfortable family sedan that operates efficiently, yet provides the level of performance expected from a car of this caliber and popularity.
Working its magic under the Camry's stylish hood, the Hybrid Synergy Drive generates a combined 187 horsepower. It consists of two primary components. A 2.4-liter, four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine (which is more efficient than a standard combustion engine) produces 147 horsepower, while a 40-horsepower electric motor makes up the difference in the overall power quotient. While idling or at speeds under 30 miles per hour, the electric motor provides power for the sedan. The gas engine takes over during acceleration or when the driver requires greater performance.
The Camry Hybrid's powerplant also includes a nickel-metal hydride battery coupled to regenerative brakes, which charge the battery during braking, so it never has to be plugged in. An electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT), also standard equipment, automatically selects the optimal gear for any driving situation.
Other hybrid-specific features include a hybrid suspension, with MacPherson struts in the front and rear, and electric power-assisted steering. The Camry Hybrid also comes equipped with an ECO Drive feature, which enables drivers to monitor and control, via the car's multi-information display, the amount of energy used by the climate-control system, especially when the car is running on battery power.
The EPA rates the Camry Hybrid's fuel efficiency at 33 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway (compared to 19/28 for the V6-powered Camry SE). In addition, as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (or AT-PZEV), the 2008 Camry Hybrid produces extremely low levels of hydrocarbons and other emissions that cause smog.
The Camry Hybrid comes equipped with an extensive list of standard features, on par with the top-of-the-line Camry XLE. A power-adjustable front driver's seat, CFC-free dual-zone climate control system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Smart Key system with push-button start, illuminated entry system, and six-speaker audio system with an MP3 input jack are among the sedan's many features.
Other than exterior badging, little distinguishes the Camry Hybrid from the other Camrys in the lineup, at least from the outside, so the sedan represents a subtle statement for eco-conscious drivers. Instead, the Camry Hybrid displays the same clean, fluid lines and contemporary styling that have made the current Camry so popular with drivers worldwide.