2009 TOYOTA CAMRY HYBRID (select to view enlarged photo)

SEE ALSO: Toyota Specs, Pics, Prices-Toyota Buyers Guide


By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

There are very few "sure things" to count on in life and the Toyota Camry is one of them. Although the mid-size sedan has built an incredible reputation, the design team hit a major homerun with last year's sleek remodel. The 2009 model is a fancy yet affordable car for anyone with high standards, from teachers to executives.

I drove a 4-door 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid with a 2.4-liter 4-cylander engine. Base price was in the mid-twenties. With add-ons such as the Comfort and Convenience Package at $470 (heated front seats, heated outside mirrors); the Leather Package (power driver and passenger leather-trimmed seats) at $1,300; power tilt sunroof at $940; and a tire/navigation/audio package for $2,350; total vehicle price came to $31,930.

The soundless Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) produces 187 horsepower combining both its gas and electric engine. Gas estimations are approximate at 33-mpg city and 34-mpg highway driving. It can be hard to detect when the engine is one and almost impossible to sense the engine switching from gas to electric mode. You'd also never think this was a 4-cylinder, as it has the power of a V6.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Camry is an easy sell when it comes to both exterior and interior looks and conveniences. It's also the ease-of-use factor that makes the Camry attractive. The modern center console features dual-zone climate control, voice-activated navigation and 440-watt JBL 4-disc CD audio system, Bluetooth, all wrapped up in the Plasmacluster ionizer technology designed to reduce harmful airborne molds, spores and other bacteria.

Reliability & Safety Factor: All models come with an anti-lock braking system, electronic brake distribution, and brake assist. An available option is the vehicle stability control with traction control.

Cost Issues: For $31,930, the Camry is a steal. That price gives you a sunroof, leather seating, a great navigation and audio package (no rear backup) and the hybrid powertrain system. Furthermore, when calculating the five-year ownership of the Camry Hybrid, you'll come ahead about $4,250 – and that's without a federal tax cut (it's the low cost of the car combined with its low mpg that spits out this wonderful number – not all hybrid save you money).

Activity & Performance Ability: No doubt the Camry handles like a charm and accelerates with great power. But I'm not particularly crazy about the brakes; I felt they could have been more responsive. And I grew a little tired of the push start (it doesn't always start up in a snap and you often have to hold down the button). The Camry comes standard with those wonderful halogen headlights.

The Green Concern: I never saw my highway driving getting close to 40-mpg, but I did get an average of 33-mpg, which is great. With the hybrid system, your five-year fuel savings will be $3,000, which means you'll be reducing your carbon footprint.

The Camry explains exactly why Toyota Motor Corporation is doing so well: America's pocketbook responds to a dependable, eco-friendly, sleek-looking sedan at an affordable price with modern features.

Katrina's Car Tips For Women Drivers
2010 and 2009 Model Reviews
2008 Model Reviews

2008 Katrina Ramser

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