I read a story in the paper about a convenience chain store charging customers 5 cents to carry out their purchases in plastic bags. The goal is to discourage plastic waste that pollutes the environment. Some folks are scoffing at paying for plastic, others are cheering. It’s not easy paying to be green, but the fact is many European shoppers have embraced this practice for most of the past decade.
One automaker that has been way ahead in the green movement for the past decade — and successful at it — is Toyota. The Camry Hybrid is part of the company’s dominant success story in the U.S. where Toyota has commanded nearly 75 percent of all hybrid vehicle sales in the past 10 years according to the automaker’s accounts. Note: The 2010 Camry Hybrid is not involved in the recent recall of specific Toyota models.
The 2010 Camry Hybrid is a quiet-running front-wheel drive midsize sedan that not only squires around the family with all the comfort and convenience of a conventional gas-engine sedan, but it also serves the higher calling of helping drivers go green.
The Camry Hybrid operates under a combination of a four-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor, which Toyota refers to as its Hybrid Synergy Drive system. The result is cleaner air. The Camry Hybrid sedan meets the strict standard for certification as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. The AT-PZEV label means the Camry Hybrid emits 70 percent less smog-producing emissions compared to average cars.
The Camry Hybrid is powered by a combination of a 2.4-liter, 147-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a 40-horsepower electric motor coupled to a Continuously Variable Transmission. The combined 187-horsepower Camry Hybrid can run on gas only, electric only, or a combination of both gas/electric motors. The EPA estimates on fuel economy at 33 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg highway.
The tester I drove had a base price of $26,150, and of course, at this price point was well equipped with convenience features.
The electric motor hybrid system has a warranty of 8 years/100,000 miles. One of the basic high-end conveniences is the Smart Key System with Push Button Start. So long as the key is on your person there is no fumbling to gain access to the locked car — it unlocks when you touch the door handle — and once behind the wheel you just push the start button and hear nothing, but that’s normal because the hybrid engine doesn’t have to “turn over.”
The tester’s out-the-door price rang in at $29,170. Buyers interested in an advanced entertainment system and some Lexus-like luxury features might want to pay the extra $1,150 for the Upgrade package. The power moonroof and some interior lighting extras were wrapped in an optional $890 package.
New for the 2010 model year are a couple of exterior enhancements. The Camry Hybrid gains restyled foglamps, new 16-inch alloy wheels and a change-up to the grille with a wider, lower intake and front bumper.
New on the inside of the 2010 Camry Hybrid is a freshly designed gauge cluster and the addition of specially formulated cloth seating that is “gentle to the skin,” as Toyota describes it. The cloth seating is Fraichir, a blended combination of silk protein and synthetic fiber.
The Camry Hybrid is the first of Toyota’s extensive hybrid vehicle family to be built in the U.S. The assembly plant is located in Georgetown, Ky. — Connie Keane, Motor Matters
Next New On Wheels: 2010 Mercedes-Benz E550 sedan
Next Bonus Wheels: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS
2010 TOYOTA CAMRY HYBRID
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger FWD midsize sedan
BASE PRICE___________________ $26,150 (as tested: $29,170)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 4-cylinder and electric motor
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 147 at 6000 rpm/combined 187 hp
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 138 at 4400 rpm
WHEELBASE____________________ 109.3 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 189.2 in.
CURB WEIGHT__________________ 3,680 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 17.2 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 33 mpg city, 34 mpg highway
2010 MERCURY MILAN: The 2010 Milan features more fuel-efficient powertrain options, class-exclusive technologies and a more refined, sophisticated design. Exterior design changes focus on the grille, fenders, hood, and front and rear fascias. The interior features a more contemporary, technical look with metallic new finishes on the instrument panel that carry through on the center console, doors and steering wheel. Powertrains include the Ford 2.5-liter Duratec inline four-cylinder with 175 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft. torque and the 3.0-liter Duratec V-6 Flex-Fuel engine with 240 horsepower. The 2010 Mercury Milan comes with a six-speed transmission and AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control. Pricing starts at $21,180. (Source: Ford Motor Company)
ASK AUTO DOCTOR: On rainy days the ABS light on my minivan comes on. Is there any danger driving with the ABS light on? There is also a thump sound that happens for the first mile or so. Answer: When the ABS light comes on during rain it’s an electrical problem and the system will not activate. The thump sound cold be a sticking brake shoe, parking brake cable or sticking calipers. This needs to be checked by a qualified technician. (Source: Ask the Auto Doctor, Motor Matters)
FACTORY GREEN MOTORS: Carmakers build their own gasoline engines, but most electric cars are powered by motors made by electronics specialists such as Hitachi — that’s about to change. GM and BMW have both announced they will build their own electric motors for future models. “Automotive electric motors have far more rigorous demands than electric motors for other applications,” said Tom Stephens, General Motors vice chairman of global product operations. “By making motors in-house we can improve them, thereby improving the efficiency of the battery.” (Source: Green Wheeling, Motor Matters)
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010