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Kuyper: Hybrid turns ordinary Camry into economical powerhouse

A 2.5-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine combines with two 650-volt generators to produce 208 horsepower in the 2018 hybrid model of the Toyota Camry. Besides the normal driving mode, this hybrid can be operated in ECO or EV mode. ECO uses less gasoline than normal. EV is electric-only at speeds of less than 25 mph.
A 2.5-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine combines with two 650-volt generators to produce 208 horsepower in the 2018 hybrid model of the Toyota Camry. Besides the normal driving mode, this hybrid can be operated in ECO or EV mode. ECO uses less gasoline than normal. EV is electric-only at speeds of less than 25 mph.

Pricing for a normal gas-powered Camry sedan starts at $23,645 and goes up to $28,600 for a loaded, top-of-the-line XLE model.

For an electric-gas hybrid Camry, pricing starts at $27,950 and tops out at $32,250 for a loaded, top-of-the-line XLE model.

Ignore the price difference between a hybrid and normal Camry. Buy the hybrid. It is a remarkable vehicle, especially when it comes to fuel usage. During a week of travel with the XLE hybrid on interstates, local highways and city streets, with two adults on board, the average usage was 45.2 mpg of regular gasoline.

Besides the XLE, hybrid trim levels are LE and SE. The three use a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine in concert with a nickel-metal hydride battery pack to produce 208 horsepower. The SE and XLE, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, are rated at 44 mpg highway, 46 city and 47 combined. The lighter LE, with a lithium-ion battery pack, is rated by the EPA at 51 highway, 52 city and 53 combined.

The LE’s mileage is comparable to the Toyota Prius.

The ride was quiet and stable during the test week, leg room ample front and rear. Sound and climate controls are fairly easy to operate. This year’s exterior design is more muscular than in the past, with sweeping curves and chiseled surfaces. The 18-inch wheels are machined to a bright finish.

Ambient lighting and the Entune 3.0 colorful display are highlights of interior design. Entune is Toyota’s response to Ford’s MyFord Touch system. The infotainment system gives the color touchscreen the functionality of a smartphone.

Bluetooth, phone and voice commands, navigation and app suites, various ports, plus AM-FM-satellite radio are part of the sound system.

Besides 10 airbags and the normal safety features (seatbelts and headrests for five, traction and stability controls, antilock brakes, blind spot and tire pressure monitors), the XLE has a bird’s-eye view camera that scans the perimeter and displays the images on a color 10-inch screen. From overhead, the perimeter is scanned by using front-, side- and rear-mounted cameras. This really helps when trying to park in a tight spot.

Another XLE safety feature is the pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. Radar and cameras help detect a vehicle or pedestrian in front. The system can mitigate a potential collision. If a frontal collision is likely, the system tells the driver to take action. If the driver depresses the brake, the car’s brake assist function automatically reduces vehicle speed to help minimize likelihood or reduce severity of a frontal collision.

Since battery packs are stored elsewhere, trunk space in the hybrid is the same as in other Camrys ... a thumbs-up to the hybrid. Rear seats fold flat for more storage room.

FAST FACTS

Vehicle: 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE

Type: front-wheel-drive, five-passenger, four-door midsize sedan

Price: $32,250

Power: 2.5-liter, dual-overhead cam four-cylinder with 650-volt electric sealed nickel-metal hydride battery for combined 208 horsepower

Transmission: continuously variable

Fuel tank: 13 gallons

Measurements: wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 111.2, 192.1, 72.4, 56.9, 5.7

Trunk: 15.1 cubic feet

Weight: 3,572

Leg room: 42.1-inch front, 38-inch rear

Tires, wheels: 18-inch

Brakes: discs, 12-inch ventilated front, 11-inch solid rear

Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles with roadside assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain, 8 years/100,000 miles battery components

Assembly: Georgetown, Kentucky

Information: www.toyota.com/camryhybrid

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