The Toyota Camry Hybrid Electric Vehicle blends luxury with practicality

Toyota Camry Hybrid Electric Vehicle
What do you do when your electric battery is low? If you’re in the Camry Hybrid then you simply allow your petrol engine to do the heavy lifting so you can drive blithely around town without the faintest notion of what kind of energy you’re depleting. Sharply styled, with futuristic design cues and badging on the side that reads “Hybrid” across the front and back, the Camry Hybrid is Toyota’s way of blending luxury with practicality for drivers who want to reduce carbon emissions and do their bit to extend the presence of blue skies and green fields on this planet.  

The new Camry Hybrid is priced just a shade lower than the Audi A4. This high price is thanks to the steep excise and customs duties for several of the car’s mechanical parts that need to be brought into India even though the car is actually assembled at Toyota’s Bengaluru plant. The effective reality is also a car that is well-suited to Indian roads and conditions. In fact, some design cues make the new Camry resemble the Audi in certain angles with the pronounced and ample front grille, as well as side-flanks that are more stream-lined and contoured than the Camry Hybrids first launched in 2013. 

The upside: along with its high-end pricing come high-end attributes. And I refer not just to the leather seats or superior 9-speaker JBL sound system. It also includes climate-controlled chairs for the front seats, a digital control console in the back that lets you activate electronics, and a moon-roof. The sensation of having air-conditioning from within a chair and envelope one’s being from the seat inside out is not just novel, but it’s so effective you won’t care if the air-con blowers in front of you are on or not. 

Start up the Camry Hybrid and the hybrid engine powered sedan rolls smoothly along on its 18-inch rims. Pull it into corners, fling it out on the highway or ease it into a crowded lane and the Camry Hybrid performs like a champ with versatility that just doesn’t quit. The steering-mounted controls that come with paddle-shifters all make the driving experience top of its class. The head-up display throws speed per kilometre details out onto the windshield screen so you don’t have the distraction of taking your eyes off the road while checking if you’re breaking speed limits.

Truth be told, the Camry Hybrid feels more Lexus than Toyota and drivers will swear that its suspension, as also the overall fit and finish both inside and outside the car, is on par with German automobiles. Thank MacPherson struts and double wishbone architecture for that. It’s interesting to note that, internationally, car companies are taking one of two approaches to hybrids. Volkswagen and General Motors recently announced that they would stop making them. Toyota and Ford, on the other hand, aim to retain hybrids as part of their core lineup, even as the universal spotlight is on all-electric and alternative-power source vehicles here. 

So how does a Hybrid Camry work? It runs on standard petrol along with a regenerating nickel metal hydride battery that recycles electric power when the car slows down and the brakes are deployed. The net effect is a power system that works seamlessly, silently and supposedly more efficiently than its gasoline counterparts. Incidentally, the petrol-only Camry has been withdrawn from the market altogether but the company does also sell the Prius Hybrid as part of its alternative product offering. 

There are very few cars that exude premium quality while being low-key. The Camry Hybrid is a perfect representative of that motoring aesthetic. And if substantiation of its demographic is useful by way of driving home the point, it’s worth noting that at least two leading managing partners at top-ranked law firms in the nation are owners of the Camry Hybrid. 

Trunk space is substantial and can easily accommodate large suitcases, golf sets and multiple grocery bags. The fuel tank’s capacity of 50 litres necessitates very few pit stops to refuel especially given that it also feeds off the electric battery.  

From an overall check list in a class of sedans  that includes the Honda Accord, Volkswagen Passat, Nissan Altima and Hyundai Sonata, the Camry Hybrid is streets ahead in terms of comfort, reliability, performance and cool quotient. That is, of course, until the all-electric Camry makes it way here.

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