You'll Like The 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid If...
If you want a safe choice of a much-improved but still conservative mainstream mid-size Japanese family sedan, the new Toyota Camry is for you.
You May Not Like The 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid If...
If you want something less conservative and more distinctive or an equivalent domestic sedan, you may prefer the new Ford Fusion or Chevrolet Malibu.
2007 Camry sedans are available in five distinct flavors: price-leader CE, upmarket LE, top-grade XLE, sporty SE and Hybrid. The well-equipped Hybrid, available in mid-2006, couples an efficient 147-horsepower Atkinson-cycle version of the same four-cylinder engine to a 45-horsepower electric motor driving through a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) for 43-miles per gallon city and 37 highway.
Like the exterior, the new Camry's interior is more modern and stylish than before. The cowl (windshield base) is pushed forward, the two-tier instrument panel is lowered, the seatbacks are slimmed down and the front-seat adjustment travel is increased for added spaciousness. Larger footwells and a half-inch more legroom better accommodate rear-seat occupants, and the rear seatbacks recline in XLE models. Instruments are larger, more readable and better illuminated, with a different look for each distinct model. The controls are easier to read and operate, storage cubbies are plentiful, and there are two 12-volt outlets in the console.
The 2007 Camry's new appearance, a departure from the upright style of previous models, shares Toyota's swoopier new sedan look with its larger stablemate Avalon and upscale cousin Lexus ES. Its length is unchanged, but its stance is more stable with its wheels pushed further toward the corners - the wheelbase is 2.2-inches longer and front and rear tracks are 1.2-inches wider. Its hood, flanks and decklid surfaces have more complexity and character, and its headlights are the high-tech projector beam style. Toyota calls the Camry "athletic and modern," and we don't disagree, although the sporty SE with its lower ride height on bigger wheels and tires, black honeycomb grille, smoked headlamps and aero appendages looks much more athletic than the other models.
The new Camry drives much like the previous one, only better. The base CE tends toward soft, but the LE and XLE are crisper and more athletic than their 2006 equivalents. Most fun to drive, at least on smooth roads, is the lower and stiffer SE sport model, which has added structural bracing, firmer springs, shock absorbers, bushings and anti-roll bars, better steering feel and even an underbody aerodynamic treatment for enhanced high-speed stability. The upgraded four-cylinder engine provides adequate power with good fuel economy, while the muscular V6 is a powerhouse, up 58 horses from last year's 3.3-liter, good for zero to 60-miles per hour bursts in less than seven seconds.
The 2007 Camry CE starts at just under $18,850 (slightly less than the 2006 model), including destination, with four-cylinder engine and manual transmission, but other models are somewhat higher than their 2006 counterparts and most direct competitors due to increased equipment and refinement levels. The XLE V6 stickers for $28,100, more than $1,700 above the top-of-the-line 2006 Camry. The Hybrid, arriving in mid-year 2006, will likely retail for around $30,000. Toyota believes its strong reputation justifies aggressive pricing, but the other side of that coin is equally strong resale values. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Prices to see what consumers are actually paying. We project that the Camry LE will retain 40 percent of its value over 60 months, beating by far the residual values of both the Ford Fusion SE and Chevrolet Malibu.
The base CE offers power mirrors, locks and windows, air conditioning with a pollen filter, cruise control, tilt/telescope wheel, halogen headlamps with automatic on/off feature, daytime running lights, 60/40 fold-down rear seat, 16-inch steel wheels and six-speaker 160-watt digital audio with CD-MP3 and auxiliary input jack. Standard safety features include Toyota's Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) seats, four-wheel disc brakes with Antilock Braking System (ABS) and Brake Assist. There are no fewer than seven air bags including "advanced" driver and front passenger, front seat-mounted side, side-curtain and (unusual in this class) a driver-knee airbag. The uplevel LE adds an eight-way power driver's seat, remote keyless entry and the option of a V6 engine. The top-level XLE adds alloy wheels, 440-watt eight-speaker premium audio with six-disc CD changer and Bluetooth wireless cell phone connectivity, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather interior (V6 only), wood grain trim, a power moonroof, eight-way power driver's seat and four-way power passenger's seat, a 40/20/40 reclining rear seat (with fixed center pass-through) and much more. The very well-equipped Hybrid gets most of this plus a Smart Entry system with push-button start.
Probably to encourage buyers to move up to other models, the only option available on the base CE is the highly recommended Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with traction control, which is also available on LE, SE and XLE, but not on the Hybrid. Additional major options for most of these models include a JBL premium audio system with Bluetooth, power moonroof, leather interior, heated seats, navigation system and the "Smart Entry" system with push-button start (on the XLE with V6).
Plasmacluster Ionizer HVAC
According to Toyota the dual-zone automatic climate system standard on the XLE and Hybrid reduces airborne odors, mold spores, microbes, fungi, germs and bacteria inside the cabin by creating positive and negative ions that seek out and surround them.
Star Safety System
The standard integrated braking system includes ABS, Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA). Seven airbags are also standard, but Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with traction control is optional.
Under the Hood
The 2007 Camry features a standard upgraded DOHC 16-valve 2.4-liter Variable Valve Timing "with intelligence" (VVT-i) four-cylinder engine and an optional new DOHC 24-valve VVT-i V6. The Hybrid model marries a 147-horsepower Atkinson cycle version of the four-cylinder to a 45-horsepower electric motor.
2.4-liter in-line 4
158 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
161 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 (manual), 24/33 (automatic)
268 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
248 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31
2.4-liter in-line 4 with Permanent Magnetic Synchronous Electric Motor
147 horsepower @ 6000 rpm / 45 horsepower @ 4500 rpm (192 combined horsepower)
137 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm / 203 lb.-ft. of torque @ 0-1500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 43/37
Largely due to its solid reputation for quality and reliability, Toyota's midsize Camry has been the best-selling car in America for seven of the past eight years. But it has also been less than exciting, so Toyota decided the best way to keep it on top was to broaden the appeal of its all-new 2007 Camry by improving its styling, performance and dynamics. Its curvier, though still conservative design provides more real and perceived room inside, and its steering, braking and handling are improved with a ride tuned toward comfort (although in the sportier SE the tuning is biased more toward crisper handling response). Engine choices are an updated 158-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a new 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6.