Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid If...
If you care as much about reducing greenhouse emissions as saving fuel, then driving a 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid is one way to appease your social conscience while still providing your family with a roomy and comfortable car. The Camry’s strong resale value carries over to the hybrid version as well.
You May Not Like The 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid If...
Under the new EPA fuel economy rating system, the Camry Hybrid’s city rating drops dramatically from last year’s number. Those who do more highway driving may have a difficult time rationalizing the car’s nearly $7,000 premium over the equally-frugal four-cylinder Camry CE.
Toyota has removed some of last year’s standard equipment, helping reduce the Camry Hybrid’s price tag by $1,000.
The 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid offers a spacious and airy interior, with a commanding driving position and dashboard design that sits low and away. Seating is firm and fairly comfortable, although the passenger’s-seat bottom could be angled up for better thigh support. The audio and ventilation controls are within easy reach of the driver, and many of the functions, such as fan speed and audio settings, can be operated via the steering wheel-mounted controls. The instrument cluster features legible white numerals against a black background and, in the spot normally reserved for a tachometer, the Camry Hybrid features a fuel economy indicator. There’s also a small blue-banded area to indicate when the vehicle is being powered solely by the electric motor.
The 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid has a low, swooping nose, large chrome grille and a bustle-style rear end that bears an uncanny resemblance to the BMW 7 Series. The side glass is more curvaceous than on the previous model, enhancing the car’s silhouette by creating a less slab-sided appearance. Unfortunately, the sweeping rear-window design creates a narrow trunk opening, making it difficult to insert wide or bulky items. Also adding to the car’s sporty good looks are a longer wheelbase and standard 16-inch wheels and tires. The Camry Hybrid’s chassis features a number of crumple zones designed to absorb collision-impact forces, which in turn can help minimize damage to the passenger cabin and its occupants.
To start the 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid a remote key fob informs the push-button starter that you are indeed the car’s rightful occupant. Once engaged, there is no sound of a starter motor or idling engine. Place the shift lever in drive and touch the accelerator pedal and the Camry glides forward in eerie silence. Push a bit harder on the pedal and the gasoline engine seamlessly comes online. With a combined output of 187 horsepower, the gasoline engine and electric motor provide brisk acceleration for passing and merging and, although the electrically-assisted power steering feels a bit numb, it never leaves the impression of being disconnected from the road. The Camry Hybrid’s cabin is amazingly quiet and the capable suspension delivers an impressively smooth ride.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just under $26,000. Add navigation, heated leather seats and the power moonroof, and the price rises to over $30,000. The popularity of hybrid cars makes them a hot commodity, so many dealers may be charging MSRP – or even more. Before you set out to buy be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price, which shows what others in your area are paying for their cars. As for resale, the Camry Hybrid is expected to retain an excellent five-year residual value, better than any of its gasoline powered brothers.
The Camry Hybrid is nicely equipped with such features as a CVT automatic transmission, Smart Key System with push-button starter, tire pressure monitor, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with touch controls, automatic on/off headlamps, AM/FM radio with single CD, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, power windows, 60/40-split folding rear seat, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, front side-impact airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags and a driver’s-knee airbag.
Popular options for the Camry Hybrid include a power moonroof, voice-activated DVD navigation system with 440-watt JBL audio and eight speakers, JBL Premium audio with external jack and six-disc CD/MP3 capable changer, leather seating, remote start, 16-inch alloy wheels, hands-free phone capability via Bluetooth wireless technology, heated outside mirrors, heated front seats, dual illuminated visor mirrors, XM Satellite Radio and a number of dealer and port-installed accessories, including security upgrades and exterior protection treatments.
Push Button StartWith the Smart Key System, one only needs the remote key fob at hand to unlock the doors and start the vehicle with a dash-mounted push-button starter.Steering Wheel-Mounted controlsThe Camry Hybrid’s redundant steering wheel-mounted functions include controls for the audio mode, volume, hands-free phone, fan speed, temperature and optional voice command.
Under the Hood
Power for the 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid comes from two sources. A 2.4-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine produces 147 horsepower, while a small electric motor generates an additional 40 horsepower. An efficient Continuously Variable Transmission, or CVT, routes power to the Camry’s front wheels. The Hybrid Synergy System uses a computer to switch between the electric motor (usually used during low-speed stop-and-go driving) and the gasoline engine, which is used at speeds above 30 miles per hour. The electric motor is also brought online during full-throttle acceleration, where its powerful torque helps move the Camry with surprising speed. The motor derives its power from an onboard battery that is continually recharged via the gasoline engine as well as by energy recaptured during deceleration, a process known as regenerative braking.2.4-liter in-line 4 with 105-kilowatt Permanent Magnetic Synchronous Electric Motor147 horsepower @ 6000 rpm/40 horsepower @ 4500 rpm (187 horsepower combined)138 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm/199 lb.-ft. of torque @ 0-1500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 33/34
The 2008 Toyota Camry now offers the Hybrid Synergy Drive system which, like the Prius, employs a frugal four-cylinder engine teamed with a powerful electric motor. Unlike the Prius, the Camry Hybrid does not stand out in a crowd, an important difference for the eco-friendly driver who prefers to remain anonymous. In fact, about the only noticeable differences between the Camry Hybrid and its gasoline-powered equivalent are a smaller trunk (due to the placement of the battery pack), a slightly smaller fuel tank and the obvious Hybrid Synergy Drive badges.