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The experts at TheCarConnection.com studied the range of reviews on the new 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid, then produced this comprehensive report. TheCarConnection.com's editors have also driven the 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid and incorporated their experience with the vehicle to bring you this definitive piece.
The 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid—essentially the mid-size Camry sedan fitted with a high-tech, frugal, gasoline-electric hybrid system—gets a price cut of $1,000 and a couple of new option packages as it returns for the 2009 model year.
Fuel efficiency is the big selling point on the 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid, with EPA fuel economy estimates of 33 mpg city, 34 mpg highway. Like the Prius, the 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid has a so-called full-hybrid system, meaning that it can move at low speeds on electric power alone; at higher speeds and when more power is needed, the vehicle uses varying combinations of electric and gas-engine power (from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder) and charges the battery system, especially when coasting or braking. Altogether, the hybrid system and engine achieve 192 horsepower. The Hybrid's additional components fit well into the existing package, and the battery system is packaged masterfully and does not seriously affect trunk space.
The high-tech powertrain in the 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid operates smoothly and unobtrusively, to the point that with the sound system turned up, it's hard to tell when the gasoline engine turns on (an instrument panel display shows that). Like the other Camry sedans, the Hybrid has a rather soft, well-controlled ride and a very spacious interior, with plenty of legroom in back and space for five adults. Due to the Hybrid's heavier weight, it handles safely but not as nimbly as the standard Camry.
The 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid comes with quite a bit more standard equipment than the normal Camry; it includes a Smart Key system, dual-zone automatic climate control, a Plasmacluster ionizer, 16-inch steel wheels, and an AM/FM/single CD audio system with six speakers. An impressive JBL audio system and navigation system are available as part of options packages; stand-alone options for this year's Camry Hybrid include a power moonroof, a leather interior, driver and front passenger heated seats, and heated outside mirrors.
The Camry Hybrid does quite well in safety, including five-star results in the federal government's crash tests; a nonhybrid Camry got "good" results in the insurance industry tests, except for a "marginal" result in the rear-impact test. Toyota's more sophisticated form of electronic stability control, called Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), is standard on the Hybrid to assure that power delivery is smooth and that the system is stable on slippery surfaces. The 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid comes with a knee airbag for the driver as well as full-length curtain and front seat side-impact airbags, for seven airbags in total, plus the VDIM stability control system.