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Brand New Toyota Camry

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Tony O'Kane | Feb 9, 2010

With exterior styling features unique to Toyota Australia's newest model, the Hybrid Camry gets a new front bumper and grille design, along with blue-tinted headlights - a signature feature of Toyota's hybrid models.

The new front bumper draws styling characteristics from the current third-generation Prius, with awider and more rectangular lower air dam.

At the rear, new combination lamps feature a clear cover with LED lights, while hybrid badges are displayed prominently on the boot lid and front guards.

Another change (albeit a less-noticeable one) is the addition of new aerodynamic undertrays beneath the engine, cabin floor and fuel tank.

By smoothing airflow under the car, these undertrays cut drag and endow the Hybrid Camry with a slippery coefficient of drag of just 0.27.

In terms of its design, the interior of the Hybrid Camry is similar to its petrol-powered sibling.

Available in two trim levels - Hybrid Camry and Hybrid Camry Luxury - features unique to the new model include Optitron instruments, the "B" (for 'engine Braking'') position in the gear selector, Eco Drive Level Display and Eco-zone display.

Both Hybrid Camry models feature a premium steering wheel with audio and multi-information controls, a leather-wrppaed shift lever and handbrake lever, chrome interior door handles and metallic door trim ornaments.

Three rear-seat head rests with vertical height adjustment feature in the rear, with 60:40 split-fold rear seats and a rear-centre armrest with two cup holders.

While the Hybrid Camry features a moquette fabric seat trim, the Hybrid Camry Luxury offers leather-accented seat and door trim, along with electro-chromatic interior rear-view mirror and and power-operated driver and front-passenger seats.

According to Toyota, the Hybrid Camry has the lowest interior noise levels in the Camry range, which it says is commensurate with the new model's position as the Camry line-up's flagship.

The Hybrid Camry features a number of NVH counter-measures, including a noise-isolating acoustic windscreen and a range of sound-absorbing materials to limit the transmission of engine noise (the petrol engine, that is) and road noise into the cabin.

With the Hybrid Camry's drag co-efficient being a low 0.27, wind noise is kept low.

Luggage space is listed as 389 litres, down from the Camry Ateva's 460 litre seats-up capacity. The loss in cargo space is caused by the hybrid battery being mounted behind the rear seats. However, the 60/40 split-fold function of the petrol model is retained and a small pass-through enables thin items to be carried over the battery pack.

The hybrid battery certainly robs the Camry of luggage space, but not to the extent (for instance) as a boot-mounted LPG tank.

The car's 12-volt ancillary battery has been moved to the boot as well, sitting behind the driver's-side tail-light.

The Hybrid Camry's Optitron vacuum fluorescent instrument cluster has been designed to offer maximum clarity in all light. Borrowed from the Lexus line-up, where it first featured in the flagship LS, the Optitron components in the Hybrid Camry are a first for the Camry range.

The speedometer, multi-information display, instant fuel economy meter, Eco Drive Level display and Eco-zone display are all unique features designed specifically for this model.

In the instrument cluster is a purpose-designed series of warning displays, including warning lights for the hybrid system, EPS (electric power steering) and ECB (electronically-controlled brakes, a brake-by-wire regenerative braking system).

Importantly, the Hybrid Camry is the first locally-manufactured Toyota to feature EPS and ECB.

Designed to minimise weight, improve efficiency and optimise fuel economy, Toyota says its ECB system provides more precise brake-force distribution and closer cooperation with other systems such as Vehicle Stability Control and traction control.

The Hybrid Camry's regenerative braking system uses Toyota Hybrid System's electric motor/generators to convert kinetic energy to electrical energy - which is stored in the HV battery for later use.

There is also a warning system for low charge of the Hybrid battery, featuring an intermittent buzzer and a warning message on the multi-information display.

Economical Drive Feedback

The Hybrid Camry features a hybrid-specific method of representing fuel consumption, through its Economical Drive Feedback system.

An instantaneous fuel economy meter replaces the conventional tachometer in the instrument cluster, with a needle that moves across a gauge running from below zero (when running on electric power only) to 30 l/100km.

The instruments also provide feedback on the instantaneous consumption via an additional graphic called the Eco-zone, which displays readings from zero to 8.8 litres/100km - the ideal economy range in Hybrid Camry.

Eco Drive Level Display

An Eco Drive Level display in the instrument cluster conveys fuel consumption information via both the MID and the blue rings around the instantaneous fuel consumption meter and the speedometer.

The blue rings correspond to the average fuel consumption figure after Hybrid system start, as shown in the MID.

The brightness of the illumination varies across a range of four stages to indicate the economy level (brighter is better).

Energy Flow Display

Selecting the energy-flow graphic in the Multi-Information Display will provide schematic representations of energy flow and Hybrid battery charge level in the Hybrid Synergy Drive system.

The satellite-navigation option adds a more detailed energy-flow display and trip summary information.

Safety

The Hybrid Camry features Toyota's Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management system (VDIM) - the first locally-built Toyota to offer this technology.

VDIM is designed to optimise active safety by combining control of Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Electric Power-assisted Steering (EPS), Traction Control (TRC) and the anti-skid braking system (ABS).

It uses high-speed Control Area Network (CAN) computer technology to seamlessly combine previously separate technologies. It anticipates any loss of traction to provide enhanced grip in many situations and increases active safety.

Other standard safety features include a rear-view camera, rear sonar parking sensors and six SRS airbags.

Toyota Australia has not provided ANCAP with a vehicle for crash testing, however the company's senior executive director Dave Buttner is confident it will achieve the same 4-star rating as the regular Camry.

In the body, interior and beneath the bonnet, Toyota says there are more than 300 parts unique to the Hybrid Camry.

With a combined output of 140kW, the Hybrid Camry's driveline is made up of a 2.4 litre VVTi engine with two sets of planetary gears, two electric motors/generators and a counter gear to drive the differential.

While the petrol engine is based on the regular 2AZ-FE Camry unit, the Hybrid Camry's 2AZ-FXE engine runs on the Atkinson operating cycle (as with the Prius) to optimise fuel economy.

The 2AZ-FXE engine, on its own, develops 110kW at 6000rpm and 187Nm of torque at 4400Nm. When working in concert with the electric drive motor, a total of 140kW is on tap.

Late last month, Toyota Australia confirmed that ADR test results returned an official fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures of 6.0 l/100km and 142g/km.

Based on those numbers, Toyota claims commuters could potentially save as much as 1100 litres of fuel each year by driving a Hybrid Camry, and drive up to 1083km before needing to refuel.

A series-parallel system, Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive allows the Hybrid Camry to operate on either petrol power alone, electric power alone, or a combination of both.

Although described as "the electric motor", the Hybrid Camry's Hybrid Synergy Driver actually features two electric motors. The first acts primarily as a generator for converting excess petrol-engine power to electricity, and also as a starter motor for the petrol engine.

The second motor is the main electric drive motor, although it also acts as a generator during regenerative braking. It develops 105kW and 270Nm and is also equipped with a 2.471:1 reduction gear, which multiplies torque.

The battery is a nickel-metal hydride unit, and is mounted between the rear seats. The battery supplies 244.8 volts, but thanks to a boost converter the actual voltage fed to the electric drive motor is raised to 650V.

For gentle take-offs and reversing, only the electric motor is in play, although it will also assist the petrol engine when accelerating and climbing hills.

For normal driving, the petrol engine and the electric motor work to turn the wheels, with surplus engine power routed to the generator to recharge the battery.

When hard acceleration is called for, the battery supplies additional energy to the electric motor, and when the driver brakes, the motor recovers the kinetic energy and stores it in the battery as electricity.

When the car is stationary or coasting, the petrol engine will switch off, saving fuel and reducing exhaust emissions.

Hooked up to the petrol engine and electric drive motor is a continuously variable transmission, which differs from most other CVTs on the market by not using cones, pullies or chains to operate.

The suspension system is based on the regular Camry's hardware and uses the same basic geometry, however it has been substantially revised for the Hybrid.

The front anti-roll bar features reduced stiffness, while the front upper suspension mounts have been reinforced.

With the 57.5kg battery now mounted in the rear (in total, the hybrid weighs 115kg more than the equivalent "standard" model), weight distribution is now close to 50-50 and spring and damper rates have been adjusted to suit.

The front springs are now 8.5 percent stiffer, while the rear coils are 12.5 percent stiffer. Compression damping is 10 percent harder, while rebound damping is reduced by 5 percent.

The steering is no longer hydraulically assisted, and has been gifted with a more efficient electric assistance motor and benefits from a faster rack ratio.

Braking hardware is essentially the same disc/sliding caliper arrangement used by the rest of the Camry range, however the Hybrid's regenerative braking system does most of the braking during regular driving.

One other significant difference is that the brake pedal is no longer physically linked with the brake system, with a brake-by-wire arrangement replacing the old physical linkage.

The entry-level Hybrid Camry is priced from $36,990, and the Hybrid Camry Luxury from $39,990 (add on roads to each of those prices).

A $3000 option pack is offered with the Hybrid Camry trim level, featuring a premium audio system with eight speakers, satellite navigation and a premium three-spoke steering wheel with Bluetooth controls.

The Hybrid Camry Luxury has its own option pack priced at $4500. It features electric tilt-and-slide moonroof, premium premium audio with eight speakers, satellite navigation, premium three-spoke steering wheel with Bluetooth controls and rear personal reading lamps.

For additional peace of mind, the battery pack also carries a 160,000km/8 year battery warranty and is designed to last the life of the vehicle. When it's no longer serviceable, Toyota has a recycling program in place that strips the batteries locally before sending components to Korea for further recycling.

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