Buyers' Guide: Camry hybrid one to watch
Kelvin doesn’t mince his words. He is seriously looking at buying a Toyota Camry hybrid and asks what the drawbacks might be.
Are hybrids more suited for around-town use, are servicing costs higher, are resale values better or worse than a non-hybrid, what is the battery life and are they a better option than a straight petrol or diesel power unit?
Budget: around $50,000
All vehicles have some appeal to certain buyers.
In the case of the hybrid Camry (and Prius), it’s the obvious choice for many taxi drivers, especially in congested city centres.
But other potential buyers shouldn’t be put off by the fact they make good taxis. It certainly didn’t stop people buying Holden Commodores or Ford Falcons when they dominated the taxi fleets some years ago, did it?
The Camry’s main stumbling block — along with many other makes/models in any market segment — is the fact it’s a sedan. Sedans are not the preferred choice of most buyers these days, regardless of what engine/fuel type is under the bonnet.
Strange as it may sound, the Camry hybrid is one of the most memorable drives I have had in recent times and all for the right reasons. Why? Because it totally exceeded my expectations.
For a start, it’s such an easy car to drive, has plenty of power, the hybrid system adds value in terms of performance and fuel economy, the in-cabin navigation is easy and there is loads of interior space.
Okay, it’s never going to be crowned Car of the Year. But it fits the overall and renowned Toyota brief of delivering a very well-rounded package, including a good build quality.
So is it just an around-town car? No. With an actual achieved combined fuel consumption of just 5.8l/100km (claimed is 5.2l/100km) and a total combined power output of 151kW, it’s economical and no snail on the open road.
Servicing costs should be comparable to a conventional petrol model and somewhat cheaper than a diesel.
Resale values could suffer, especially if the SUV craze continues or buyers are looking for something a little more exciting.
And Toyota does have a habit of reducing new retail prices to help move stock, so secondhand prices could suffer depending on the initial new price paid.
The hybrid battery warranty currently extends to eight years or 160,000km (whichever comes first).
Replacement costs have drifted downwards over the years and are no longer the big-ticket item they once were.
As good as the hybrid system is, it will never compete with a diesel if the need is to tow heavy loads or when driving long distances on the open road, over challenging terrain, on a regular basis. The low-down engine torque of a diesel engine is its definite strong point along with consistently low fuel consumption.
Around town however, tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption and engine noise levels will be lower with the hybrid.
Regardless of make/model, both diesel and hybrid vehicles will command a price premium over a straight petrol-powered alternative. The base model Camry petrol vs hybrid difference is currently $5000, which is similar to a petrol vs diesel comparative of similar-sized vehicles.
The Camry Hybrid definitely has its advantages and benefits. It just needs to justify the higher price, which is no different to a diesel. Camry hybrid prices range from between $50,790 and $58,290.