The Toyota Camry Hybrid is my first hybrid car to review, so I am very excited to see the difference and give it a run for BabyDrive!!
Firstly, I can vouch for how silent the Camry Hybrid is to start up, picture this …
Driving back from car pick ups my husband and I swap cars half way, so we get to test both cars on the motorway drive. I started off in the Skoda Karoq, we pull over, hop out and exchange oppinions and swap cars. Hubby gets in the Skoda Karoq and I get in the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Hubby starts to pull away but I can not get the Camry to turn on … starting to panic that I would be stuck half way home, with a car I can't start I began beeping the horn, waving my arms and shouting for him to stop! He put down his window, smiled and said, “It's a hybrid, it's silent and it's already turned on.” And then drove off laughing!!
I may sound like an idiot but every person that drove in the Camry Hybrid with me was visibly shocked by the quiet it was and was surprised when pulled off for the same reason. Even Hudson our excellent videographer got a shock when filming because it was just not what we are all used to, but it is the sound, or lack of, of the future… and I LOVE it!
The petrol engine didn't kick in until I was doing about 40km/h or if I was accelerating quickly at lower speeds. So you could do a lot of pootling around town or school runs without really using any fuel. I drove my daughter around the block to sleep and sat with just the battery motor running while she slept without using fuel! You will literally save yourself money and the planet using this car! The transition between the battery motor and petrol engine is very smooth too and is not as disturbing as the auto engine cut out on a regular car.
There is a great visual in the media screen that shows you the power going to and from the battery and engine, so you can see what you are using while you are driving or stopped which I found fascinating.
The Camry's media system has more modern looking graphics than in most Toyotas but it still did not have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and was quite basic and difficult to use.
A great BabyDrive feature on the Camry is that you can mute the parking sensors just by pressing the OK button on the left on the steering wheel so you don't wake sleeping passengers!
In the back of the Camry, there are Isofix points in the two outer seats, within plastic guides, and top tethers in the parcel shelf behind all three of the headrests. They were extremely difficult to connect and disconnect because there just isn't any space because of the rear window. I only managed to fit two child seats in as the Camry's rear seats are quite sculpted.
With rear-facing child seats installed, the legroom was still good in the front passenger seat and a 184cm passenger could still sit in front of them with 30cm of knee room. The door opening in the Camry was a good size and I didn't find that the roofline was too low or that heads got bumped getting bub in and out, as is often the case with other similar shaped cars.
Storage in the Camry was good throughout with practically sized cup holders in the front and back, the glovebox and central console box are a great size, there is a phone charging tray and a hidden storage area underneath it in the central console too, but door bins throughout the Camry are not good forcarrying larger vessels.
In the boot, the Camry has great storage but I did find getting large strollers through the boot opening a little tricky due to the shape. It is obviously just not as straightforward as a large SUV for example.
From empty, I could get 16 shopping bags in there. To put it into perspective, that is one more than the Subaru Forester, and only three less than the giant Toyota Kluger when you're only using five seats!
The boot floor has a soft covering and is flat, suitable for an emergency nappy change.
I found the Toyota Camry Hybrid a great car to drive, it is so quiet, smooth and comfortable but most of all I was fascinated by the hybrid motor! It is such a nice feeling to not be burning money or polluting the environment when driving my daughter to sleep and sitting while she sleeps for an hour and I have the engine running and the air-conditioning on.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2017 and has seven airbags as standard.