Those who keep up-to-date on hybrid cars know that the Honda Accord hybrid (V6, 255 hp) has been getting some backlash for being a "muscle" hybrid and providing relatively little environmental benefits (we will write more about the problem with "muscle" hybrids soon). Did it influence Toyota? Who knows? But the good news is that their Camry hybrid
won't compete in the horsepower race (not at first, anyway) and will feature a 4-cylinders gasoline engine. A good indication that fuel economy probably is still high on Toyota's list of objectives for that car.This is very good news because the Camry is currently the best-selling car in the US (and doing well around the world too), and now that the Prius has made the technology more familiar, we think the public is getting ready to make a compromise and buy a hybrid in the shape of a familiar and "safe" car. The Camry hybrid could be a breakthrough for hybrids as far as volume is concerned.
We would also speculate that Toyota will try to keep the price increase for the hybrid version as small as possible by offering a trim without the console LCD screen and other high-tech gadgets present in the Prius and other upscale hybrids.
It should also be noted that the Camry will be redesigned for 2006, so it won't look like the car in the picture above. If the new Avalon (review here) is a good indication of things to come, the new Camry should be more fuel efficient (even without a hybrid drivetrain) than the previous generation.
::Toyota Official Release (thanks to John1701a for the link)