We've got our hands on some unofficial information about the 2007 Toyota Camry, including the hybrid version. If we were a big newspaper we probably couldn't publish this without confirmation, but since we are a blog and we'll find out soon enough if we were right anyway (Toyota debuts the 2007 Camry on January 6th 2006), we think we can get away with a disclaimer. Below the fold is what we got our hands on.
America's best-selling car is redesigned for 2007, getting new styling, more power and features, and, for the first time, a gas/electric hybrid model. Camry retains the same overall length as the 2002-2006 version, but adds 2.2 inches to wheelbase and cuts height by nearly an inch. Base-model curb weight is up some 175 lb. New features include standard instead of optional curtain side airbags. The line consists of a price-leader CE trim level, volume LE, sporty SE, and luxury XLE. All come with a 158-hp 2.4-liter 4-cyl engine and a 5-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automtic [sic]. LE, SE, and XLE also offer V6 versions with a 268-hp 3.5-liter and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Camry's previous most-powerful V6 had 210 hp and used a 5-speed automatic.
Both '07 automatics include a manual shift gate. The Hybrid teams a special 2.4-liter 4-cyl gas engine with a battery-powered electric motor for 192 net hp. It teams with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) providing near-infinite drive ratios. Like Toyota's smaller Prius hybrid, Camry's automatically drives on either or both power sources, depending on conditions, and requires no plug-in charging. Antilock 4-wheel disc brakes are standard for all models. So are front torso side airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags, and, for the first time, a driver's knee airbag.
The Hybrid adds antiskid/traction control that's available for other models. SEs come with 17-inch wheels, the other models with 16s. SEs also have a firmer suspension, and specific trim inside and out. The Hybrid also has unique interior and exterior trim. A split folding rear seat is standard except on SE and Hybrid, which have a fixed seat with center pass-through. Leather upholstery is included on the V6 XLE, available for the 4-cyl XLE and the SE. A navigation system with CD changer and wireless cell-phone link is optional for SE and XLE, as are heated seats. A new-to-Camry keyless-entry/starting system is included on Hybrid and available for V6 XLE.
It is interesting to note that the automatic transmissions are now 5 and 6 speeds (except for the hybrid which gets a continuously variable transmission, like the Prius). Until recently, most automatics had fewer gears than manual transmissions, but trying to achieve higher fuel economy has pushed automakers to add extra gears.
Also, it seems that - if this information is reliable - Toyota has decided to position the Camry hybrid between the 4 cylinders and V6 versions when it comes to power (158hp for the 4-cyl, 192hp for the hybrid and 268hp for the V6). The thinking probably is that a good portion of mainstream buyers will consider the extra power a good reason to pay a bit more for the gas-electric drivetrain.
In fact, since the current generation's Camry has a V6 that generates at most 210hp, the next generation hybrid's 192hp can almost be sold as: "V6 power, better than 4-cylinder gas mileage."
Update: More pictures of the 2007 Camry here.
January 10th Update: The 2007 Toyota Camry World Premiere with specifications and photos.
February 3rd Update: 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid & 2009 Next Generation Prius.
::2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid to Debut In January, ::First Photos of Next Generation Toyota Camry 2007, ::More Photos of 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid, ::Toyota: Better, Smaller, Cheaper Hybrid Systems in 2008, ::Toyota Camry Hybrid To Use 4-Cylinders Engine