Behind the wheel of Toyota’s new hi-tech Camry Hybrid
Toyota’s new Camry Hybrid range combines power, safety and economy and most of the credit should go to some new technology under the hood.
Tech Guide got a chance to test drive the new Camry H (Hybrid) and the Camry HL (Hybrid Luxury) at a speedway in Broadford, just outside of Melbourne to see these new features, and the technology behind them, in action.
The fact the Camry is a hybrid (both electric and fuel powered) has several advantages.
It is quieter, has reduced emissions and is more economical but yet it still delivers on the performance front with power and acceleration.
But it was the technology we were looking for and the Camry delivered.
The vehicle doesn’t have one computer otherwise known as the ECU (electric control unit) – it actually has 15 in the Camry H and 17 in the Camry HL.
And they’re hard at work to maintain performance, enhance safety passively and actively, provide comfort, entertain us and keep up in touch with the outside world.
They include stability and traction control, EV (electric vehicle) drive mode, radar to monitor the car’s blind spot and a premium entertainment and communication system.
STABILITY AND TRACTION CONTROL
It is starts with the EPS (electric-power-assisted steering) for easier control and responsiveness and encompasses vehicle stability control, antilock brakes, traction control, brake force distribution and brake assist.
The car has the smarts to cut the throttle when it senses it can’t maintain its line. This was demonstrated dramatically at the test track when a wet part of the track was used for us to drive quickly in a circle.
Despite the wet road under the tyres and us flooring the accelerator, the Camry Hybrid kept us on course in that tight circle instead of sending is skidding off the road.
Brake force distribution comes into play when the car needs different pressure on each of the wheels’ brakes to maintain a grip on the road.
Brake assist was also evident when we took the Camry Hybrid H from 0-100 in about eight seconds and then immediately hit the brakes hard. The car came to a complete stop in less than 20 metres.
EV (electric vehicle) DRIVE MODE
EV Mode Drive Mode can be selected and engaged to avoid creating emissions and for even quieter operation for up to 2km at a time.
And don’t worry about the battery running down – it is constantly being re-charged every time you hit the brakes.
The battery also powers the car’s air conditioning and power steering.
Of course there’s also the 151kw 2.5L fuel engine to get you around town and even provides an efficient 5.2L per 100km.
BLIND SPOT MONITOR
Blind spot monitor actually uses radar to detect vehicles in the adjacent lanes in an area traditionally where drivers can’t easily see.
But with the Camry Hybrid a bright orange indicator illuminates on the side mirrors to warn the driver there is a vehicle in their blind spot.
Rather than making a sound which would usually force the driver to look at the dash, the blind spot monitor is located in a spot – the side mirror – where the driver will check before changing lanes.
AUTOMATIC HIGH BEAM
As its name indicates, automatic high beam can turn off the brighter headlight mode when it detects an approaching vehicle.
This detection is made possible through a camera mounted on back of the centre mounted rear-view mirror.
The Camry Hybrid can switch off high beam if there is an oncoming vehicle within 800m.
The Camry Hybrid JBL audio system has 10 speakers and, with GreenEdge technology, can produce higher output while minimising power usage and heat generation.
The system includes a touch-screen interface, satellite navigation with live SUNA traffic updates, a reversing camera and even a DAB+ digital radio.
Also included is iPod connectivity and built-in Bluetooth for hands free mobile operation behind the wheel.
Controls for the stereo, the digital radio, a connected iPod and your mobile calls are also conveniently located on the steering wheel.
The Toyota Camry H and HL are priced at $34,990 and $41,490 respectively.
The Camry H is actually $2000 cheaper than the previous model.
When it comes to technology the new Toyota Camry has literally got plenty under the hood to make it safer, more economical and more exciting to drive.