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2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Chevy Impala FlexFuel

Mercedes-Benz C-Class FlexFuel

Chevy Malibu Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz E320 BLUETEC

Chrysler Town & Country

Mercury Grand Marquis

Honda Civic Hybrid

Nissan Altima Hybrid

Lexus GS 450h Hybrid

Toyota Camry Hybrid


For anyone concerned about the viability of hybrid vehicles, Toyota has a million reasons why they shouldn't be. That's how many Toyota has sold since it introduced its first hybrid 11 years ago in Japan, with about a half-million of those subsequently sold to American buyers. That accounts for a lot of miles that can prove the technology's worth. The 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid will add to those miles of proof.

Mercury Grand Marquis Interior
Toyota Camry Hybrid Interior

With that argument nullified, it leaves the question of what a hybrid will deliver for the money, now that government tax credits are fading away. The answer is as mainstream as an auto can get, with Toyota's latest generation Camry sedan in hybrid mode.

Toyota accounts for the lion's share of hybrid vehicles sold under its own brand, or through technology agreements with other auto companies such as Honda and Ford. The heart of the Camry's system is a "Synergy Drive" with a 147-HP 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine combined with a "high-torque" 105-kilowatt (40-HP) electric motor. Both provide driving power either separately or together. Toyota cites the 2008 model as the least polluting auto around, contributing 70 percent less smog-forming emissions than the average new car.

So what does one get when driving all that technology? First there's the classic sedan looks of the current generation Camry, introduced last year. Add in the premium trim level comparable to the XLE version, with Smart Entry and Smart Start push button system that lets the driver start, stop and lock it by simply carrying the Smart Key. Among upscale interior amenities are standard premium 440-watt JLB audio and available, voice-activated DVD nav system.

Financially, 2008 is the bargain year for Camry with a base price of $25,200. That's $1,000 lower than 2007's entry price and $150 lower than next year's hybrid base. For anyone still concerned about the unknowns of owning a hybrid, Toyota has an answer. Its a set of warranties that includes 60-month, 60,000 miles on the powertrain — the heart of the hybrid.