EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


October 12, 2012

Toyota Camry Hybrid fits bigger needs

Economy, thrift and frugality are reawakened American values. A lot of people now spend their cash more carefully, because we’ve all seen that, well, you never know.

So what do you do when your big-ticket luxury car goes gray? Marc Smith sees some shoppers replacing them with the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

“We see that all the time,” said Smith, general sales manager at Rockingham Toyota Scion Honda, in Salem, N.H. “People come in and say, ‘we’re not spending $70,000 for a car anymore.’”

They go for the Camry Hybrid because the mid-size, front-drive sedan provides cabin space for wide-ranging travel needs. As a hybrid, it’s far enough out of the ordinary to confer some cache and distinction. And the Camry Hybrid offers amenities they want even outside the luxury car class.

“They still want a full-sized sedan with room for the golf clubs, with the leather, the navigation, the sunroof,” Smith illustrated. “When they drive it, they wonder why they ever spent 70 grand for a car.”

Smith’s position at Rockingham Motors gives him special insight into consumers’ approach to hybrid-drive automobiles, but the Camry Hybrid is just part of the reason why. Rockingham also sells the Toyota Prius, the dominant gasoline/electric hybrid car by a very large margin. For the majority of American drivers, hybrid equals Prius, which is now a family of models that range from the original, scampering version that is styled like a slick space pod, to the new, smaller and more economical Prius c, and the family-sized Prius v.

Those Prius models are exclusively hybrids. You can’t buy all-gas versions. You can only buy a Prius with the combined, gasoline-and-electric drive system that travels farther on a gallon of gas than conventional, gas-alone cars.

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