On Tuesday February 9th Electrifying Times had the opportunity to test drive the pre-production model of Toyota's Camry Hybrid in showrooms later this spring.

So I went looking for the perfect model to help me showcase the car. I found Piyhda on the Model Mayhem website, a partner in the Scion66 road trip kicking off May 13th 2006 at the Route 66 Dragway in Joliet, Illinois.

As luck would have it, Piyhda is also the special events coordinator for HulaHanks, a most popular nightspot in Fairfield County. So we're now talking about hosting the next Tiki Moon Lounge at HulaHanks, since we both share the same fascination for all things Tiki.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid is the perfect town car, good on gas, fast and smooth on acceleration, easy on the foot in traffic, and it has the look and feel town car companies love for their fleets.

So what better place than UBS, the United Bank of Switzerland, with North American headquarters in Stamford and the largest private trading floor in world to shoot the Camry Hybrid. Plus UBS has been hosting great green architecture and sustainable investments events.* But the security guard came running out, telling us we couldn't do that without prior authorization.

No such problems with Target, the Westin Hotel or Brasitas, the best restaurant in town. (Don't tell too many people... we'd like to keep it our little secret.)

You can see more pictures of Piyhda and the Camry Hybrid on the Greenburbs homepage slide show, a website I host with David Bedell in Fairfield County.

The Camry Hybrid is a perfect fit for Piyhda. Toyota has again designed a car that isn't really suited for anyone over 6 feet. There is too little head room for a tall guy like me. With the seat as low as it could go, my head still touched the side the door if I moved so much as an inch. It makes for quite a cozy comfortable cocoon for the average size driver, but this is going to be a problem for taller folks.

This said, this is still the perfect vehicle for companies like OZOcar in New York, who specialize in hybrid town car services, although it will limit the height of drivers they can hire, which may prove problematic since most professional drivers also double as body guards, and all come from long stints with the military. Most of them, like me, are all over 6 feet!

The car came to us without the owner's manual, but being familiar with previous Toyota hybrid models, I had no trouble finding all the right controls. Everything is quite ergonomic, as in any other Toyota vehicle. The one thing that disturbed me a little though was the flip over screen revealing the CD slot, a feature I already saw introduced in the Honda Civic Hybrid.

Now you know that thing is just going to break off eventually... somebody is going to lean on it, force it... plus for someone like me who uses his driving time to sample CDs... this open and close sesame, fun for the first five minutes, gets old real quick. It takes way too long. Toyota really needs to go back to a simple, right there CD slot... somebody in the design department reached out just a little too far into Jetsons mode, doesn't work in the real world.

0 to 60 mph under 9 seconds
43 mpg city - 37 mpg highway

 

Piyhda and I also went driving through the old factory spaces downtown Stamford, which is now home for many antique dealers, an indoor climbing wall, and a paintball court.

Tucked in a back alley we discovered a Russian deli which sells Eastern Europe goods out of a tight storage space and an old catering truck. In the background you can see the brick face of the art gallery rave performing artist Moby is helping, giving back to the community he once grew up in.

Corporate Cars also has their offices on this street. I can only hope that when they read this, they will also catch the hybrid bug!

You can find all the technical details and specifications about the Camry Hybrid from the Future/Concept section of the Toyota website.

I'd like to thank the Toyota North America press office for the opportunity to test drive their new Camry Hybrid. But I still like my Scion xB best of all... Even the driver who brought the Camry Hybrid to my home upon seeing my white xB in the garage said that the xB was his favorite car! He was tall like me, and quite a bit wider in girth.

Toyota, please, oh please, give us a hybrid xB... it's what everybody wants, that's what all the delivery professionals want... Please, we beg of you! Make the xB the next hybrid.
 

RemyC. - ET webed
*For more information on Stamford's new green direction, read about its
Green Ribbon Commission.