Latest Toyota vs. Honda Hybrid Faceoff: Camry vs. Accord In Another Dimension
- March 27, 2006
- Honda, New Model Introductions, Technology & New Features, The Car Biz, More Categories...
- Posted by George Peterson
- 3 Comments
Camry Hybrid Launches with $25,900 Price Tag
Toyota has just announced pricing for its latest hybrid, the Camry. Sitting at the heart of the car market, this family sedan has a 187HP four-cylinder hybrid system that offers almost as much power as the launch V6-powered 2002 Camry. For a mere $25,900, one can get a hybrid powertrain and standard equipment including automatic headlights, premium audio, cruise control, Bluetooth, power driver’s seat, sixteen-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an ECO button that further improves fuel economy by controlling the HVAC system in certain situations. It arrives in dealers in May 2006.
This is an issue that VehicleVoice and AutoPacific has been tracking. Will a performance-oriented hybrid be more persuasive than a fuel economy biased hybrid. Honda has adopted the performance strategy with Accord, but not with Civic. Toyota has gone the fuel economy route with its Toyota brand hybrids, but with performance-oriented strategies with its Lexus brand hybrids. Over time, it will be very interesting to see how these differing strategies play out.
Accord Hybrid Versus Camry Hybrid
Camry launches with a price about $5000 less than Honda‘s Accord hybrid sedan, which uses a V6 and, with 253HP, offers significantly more horsepower. This dramatic difference in horsepower ratings presents an interesting case study. So far, hybrids have been primarily for improving fuel economy, as with the Prius and Civic hybrids, or for getting luxury performance with a smaller hit at the pump, as with the Lexus hybrids. But the Camry and the Accord hybrids go head-to-head in segment and size with slightly different philosophies, giving the market an the opportunity indicate a preference for hybrids with improved overall performance versus for hybrids focused more purely on improved fuel economy.
The Camry gets one into a hybrid for far less money, but the Accord uses its hybrid for performance as much as for fuel economy gains. By comparison, Lexus uses the performance angle with the RX 400h and other upcoming hybrid sedans, Toyota focuses on adding hybrids that stick with the practical nature of the brand. The Camry versus Accord drama has potential to be more telling than that of Toyota Highlander hybrid versus Lexus RX 400h, as the Lexus plays to a different audience while the Camry and Accord have similar buyers.
The Civic hybrid and the Prius are also basically head-to-head competitors as small cars with nearly identical pricing. But both of them use their hybrid systems to enhance fuel economy and not to boost performance, so a choice between them is not likely affected by a desire for overall performance and acceleration. The distinctive Prius also has an edge over Civic with its unique five-door hatchback look, while the Civic hybrid sedan looks just like any other Civic sedan.
Toyota and Honda have indicated similar volume targets for their Camry and Accord hybrids, both in the 50,000-unit neighborhood, so it will be interesting to see which gets there first, or if the 50,000-unit level is too low to get a clear picture of what customers prefer, which would be the case if both manufacturers are able to sell out their allotted hybrid capacity.