2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid Test & Review & Car and Driver

23 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid Test & Review & Car and Driver

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid

This second verse is similar to the first#8212;but also more efficient.

#x201C;Don#x2019;t Rock the Boat#x201D; might not translate directly into Japanese, but Toyota engineers clearly followed words to such effect while crafting the new, second-generation Camry hybrid. Like the conventional gas-powered models, the gas-electric Camry is different and better than its forebear, although you#x2019;ll need a magnifying glass to identify many of the changes.

The most significant dimensional deviation is a 0.4-inch increase in overall height, attributable to a slightly more-wedge-like profile. The cargo hold was stretched to 13.1 cubic feet, representing a gain of 2.5 cubes achieved by reconfiguring and relocating the 150-pound battery pack. (Because of the pack#x2019;s location, only the right-side rear seatback folds to accommodate long objects.) Passenger space is up slightly, from 101.4 cubic feet to 102.7, keeping the Camry hybrid smack in the middle of the EPA#x2019;s midsize-sedan category.

Lighter and More Efficient

What the magnifying glass won#x2019;t reveal is that the more extensive use of high-strength steel has trimmed what Toyota says is about 220 pounds of weight while increasing rigidity in comparison with the last Camry hybrid we tested. Add to that a slick 0.27 coefficient of drag and improved low-rolling-resistance tires, and you get quicker acceleration and better mileage. More on that later.

Toyota#x2019;s Hybrid Synergy Drive system still relies on one transversely mounted four-cylinder engine, two electric motor/generators, and a planetary-gear CVT to power the front wheels. A slight increase in engine displacement#x2014;from 2.4 to 2.5 liters#x2014;and a thorough retuning raised power and torque (to 156 hp at 5700 rpm and 156 lb-ft at 4500 rpm). Switching to electric drive for the air-conditioning compressor and engine-coolant pump eliminated all accessory drive belts.

The main motor/generator, which produces more peak torque (199 lb-ft) and nearly as much peak power (141 hp) as the engine, drives the wheels and generates electricity to recharge the battery pack during deceleration. The smaller motor/generator restarts the gas engine after shutdown at stoplights, generates electricity for recharging the battery and powering the main motor/generator, and regulates the drive ratio between the engine and front wheels.

Inside, the trim has been upgraded to address well-deserved gripes. The addition of brushed aluminum accents, an elegantly stitched dash topper, and more-contemporary grain patterns should help stem the tide of customers fleeing toward Hyundai. The set of three bright #x201C;optitron#x201D; dials in the hybrid#x2019;s multi-information display conveys more mileage, range, and energy-flow information than the most curious driver could desire.

Additional energy-related menus are provided in the central touchscreen included with the uplevel audio and navigation systems. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard; a tasteful combination of leather and Ultrasuede seat trim is an $1160 option in uplevel XLE editions like our test vehicle. As in other Camrys, there are no fewer than five audio-and-navigation combinations, but you first must opt out of the base LE hybrid ($26,660) to take that walk. Step one is the base setup.

The first upgrade (standard in the $28,160 XLE) brings the 6.1-inch center touchscreen. The next step adds navigation and Toyota#x2019;s Entune multimedia system. Next comes the more entertaining JBL audio, and the final step brings a deluxe HDD navigation system splashed across a seven-inch touchscreen.

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