By on April 25, 2012

The last time TTAC took a look at the Camry Hybrid was back in 2006. For 2012 Toyota has completely redesigned the Camry from the “sporty” SE model to the refrigerator-white base model Michael Karesh took for a spin. The base model’s  low price appeals to dealers while the SE allows Toyota to believe the Camry is something other than basic transportation. So what about the hybrid? The gasoline/electric Camry is aimed squarely at shoppers that want more green cred than a regular Camry can deliver and Prius shoppers looking for something more powerful and more traditional. One out of every seven Camrys sold in 2011 was a hybrid, with those numbers expected to grow it is imperative Toyota gets their baby-boomer hybrid just right.

Despite looking like a mid-cycle refresh, the 2012 Camry is almost entirely new from the sheetmetal to the seat frames. Only Toyota and Volvo seem to get away with completely redesigning a product that looks exactly like the old one. But Toyota remembers a high-selling mid-size sedan that went for a dramatic new look and flopped – yes bubble-Taurus, I’m lookin’ at you. Still, boring usually ages better than “exciting.” Case in point, the curvaceous Hyundai Sonata which is stunning now, but in danger of being horribly dated in a decade?

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For 2012 there are two different trims for the Camry Hybrid; LE and XLE. The LE model enables a low $25,900 MSRP (a reduction of $1,159 vs the 2011 base pricing) and includes standard niceties like: keyless entry/go, dual-zone climate control, and USB/iPod/Bluetooth connectivity. The XLE starts at $27,400 and adds: a power driver’s seat, touch-screen infotainment and some 17-inch alloy wheels. Of course, my personal mantra is “base priced be damned!” As such, our tester crawled up the luxury ladder with an eye-popping $6,320 options including $500 blind spot monitoring, $695 backup camera and alarm system, $450 Toyota Safety Connect system with 1 year subscription (ala GM’s OnStar), $1,160 leather and faux-suede seats, $915 moonroof and a whopping $2,600 for the premium JBL navigation system with surround sound, subwoofer, XM satellite radio and access to the premium XM services like weather, traffic and fuel prices. The result was an as-tested price of $34,817 after a $760 destination fee. While 35-large for a Camry sounds bad, the competition “options up” to the same ballpark with a comparably equipped Sonata Hybrid hitting $32,125 and the Fusion Hybrid reaching $33,665.

Features mean nothing if they are wrapped in nasty plastic, and let’s be honest, the previous Camry suffered from some questionable materials. 2012 brings the Camry’s interior game up a few notches with brushed-metal trim and a new dashboard that is injection molded, then stitched to create the latest in automotive interiors crazes; the faux-stitched dash. While GM may not like to have the LaCrosse compared to the Camry, the dash reminded me of Buick’s stitched improvements. Compared to the Sonata and Fusion, the Camry may be setting a new bar for luxuriously squishy dash bits.

Evolution rather than revolution has been the key to Camry design changes over the years, and the 2012′s interior is no exception. Available in muted shades of grey and tan, the only surprising feature is the busy gauge cluster. The cluster integrates four needles, three LCDs, a plethora of status lights, and an LED bar that displays your instant MPG. You might be thinking the needle showing 45MPG (above) is an instant figure, but it’s actually the average MPG gauge. Instant economy is shown by an arc of green LEDs to the right of the gauge. Yes, all the same MPG info can simultaneously be displayed on the LCD in the center of the speedo, as well as in the infotainment system. Doing so will let ensure that everyone in the car knows how green you are. While the gauges are extraordinary “blingy,” I found them preferable to the electrofluroescent displays the Prii use.

When the Camry Hybrid debuted in 2006, people bought them because they were discreetly styled, had a useable trunk and provided more rear leg room than a Prius. The cost of the traditional packaging was the Camry’s 30-odd MPG score. If the “low” fuel economy wasn’t a problem, the battery pack in the trunk robbed precious cargo room. For 2012, Toyota uses a slimmer battery pack allowing the trunk to grow to 13.1 cubic feet. This is larger than the competition, but unfortunately continues to eschew a real trunk pass-through. Instead you get a 60% folding rear seat back which reveals a small, oddly shaped portal. While you might be able to get a pair of skis in the car, other long objects are thwarted by a front passenger seat doesn’t fold.

Like the rest of the Camry line, the Hybrid sports one “sound only” system and three different touch screen navigation/infotainment systems. First up is the base AM/FM/CD audio system with 6 speakers and iPod/USB and Bluetooth integration (the only unit available in the “LE”  model.) The XLE starts with the same speakers but for $1,745 adds a 6.1inch LCD “display audio with navigation” (the bundle also includes the keyless-go “smartkey”). This “base” nav system is one of Toyota’s best, as the voice commands for destinations are logical and easy to use. The system also offers smartphone integrated apps and data services meaning you don’t need an XM subscription to make the whiz-bang features work. Shoppers can also bundle this system with the 7.1 channel JBL “green” speaker and amp system which gives the Camry one of the better audio systems in the segment. If you feel spendy, you can upgrade to the 7-inch system (pictured below) which uses a totally different software interface. The up-level interface is hard-drive based and has a few more POIs built-in, allows side-by-side map displays and uses XM as the data service and not your smartphone. While the two systems offer similar features, the 6.1-inch system doesn’t need an XM subscription to do traffic so it would be my choice unless you plan on living with a dumbphone forever. To see the 6.1-inch system in action, check out TTAC’s Prius c video.

When Toyota scaled-up their Hybrid Synergy Drive system to handle the weight of the Camry (and in a desire to retain a standard of acceleration that mid-size shoppers would accept), the enlargement resulted in EPA scores of 33 city/34 highway, well below the Ford and Hyundai competition that soon followed. In addition, the Camry Hybrid wasn’t terribly swift. To solve those complaints, Toyota ditched the old hybrid drivetrain for an all-new system incorporating a larger 2.5L, 156HP Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine and more powerful motors. The new system is good for a combined 200HP (and around 200lb-ft of torque). Largely thanks to the  199lb-feet of torque the motor delivers from 0-1500RPM, acceleration is considerably better than the Prius twisting out a 6.9 second run to 60. While the system still uses Nickle based batteries instead of the trendier Lithium batteries in the Sonata, the refinements to the system lifted the Camry’s economy to 43 city, 39 highway and 41 combined. In the old Camry, I had difficulty achieving the advertised 34MPG highway numbers, but over 730 miles of mixed driving, photo shoots, stop-and-go commute traffic and a weekend out-of-town the Camry Hybrid averaged an impressive 43MPG. While our numbers were notably above the EPA ratings, as with all cars, your mileage will vary.

At 3400lbs, the Camry Hybrid is 245lbs heavier than the non-hybrid Camry and the weight gain impacts handling to some degree, however the low-rolling resistance rubber causes more of a problem with windy mountain roads. Then again, none of the Camry models are corner carvers, and although the steering is just as numb  as the rest of the lineup, it is fairly average for the class which focuses more on ride than handling. The Camry is a willing and capable commuter car, providing a quiet, compliant ride and delivering an average of 44MPG on my daily commute.

For some reason, car shoppers in America buy vehicles for their “peak”  load rather than their average load. In light of this the Camry Hybrid (like it’s mid-size hybrid competition) may just be the ideal vehicle for the average American delivering a solid 40MPG, seating for five and few compromises. While the Camry Hybrid may be boring, I am a “white bread and smooth peanut butter” kind of guy, and judging by the Camry’s sales numbers, so are a large number of mid size shoppers. With a 41MPG combined EPA score and 0-60 times under 7-seconds, the Camry Hybrid might just be the prefect Camry.

 

Toyota provided the vehicle insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.7 Seconds

0-60: ran between 6.7 and 7.2 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.16 @ 92.7 MPH

Average fuel economy:  40.9MPG over 837  miles

 

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92 Comments on “Review: 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid...”


  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    I am looking forward to a comparison between the ’13 Camry and the ’13 Fusion. One car is white bread and smooth peanut butter, while the other is not. Sales success isn’t the only important result here. White bread and smooth peanut butter may sell, but the legacy it builds is only attractive to old people and those looking for a transportation appliance. There is a reason for the panache of a Mustang, verses the lack thereof with a Camry. Smooth peanut butter may sell, but folks covet their favorite bowl of chili. This means something in the long run too.

    Also, Volvo sales isn’t setting the world of fire. This new, but old, cautious design methodology exposes Toyota of being a stingy miser, design wise. Man does not live on white bread alone – and this is coming from a guy with “vanilla” in his name and is as average joe as they come. The 2013 Camry is a snore.

    Seeing this from a company like Toyota is a disappointment. They are failing to exceed expectations. Why is “good enough”, good enough from them? There is nothing “new” here.

    • 0 avatar
      alluster

      “Seeing this from a company like Toyota is a disappointment.”

      It may be a disappointment to you, but not a surprise to anyone else. Toyota built its reputation on boring, conservative, beige bland mobiles. No surprise the “new” Camry continues this legacy. The Camry is the #1 selling car in North America. The Corolla is the #1 selling car worldwide and the Prius is the #1 selling car in South East Asia. Neither of which set the world on fire in the design department. These are cars perfect for people who need cars but hate cars or driving in general. Toyota is like a White, Rectangle Fridge. Boring and bland but the top seller in any market.

      With 70% of their sales coming from just four models, the Camry, Corolla, Rav4 and Prius, Toyota can’t risk to think outside the box for their redesigns. They played it safe following the same formula that put these cars in the top for their respective segments. We better get used to this because this is the future. 50 years from now when every car company has gone bankrupt except Toyota, we will all be driving the same car. It will be a Camry, made in one color and one trim only. Will get 400 miles to the gallon, will look like crap the way it does now and will be “refreshed” every 30 years.

      I rented the new Camry LE for a vacation trip to Vermont. As someone who hates Toyota I’d have to say I loved the car. Didn’t look great but was great on gas, tall seating, quiet, roomy, huge trunk and the most head room I have ever had in a passenger car. I only wish they didn’t corrolaficate the styling.

      So why isn’t the Camry styled like a Fusion or the New Malibu? Because neither of them sell 40,000 units a month.

      • 0 avatar
        rodface

        Agreed. Toyota puts out a car that does exactly what it’s expected to do, sells in huge numbers, yet somehow “fails”. This is the car that 95% of car buyers want. Unfortunately many of them can only afford to buy a used Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        And the Camry has been LOSING marketshare to its rivals over the years (since its heyday duign the mid 1990s) – no longer outselling its competitors (aside from the Accord) by a 2x/3x or even greater margin.

        In addition, the Camry no longer commands a premium over its comeptition (same for the Accord) as it once did and Camry has been finding its way to fleet at a significantly higher rate than before (last month – 20% of Camrys sold went to fleet).

        And as for the interior, while it is improved over the chinzy interior of its predecessor, aside from the stitched “faux” leather dash, one can still find cheap plastic bits all around that won’t be found in the segment leaders; at best the interior of the Camry is middling for the segment (and that’s before the new Fusion, Altima, Accord and Mazda6 hit the lots).

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        Here’s the problem: The Camry is selling so well because of a perceived quality superiority, one it doesn’t have. Heck, it can be argued one it *never* had. Aside from some glaring examples (Ford’s Vulcan engine had head issues in the mid to late 90′s, as an example), it’s not as though every single car sold by an American manufacturer from 1990 to 2000 was of lower quality than their Japanese counter-part.

        Any vehicle that’s well maintained can last a ton of miles. And as stupid as the general public is, many of them don’t properly maintain their vehicles. My grandfather in law, who sold cars new and used for 40 years, didn’t understand the concept of “routine maintenance” on a new car. You know, those things you get checked or replaced at 30k, 50k, 75k, 100k, 150k, etc on your brand new car. He didn’t agree with or understand that you should check or replace things that are used often and breakable. He SOLD cars. You do the math. People are stupid like this ALL THE TIME. A co-worker last winter in Wisconsin admitted that she spent the money she was going to spend on her “should have been replaced a year or two ago” unsafe for the summer let alone the winter tires, she had spent that money on a TV on black Friday. People are fools.

        So the Camry, particularly “these days”, isn’t any more reliable than a Fusion or Malibu or Sonata or Optima. A 2005 Camry is no more reliable than a 2005 Malibu or Sonata or Altima. A 1995 Camry *may* have been more reliable than a 1995 Taurus, maybe, but in examples, not as a whole, and that was nearly two full decades ago.

        The reliability argument gone, the Camry is now nothing more than an average mid-sized car. There’s no reason a 2013 Fusion, 2013 Malibu (both excellent looking new or refreshed models) or 2013 Sonata or Optima, or the new 2013 Altima don’t offer the same or better interior, exterior, features, cost, etc. It’s a level playing field. The ONLY reason the Camry sells half a million cars a year in the United States is because people *think* it’s somehow better built and will last longer than a competing model. Pure ignorance.

        Let’s not forget that, shall we?

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Yes. This “conservative” quality is very much in the company’s DNA. Think back to the original Toyota sedan that first established the company in the US market in the early 1970s: the Corona sedan. It was nothing if not a 3/4 scale American car that worked. Nothing adventuresome: front engine, rear wheel drive with a solid rear axle. The other Japanese companies did the cutting edge thing: Honda with its front wheel drive vehicles, Datsun (Nissan) with it’s clone of the BMW 2002 (2 liter engine, rear wheel drive, double jointed independent rear suspension), and, of course, Mazda with its 7,000 rpm redline rotary engine which sounded like an angry sewing machine.

        And it was quite a few years before Toyota migrated to front-wheel drive. With a very few exceptions, Toyotas have never been exciting, and that doesn’t seem to have been an accident.

        Actually, I would have to say that the launch of the Prius is the most out-of-character thing Toyota has done in the past 45 years. And, what’s in-character about that, is that it works and works well at its assigned mission.

        Whether you love their products or not, you certainly have to respect the company which makes them and their record of success.

      • 0 avatar
        alluster

        bd2 and tuffjuff, All good points. The Camry has been consistently losing market share since 2006. Sales are down from 475,000 in 2007 to 308,000 in 2011 while the entire misdize segment has grown. The Altima and Fusion are closely nipping at its heels. The Altima probably outsold the Camry this year if you exclude fleet sales. The Accord is stuck at 4th place and at a risk of getting passed by the Sonata. The Camry only had to compete with the Accord in the years past, but now it is under threat from all the midsize sedans except maybe the Galant. Toyota specifically named a threat from the Sonata as the reason why the 2012 Camry was priced lower across all trims than the 2011 model. All that said, the Camry still is the default choice for most people shopping in the D segment. It may not be the most exiting or the best looking in its segment but you can bet is the best choice. A reputation build in 3 decades won’t go away easily. Also, the Camry looks like a $20,000 car which helps more people to consider it. The new Fusion and the new Malibu with standard polished wheels are going to like $40,000 cars. Most people who see them on the road will have their jaws drop and that’s pretty much it. They are not going to price a car they perceive out of their price range. This shouldn’t bother any of the Detroit fanboys. If the new Focus and Cruze are any indication, the new Fusion and Malibu can be the premium alternatives to a Camry/Altima, in that they bring in a lot more money per sale. Let Toyota grease fleet sales and continue to undercut the competition in price to maintain their sales leadership.
        New malibu coming this fall
        http://media.gm.com/content/Pages/news/us/en/2011/Oct/1018_koreaMalibu/_jcr_content/rightpar/sectioncontainer_0/par/download_0/file.res/Malibu%20production_1.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        As a former service writer, there is no fiction to Toyota’s quality superiority. Plenty of GM, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, and Hyundai products fail just fine no matter how much maintenance you lavish them with while most Toyotas and Hondas can’t be killed by mere neglect. The new Malibu doesn’t look like a premium product. Didn’t it finish dead last in a big comparison test with a number of dated competitors hosted by the original Toyota basher? That doesn’t say game changer to me.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        @CJinSD

        AutoBild, which does the most comprehensive analysis of longterm reliability in the industry (including analyzing service records), has placed Hyundai at the top of their rankings for the past 2 years.

        And let’s not forget that all these reliability studies don’t take into account RECALLS – which Toyota had been leading for the past few years (until Honda passed them by for 2011).

        As for the Malibu Eco placing last in the Car & Driver comparison, it was hardly a fair comparison since it was the only “light” hybrid tested in the bunch (let’s wait and see until how the non-battery assisted Malibu does in tests).

        As for the Camry, despite being the NEWEST entrant in the midsize mainstream segment, it really hasn’t been seen as being a segment leader, mostly being seen as MIDDLE of the pack with a slew of new entrants to arrive soon.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        A recall is better than not acknowledging a problem (face it, no company is truly flawless).

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        bd2,

        I have no idea why you think a car magazine like Autobild is convincing. If there is one thing Hyundai knows how to do it is grease journalists. The definitive reliability report of Germany is the TUV. There were three Toyotas in the top 10 performing cars in Germany and there were three Hyundai/Kias in the bottom 10. http://www.cbt.com.my/2012/01/12/tuv-toyota-prius-most-reliable-car-mazda-2-and-3-scores-well-too/

        Autobild has a credibility gap. Anyway you look at it, the worst manufacturer in the TUV rankings has no business being ranked number 1 for dependability, reliability, durability or quality.

    • 0 avatar
      Duncan

      The review was clear that the 2012 Camry hybrid is an improvement on the last generation Camry hybrid. Your response, VD, seems to accuse them of coasting (like Honda). It is interesting that you pull the Mustang into this as a counterpoint. I would say that Ford and Toyota are following the same formula here – take a winner and incrementally improve it.

      An efficient family sedan may not get your pulse racing, but this car seems like it could easily convince someone driving a 2006 Camry hybrid to trade it in for a 2012 model.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology has been proven and refined, and conservative design ensures reliability – nobody knows how the ’13 Fusion or its hybrid system will hold up.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        Going into things assuming potentially new technology will automatically fail because it’s new is a pretty crappy way to look at technology, and therefore automobiles. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        Perhaps the Fusion will hold up well, heck, maybe even as well as the Camry. I think the current Fusion Hybrid has done pretty well. But what I’m trying to say is that the Camry buyer makes their decision based on popular and proven technology, and there is plenty of data to back that up.

      • 0 avatar
        Duncan

        Agreed – rolling the dice with $20k – $30k isn’t something the average consumer can do. Insulting the average person’s intelligence and their view of technology isn’t helpful. While it’s great to have risk takers and early adopters out there – it’s perfectly fine to also have play it safe, tried and true, know what you’re going to get types.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        You could look at it that way, or you could look at it as ignorance. When the Core i7 processor came out, did you go out the next day and buy a Core2Quad computer, costing more money than the i7 and being slower, because it had been around for a few years? Do you wait for the iPhone 5 to come out before buying the iPhone 4, because it’s 2 years older and “proven”?

        Stupidity aside, I suppose the new Camry is a great vehicle for those types of mindsets – the platform is a decade old, just like it’s looks. Should work out well.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        tuffjuff” There were no widespread head issues with Ford Vulcan engines. While long in the tooth, they are and always have been reliable and durable, which are certainly not the same things. The 3.8 litre Ford was the POS that had head gasket issues.

        Toyota, despite all the stumbles in the past decade, has not lost sight of the reliability crown. Overall, they still deserve accolades for reliability. The notable exception was the full size pickup line. And the ability to handle neglect was pretty amazing as well. Excepting the 3.0 litre V6 which sludged oil way too easily, most Toyotas dealt with poor maintenance better than most cars ever made.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        I owned a 1996 and a 1994 Taurus, both with Vulcan engines, both ended up having head gasket issues. I was given the impression this was fairly common for the mid to late 90′s Taurus. Clearly my being incorrect is an example of misconception, the same thing can be said, in reverse, of Toyota. Because when I was 16 I had bad luck with a Taurus that’s now nearly two decades old, this didn’t at all color my view of Ford today. Today’s Ford Taurus is a pretty decent, if not somewhat boring (compared to the excellent looking new Fusion, in particular) large entry level luxury sedan. Heck, I bought a 2012 Focus and love it. I don’t go around thinking every Ford is less reliable than others, just the same as I don’t go around thinking every Toyota is more reliable than it’s competitors. Doing either of these things would be 100% incorrect. It’s these stupid misconceptions/down-right lies that sell so many Toyotas of every model, and it’s also what annoys the heck out of me.

        “The Bar” doesn’t make the best wings in Green Bay, Wisconsin in much the same vein Toyota doesn’t make the most reliable cars in the country/world.

    • 0 avatar
      giro

      “Seeing this from a company like Toyota is a disappointment. They are failing to exceed expectations. Why is “good enough”, good enough from them? There is nothing “new” here.”

      You’re taking yourself too seriously man.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    7 mpg better, roughly, than a base Camry 4-banger. AT 15,000 miles per year = 92 gallons of gas NOT bought. 92 @ $3.79 (price in Elkhart, IN this AM) yields an annual savings of $348.68….

    Even ignoring the maintenance cost delta, the VALUE proposition of the hybrid still ain’t there…..

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      “the refinements to the system lifted the Camry’s economy to 43 city, 39 highway and 41 combined. In the old Camry, I had difficulty achieving the advertised 34MPG highway numbers,”

    • 0 avatar
      Feds

      Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the maintenance cost delta in favour of the hybrid?

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      It’s not 7 mpg better, more like 13 mpg over the 4 or 16 over the v6.

      Camry 4 cyl, 28mpg combined

      Camry 6 cyl, 25mpg combined

      Camry hybrid, 41mpg combined.

      And if my math is right, the hybrid costs $1,240 over the SE, and driving 12,000 miles a year with $4 gas, the payback is roughly two and a half years over the 4 cyl.

    • 0 avatar
      ckgs

      Here’s the mandatory “hybrids don’t pencil out” post. People buy hybrids (and electric cars) for more than just the value proposition on gasoline savings. It’s a factor but not the only one. This must be true since “running the numbers” has been done countless times, countless ways, by countless people, yet they keep selling.

      Using less gasoline is good for a lot of reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        None of the options we put on our cars pay for themselves, in fact, a majority increase the cost of ownership. For example, the premium engine option generally uses more fuel and has higher MSRP.

        Hybrid equipment is introduced by the auto industry, analysts and marketers declare that hybrids don’t pay for themselves.

        Tragedy or comedy? I’m laughing today, but the next time I look at our trade deficit and cost-push transportation inflation, I might not be laughing.

    • 0 avatar
      FAS

      At $4.00 a gallon, and 15k miles per year, every ONE MPG better you get yields a gas spend savings of $250/yr.

      Its a pretty simple formula lost on many.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        It’s also a wholly inaccurate formula.

        Moving from 15 to 16 mpg would save you $250 a year.

        25 to 26 mpg would be $92 a year.

        35 to 36 mpg would be $48 a year.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      First off, most US driven miles are considered city miles by the EPA, which is why the combined formula more heavily weights city mileage.
      And second off, this time around the hybrid is a significantly faster car than the 4 cylinder model, it has approximately as much acceleration as the old school 3 liter V6 Camry’s, which is why there’s an ES300h. So you have to factor that into the price as well.
      It’s only $3500 more so it’s likely that you’d recoup well before the lifespan of the car is over and you’d have better acceleration along the way.

      Really the trunk space is the only issue with this vehicle but that afflicts the other hybrids worse. I kinda wish they’d make a high power version of the Prius with Prius like luggage space.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Just for kicks, I “shopped” both the hybrid and SE, actually the SE was a better buy, more stuff for less $ and it would take years to get the money back from better mpg.

  • avatar

    Herein NYC having a Hybrid entitles the elitists to park in special “Hybrid only” spaces and drive past slower traffic in HOV lanes.

    Imagine the ridiculousness of parking an S400 or LS600 in your own isolated parking space on campus.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      In California the HOV lane perks have expired for normal hybrids, but they used to apply to cars that were hybrids AND got 45+mpg. That excluded hybrid Lexus RXs or Chevy Tahoes and things like that.

      A lot of hybrids come in under the average transaction price of new vehicles sold in the US ($30,750), so they aren’t really elitist. The car in this review was above that average, but not if you leave out some of the options (removing the nav, blind spot monitoring, backup camera, and OnStar-alike would do it).

  • avatar
    Feds

    Toyota provided the vehicle insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

    Ye Gods! Alex did not disclose the swanky laptop bag shown in the trunk picture! JOURNOSAUR!!! BURN HIM!!!

    The “Hybrid Compromise” is getting smaller and smaller. I’ve got a couple of toddlers, and I’ll bet one of them never buys a non-hybrid car.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    I like the Toyota brand, but I can’t help but think Toyota hit an all time low in the styling department with this new Camry. For a next generation re-do, it’s really bad and brings nothing new to the table. Apparently Toyota is hiring accountants as their designers. I’m surprised at the number of new Camry’s I see on the road and I swear if Toyota stuck a Camry logo on a giant dinosaur turd, people would buy it. It amazes me how the general American public will settle for mediocrity. Case in point, the new Camry, the popularity of the new Jetta (tons of them here around Boston), the popularity of Olive Garden and everything else you find in typical surburban sprawl. I think Toyota (and others) might realize this and think, “why bother?”. This sucks for people who care for and appreciate aesthetics, quality and workmanship.

    • 0 avatar
      rodface

      Exactly what is mediocre about this car? Every time a company tries to step out with daring styling, the market beats it back into shape. Mazda was slammed for being too smiley. Hyundai, for being too insectoid. Toyota tweaks the styling on its top seller to keep it in touch with the times and suddenly it’s a giant turd? Give me a break.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        “Exactly what is mediocre about this car?”

        I hope you enjoyed your yummy lunch at The Olive Garden.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        I strongly prefer the styling of the new Passat over the Camry. The character lines in the Passat emphasize long and wide to help disguise how tall cars have become. Long, low, and wide just looks better. The Camry, in contrast, has a weird combination of slab sides and wedge/rising beltline. Imagine a Passat with the lighter weight more efficient 16 valve aluminum low maintenance cost Toyota engine in place of the 10 valve iron block 5 cylinder. Imagine a Passat with no driveshaft hump intruding into the rear seat area.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        I like the Passat’s wider styling as well.

        But if I were going to imagine a Passat that I’d actually buy, I’d start with imagining it being made by a reputable brand.

        Buying a first year VW from a first year transplant factory takes a special kind of stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        What’s daring about a rear profile that looks like a 2005 Malbiu’s? Or a front that looks like a 15% larger Toyota Corolla?

        Just curious.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        “Exactly what is mediocre about this car?”

        I hope you enjoyed your yummy lunch at The Olive Garden.

        That was awesome, though the Olive Garden has to be the worst Italian food I ever ate. Even the Camry styling deserves better.

      • 0 avatar
        rodface

        “I hope you enjoyed your yummy lunch at The Olive Garden.”

        I do enjoy lunch at Olive Garden whenever I go there or to any other restaurant. Go take your elitism and snobbery somewhere where people are impressed by that.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        “I do enjoy lunch at Olive Garden whenever I go there or to any other restaurant. Go take your elitism and snobbery somewhere where people are impressed by that.”

        Thank you for your advice. The snob and elitist that I am, I think I will change my avatar to the nose of a BMW too. Surely I will impress a lot of people with that!

      • 0 avatar
        rodface

        Since your avatar is a picture of a dog, I can only assume you like to sniff people’s asses. But only if they didn’t drive a Camry to an Olive Garden for lunch.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        Actually my avatar is a face shot of my best pal Lamont. In the 8 months that I’ve had him although I haven’t caught him yet smelling any asses, he does lick his balls. Lucky dog. His favorite thing to do is to ride around in the weekend 4Runner with the sunroof and rear window open. When he looks out the window and sees a new Camry he hopes that isn’t the future direction Toyota will take with their niche products because while incredibly bland looking and anesthetized products may work for the masses and drive company profit, it makes for an awfully boring world. Also, since Lamont eats his sister’s poo, I somehow suspect he will probably eat Olive Garden food too. I’ll somehow have to incorporate epicurean quality into his training. Sorry, was that last sentence too elitist?

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        If the worst Italian food you’ve had is at The Olive Garden, you haven’t eaten at a lot of Italian or “Italian” places.

    • 0 avatar
      TW4

      I’m not surprised people settle for mediocrity b/c people like commodities. Commodities are cheap, easy, and relatively unengaging (they don’t require our attention).

      The price is remarkable. It is unbelievable that consumers, who obviously care very little about cars, will spend $30,000 they don’t have on a fully-loaded commodity.

      We have a disconnect between the industry and the consumers. The industry say cars are special. The government says they have to be able to survive a direct nuclear blast. The analysts and journos flog cars for every little niggling mistake. BUT the consumer inexplicably buys an overpriced, options-bundled, vehicular-compromise by taking out a 3rd mortgage.

      Consumers want Model T’s, but the manufacturers are only willing to supply McMansions.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        “The price is remarkable. It is unbelievable that consumers, who obviously care very little about cars, will spend $30,000 they don’t have on a fully-loaded commodity.”

        Oh yeah, people literally spend more than $30,000,000,000 on commodities every day. People buy gold, oil and Camries in large quanities because that’s what they trust and need.

        As for how many Camry buyers actualy own the $30,000, it’s hard to say. But given existing statistics, of all the major car makers, Toyota’s customer base is the 2nd richest (after Honda). Put your bet on a 200, since Chrysler has the lowest income customer base.

    • 0 avatar

      “Case in point, the new Camry, the popularity of the new Jetta (tons of them here around Boston), the popularity of Olive Garden and everything else you find in typical surburban sprawl.”

      Y’know, this comparison actually makes sense. Toyota is like Darden Restaurants (owners of Olive Garden). Both offer middle of the road products but fail at giving us anything exciting. Case in point, VW: I want them to sell a boatload of (hopefully reliable) Jettas and Passats, so they can continue to offer people like me cars like the CC and GTI. But what does Toyota offer to wow someone who doesn’t view cars as appliances? Nothing. They killed the MR2, the Celica, the Supra… all they have left are middle-of-the-road appliances. All Darden does is middle-of-the-road food: Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse.

      I’m eager to see how the FT-86 does in America, but they have a long way to go to get back a sense of excitement.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Autoblog doesn’t seem to be in Toyota’s back pocket.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2012/04/18/2012-toyota-camry-se-v6-review/

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      I thought their review was spot-on.

      Ignorance kills me, which is why reading a Toyota testimonial makes me sad to tears with it’s inevitable misinformation.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      No, they’re in Hyundai and GM’s. That review is so blantantly wrong and biased that it’s not worth reading. Even the majority of the comments from that review (and Autofail users are some of the biggest Toyota haters on the net) have criticised that review.

      TTAC, Edmunds, Consumer Guide, and more have all rated the new Camry positively, no matter what a couple of Hyundai shills on TTAC (YEH, or excuse me bD2) want you to think.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Not an attractive car, especially in light blue. Also, in the non-hybrid, I do not really understand the point of the standard LCD–I mean if it is not hooked up to nav, what is the point?
    But, it is roomy, gets great mpgs, and is most likely bullet-proof- so it will be most likely on our short-list in the not-to-distant future (just not in light blue)– but, damn, the new Ford Fusion looks so much better by comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      I don’t know… I think the new Fusion looks like it’s trying too hard to hide its height. The Camry doesn’t pretend, and some people like that.

      I personally don’t care of the Camry’s styling, I’m just saying that it’ll work for a great deal of people. If we, as enthusiasts, like the Fusion’s looks, then it will probably fail among its intended audience.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The Camry has styling? I hadn’t noticed. It truly is the automotive equivalent of a plain white refrigerator. They really should just call it the Toyota Mid-size Sedan.

  • avatar
    ckgs

    The upper range of pricing for this segment is staggering. Hybrid or not, 34k is a lot for a Camry. The competition isn’t far behind.
    I was recent in the market for a new commuter car and priced the various Camry models, and quickly found that they all option-up into the lower 30′s. (In the end I bought a lighted used ES350 for $24k and got more features on the same hardware, and the Lexus nameplate as a bonus.)

    It will be interesting to see how Honda prices the next gen Accord.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    What’s the hybrid premium and payoff time? I didn’t see a comparison non hybrid to hybrid in here with the pricing. That would seem to matter a lot more on this car than with a Prius, since you won’t get the enviro green cred from being seen in a Camry. The main reason to buy this car is the hope of saving $$ over the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      FAS

      Every mpg increase yields you $250/yr based on 15k miles per year and $4.00/gallon gas.

      The main reason to buy this car is buy less gas from the middle east, replace brakes far less often and not have to smog the car, oh, and RESALE value over a non-hybrid is a HUGE factor that many ignore.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete K

        Based on combined driving fuel economy of 28 mpg for the Camry and 41 mpg for the Camry Hybrid…I’m showing a $650 savings annually for the Hybrid. That makes the payback really rather quick. Let’s not forget its also faster, smoother (CVT), quieter, and will hold it’s value better. Brake replacement is also a bonus…

      • 0 avatar
        285exp

        FAS,

        No matter how many times you post that, it’s still wrong.

        (15,000/28)*4.00 = 2142.86
        (15,000/41)*4.00 = 1463.41

        Savings = 679.45 per year, around 52.26 per mpg improvement, not $250. If it was $250 per mpg you would save $3250 per year with the Hybrid, which means it would be saving more than it costs to run.

        The LE Hybrid is $3400 more than the standard LE, so excluding the time value of money, it’s 5 years to break even at 15000 per year.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The Camry Hybrid is just as quick as the Hyundai Sonata/Kia Optima Turbos while using half as much fuel. Not bad.

    http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1112_2011_hyundai_sonata_se_vs_2012_toyota_camry_se_vs_2012_volkswagen_passat_vr6_sel_comparison/viewall.html

  • avatar
    Botswana

    I would be interested in a hybrid if it weren’t for the “hybrid premium” that goes with these cars. I keep wondering when the technology will be common enough to bring the cost down, or maybe the car manufacturers think they can get people to keep paying the price difference.

    Not that I want a Camry, but I wouldn’t mind a car with less engine noise and I’m all for branching out from traditional I.C.E.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I’ve driven the 180hp 2.5L non-hybrid Camry and the 200hp 2.5L HSD Camry. The hybrid drivetrain drives better, IMO. The extra power and the lack of a jolting downshift when accelerating make it the quieter, more pleasant driver. Throw in the better fuel economy, especially if you do city driving, and it is a really good value.

    What killed the Camry Hybrid from my consideration was the lack of a full fold-down rear seat. My wife and I have owned 3 cars with a 2 box design in a row and going back to a 3 box without a way to stuff bikes in the trunk was a deal breaker. The back seat space of the Camry was better than what we ultimately went with, but a true station wagon offers far more practicality, IMO. A Camry hybrid station wagon would have been perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      Dekinorman

      Not just a Camry hybrid wagon, but make it a diesel hybrid wagon, and throw in a manual just for kicks, then you have the ultimate ride.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Zero interest in paying an additional premium for the performance dip of a diesel. Manual transmissions are impossible with HSD. The vehicle you’re looking for is a Jetta Sportwagen TDI. My 3 years with an ’07 GTI exclude anything with VW on the nose from my shopping list. Shame because it was a brilliant car most of the time.

  • avatar
    bd2

    “Still, boring usually ages better than “exciting.” Case in point, the curvaceous Hyundai Sonata which is stunning now, but in danger of being horribly dated in a decade?”

    - Maybe, but maybe not – as other automakers like Mercedes are going a similar route when it comes to design language and the refreshed Sonata gets a toned down grill (one of the few real points of contention).

    The “new” Camry, otoh, already looks outdated and will look more outdated a decade from now.

    Toyota, however, did do a fine job with the Camry Hybrid, the best of the Camry trims.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I think the restyle on the new Camry is a nice improvement. I hated the last version, and they fixed most of the problems. Styling wise, I’d say it is more bland than a Sonata, but also more aggressive, at least in SE trim. The Optima is better looking than either. The new Fusion is better looking still.

    I wish people would stop with the $250 per mile per gallon @15,000 miles and $4 gas, as this is false. Each incremental MPG saves less fuel and less money. Going from 34 to 35 MPG @15k and $4, saves $50.

  • avatar
    potatobreath

    Never mind. Didn’t have my coffee yet. :)

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Lithium batteries can accept a higher rate of charge and can discharge faster than Nickle batteries of a similar capacity. Although slight it would allow regenerative braking over a broader range, better EV performance, etc at an increased cost.

  • avatar
    Marko

    I will probably test drive the Camry Hybrid soon. My parents are thrilled by the idea and might end up buying one: my mother loves the fuel economy, comfort, and reliability (after German car ownership), while my father is a cheapskate and appreciates the fuel economy and relatively low maintenance (i.e. the brake system). Sounds like a win for a very large market.

    Of course, I have driven the Passat, and I don’t know if the Camry can clear the high bar set by the ride/handling balance of that car. However, the Camry will undoubtedly be more reliable, and appears to drive decently enough anyway – and that is what my parents are looking for.

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    We test drove this Camry (SE) 2 weeks ago. Its light years ahead of the previous generation. The car is so much quieter and smoother than before and the interior is actually pleasant vs pretty sparse.

    And it drives — normally. That’s one thing I really dislike about most (earlier generation) hybrids.

    My GF was thinking she’d like to replace her 5 year old Acura TL with a hybrid. She drives over 20k miles a year. We did the math and decided to keep her car at least 2 more years. The ROI for hybrid isn’t there yet. Other option could be a Passat TDI, but then that model is too new for her to be comfortable buying in its first year.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I have driven both this and the Passat TD. The VW wins in literally every category save outright 0-60 power of which I never came close to the 6.9 second time claimed in this test. The VW also bested the Camry with a larger more useful trunk with true split rear seat folding, had more rear legroom and the seats were more long term comfy. Now if only the reliability were as good. Time will tell.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The Hybrid has a big fuel economy advantage in stop and go traffic and the acceleration difference is about 2 seconds to 60, which is substantial. Motor Trend achieved 0-60 in 7.2 for the Camry Hyrbid, which is close enough Alex’s number to show it isn’t just an aberration. Throw in that you’re essentially comparing the most and least reliable new sedans on the market, and the choice comes down to priorities. I’d think that reliability, durability, fuel economy, and the ability to merge on the freeway would be important for a repmobile, but that’s me.

  • avatar
    TW4

    Chevy Volt = $42,000 – $7,500 = $34,500
    Toyota Camry Hybrid = $34,000
    Ford Fusion Hybrid = $33,000

    Chevy Volt = 95mpge
    Toyota Camry Hybrid = 40mpg
    Ford Fusion Hybrid = 40mpg

    I’m not making a Volt-rant, I’m curious why manufacturers would make $35,000 hybrid sedans without including a plug. I’m also curious why anyone would buy them.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      That isn’t a reasonable price comparison because nobody is twisting your arm to check the boxes for $8,000 in interior trim upgrades on the sedans. That $34,000 Camry is done up like a Lexus with power leather, a moonroof, a $3,500 JBL nav with HDD, etc. The Volt doesn’t even have power seats.

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        I think the question was relatively clear. If manufacturers going to put cars into the $35,000 price range, why wouldn’t they include a plug? Why would any consumer buy a $35,000 hybrid without a plug?

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        What’s the point of a plug when you have a 1.5 kWh battery?

        Put in a 10+ kWh battery to make a plug meaningful and that $35K car has turned into an increasingly compromised $40K+ car

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      The Volt is based on a smaller car, the Cruze, and then was downsized from there, only seating four people. The Fusion,Camry,and Prius, are largely no compromise cars, that is you lose very little functionality over the non-hybrid equivalent. This is not the case for the Volt.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    So, 6K premium over LE at 15K/year and $5 gas makes it something like 9 years to recoup the 10 mpg fuel savings. Why?

  • avatar

    So, $8k more than a similarly equipped 4 banger for 25% better mileage. Even assuming $5/gallon gas, that’s just $1500 a year instead of $2000, assuming 12k miles a year.

    Wow, it will only take you 16 years to make up the difference!

    Hybrids are useless.


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