September 6, 2012
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlargeRelated Posts:
Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE, by Grant Yoxon
Comparison Test: Best Fuel Efficient Cars, by Jonathan Yarkony
Review and photos by Chris Chase
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
As a car enthusiast with a strong appreciation for the “everyday” vehicle—defined as a car, sporty or not, that can be used in 95 percent of driving situations—I have a soft spot for the Toyota Prius. It’s nothing like fun, but it is fuel efficient and well packaged, with room for five and a decent amount of luggage. The recent addition of the wagon-esque Prius V and subcompact Prius C only broadens the Prius’ appeal.
Up until about a week ago, before I drove the 2012 Camry Hybrid, I’d have called the Prius V the best hybrid in Toyota’s lineup. It’s been years since I last tested a Camry Hybrid, and this redesigned model is so notably improved that it now gets my vote as the best Toyota hybrid, if not the best accessibly priced hybrid from any automaker.
Let it be said that I like the Prius V for its interior space and flexible cargo area, but in the case of the Camry, it’s the drivetrain that won me over. Finally, a hybrid that is both efficient and powerful (yes, Porsche makes a couple of hybrids that meet those criteria) as well as affordable (something that can be said for neither the Cayenne nor Panamera hybrids).
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge
Okay, so the Camry hybrid isn’t a sports car (this car is not fun on freeway on-ramps, or anywhere else, for that matter), but it will easily chirp its front tires in aggressive acceleration. Once underway, the 2.5L engine and electric motor team up to provide sprightly passing power at highway speeds.
I averaged 5.9 L/100 km during my week in it, better than Grant’s 6.5 in his Test Drive and James’ 6.1 in his DBDR, but not quite up to Jonathan’s even thriftier 5.7 in his Quick Spin. I saw closer to 5.0 L/100 km on part of a road trip from Ottawa to Montreal, where I kept my speed between 100 and 110 km/h.
The Camry goes over the road with a relaxed feel that will titillate no one who fancies themselves an enthusiast. I found body motions to be well controlled, with a ride on the soft side, and was not bothered (nor did I even notice) any jiggly tendencies. This is a car designed to make you feel like there’s no car under you at all, and it nearly succeeds. The seats aren’t the most comfortable I’ve ever tested, and the brakes (with a regenerative function that transitions to traditional hydraulics as the driver calls for more whoa-power), while strong, are hard to modulate for smooth stopping; that’s a complaint I could level against just about any hybrid on the market, even those pricey Porsches.
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