2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE. Click image to enlarge

Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Camry XLE
Test Drive: 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Manufacturer’s web site
Toyota Canada

Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

Photo Gallery:
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Second Opinion: by Chris Chase

Several years ago, we ran an in-depth comparison of the Lexus GS 450h Hybrid and the Chrysler 300C to prove a point (and to have a lot of fun) that a Hemi could be fuel efficient if driven fuel consciously and that a hybrid could kick a Hemi’s butt on the drag strip if driven without any thought at all for fuel consumption.

While we wanted to demonstrate that how a car is driven affects how much fuel is consumed (and quite dramatically), we also wanted to show that V8s are way more fuel efficient than they once were, while hybrids should not be thought of as, you know, slow.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE. Click image to enlarge

In fact hybrids have moved into the mainstream of automotive transportation with most manufacturers offering one or more hybrids. At one time, Toyota had a lock on the hybrid sedan market with its Prius and Camry hybrids, but in the past few years, the Camry has been challenged by the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Chevrolet Malibu Eco, Nissan Altima Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid and a variety of luxury hybrids competing with hybrids from Toyota’s Lexus brand.

For 2012, the Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid have been redesigned, with new interior and exterior styling, more horsepower and improved fuel economy. The gasoline-powered Camry is available with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine in the LE, SE and XLE models, and a 3.5-litre V6 in the SE V6 and XLE V6. All Camry models with the revised 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine now offer 178 horsepower, and 170 lb.-ft. of peak torque. Fuel efficiency numbers are 8.2L/100 km city, 5.6L/100 km highway, and 7L/100 km combined. 

The Camry Hybrid uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder with Hybrid Synergy Drive system and continuously variable transmission (CVT), and comes in LE and XLE trim lines. It is a full hybrid, capable of running on its battery alone.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE. Click image to enlarge

Like the 2.4-litre it replaces, the new 2.5-litre engine uses the Atkinson cycle – delayed intake-valve closing for an expansion ratio greater than compression ratio – to achieve maximum efficiency.  Other efficiency improvements – new water-cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system, reducing internal losses in the transaxle, improving motor-voltage control, and optimizing regenerative braking – add up to a 30 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and a boost in overall system power from 187 hp to 200 hp.

The 2011 Toyota Camry had an Energuide rating of 5.7 L/100 km for both city and highway driving, while the 2012 Camry Hybrid LE is rated at 4.5 L/100 km in the city and 4.9 on the highway, 4.7 L/100 km and 5.1 L/100 km for the XLE.

My real world experience was not as good – 6.5 L/100 km – employing normal driving behaviour: no excessive speed and no excessive efforts to save fuel. The disparity is quite large but still considerably better than the Energuide combined L/100 km rating for either the 2.5-litre gasoline (7.0) or 3.5-litre V6 (8.2) Toyota Camry.

While 13 horsepower might not seem like much, when coupled to a high-torque electric motor, the 2.5-litre 4 cylinder launches the Camry forward like a sport sedan. Acceleration is linear and unrelenting. I was reminded of the powerful Accord Hybrid that Honda sadly quit building a few years ago – a remarkable rush from a most unlikely source.

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