Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE toyota car test drives reviews hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews
Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE toyota car test drives reviews hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE. Click image to enlarge

Exclusive exterior and interior design touches and badging differentiate the Hybrid from other Camry models. Inside, Hybrid-exclusive trim is found on the instrument panel and door switch bases, upper console panels and shift knob. The Camry Hybrid also features its own exclusive seat fabric in ivory or ash and a Hybrid-specific gauge cluster. A three-dial Optitron gauge panel with chrome-accented outer rings is unique to the Hybrid and provides a wealth of information to assist drivers to improve fuel efficiency. However the three little tabs that digitally display outside temperature and gear selection, odometer and trip information are not very imaginative and remind me of the popup numbers on an antique cash register.

The Camry Hybrid cabin is a bright and airy place with great visibility in all directions. And it is incredibly quiet. While the tranquility provides a good background for the premium JBL audio system, it can also amplify what little noise does intrude, in this case the sound of those rock hard Michelin tires slapping the pavement.

For the 2012 model year Toyota revised the Camry suspension to improve ride comfort and handling. A more rigid body structure, revised front suspension and redesigned rear suspension are intended to help the new Camry with straight-line stability and steering response, while also enhancing overall ride comfort.

Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE toyota car test drives reviews hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE. Click image to enlarge

Handling has noticeably improved over the previous generation. The car may surprise you at how quickly it will navigate a freeway ramp. It feels confident, steering is crisp and there is stability control to keep you inline unless you exceed the laws of physics. The ride is comfortable and a bit on the soft side, as one would expect from Toyota, but when I’m riding in the Camry I get the feeling of being suspended between the front and rear wheels and not firmly planted between them. The chassis feels flexible and transmits a variety of jiggles and wiggles through to the seat of your pants. Maybe it’s those low rolling resistance tires again. Maybe it’s more than that.

On safety, the Camry can’t be faulted. Stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist and Smart Stop Technology are all standard active safety features. As well, the Camry is equipped with a class leading 10 airbags – dual stage driver and passenger front airbag, front seat-mounted side airbag, front and rear side curtain airbags, rear seat side airbags and driver and front passenger knew airbags, a first in its class.

The redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid displayed excellent power, good fuel economy, transparent transitions between engine on and engine off and the look and feel of any other Camry. Acceleration and handling proved to be better than expected, while ride comfort suffered due to a jiggly suspension and hard compound low rolling resistance tires. With an entry price of just $26,990 (LE), the Camry Hybrid is at last within reach of most family car buyers.

Pricing: 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Base Price LE: $26,990
Base Price XLE: $28,990
Options: $5,520 (Leather and Premium Audio Package (10-speaker Premium JBL Audio, 7-in. AVN monitor, garage door opener, power moonroof, navigation system, backup camera, anti-theft system, glass breakage sensor, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, heated front seats, leather-trimmed ultra suede upholstery)
A/C tax: $100
Freight: $1,490
Price as Tested: $36,100

Specifications
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Competitors
2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid
2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
2012 Kia Optima Hybrid
2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid