2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid front 3/4 view

  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear 3/4 view

  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid front 3/4 view

  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear 3/4 view

  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
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  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid front view

  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear view

  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid side view

  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid side view

  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear 3/4 view

  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
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  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
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  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
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  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
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  • 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
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The Toyota hybrid effort has long been dominated by the amazingly efficient Prius. As a dedicated hybrid, the platform has basked in the warm glow of headlines and celebrity love since the second-generation debuted in 2003. The plucky Atkinson hatch has easily overshadowed other Toyota hybrid efforts, including the Camry Hybrid.

That's partly due to the fact that in the past, the hybridized sedan hasn't been anything to brag about. At over $6,000 more than the base four-cylinder model, the sixth-generation Camry Hybrid was capable of returning vastly improved in-city fuel economy, but just three more miles per gallon highway than the four-pot. As a result, buyers were left wondering why they should bother with the battery pack at all.

For 2012, the Japanese automaker has turned up the efficiency and the power in the seventh-generation Camry Hybrid, giving it the fuel economy credentials it needs to best its chief rival, the Ford Fusion Hybrid, while improving overall drivability, too. The 2012 Camry Hybrid can finally hold its head high at the Toyota dinner table.

CLICK HERE to read Autoblog's First Drive review of the non-hybrid 2012 Toyota Camry.
Like the rest of the Camry line, the 2012 Camry Hybrid rides on an all-new platform, though its dimensions remain identical to the outgoing model. As a result, the vehicle looks fairly similar to the outgoing model despite having 100 percent new sheetmetal outside. Unlike the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, The Camry Hybrid is nearly indistinguishable from its non-hybrid counterparts. The sedan doesn't rely on differentiated bodywork, fascias or side sills. Instead, the vehicle comes equipped with the same fresh nose as the standard LE and XLE models. Up front, that means a swept chrome grille with integrated headlights similar to what we've seen from the revised Toyota Highlander, as well as a somewhat jutting lower air inlet and trapezoidal chrome fog light bezels.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid side view2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid front view2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear view

Toyota plans on allowing Camry Hybrid buyers to choose between LE and XLE trims for the first time next year. Outside, that translates into the 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels of our tester, though XLE buyers will enjoy slightly larger 17-inch alloy wheels. Those options are the same available to non-hybrid LE and XLE buyers, and both are wrapped in low-rolling resistance all-season Michelin rubber.

Though the exterior of the vehicle is nearly indistinguishable from the rest of the Camry line, there are a few indicators to differentiate the hybrid from the pack. A rash of unique badges are scattered across the front fenders and trunk deck, and the front Toyota emblem is also trimmed in blue instead of black, just like the Prius fleet. Additionally, comprehensive underbody aerodynamic cladding helps the hybrid slip through the air. Toyota engineers say the vehicle boasts a .27 coefficient of drag.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid headlight2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid fog light2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid badge2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid taillights

Indoors, the Camry Hybrid utilizes a unique instrument cluster with an analog fuel economy gauge as well as power-flow display to let you know when the battery is charging, discharging or the vehicle is in Eco Mode. An animated graphic is also accessible via the infotainment system. Speaking of Eco Mode, for 2012, Toyota has incorporated the same drive modes found on the Prius. Drivers can switch between Eco and EV modes with a press of a button. Eco Mode electronically smooths throttle inputs, modifies the air conditioning operation and reduces the total throttle opening to 11.6 percent of maximum.

Out of all of the available drivetrains in the Camry line, the hybrid is the only vehicle to receive a significant engineering update for 2012. The Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine now turns out 156 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 156 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm – increases of 9 horsepower and 18 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing vehicle.

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The engine isn't burdened by any accessory drive belts whatsoever thanks to an electronic air conditioning compressor, water pump and power steering pump. It's also mated to a hybrid transaxle with integrated motor and generator components for a seamless transition between internal combustion and electric power. Combined, the two are good for 200 horsepower while returning an estimated 43 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. If you're counting, that should average out to around 41 mpg combined in LE trim. The gearbox is also completely bereft of clutches, bands, valves or hydraulics of any kind.

The 2012 Camry Hybrid even benefits from a redesigned battery pack. Toyota is continuing to stick with nickel-metal hydride cells for now, but the more compact design is over an inch shorter and two inches narrower compared to the last iteration. As a result, the pack's position was moved up 5.5 inches to provide more trunk space. That area has grown from 10.6 cubic feet in the 2011 to 13.1 cubic feet in the seventh-generation car, though total battery mass is still around 150 pounds. The system uses a new inverter as well with cooling tech borrowed from the Prius family.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid engine

Thanks to the bump in power, the Camry Hybrid feels only slightly slower than its siblings equipped with the 178-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. That's no surprise given that the battery-equipped sedan weighs 3,417 pounds – nearly 220 pounds heavier than its non-hybrid counterpart. Even so, acceleration is more than adequate for jaunts around town or dueling with traffic on the interstate. In fact, the vehicle hardly drives like a stereotypical hybrid until you press the Eco Mode button. That's when the powertrain gets really stingy.

In fact, the Camry Hybrid only suffers from one stereotypically hybrid problem – its brakes. The regenerative stoppers still aren't very linear. While not as grabby as less refined systems, there's still the sense that coming to a stop requires more effort and distance than the non-hybrid Camry. That could be a product of the extra weight, however.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear 3/4 view

We'll have to spend a little more time with the newest member of the Toyota hybrid clan to accurately judge fuel economy, but if Toyota has managed to come anywhere near the vehicle's estimates, the Camry Hybrid should put a dent in Ford Fusion Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid sales. While we still aren't convinced that hybrids and EVs are our best solution ecologically, the Camry Hybrid makes a good case for itself economically.


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  • 18 Comments
      Kevin
      • 5 Months Ago
      Underbody panels should pay for it self and in that case someone will come up with after market mod.
      Rhodies
      • 5 Months Ago
      Our dealer in the Piedmont area of South Carolina had a 2012 Camry on their lot for four hours at the beginning of November. I asked if another came around let me know. We got our dark green Camry LE Hybrid November 15 using a quote from USAA Insurance services. Great, way under invoice price and $2800 under the cost of a Ford Fusion hybrid (did not consider a Hyundai Sonata hybrid because of actual real world MPG and braking reviews). After the first three gas fill ups, we're averaging 41.5 MPG. O.K., I'll admit that I'm having fun driving around like an old geezer milking the mileage for all its worth. My Prius owner brother-in-law said that this driving novelty mentality should wear off in five-to-seven years. I had to transport four adult friends on a two hour Interstate trip the other day and there were no uncomfortable remarks from the back seat. An added note: I tried one full tank of $$ non-ethanol gas and there was no overall mileage difference.
      Spiffster
      • 3 Years Ago
      Damn nice car, even soundly beats Fusion Hybrid numbers. The Fusion is due for a redesign and is rumored to be in the high 40s for city driving so may want to wait a year or two. Im sure consumer reports will still find a way to rate the Camry higher in fuel economy no matter what the next gen Fusion gets. They have a solid reputation of bias and Irrelevance to keep up. At least this Camry deserves to set the benchmark for fuel efficient sedans... last one was a joke.
        Robert Sheehan
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Spiffster
        Consumer reports diminishes fuel economy ratings across the board: they gave the Prius just 44 MPG--6 MPG below its EPA rating, while its rating for Fusion Hybrid, 34 MPG, was just below the combined EPA rating. I don't think CR is necessarily biased; in fact, they completely went along with the rest of the media's take on the unintended acceleration crisis, taking Toyota vehicles off their recommended lists, even though multiple testing done by Stanford's Automotive Research unit, NHTSA, Department of Transportation, and even NASA absolved Toyota of any replicable or definable equipment malfunctions leading to unintended acceleration: Toyota was absolved of electromagnetic interference-caused throttle malfunction, while NHTSA traced unintended acceleration complaints to driver error. Car and Driver recently ran a June 2011 spread pretty much debunking the issue, while Motor Trend's own testers could not force brake failure in recalled Priuses despite deliberate attempts. MT also said that brake-override devices fitted into Toyota vehicles were an "unnecessary" measure, alluding to the actual safety of Toyotas and overblown media discharge. Through all this, CR followed the media take, and barely batted an eye when NHTSA and NASA came out in February with a report that vindicated Toyota. CR hardly favors Toyota, I'd say.
      MR42HH
      • 5 Months Ago
      So... this or a Passat TDI?
        guyverfanboy
        • 5 Months Ago
        @MR42HH
        If you are in town mostly, a hybrid is a better option. If driving mostly highway and not doing stop and go too much then a diesel is a better option.
        benzaholic
        • 5 Months Ago
        @MR42HH
        As usual, if you do mostly in town, stop and go traffic, you'll get more economy benefits from hybrids. If you do mostly highway cruising, that's where diesels are really, really happy.
      Lola Rose
      • 3 Years Ago
      it annoys me that the camry hybrid isnt different from the conventional camry in terms of style compared to the outgoing model.
        benzaholic
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Lola Rose
        Why? Does the non-hybrid not deserve the aerodynamic tweaks? Or do you just want to be sure everybody knows you bought a hybrid?
          Dave R
          • 5 Months Ago
          @benzaholic
          I do have to wonder why the additional underbody aero is only found on the hybrid model. Surely the cost can't be much - why not apply it across the board?
        Zoom
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Lola Rose
        You want different style? Get a Prius.
      lne937s
      • 5 Months Ago
      I wouldn't say there is no difference in styling. The front and rear bumpers are different, the side skirts are different, wheels are different, the rear spoiler is different, the upper Grille openings are shaped different. There are differences. They may not be over the top, but they are there. Personally, I think the hybrid looks better. http://www.autoblog.com/2011/08/23/2012-toyota-camry-first-drive-review/
      GeorgeS
      • 3 Years Ago
      Article quote: "While we still aren't convinced that hybrids and EVs are our best solution ecologically, the Camry Hybrid makes a good case for itself economically." Then what IS the solution.??? Walking? Taking the bus? Riding your bicycle?
        Peter
        • 5 Months Ago
        @GeorgeS
        Not everyone can or wants to walk to work. If you have to buy a car (and almost 200,000 do buy a Camry in the US annually) then this hybrid is an option. The LE Camry model at $22,500 makes the hybrid at $25,900 within easy reach (and at a 6 year pay back assuming $4 gas and 12,000 miles at the combined fuel economy = 135 Gal saved pa) For many, other options such as the bus or bicycle, even if more ecologically sound, are not on the horizon, and other tech, such as the Volt or Leaf, too expensive while gas is this cheap.
        uncle_sam
        • 5 Months Ago
        @GeorgeS
        The solution is buing a horse. Proven since thousands of years. Needs no oil but has emission problems (craps on the road)
        Dave R
        • 5 Months Ago
        @GeorgeS
        That closing statement is typical of the crap that passes for editorial content here on ABG.
          mustang_sallad
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Dave R
          seriously. If you don't have the space to qualify that statement with logical arguments and alternative ideas (which you don't in a first drive article), don't make statements like that in the first place. Totally unsatisfying to the reader. You don't even give us a clue as to why you think EV's and hybrids are a bad call ecologically speaking. Is it the materials in the batteries and motors? The podcast guys (mainly Dan Roth, whiny old man) are always ranting about the materials that go into batteries and magnets and stuff, but they never actually try to quantify these statements. Yes it's something that needs to be considered, but you don't just raise the issue and say "it's imperfect, forget the technology altogether!" without actually trying to quantify the drawbacks and the benefits.
        eeliezerp
        • 5 Months Ago
        @GeorgeS
        wake up sleeping american diesels much better technology better performance and will last 4 times a hybrid car will and better mpg and you dont have to drive in eco mode
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