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2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE Review By John Heilig

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2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid

The Auto Page Review
By John Heilig, Senior Editor
Pennsylvania Bureau
The Auto Channel

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE

Model: 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC I4, plus electric motor
Horsepower/Torque: 156 hp @ 5,700 rpm/156 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm (plus 105 kw @ 4,500 rpm/199 lb.-ft. from 0-1,500 rpm)
Transmission: CVT
Wheelbase: 109.3 in.
Length/Width/Height: 189.2 x 71.7 x 57.9 in.
Tires: P215/55R17
Cargo volume: 13.1 cu. ft.
Fuel economy: 40 mpg city/38 mpg highway/38.1 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 17.0 gal.
Curb weight: 3,441 lbs.
Sticker: $34,596 (includes $760 delivery charge, $6,436 in options including $2,600 for leather, premium, HDD navigation, speakers, Sirius XM and Entune)

The Bottom Line: The Camry Hybrid delivers all the assets of a hybrid including outstanding fuel economy and basically silent operation with all the assets of a mid-size sedan. It's a win-win.

My daughter, who drives a two-generation-old Camry, came into my driveway and immediately fell in love with the design of the Camry Hybrid. "I like it better than my in-law's Camry (the most recent generation before this one)." She poked and prodded the car until she was satisfied this would be the one she gets when her present car wears out.

The latest redesign is almost retro to the late 1990s. It's a good look. Very conservative.

As with all hybrids, there's the typical confusion when you push the start/stop button. the only way you can tell if you started the car is when the "ready" light goes on in the instrument panel. Otherwise, it's completely silent. If you sit there acting (or being) dumb, the engine will eventually fire, but the Camry is ready to go when the light goes on.

There's a theory that you can drive hybrids in electric mode for a certain amount of miles at a certain low speed. I tried it several times on my street (where I wouldn't make other drivers upset) and always kicked the gasoline engine in. I will accept the blame for this, and keep trying every time I get a hybrid to test.

There's decent power in the Camry Hybrid with the 2.4-liter I4 and the electric motor helping with torque. I confess that I drove more in fuel conservation mode, but when I wanted power it was there. That may be why I averaged 38.1 mpg during my test, which I considered a pretty decent number.

Ride quality is good, as you would expect from a Camry. It is a comfortable ride without being too mushy. Also, handling is okay. I wouldn't take the Camry Hybrid out on a race track, but it also won't get you in trouble if the road wrinkles up a bit from Interstate straightness.

The front seats are comfortable with some side support, to help in turns. They are heated, and they're almost too hot in "heat" mode.

The rear seats have good leg and knee room as well as a nice back angle. There are assist handles over all the doors as well as water bottle inserts in all doors.

Going further back, there's a good trunk. It will hold at least two golf bags. In addition, there is a release in the trunk to lower the rear seat backs to extend trunk capacity.

Among the options is a "luxury" interior, which includes leather seating surfaces. I particularly liked the stitching on the leather portion of the dash. It almost looked to be Lexus quality. It may be a small point, but many cars have pseudo leather that looks as if it may have been glued together.

For storage there's a small glove box. However, there's a small cubby at the base of the center stack ahead of the shifter that has USB/AUX and 12-volt outlets. Additionally, there's a nice cubby by the driver's left knee and a deep center console/arm rest.

For safety, there's a blind spot monitor, which you don't expect to see in a mid-size car. Oddly, there's a switch on the dash to disable the BSM. Why?

The smart wheel has audio, phone and info switches. The standard Toyota cruise control stalk is behind the wheel.

The two cup holders for the driver and front passenger have an insert that can be removed if you have larger cups or if you want to use it for carrying stuff.

I also liked the clear navigation/audio screen with easy-to-program navigation. The HVAC controls are simple, with digital heat and fan buttons.

There's a reason the Toyota Camry is the best-selling mid-size car in America, hybrid or not. It is a well put-together vehicle with all the attributes one would want in a mid-size sedan and a relatively reasonable price (sure, there's a bogey for the hybrid, but the base price is pretty good). Throw in the hybrid for the better fuel economy, and you lose nothing.

2012 The Auto Page