Simply put, that’s because this time around, the automaker has engineered the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid as a fully competitive, mainstream model in the Camry lineup—not just a niche model.
The 2012 Camry Hybrid inherits all the latest Hybrid Synergy Drive developments that made their debut in the current-generation Toyota Prius; and just as in the Prius, the Camry Hybrid can run for a short distance on electric power alone under some conditions. It packs an Atkinson-cycle (high-compression-ratio) version of the Camry’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, plus the hybrid drive system—altogether making 200 horsepower. With weight cut significantly versus the previous version, too, the Camry Hybrid feels quicker and more responsive.
For interior space and comfort, as well as drivability, the Hybrid no longer makes much of any sacrifice compared to the base Camry or other non-hybrid mid-sizers. Thanks to smarter, smaller packaging of the battery and inverter, Toyota has freed up more trunk space—and backseat space is identical.
The Camry Hybrid is also much-improved in drivability; its powertrain feels so well sorted and seamless that you’re less likely than ever to be able to detect when the gasoline engine turns on or off. For non-Prius types who don’t necessarily need to flaunt their eco-fashionability, yet want to cut their fuel budget, that makes the Camry Hybrid an excellent, no-compromises way to go green.
All the goodness of the rest of the 2012 Toyota Camry package translates to the Hybrid. While it’s all in a very conservative wrapper, you’ll find a well-designed, spacious cabin, upgraded trims, and (mostly) comfortable seats—including plenty of backseat legroom and headroom. Ten standard airbags and an available blind-spot warning system should provide peace of mind, and the Hybrid feature set now includes dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth in all trims. High-end JBL sound, HD Radio, a navigation system, and a new Entune app-based system are all on offer.
MSRP: $25,900 – $27,400