2012 camry hybrid xle

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid Overview

Critics wrote that the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid feels more powerful than many of its competitors, both hybrid and non-hybrid, and they said that transitions between electric and gas power are almost imperceptible. The Camry Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 43/39 mpg city/highway, which is very good for a hybrid midsize car. The Camry Hybrid’s smooth ride pleased reviewers, and while they didn’t think it is the sportiest affordable midsize car, most said the 2012 Camry Hybrid is still fairly agile. Test drivers wrote that the Camry Hybrid has light steering and some said that its smooth, responsive brakes are among the best in the hybrid class.

Reviewers were impressed with the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid’s handsome interior design, as well as its interior materials, which include premium-looking faux wood or metal trim and soft-touch plastics. They said the front and rear seats have enough space for 6-foot passengers, though the Camry Hybrid’s 13.1-cubic-foot trunk is a bit small for a midsize car. Automotive journalists wrote that the Camry Hybrid’s interior controls, including its available navigation system, are easy to use. Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity key, push-button start, Bluetooth, a USB port and a six-speaker audio system. Available features include a moonroof, navigation, satellite radio, a 10-speaker JBL audio system and blind spot monitoring.

Other Cars to Consider

The 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid earned high marks from reviewers for its strong hybrid powertrain, and they said it transitions smoothly from electric to gas power. Automotive journalists loved the Fusion Hybrid’s high-tech features, such as the SmartGauge system, which uses colorful graphics to show how efficiently you’re driving. When it was new, we named the Ford Fusion Hybrid our 2012 Best Hybrid Car for Families and our 2012 Best Hybrid Car for the Money.

The Toyota Prius has more cargo space than most midsize cars, and it gets some of the best fuel economy estimates in the class. Critics were impressed with the Prius’ comfortable ride and its roomy front and back seats.

Compare the Camry Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid and Prius “

Courtesy of Toyota The latest 2012 Camry Hybrid isn’t just an update to the line; with changes to nearly every aspect of the car and driving experience, it’s more like a complete overhaul. The most notable developments since we tested the 2011 version: better fuel economy, the Entune infotainment system, and several driving improvements. Plus, with its roomy interior and comfortable ride, this Camry has plenty to offer beyond its great gas mileage.


The 2012 Camry is a great car to drive. It floated over potholes, but the hybrid trades in sporty handling for a smoother ride, giving it a bit of a big-car feel. Acceleration in the hybrid was superb, though you might notice a slight delay after you press down the pedal. Even with the extra power, the Camry Hybrid still returns an EPA-estimated 40 mpg city/38 mpg highway. (I averaged 38mpg though mixed driving.) Braking is polished for a hybrid, but again, if this is your first hybrid, it’s an initially artificial, and occasionally abrupt feeling that takes some getting used to.

The engine’s nearly imperceptible transitions between electric and gas modes are impressive. The Camry is surprisingly willing to drive on all-electric power too. (I went almost a mile in EV mode around town in 30mph traffic.) The effortless electric power steering is so smooth you could nearly steer with your pinky. While this is great at low speeds around a parking lot, this was also my only real complaint with the Camry — the steering is so easy that it almost feels mushy and artificial (like driving in an arcade game). I found myself not as in-tune with the road as I should have been, and it was the sheer lack of feeling to blame. You almost forget the steering wheel is affecting the trajectory of the car, and snapping back to center the way you’re used to. I imagine this would take more time than I spent with the car to get used to.


Toyota’s Entune system is a whole new infotainment package, adding features and apps like Pandora, OpenTable, and Bing for added convenience. As with any increase in features comes complexity; while Entune is among the better infotainment systems I’ve seen, it’s hard to get use to all the options and functionality, and portions of it are best used in the parking lot not the highway. Other aspects, like great voice recognition on the road (an optional feature), improve driving safety by avoiding touch controls altogether. While you can access most settings and apps using the new four-way control on the left side of the steering wheel, there are still occasions when functions like fast forwarding, or tuning to a station aren’t as easy as they should be.

If you opt for it, the Camry comes with a rear blind spot monitoring system, which is better calibrated than other systems I’ve seen that often mistake other objects for “cars.” Because it isn’t dimmed though, at night I found it can be quite bright and alarming each time a car passes. Visibility is aided by good mirror placement, and an optional backup camera, although the somewhat low placement of the center LCD screen means taking your eyes off the road frequently.

Eco Features

The Camry strives to helps you be more economical through a range of displays and dials to either side of the speedometer, as well as an eco-mode. To the left is a power-meter showing how hard the engine is working (or regenerating during braking) and to the right one of the most detailed (and practical) fuel economy gauges in any vehicle I’ve seen, combining both instantaneous detail, as well as a running average based on driving trends.

I found the heating/cooling system hard to calibrate though; you’ll have to cycle through modes with a knob as opposed to individual selections, and even the low fan speed felt higher than necessary. Additionally, I would have preferred the center vents lower, and the navigation screen higher instead to make it easier to glance at while driving.

Bottom Line: While other Camry models are priced lower, the Hybrid is a great value that pays for itself in reasonably short order. While I felt the steering numbness was complaint-worthy, electric steering/assist is not uncommon in this class, and it appears to be here to stay. Plus, the Camry has more than enough legroom and space practicality too, even if you’re hauling around a family’s worth of gear. For an incredibly potent, practical package overall, we’d recommend it even more strongly than we praised the last Camry Hybrid.

Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined): 40/38/40

Size Class: Midsize

Drivetrain: Gas-Electric Hybrid

Base Price: $27,400

2012 Toyota Camry Long Term Road Test

2012 Toyota Camry: Trip Mileage

July 25, 2012

For the 650-mile trip I wrote about earlier this week, I averaged 32 mpg. Considering that it was mostly highway driving (70 mph-plus speeds, A/C on) but with some city driving mixed in, I’m pretty happy with that. For reference, EPA estimates are 25 city, 35 highway and 28 mpg combined.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Toyota Camry SE: Thoughts On Fuel Economy

April 23, 2012

Got a couple random thoughts on our Camry’s fuel economy for Earth Day. For starters, our Camry is not doing very well in matching its combined EPA number. In the last Fuel Economy update, it was at a 24.1 mpg average, compared to the EPA’s 28 mpg. No other actively blogged about car in our fleet is further off its target right now. Other than it hasn’t been used for any really long trips yet to boost its average with more highway mileage, I’m at a loss to explain why.

I’ve been doing a lot of city driving recently, and at least the in-car gauge is pretty close to the EPA’s 25 mpg city. Maybe I’ll check to see if I can easily match EPA highway later this week.

I’ve come to like the fuel economy gauge in the instrument cluster. At first it seemed silly to me to dedicate space for a gauge like this when a trip computer can tell you the same thing. And why wouldn’t it show you instant fuel economy, too? But having it there all the time has made me more aware of my average fuel economy and, sort of like with a hybrid, makes it more like a game to try and keep my average near a particular number (30’s been my goal recently). And while it only shows average economy on our car, you can see instant fuel economy (plus past economy in one-minute increments) on the main display screen.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 7,325 miles

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2012 Toyota Camry and 2012 Ford Explorer: Road Trip Comparison

April 10, 2012

I did a road trip over the weekend with my family. Actually, the one-way trips were split between two vehicles, the Explorer and the Camry. Those aren’t two vehicles you would normally compare, but it was interesting to me nonetheless to notice the differences.

I was a little worried at first since I had the Explorer to start out. As I have two small children, there’s no such thing as a small load for a road trip. After packing up, the Explorer’s cargo area wasn’t at capacity, but it was pretty close to being at my comfort level (not putting stuff higher than the top of the second-row seats). Would it all fit in the Camry?

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2012 Toyota Camry SE: MPG Gauge

March 28, 2012

This is the Camry SE’s mpg gauge, which displays average fuel economy — a useful enough metric. But it bugs me that it tells me I’m getting 32 mpg while sitting still, which is when this picture was shot.

Getting the Hybrid XLE buys you an incremental LED gauge to the right of the needle’s sweep, which shows instant MPG.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor @ 6,446 miles

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2012 Toyota Camry SE: Highway Fuel Economy

March 26, 2012

So I went on a bit of a road trip this weekend. The trip up was 228 miles door-to-door and the Camry (despite craptacular traffic escaping L.A.) earned 33 miles/gallon, or 2 mpg shy of the official EPA estimate. While there, I logged about 35 miles around town and drove back, earning 28 mpg, or exactly the EPA combined figure. The near-500-mile drive averaged 30-miles per gallon. I was about to claim “best tank” for my 33 mpg until I glanced at the entry belonging to “JD” who managed to eke out a 36 mpg average over a piddly 174 miles.

I also found a trip screen that reminded me very much of one in the Toyota Prius.

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2012 Toyota Camry SE: Not the MPG Readout for Hypermilers

December 13, 2011

This is how the gas mileage is displayed in our 2012 Toyota Camry. I think I prefer the digital readout of mpg, which is more precise. I know there’s really no reason to know what your mpg is to the tenths, unless of course, you have a little contest with yourself. Then this wouldn’t be satisfying but at all. Hypermilers care to chime in? Here, I read the mpg as around 24. Eh.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 1,612 miles

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2012 Toyota Camry: For Grownups

December 12, 2011

This weekend I had our 2012 Toyota Camry as my ride about town. As a comfortable conveyance to run my errands, it performed well. I stuck to surface streets, hit up brunch in Mid-City, a party in Hollywood, Christmas card shopping…. Nothing too exciting. Cushy seats, effective seat heaters and decent power made it all bearable.

Only thing is that the Camry didn’t feel like me. Ever put on a piece of clothing that so wasn’t you? Think the Big Lebowski being forced to wear a suit. That’s sort of how I felt in our Camry. It was too “grownup” for me.

Not that that’s a bad thing. I can appreciate how it would work well for small families or my parents what with its roomy interior, decent mpg (25 city/35 highway/28 combined), conveniences (Entune) and plush ride. Folks who just want to get from Point A to Point B will like the Camry.

But I want a car that makes my heart skip a beat. Where you can feel the road and get a thrill from driving it. Again, not that the Camry is bad, I’m just not ready to grow up.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 1,606 miles

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Toyota Camry 2012-2017: problems, fuel economy, engines, driving experience, photos

Updated: October 16, 2019

The Toyota Camry is a reliable family sedan. It’s famous for its comfortable driving experience and a smooth, quiet ride. The Camry has front-wheel drive and comes with a 4-cylinder or V6 engine.

2012 Toyota Camry XLE interior

Both engines offer good fuel economy. The V6 Camry is fast. The Camry Hybrid version is also available. The only transmission choice in non-hybrid models is a conventional 6-speed automatic.
The interior is practical and stylish. Large doors and elevated seats make entry and exit easy. USB and Bluetooth are standard. Front seats are supportive. Visibility is good. The Camry’s safety ratings are among the best in its class. In terms of reliability, the 2012-2017 Camry did not have any major problems, but there are some concerns used car buyers should be aware of; read details below.
2015 redesign: For 2015, the Camry received a major redesign, although it’s still considered the same generation known as XV50, see the photos. The 2015 Camry has a widened track (0.4 inches / 10 mm), better sound insulation and more features, but mechanically, it’s not much different.

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Engines: The base 178-hp 2.5L 2AR-FE 4-cylinder engine delivers 178 horsepower. It’s one of the best 4-cylinder engines on the market. The 268-hp 3.5L V6 (2GR-FE) is also well known. Both are twin-cam engines with variable valve timing.

2012 versus 2015 Toyota Camry.

Either can run on regular gasoline. Toyota has used both of these engines for several years in many vehicles and they both have proven to be reliable. See photos below.
Timing belt or timing chain: Both the 2AR-FE and 2GR-FE have a timing chain; there is no timing belt. The timing chain does not require regular replacements.
Mechanical: The steering is electrically assisted with 36.7 ft turning circle, curb to curb. The suspension design is similar to previous models, with MacPherson struts on all four wheels. Rear brakes are discs only. The Camry Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine combined with a 105-kW electric motor. A powerful hybrid battery pack installed under the trunk floor stores the electric power. The 2012 Camry Hybrid LE gets 40 mpg combined.

Handling and ride: Driving the Camry is pure pleasure: it’s soft, quiet and smooth. Road bumps and imperfections are well absorbed. Compared to the previous model, this Camry handles better and feels more stable in turns. The steering is light; the only downside is that it feels a bit vague around the center position. The 3.5L V6 is crazy fast; the Car and Driver magazine clocked the 2012 V6 Camry accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds; it’s almost like a sports car.

Fuel economy: The EPA rates the 2013-2016 Toyota Camry with a 4-cylinder engine at 25/34 mpg city/highway or 28 mpg combined. That means you can travel up 544 miles (875 km) on a tank of gas on a long highway trip. The 2012 Camry with a V6 gets 21/30 mpg; in mostly highway driving it can go for up to 476 miles or 766 km on one tank.
Problems: According to the service bulletin T-SB-0041-13, the brief knock/rattle at cold startup in the 2012 Camry 4-cylinder 2AR engine could be caused by a problem with Camshaft Timing Gear Assembly.

2012 Toyota Camry XLE

Toyota Camry 2AR-FE 4-cylinder engine.

2GR-FE V6 engine.

To repair the problem, the gear assembly must be replaced. The bulletin quotes 2.6 hours for the 4-cylinder Camry. Check out this discussion at the Rav4world.com forum (the RAV4 has the same engine). Honda and a few other makes have the same problem in some engines too.
Another bulletin T-SB-0086-12 describes the intermittent shudder on light acceleration after an upshift in some 4-cylinder 2012 Camry vehicles. The bulletin instructs replacing a torque converter if the issue is not resolved after changing the automatic transmission fluid. Toyota USA issued Warranty Enhancement Program – ZE5 for certain 2012-2014 Camry for U760E Torque Converter Shudder.
Several Camry owners mentioned a musty smell right after the A/C is turned on. Toyota issued the service bulletin T-SB-0142-13 describing ways to minimize the odors. Recommendations include: set the HVAC system to “fresh” air mode when parking the vehicle, replace the HVAC filter (cabin filter) annually or every 10,000 miles. Use the High Performance Charcoal Filter. Do the A/C evaporator cleaning service once a year if the condition persists. Read more about cabin filter.
Several owners complained about the power sunroof/moonroof switch not working intermittently in the 2012 Camry. We found the bulletin T-SB-0116-14 on this issue. It recommends checking the switch and if defective, replacing the overhead console assembly with an updated part. The part is sold for around $100 online.
The overall number of complaints is fairly low compared to some other mid-size cars.

Similar cars:

Safety: Stability control, traction control, antilock brakes, as well as 10 airbags are standard in all Camry models. The 2012-2017 Camry got the perfect 5-star overall rating in government crash tests.

Rear seats folded

The trunk offers 15.4 cu. ft. of cargo space

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the 2012-2014 as ‘Top Safety Pick’, while the 2015-2017 Camry earned the Top Safety Pick Plus award.
The 2015 update included the addition of an optional Pre-Collision System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Auto High Beam Lane Departure Alert, and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Pros: Fuel economy; safety; reliability, soft and quiet ride, refined powertrain, very powerful V6; interior room and comfort, resale value, moderate ownership costs.
Cons: Pass-through behind the rear seats is fairly small, glove box is not very large, some of the interior materials could be better, the steering feels a bit numb around the center.
Overall: The Camry is still the most comfortable, easy-to-drive family sedan on the market. It’s also very reliable: as of October 2019, Consumer Reports ranks Toyota Camry very well, with all model years from 2012 to 2017 rated “Above average” for reliability and listed as ‘Recommended.’ J.D. Power and Associates also rated the 2012-2017 Camry well.


We have also checked many owner reviews: Several 2012 Camry owners mentioned a vague steering feel on the highway. Others complained about the smaller and harder front seats. A number of owners mentioned that they can get the advertised fuel economy numbers. Overall, however, most Camry owners are happy with their cars.
Maintenance tips: In the Warranty and Maintenance Guide for the U.S. 2012 Camry, Toyota recommends changing engine oil every 10,000 miles/12 months with 0W-20 synthetic when driving in normal conditions. When the vehicle is driven under especially demanding conditions, including low temperatures, extensive idling, etc., the recommended oil change interval is every 5,000 miles/6 months. Of course, you know that your engine will last longer if you change your oil more often. Toyota recommends rotating tires every 5,000 miles, so if you take your car to a dealer every 5,000 miles for tire rotation, why not change the oil at the same time?
It’s also important to check your oil level regularly, as some amount of oil is consumed as you drive and you don’t want your engine to run low on oil.
According to the owner’s manual, the 4-cylinder 2.5L engine uses a high-strength drive belt; make sure to use the right part when replacing it. The maintenance schedule is online at the Toyota Owners website. The owner’s manual can be accessed at the same website.
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2012 Toyota Camry short specifications

By Samarins.com Staff

Since 1997, the Toyota Camry has been the best selling car in America every year but one (2001). Last year, Americans bought 327,804 of them. Furthermore, the Camry platform serves as the foundation for the following Toyota and Lexus models: Avalon, Highlander, Sienna, Venza, ES350, RX350, and RX450h. Collectively, they added up to 738,415 sales in 2010—42 percent of To­yota’s American total. In other words, the Camry is the franchise.

Toyota has renewed this car like clockwork every five years, and the Camry has achieved an enviable position as the default mainstream sedan of choice—quiet, smooth, comfortable, reliable, and affordably priced. This new, seventh-generation, 2012 model is designed to maintain these virtues while offering more fuel efficiency and value.

Though Camry chief engineer Yukihiro Okane doesn’t say it, Toyota was perhaps embarrassed by losing out in mpg ratings to competitors, specifically the Ford Fusion hybrid and the Hyundai Sonata. Okane promises that this new model—with every engine—will at least tie for leadership in fuel-economy figures.

The base four-cylinder is now rated at 25 mpg city and 35 highway—up 3 mpg each. The V-6 is up 1 mpg each to 21/30. And the new hybrid LE leaps from 31/35 to 43/39 mpg, bettering the Fusion’s 41/36 ratings. The four-cylinder-only strategy used by competitors Hyundai and Kia doesn’t work for the Camry, as most of  its spinoffs require a V-6.

Toyota achieved these improvements without direct fuel injection, downsized engines, or turbocharging. Instead, the company relied on basics such as a 155-pound diet, lower-rolling-resistance tires, sleeker sheetmetal, taller gearing, more-aggressive torque-converter lockup, and electric power steering. The 2.5-liter four and the 3.5-liter V-6 are both unchanged (see specifications).

The hybrid loses an additional 66 pounds and gets a more efficient Atkinson-cycle engine with an electric water pump, more-effective regenerative braking, increased electric-motor usage, and better high-voltage-battery control. While the nickel-metal-hydride battery capacity is unchanged, total power jumps from 187 horses to 200, shaving an estimated half a second from the 0-to-60 acceleration time.

This Camry is no stunner, but it looks smoother than its predecessor, if a bit slab-sided and shovel-nosed. Despite the weight reductions, the car’s length, width, height, and wheelbase are unchanged. The interior package remains roomy and comfortable. The hybrid benefits from a shrunken and relocated battery/electronics package, increasing trunk space from 11 cubic feet to 13. Other Camrys have 15 cubic feet of space in their trunks.

Mercifully, this bestseller reverses the trend toward budget materials that we’ve seen on many recent Toyotas. A new layered dashboard with genuine stitching on its leading edge has upgraded the ambiance. Large, ergonomically sculpted controls on the steering wheel help navigate the optional electronics, and the cockpit nicely splits the difference between cozy and spacious, though we’d like more-convincing faux aluminum and wood trim.

The SE would be our choice among the many models available (L, LE, SE, SE V-6, XLE, XLE V-6, hybrid LE, and hybrid XLE). SEs come with French-stitched upholstery, more-effective seat bolsters, a cleaner grille, and much less chrome. They also have a notably firmer suspension and a faster steering gear with more effort and feel. As you’d expect, the V-6 SE is quicker, but the four feels lighter on its feet.

The other Camrys are oriented, as always, toward cushy comfort. Wind and road noise are even more subdued than before, and the ride is smooth without being floaty—at least at moderate speeds. The new cars go down the road well, although the electronic power steering is notably lacking in on-center feel, even by Camry standards.

For those not sold on the SE, the new hybrid is an excellent choice, as it provides all of the comfort and utility of the other models with close to 40 mpg in real-world driving. Its integration of regenerative braking with hydraulic brakes is among the best we’ve ever experienced, and this car is more than a second quicker than the nonhybrid four-cylinder Camrys.

Though there are still a multitude of Camry models, Toyota has substantially reduced the number of build combinations. All of this adds up to reduced pricing.

The sticker for a base LE automatic, which Toyota expects to account for half of the sales, will be slightly lower than that of today’s LE. The cost of upgrading to an SE or an XLE will be cut roughly in half. And the hybrid, at least the new LE version, also will likely cost less than the current single hybrid model and is expected to account for at least 10 percent of sales. With its improved interi­or materials, higher mileage, and lower prices, this Camry ought to retain its sales crown.


2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE review: 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE

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2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE

As a driving enthusiast, it’s easy to hate on hybrids and hybrid owners. They’re always in the way when I’m trying to hustle through traffic, and the schmoes in the driver’s seats seem to be drowning in their own smugness.

“Blech, hybrids!” I spout at my car-guy buddies. “They’re the worst!”

But then something interesting happens whenever I find myself sliding behind the wheel of one of Toyota’s or Ford’s hybrid vehicles: I start to enjoy myself. This week, I found myself behind the wheel of the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE. While it may not be the newest Toyota to wear the little blue Hybrid Synergy Drive badge (that honor belongs to the diminutive Prius C), it is probably the most fully loaded vehicle in the automaker’s stable–this side of Lexus, at least.

Performance: Zen and the art of driving slowly
So, how did I–a speed freak and driving enthusiast–find myself enjoying a week with a Camry Hybrid? Toyota Camrys have been, at best, driving appliances for the last few generations and slapping a hybrid badge seems to imply that even more soul has been sucked out of the drive. If I’m honest, even I’m not sure. Perhaps it was the mental shift from measuring performance in mph to mpg. Perhaps it was the thrill of challenging myself to keep the car in EV mode for as long as possible. Maybe I subconsciously believed that the perfect storm of Camry practicality and hybrid eco-consciousness would make me irresistible to San Francisco ladies.

Most likely, it’s because the Camry Hybrid doesn’t suck as badly as I thought it would.

Powered by a combination of a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle, direct-injected gasoline engine and an electric motor, the Camry Hybrid sends a combined 200-horsepower through its planetary electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT) and to the front wheels. Like all hybrid synergy drive (HSD) equipped vehicles, the Camry Hybrid is capable of propelling itself with pure electric power from its nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack, with only its gasoline engine’s 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, or a combination of both. Usually the electric motor operates at low speeds and the gasoline engine takes over at highway speeds where it’s most efficient, but that all depends on how you work the pedals.

The HSD system features special buttons for EV and Eco modes. The former forces the car to operate under full electric power for short ranges and at low-speeds and the later adjusts the throttle response and rates to help smooth out inputs and artificially lighten your lead foot. Here’s where things get interesting, because even in its Eco mode, the 2012 Camry Hybrid never felt gutless.

The Eco and EV modes help the driver to maximize fuel economy.

Of course, it didn’t feel fast either. The word that springs to mind is “subdued.” Even with the Eco mode’s dulling of my already light throttle inputs as I eased the hybrid through the commuter traffic clogging the San Francisco’s Marina district approaching the Golden Gate Bridge bottleneck, the Camry never felt sluggish. Electric acceleration was good enough that I never felt like I was frustrating the drivers around me with my electric hyper-miling and a whole second motor’s worth of power was always just a quick stab of the accelerator away when I needed it. While electric creeping, the hybrid impressed me with its trademark silent cabin, but even with the gasoline engine running and 70 mph worth of road and wind noise whipping around outside, the Camry Hybrid XLE is a remarkably quiet and very relaxing ride.

Interestingly, that’s not the case outside of the car. From outside of the vehicle, the direct-injected gasoline engine sounded it was full of loose change when it fired up to, for example, prime the climate control system or warm the catalytic converter after a cold night. Likewise, I was occasionally able to hear the artificial pedestrian safety noise, a light whirring that sounded a bit like a UFO, when EV creeping near a wall with the windows down.

With the Eco mode deactivated, the Camry’s power train is remarkable responsive despite the CVT’s rubbery performance when asked to downshift for a pass. Acceleration comes on strong thanks to the electric motor’s contribution to the available torque. However, things get a bit loud in the Camry’s cabin when it’s pushed–and not the good kind of loud either. Taking it slower and easier in the Camry seems to be the way to go.

The Camry loses most of its rear seat pass-through in the hybrid conversion. Only a small opening remains.

Fuel economy is probably the most important spec for a vehicle like the Camry Hybrid XLE. The EPA estimates 38 highway mpg, 40 city mpg, and a combined 40 mpg for the hybrid. Try as I might, I was unable to get the trip computer to rise above a tank average of 35 mpg. (Although I was able to get readings for a few individual trips across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and back to venture into the high 40s.) On the bright side, when the Eco mode was shut off for the last few days of my testing, I was also unable to get the Camry to drop much further below that number either and we ended our testing at a reported 34.2 mpg, which is not too bad for a sedan as large in footprint as the Camry is.

Cabin tech: Getting in tune with Entune
The Camry’s quiet cabin means that even the basic six-speaker audio system wouldn’t need to work very hard to sound pretty good. However, our optional JBL GreenEdge premium audio system (part of the $2,600 Premium HDD Navigation with Entune and JBL package) brings 10 speakers, including a powered subwoofer, to the party and sounds rather good. Available audio sources include Bluetooth streamed audio (A2DP/AVRCP), hands-free calling, iPod/USB connectivity, SiriusXM satellite radio, an analog audio connection, a single CD slot, and an HD Radio tuner.

Thanks to a quiet cabin and quiet power train, the JBL premium audio stereo doesn’t have to work very hard.

The Camry is one of the first vehicles to feature integration with the automaker’s Entune apps service. After registering with the service online and downloading the Entune app to a smartphone, users will locate the individual Entune services under the touch-screen interface’s Info menu. In the case of Android smartphones you’ll need to make sure that you also Bluetooth pair with the infotainment systems, iOS devices just need to be connected via their 30-pin dock connector. While we had connectivity issues during our last test of this system, this time it was mostly smooth sailing.

However, on the smartphone side, I was a bit annoyed that the Entune app for Android wouldn’t stop notifying me of when it WASN’T running. Everytime I got out of the car or toggled Bluetooth connectivity, the app would pop up an “Entune Service state: STOPPED” or “Bluetooth unavailable” or “Entune not initialized” notification–a minor annoyance for sure, but there’s no way to disable the notifications and the almost constant blinking of my phone’s notification LED nearly led to a rage-uninstallation or two. Additionally, occasionally the Android app was inconsistent when connecting to the car. Later, I noticed that if the Entune app was running in the foreground, the connectivity issues seemed to disappear.

If I’m not in the vehicle, I don’t need constant reminders that Entune isn’t running.

For your trouble, Entune gives front-seat passengers access to a handful of useful apps. OpenTable, for example, allows users to search for restaurants and book reservations from within the touch-screen interface. MovieTickets gives you access to currently playing films in near by theaters and–if the theater is in MovieTickets.com’s network–allows you to purchase tickets right from your dashboard. Pandora does what it’s always done–stream custom-generated Internet radio stations through your car’s speakers–and iHeartRadio works similarly, but with local radio stations from around the globe. Finally, Bing search allows users to find points of interest and quickly navigate to them or call via Bluetooth hands-free. Any destination found via Bing search on the handset can be saved as a favorite for later navigation, so you can do your trip planning before you get behind the wheel.

Annoying notifications aside, Entune gives users access to a variety of useful services, both in and out of the car.

Toyota also lists a handful of SiriusXM data services under the Entune umbrella, which is frankly a bit confusing. However you choose to define it, our Camry Hybrid XLE featured XM weather forecasts, fuel prices, stock quotes, sports scores, and XM NavTraffic. That last bit comes into play when getting from point A to B using Toyota’s HDD navigation system. This 7-inch touch-screen unit performed well during our testing, with snappy performance, good-looking and fast-rendering maps, and an intuitive split-screen interface that can dedicate half of the display to an upcoming turn-list, a detailed live map, or historical fuel economy information. I found that last configuration useful for keeping my lead foot in check without missing my next turn.

Both the navigation and hands-free calling systems can be voice controlled with the touch of a button. Thanks to clear onscreen prompts and a robotic voice prompt that guides new users through using the system, I was able to quickly input street addresses, search for nearby POIs, and initiate calls to the friends in my phone book–at least those with easy to pronounce/spell names. Once you get used to using the system, the voice prompts can be disabled to quickly speed through inputs without waiting for the system to speak. However, I was a bit annoyed that although I could speak an address, I was not able to voice input an intersection or city center–many users will not care, but if you’ve ever tried to meet someone at “that burrito place near 24th and Mission Street” you’ll appreciate having all destination options available via voice.

Toyota’s voice command system was very easy to use while driving. We just wish it were more fully featured.

A rear-view camera made use of the large dashboard display for its video feed and an available blind spot monitoring system utilizes LEDs in the side mirrors to notify the driver of potential obstructions when changing lanes.

The last bit of the Toyota’s infotainment systems that we’ll discuss is the hybrid information system and fuel economy displays. Users can view a historical graph of fuel economy over the last few minutes or for the last few trips. There’s also the same graphic representation of the HSD system that live updates the user of whether the vehicle is using gasoline, electric, or both forms of motivation, as well as the battery regeneration status and charge level.

In sum: The best Camry that money can buy?
A “regular” Toyota Camry XLE starts at $24,725. Stepping up to the Camry Hybrid XLE model bumps that MSRP up to $27,400. The extra $2,675 gets you three more highway mpg, but also a whopping 15 more mpg in the city. What’s more, the hybrid doesn’t make you work to reach those goals like a standard gasoline model would–you just drive and the mpgs sort of magically add up. Both models feature similar creature comforts and are pretty handsomely equipped as cars in their class go and when you consider that the standard four-cylinder Camry XLE isn’t really much faster, nimble, or even much cheaper, why wouldn’t you go ahead and drop the extra dough on the more efficient, more quiet, and more refined hybrid model? It may just be the best Camry for the buck in Toyota’s lineup.

However, if you like checking option boxes, the Camry Hybrid XLE can get a bit pricey. For example, the Blind Spot monitoring system is a $500 option. The Convenience package that includes the back-up camera is another $695. Having leather seats with heated surfaces adds $1,160 to the bottom line and the Premium HDD Navigation with Entune and JBL package is, as I mentioned earlier, a $2,600 option! Our tester was also equipped with a moonroof ($915), Toyota’s Safety Connect telematics system ($450), wheel locks ($67), and an emergency assistance kit ($70).

The Camry Hybrid is only a bit more expensive than the regular Camry, but is also considerably more fuel-efficient.

As tested, that comes to a total of $34,617 (including a $760 destination fee). I mentioned the as tested price to my father–a man who has owned every generation of Camry for the last 20 years, and is currently in the market for a 2012 model–his response an incredulous, “$35,000 for a Camry?! You may as well just buy a Lexus!” I’m sure that he’s not alone in that sentiment.

Personally, at the end of my week with the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE, I was convinced that $35,000 for a car that comfortable, efficient, and well put together was an absolute steal. I found myself defending the hybrid to my enthusiast buddies. The words “eco-performance driving” may have slipped past my lips when describing the thrill of beating the efficiency score of my last trip and finessing a longer chunk of EV driving out of my commute. However, after settling behind the wheel of the next car I was tasked with reviewing and sliding out into traffic, I found myself stuck behind the slowest Prius ever for about 10 blocks.

“Blech, hybrids,” I thought to myself. “They’re the worst!” I guess old habits die hard.

Tech specs
Model 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Trim XLE
Power train 2.5-liter direct-injected four-cylinder with Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system
EPA fuel economy 40 city, 38 highway mpg
Observed fuel economy 34.2 mpg
Navigation 7-inch HDD navigation available
Bluetooth phone support Hands-free, audio streaming
Disc player Single-slot CD
MP3 player support Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB/iPod connection, Bluetooth audio streaming
Other digital audio SiriusXM satellite radio, HD radio tuner
Audio system Optional 10-speaker JBL GreenEdge system equipped
Driver aids Available rear-view camera, blind-spot monitoring
Base price $27,400
Price as tested $34,617

Used 2012 Toyota Camry

Favorite Features

Upgraded Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD)
Taking a much-needed next step in the greener arena, the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid features a comprehensively redone HSD system that’s lighter, tighter and far more impressively integrated – improvements that yield more spirited performance under all conditions and a stunning 30-percent bump in key fuel economy numbers.

Toyota Entune
Still a work in process, Toyota’s new Entune multimedia/telematics system already shows solid introductory capabilities and offers both a user-friendly interface and the promise of an ever-expanding group of downloadable apps that should make it a worthy state-of-the-art rival to in-car alternatives of its competitors.

Used 2012 Toyota Camry Interior

The redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry cabin adds both space and contemporary sophistication, highlighted by a leather-covered “layered” dash set off by trim-specific instrumentation and a center cluster inspired by portable music players. Headroom is up in all positions while aft passengers also gain significant hip and legroom. Other key plusses include more supportive front buckets and a revised lower cushion on the 60/40 folding rear bench seat that adds stretch space for the middle rider – although minimal padding still limits the center perch to part-time duty. Trunk space also is up, modestly in gasoline-powered Camrys; but by 2.1 cubic feet in the new 2012 Hybrid.

Used 2012 Toyota Camry Exterior

Although its external dimensions are virtually unchanged, the 2012 Toyota Camry’s fully redrawn bodywork adds an edgier flair. The new sedan sports a bolder front and rear look with more expressive contours and character lines that impart a wider, lower look and a more wedge-like profile. Helping the cause are a host of subtle touches like mini-strakes on the mirrors and taillamps that channel air to improve stability, and new underbody work that further reduces drag. Unique front/rear/side-sill styling adds more cosmetic swagger to the Camry SE while blue-trimmed “Hybrid” and “HSD” (Hybrid Synergy Drive) badges visually define the most fuel-efficient 2012 Camry.

Used 2012 Toyota Camry Standard Features

Impressively packaged at all levels, even the base Camry L sedan offers numerous power assists, air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with AUX/USB/iPod inputs, Bluetooth, Toyota’s STAR safety system and 10 airbags. The LE adds keyless remote entry, multifunction steering wheel, and an upgraded Display Audio sound system. Moving up to the Camry SE nets you a dedicated sport suspension/wheel/tire package with unique trim, Softex covered sport seats and paddle shifters. The top-line Camry XLE sedan features dual power seats, dual-zone climate control, power moonroof and premium fabric or leather (V6-only) upholstery. Both the SE/XLE V6s add Navigation and Entune multimedia telematics, HD radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The Camry Hybrid sedan offers LE and XLE trim-level appointments.

Used 2012 Toyota Camry Options

The 2012 Toyota Camry sedan’s extras roster is confined to color choices on the L trim and a power driver’s seat and moonroof on the LE. Upgraded Display Audio packages with Navigation and Entune – including a 10-speaker premium JBL system with energy-saving GreenEdge speaker technology – dedicated Convenience Packages and Leather-trimmed Ultrasuede Sport Seats with deluxe trim also are available on SE/XLE models, while SEs can be had with a power moonroof. Camry Hybrids offer a Leather Package, Moonroof Package and two tiers of JBL-enhanced Upgrade Packages, one with Navigation and one without.

Used 2012 Toyota Camry Engine

Focused drivetain revamps yield impressive gains in both performance and economy for all 2012 Toyota Camry sedans. Modest internal enhancements to the largely carryover 178-horsepower 2.5-liter four and 268-horse 3.5-liter V6 coupled with revised final-drive ratios in their standard 6-speed automatic transmissions, plus lower-rolling-resistance tires, help raise EPA city/highway numbers by three mpg on four-cylinder Camrys and one mpg on V6s. While its electric motor remains unchanged, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine replaces the previous 2.4-liter in the Camry Hybrid, which also features lighter, more compact and better-managed electrical components – including a new battery pack and a CVT (continuously-variable transmission) automatic with new ECO/EV modes. While the total hybrid-system output rises from 187 to 200 horsepower, preliminary EPA figures – 43/39 mpg for the LE and 41/38 mpg for the XLE – reflect a huge 30-percent uptick in fuel economy.

3.5-liter V6
268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA City/highway fuel economy: 21/30 mpg (6-speed automatic)

2.5-liter in-line 4 plus a 105-kilowatt Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Electric Motor and Ni-MH battery pack
Engine: 156 horsepower @ 5,750 rpm
Battery: 141 horsepower 4,500 rpm
Total hybrid system (engine and battery): 200 horsepower
Engine: 156 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
Battery: 199 lb-ft of torque @ 0-1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 43/39 mph (LE with CVT automatic), 41/38 mpg (XLE with CVT automatic)

How Much Does the Used 2012 Toyota Camry Cost?

Toyota has placed more emphasis on total value for the 2012 Camry while encouraging more buyers to consider moving beyond entry-level trims. Although the 2012 Toyota Camry L sedan opens just under $22,800, a $710 rise versus a comparably equipped 2011, the spread between the high-volume LE – which now starts $200 lower at around $22,300. Four-cylinder SE and XLE models start just under $23,800 and $25,500, respectively, roughly $1,000 and $2,000 under their 2011 counterparts. Stickers on the V6 SE and XLE sedans are unchanged, opening around $27,400 and $30,600. On the Camry Hybrid front, the LE gets a $1,150 price slice to start just under $26,700 and the premium XLE version opens below $28,200, reflecting an $800 drop from the 2011 LE Hybrid with an upgrade package. Historically, the Toyota Camry has shown above-average reliability with similarly robust long-term resale stats. Intense competitive pressures notwithstanding, that tradition seems likely to continue on with this new Class of 2012.

Which Used 2012 Toyota Camry Model is Right for Me?

2012 Toyota Camry L

6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with Bluetooth and auxiliary/USB inputs
Cruise control
Power windows and door locks
6-way manual adjust driver’s seat

2012 Toyota Camry LE

Power-adjust driver’s seat
6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system
Keyless entry
Steering wheel-mounted audio and Bluetooth controls

2012 Toyota Camry SE

Paddle shifters
Sport seats
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
Sport suspension

2012 Toyota Camry XLE

Dual-zone climate control
Rear air vents
Illuminated vanity mirrors
Navigation and HD Radio

2012 Toyota Camry XLE V6

Leather interior
Heated front seats
Backup camera
Auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass
Universal garage remote