Toyota Camry Hybrid review
Garry Fabian has filed this Toyota Camry hybrid review.
The Camry has been a very popular model for Toyota for almost a decade and the second generation of the Australian built 2012 Camry Hybrid boasts the latest incarnation of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive.
The hybrid system teams a 2.5 litre four-cylinder engine with a 105kW electric motor and a revised 245-volt battery pack.
Although smaller in size, the battery pack in the 2012 model hybrid Camry stores and delivers more power.
Fuel economy is one of the big selling points of hybrids.
This new one delivers just less than 6 litres per 100km.
So, how did they produce a car with more power and less fuel use per 100km?
Well weight is a major nemesis of fuel economy, and Toyota engineers cut around 100kg from the new hybrid.
This includes trimming the size and weight of the battery pack.
Aerodynamics plays an important role in fuel economy and the 2012 Camry Hybrid achieves a notable 0.27 coefficient of drag wind resistance.
To reach that number, chassis aerodynamic cladding was strategically placed and, the side-view mirrors and taillight lenses have integrated small fins that create a buffer around the car, helping the vehicle to slip through the air.
This aero design trick was culled from Toyota’s Formula One days.
Under the bonnet, the engine features a roller-rocker type valve train and a variable-output oil pump that help reduce internal friction, boosting economy.
Another fuel-saving strategy is a water-cooled exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) system.
This feature boosts fuel economy by reducing engine pumping losses.
Also, accessory drive belts have been eliminated, replaced by electric driven accessories, including the air conditioning compressor, water pump and power steering pump.
Software engineers are credited for helping to increase the numbers by enhancing the hybrid system’s power management; the Hybrid’s electronic sensors precisely determine what blend of petrol and electric propulsion best balances power and fuel economy.
And finally, Toyota says lower rolling resistance tires also help boost fuel economy.
Like the petrol models, the 2012 Camry Hybrid rides on an all-new platform, though wheelbase, length, width and height are carried-over dimensions.
The result is a familiar looking vehicle, even though designers clad the sedan in all-new sheet metal from bumper to bumper.
The most noteworthy change is up front where a new chrome grille sweeps upward to a refreshed headlight design.
Below, an expansive air inlet is flanked by trapezoidal chrome fog light recesses.
The design fools the eye and gives the impression of greater width.
In the rear, chrome taillight accents were discarded and replaced by a more curved design that wraps into the rear side panels and extends into the boot.
There is little on the outside to distinguish the Camry Hybrid from the petrol engine models.
Small hybrid badges adorn the front side panel and boot lid.
The front Toyota emblem has a blue background rather than black, borrowing a design element from the Prius.
Toyota has improved the cabin of the Camry with the replacement of cheap looking interior plastics with panels that have more of premium feel and look about them.
You will now find soft-touch plastic on the upper dash and genuine cloth stitching.
Soft textures are also used on the upper door trim, door and centre console armrests as well as kneepads on either side of the console.
Seating is all-day comfortable, and not just in the front row.
Camry seats are kind to the gluteal portions of the anatomy, important in a car with a fuel range of 900 kilometres.
Designers reshaped interior components to make it more spacious, with big gains in rear seat leg and hip room.
The 2012 Camry Hybrid feels more like V-6 power than inline four, officially the scoot from 0 – 100 km is 7.6 seconds.
Transition from the petrol engine to electric motor and back again is no longer “almost seamless,” it is seamless – no shuddering, no shimmying; none, nada.
As for the quirky, almost brick-like feel of the regenerative brake system of the previous Hybrid, it doesn’t exist anymore.
Brake pedal feel is equal to the petrol powered Camry and very linear.
In terms of handling, the Camry is more than competent and is devoid of vices and totally predictable.
It corners well and the electric power steering has good on-centre feel and offers decent driver feedback.
Camry’s are best known for their ride quality.
A more rigid body structure and tweaks to the all-independent suspension provide a smooth and compliant feel that makes it ideal for long trips and daily commuting.
Cabin noise intrusion plays a role in perceived ride quality.
Toyota has made wind noise almost non-existent in the hybrid with stronger door and rocker area seals; optimized placement of sound insulating materials; foam in the roof, pillars and door openings; and acoustic glass used for the windshield.
All this adds up to a controlled, balanced and comfortable four-door family sedan with great fuel economy.
Completing the Camry Hybrid’s resume are all the biggies when it comes to standard safety systems.
For active safety there’s stability control, traction control and ABS.
Passive safety features includes ten passenger airbags.
The list of standard features is impressive including remote central locking, push button start, satellite navigation, and a rear reversing camera.
NUTS & BOLTS
Engine: 2.5 litre four cylinder producing 118 kW and 213 Nm and electric motor delivering 105 kW.
Safety: 5 star ANCAP Rating.
Warranty: 3 years/100,000 kilometres.
Economy: Urban – 5.7 L, Extra urban – 4.9L, Combined 5.2L