New 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid Unveiled (41 MPG)
7th Generation Camry, 2nd Generation Camry Hybrid
The Toyota Camry is a perennial best-seller in the US, ranking #1 in number of units sold for 13 of the past 14 years. Since 2006, Toyota has been offering a hybrid version of its best-seller for those looking for better fuel-efficiency (especially in city driving, though you're still better off with a Prius) and cleaner tailpipe emissions. I've always been critical of it because I don't think they pushed the fuel-saving far enough; it only gets a combined MPG of 33, which is eclipsed by its closest direct competitor, the Ford Fusion hybrid (39 MPG combined). Let's see if the all-new 2012 Camry hybrid has been improved enough to become competitive.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I can't say that I find the new Camry very attractive, especially compared to its direct competition, but I'll let you be the judge of whether Toyota designers have done a good job. Let's dive straight under the hood to see what the new Camry hybrid has to offer.
Under the Hood: 2012 Camry Powertrain Technical Specification
There are three engines available: The 4-cylinder 2.5-liter (178 hp, 25 mpg city/35 highway), the V6 3.5-liter (268 hp, 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway) and the one that interests us most, the hybrid, which is powered by a combination of the 2.5-liter engine, but tuned for the more efficient Atkinson cycle, and an electric motor.
This new hybrid powertrain produces 200 horsepower (so more powerful than the 4-cylinder) and should have an fuel economy of 43 mpg city/39 mpg highway/41 mpg combined, according to EPA estimates. This is a "30 percent boost in fuel economy in the EPA city and combined driving cycles, compared to the previous generation."
This surpasses the Fusion Hybrid's 41 MPG city/36 MPG highway/39 MPG combined and the Sonata hybrid's 37/39, so on that front, Toyota can say "Mission accomplished"...
As for smog-forming emissions: The 2012 Camry Hybrid meets AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology Partial-credit Zero Emissions Vehicle) standards.
Unfortunately, the battery is still using the nickel-metal-hydride chemistry. I wish Toyota would upgrade to lithium-ion soon for better MPG and improved EV range.
The 2012 Camry hybrid will have an all-electric 'EV mode', but the electric range is only 1.6 mile and the top speed is 25 mph. This is still lagging behind the Ford Fusion hybrid...
One impressive achievement is making the car extremely 'slippery' through the air. The 2012 Camry's drag coefficient (CD) is 0.27. The 2010 Prius beats it with a CD of 0.25, but it's still pretty good.
Looking ahead, Toyota executives have said that they expect the Prius family to eventually outsell the Camry...
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