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2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid was new.


Performance: 8.0

The 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid's green technology ups the ante for an already-competent sedan. The four-cylinder engine works with an electric motor to provide a smooth transition of power, and most reviewers say the ride is comparable to many gas-only midsize cars.

  • "Powertrain integration is honestly among the best of any hybrid vehicle out there." -- Motor Trend
  • "With major mass reduction, handling dynamics on par with its conventional kin, and a redone Hybrid Synergy Drive system that finally has the engine/motor/transmission triumvirate speaking far more directly to each other, the most fuel-efficient Camry variant should have far greater consumer appeal regardless of the price of gasoline." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "We've only briefly driven the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid. But from our initial impressions, it feels notably quicker and more responsive than its predecessor. Thanks to revised suspension tuning, it also feels more planted on the road and less disturbed by bumps. The electric steering is also improved, but there's a slight numbness that we attribute more to the Camry's low-rolling-resistance tires than to any flaw in the steering system." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid features a 178-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that, together, create a total output of 200 horsepower, which is an increase of 13 horsepower when compared with the 2011 model. The Camry Hybrid uses an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT) to direct power to the front wheels.

Most auto writers are pleased with this hybrid sedan's power. They say the changeover between the gas engine and electric motor is flawless, and that the car has plenty of muscle for highway passing and stop-and-go city driving. The Camry Hybrid’s ECVT is smooth, according to the automotive press. On the downside, one test driver cautions that the gas engine is noisy when pushed hard, to the point of aggravation.

The 2012 Camry Hybrid’s two trim levels have different fuel economy ratings. The EPA says the LE model nets a city/highway fuel economy rating of 43/39 mpg, while the XLE gets 40/38 mpg.

  • "The Hybrid is leisurely on takeoff but builds speed quickly to provide peppy acceleration. Mid-range throttle response is surprisingly immediate, especially for a hybrid. CVT provides smooth power delivery." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The very first thing I noticed was that the transition between the electric motor and the gasoline motor was seamless - I was not able to detect when the gasoline motor powered on and off." -- Forbes
  • "When the electric motor and engine work in tandem, the 200-horsepower Camry Hybrid scoots more quickly than its Ford and Hyundai competitors - not exactly slowpokes themselves - despite all three having similar power." -- Cars.com
  • "Perhaps it was the stark contrast with the silence of the hybrid system when stopped or operating under electric power, but when the gasoline engine kicked over, we noticed it audibly. And during hard acceleration, the engine noise is downright obnoxious. Perhaps this is Toyota's way of discouraging lead-footed drivers. Treat the go pedal like an eggshell and you'll be rewarded with a smooth, near-silent ride." -- CNET

Handling and Braking

The Toyota Camry Hybrid’s handling receives mostly positive comments from test drivers, but its brakes get mixed reviews. Test drivers say the Camry Hybrid is no sports car, but its handling is controlled, crisp and somewhat athletic.

The 2012 Camry Hybrid’s regenerative brakes, which help recharge the battery, receive differing remarks from reviewers. Some dislike that when the brake pedal is pushed, it takes longer to stop the car than they think it should, and others say the brakes are strong and stop the car in a short distance.

  • "In fact, the Camry Hybrid only suffers from one stereotypically hybrid problem - its brakes. The regenerative stoppers still aren't very linear. While not as grabby as less refined systems, there's still the sense that coming to a stop requires more effort and distance than the non-hybrid Camry. That could be a product of the extra weight, however." -- AutoblogGreen
  • "Toyota gets my nod for best regenerative brakes, too. Where other hybrid brakes often feel inconsistent or even bricklike, the Camry Hybrid's pedal is almost as linear as a non-hybrid car's." -- Cars.com
  • "Suspension improvements have also enlivened the Camry Hybrid's handling dynamics. That's not to say the new hybrid is particularly sporty, but it does infuse slightly more enthusiasm into a rock-solid legacy of cushy, comfortable ride quality." -- Edmunds
  • "The electric steering has positive, linear weighting and the firm brake pedal offers a surprisingly short stroke with little of the grabbiness anticipated from a braking system with regenerative functions. And speaking of regenerative braking, it has also been optimized, per Toyota. Golly, is there anything the Camry Hybrid can't do?" -- Motor Trend

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