SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The key to gaining fuel efficiency can be as simple as losing weight, and Toyota has cut more than 200 pounds off the Camry Hybrid to curb its fuel diet. Combined with a revised drivetrain, the result is an impressive jump in fuel economy compared to the outgoing model that will make the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid the leader in its class when it arrives at Toyota dealerships this fall.
Toyota went to great lengths to keep the 2012 Camry and its hybrid variant under wraps before its worldwide debut on August 23. With all-new styling that should appeal to a younger demographic and improved fuel efficiency for all Camry models, Toyota has crafted a car capable of retaining the title of America’s best-selling car, which it has held for 13 of the last 14 years.
“The redesign of the Camry is an evolution of the model’s core strengths rather than a complete revolution,” said Bob McKenna, general manager of upstate New York Toyota dealer New Country Toyota of Saratoga Springs. “Small changes here and there have made the 2012 Camry Hybrid a better vehicle all around, but Camry fans will also find that the smooth ride and quiet interior they’ve come to expect from the model are still a big part of the new package.”
Fuel economy for the entry-level 2012 Camry Hybrid LE has increased to 39 mpg on the highway and 43 mpg in the city, which is about a 30-percent increase for urban travelers over the old model. The added fuel efficiency hasn’t been at the expense of power either. The outgoing Camry Hybrid has a combined 187 horsepower, while the 2012 Camry Hybrid brings 200 horsepower to the table between its new 2.5-liter engine and electric motor. The gas-powered unit produces 156 horsepower and matching torque numbers, while the electric motor has increased output to 105 kW, up from 30 kW.
Like every Toyota hybrid outside of the upcoming Prius Plug-in, the Camry Hybrid makes use of a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack, which captures energy under braking and releases it to boost acceleration and steady fuel economy during cruising. Toyota hopes the improved hybrid will become a bigger seller in the Camry range, increasing from its current 5 to 6 percent share of U.S. Camry sales to 11 or 12 percent. To help bolster sales, Toyota has lowered the MSRP of the LE trim by $1,150, making the Camry Hybrid the most affordable hybrid in its class.
“The Camry Hybrid is unmatched in its class in both fuel economy and pricing, and it’s a model that already has its reputation for safety, quality and comfort,” McKenna noted. “The Camry is already the most popular car in America, but the redesigned Camry Hybrid is going to be a real game changer in the midsize market, making hybrids a truly mainstream vehicle choice.”
With a large number of its new electric-assisted vehicles becoming available, including the new Prius v, Prius Plug-in, Camry Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid, Toyota is solidifying its position as the largest producer of hybrids in America. That focus on hybrid technology has led Toyota to sign a memorandum of understanding with Ford to co-develop a hybrid drivetrain for full-size trucks and SUVs, a deal which should reduce development costs and thus reduce prices when the resulting system reaches dealerships later this decade.