More than seven months ago, I purchased my third Camry and my sixth Toyota. Seven months later, I still think this 2012 Camry Hybrid is not only one of the prettiest cars on the road, but also one of the most comfortable.
After 9,400 miles, I can report that in real world conditions, it averages 42-46 miles per gallon.
That’s nothing short of amazing.
This summer, we took a trip to the hills of West Virginia and on that trip, the Camry averaged 46 mpg. For those unfamiliar with the backroads of West Virginia, let me tell you, you’re either climbing straight up a hill or standing on the brakes as you come flying down the other side.
Both hubby and I were blown away by the 46 mpg average.
I’ve been fascinated by the Toyota Prius since its introduction to the American markets in 2001. When I purchased my last Camry in 2003 (Salsa Red Pearl LE), I was torn between the Camry and the Prius.
After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I opted for the Camry. It was a proven car with an incredible track record. As a freshly divorced woman, I opted for “proven, reliable and staid” over “new, fancy and sleek.”
And yet, as the years rolled by, I paid close attention to the Prius. The hybrid technology was quickly evolving and it was clearly the wave of the future. Each year, the Prius had more features, better technology and improved gas mileage.
And then in 2007, Toyota introduced the Camry Hybrid.
In February 2011, I was on my way to visit a purported Sears Magnolia near Gaffney, South Carolina, traveling merrily along in my shiny 2003 Camry. As I approached the South Carolina border, the “check engine” light blinked on, and I could smell gas.
I glanced down at the odometer, which read 152,300 miles and had a sinking realization. I was driving an old car.
I made it home without incident, and took the car in for repairs. Total cost: $1,300.
For the next few long trips, we rented a car. That was a lot of hassle.
I’m a car person. I love cars. In the 1970s, I took two years of auto tech at a vocational school in Portsmouth. There’s nothing about cars that isn’t fascinating.
In April, we rented a 2012 Prius for a weekend trip. I was in love. The Prius was a fun car, full of gadgetry and pie charts and diagrams and all manner of displays. And we averaged more than 50 mpg on the trip.
The next weekend, we went car shopping. The Prius had been a delight to drive, but I didn’t like the front seats. Plus, the Prius hatchback had a harsh ride. I loved the technology but my aching back needed something more comfortable. After more research, I opted for the 2012 Camry Hybrid XLE.
In 2012, the Camry was redesigned and re-engineered. The 2012 model gets eight more miles from a gallon of gas than the prior year’s model. My car is rated at 41 (combined city/highway), but I’ve averaged 42-44 mpg in the city.
The 2012 Camry boasts 200 hp (up 13 hp from 2011). The ICE produces 156 horsies, and the electric motor kicks in about 40 horsepower. The battery pack (34 nickel-metal hydride modules) eats up a bit of trunk space, and yet the 2012 still has 13.1 cubic feet of suitcase space (2.5 cubic feet more than the 2011).
Under hard acceleration, you could really feel the shift points of those four gears in the 2003. In the new Camry, there are no shift points. The continuously variable transmission is an engineering marvel, picking up energy from two different sources (gasoline and electric) and transmitting into smooth forward motion of the front wheels.
It is, as promised a “smoother driving experience.”
And best of all, the CVT provides both faster acceleration and better fuel economy. The 2012 Camry Hybrid does 0-60 in 7.6 seconds. The V6 Camry (3.0 liter) only beats that by about one half of one second. In exchange for that half second, I get about 15 more miles out of each gallon of gas (compared to the V6).
The car really shines in the short jaunts around town. Driving through residential streets in Hampton Roads and looking for kit homes, I can hit 55+ miles per gallon. That, together with a 17-gallon tank means that you can drive 935 miles between fill-ups (as long as you don’t go more than 30 miles per hour).
When I’m out hunting for kit homes, tooling up and down tree-lined residential streets in early 20th Century neighborhoods, I drive about 15 miles per hour. The Camry Hybrid loves that speed.
Toyota has created the perfect car for house hunting: The 2012 Camry Hybrid.
Maybe they should change their jingle to, “Toyota; I love what you do for history.”
Kit home history, that is.
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