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Roadshow Video Reviews
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLEThe most maligned car on earth gets a big MPG boost and some teasing tech.
Well, it's got a few more creases and some sharp, pointy things on it but it's still the Camry. The car you buy, bring home and don't call and brag to anybody that you just bought. It's the most malign, really good car in the world. Let's drive the 2012 Camry Hybrid and check the tech. Now, because we have an XLE, that means extra luxurious etc or something. You can tell this cabin is not your typical rental car Camry. I mean nice stitching and different textures and good quality materials everywhere but I think it's the high trim car. We're here really though to check out the Entune head unit. We've also got a separate video on this. Check that out at CNETTV.com. Just type in Entune. It's all about this five apps we've got here. Bing, radio, movie tickets, open table, Pandora and all of that is gonna give you access to those through a single sort of what I call as a bridge app you put here on your phone. But the gripe I've got about that app is that it doesn't seem to be shutdown-able. Even when I have Bluetooth turned off, I'm nowhere near the car, I'm in a different ZIP code, that damn Entune app keeps trying to run. But here's where Entune got tripped up by the Toyota lawyers and I get it. Who in the motor corporation doesn't want anymore headlines for being dangerous on the road these days but these went too far. Once you get rolling like some other cars, a lot of things get locked out. But the problem is this voice button over here doesn't work with Entune. All I know, I'm supposed to pull over and use it. Well, I've got news for you. If I take the time to pull over to use an online service, I'm gonna do it on my phone where it's got a better touch screen, better graphics, better apps, faster processor and a direct connection to the internet. The one exception here is Bing luckily does have it's own voice command on an icon right here. But the rest of these apps are voice dumb. Now because we've also loaded this guy up with one of the confusing packages that Toyota offers, it's got almost everything. That includes JBL Audio. It's what they call GreenEdge audio. It uses left current so more recharge can go to battery this being hybrid of course. Beyond that, it's the usual compliment of the right things. You've got a USB and AUX jack here, iPod or USB drive, Bluetooth hands-free, also has streaming Bluetooth support. And beyond that, what do you care? No HD radio. Most Americans couldn't give a (rap's ass?) anyway. And those top end packages on this car will also give you blind spot detection but not prevention and also a backup camera but there's no lane departure technology coming on your Camry. Now here was the problem with the last Camry Hybrid; it wasn't all that efficient. Not compared to its newer competitors that came along that made this MPG numbers look not bad but not tremendous. This one is trying to correct that. First of all, the car went on a diet. Lots of weight loss. 250 pounds lighter than the outgoing Camry Hybrid. That is a big difference on a car that weighs 3520 or so now. 2-1/2 liter in line for an electric motor. They're only quoting a total horse power number of 200 combined and not even telling us what the torque spec is on this car. We'll figure that out if we get on the road in a moment. But this 3500 pound guy gets up to 16 in about 7.6 seconds while delivering 40/38 mpg. And as we're about to see, it really does that. That's the key. Oh, and check this out. This engine is beltless. Now there's an empty pulley down there on the crank shaft but the power steering, AC compressor and water pump are all electric, not belt driven, that further freeze up the engine that sip gas with less drag. Okay. Underway, notice we have a one choice only gear box as you might expect. It's a CVT, not a cog automatic which is what you would get on a gas engine Prius. But this hybrid was a CVT only. It also got an eco-motor and EV mode. EV makes it run electric only the most that it can until it starts to deplete the battery and eco mode softens up throttle response to, again, give it the lowest dynamics for the least interesting driving but the best MPG. Very interesting thing here, you got a gauge on the far right that shows historical MPG since reset. It's odd to use the needle for that. Normally, you see a number on the display which I also have here in the middle that's redundant. And you notice, that's a good number. And I've been getting 33/34 average on a tank the whole time I'm driving this car because we've got electric motor in here. The performance is actually quite good around town, everyday driving. I don't know what it's like on a skid pad or a track and I don't care. It's a Camry. But I do know that it's got the snap power delivery when you need it like right now. I've got to make a little whole here in traffic, get through that and it's all over it. My gripe is they went too far in getting rid of the Camry's floaty, boaty image of having a big, soft expansion that kind of wallows. They went the other way. It still wallows a little but the ride quality to me is too harsh for this vehicle. I'm getting too many road inputs, stupid road inputs like manhole covers and pavement patches. It just plain sprung hard and I don't want that in a Camry. All right. Bottom line in the Camry Hybrid. This is a hybrid XLE, high trim but I really like the interior so I'm gonna say go XLE. It's about 28.3. Then you've got to add about $5,000 worth of options to get navigation Entune, the nice JBL audio system, the rear camera, the blind spot tech, the keyless, technology. It's kinda full boat at that price. It's not a cheap date but it's a really nice car and those MPG numbers may actually do a little bit (dump?) earn back the price