Conceptually, hybrid vehicles have always seemed like a fantastic idea, but the reality has never met expectations. There have been a number of problems with hybrids over the last decade ranging from the basics like poor handling to exceptionally high prices. 2012 is turning out to be the year that this all could change. Toyota has released a hybrid that is getting rave reviews across the board and surprisingly – it's not the Prius. It appears that the 2012 Toyota Camry is now the car to beat, although Ford is right on it's heels.
What Makes the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid Different?
There are two key variables that have allowed the Toyota Camry hybrid to set it apart from the rest of the pack. First, this is the first hybrid car that seems to perform well on the highway. Hybrids have always been excellent choices for city driving, but never quite had what it took to compete on the highways. In most cases, high efficiency gas powered cars could match or exceed any hybrids' highway mpg. While the Camry may not be quite at the top the list, it is very competitive which no other hybrid has been able to say, except for the Prius although the Prius doesn't compare in terms of power. All combined, the Toyota Camry hybrid boasts 200 horsepower through a 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine with the Hybrid Synergy Drive system.
Second, the Toyota Camry hybrid is fairly affordable. One of the biggest barriers to hybrids really gaining traction in the marketplace is their initial cost. This year, the Toyota Camry hybrid is starting out at a very reasonable $25,000. In fact, it brought home the Consumer Report's Top Pick in the family sedan category. Along with being affordable, it definitely doesn't skimp on the luxury features. It is available with the LE and XLE trim lines.
The LE has 16 inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, all power accessories, Bluetooth, USB jack, 6 CD sound system, keyless entry, keyless ignition, and dual-zone climate control. The XLE bumps it up with 17 inch alloy wheels, a lot of chrome, leather-wrapped steering wheel, eight way power driver seat, heated exterior mirrors, and a six-speaker Display Audio system with a 6+ inch touchscreen.
There are also a number of additional features that can be added to the XLE though various options packages. In keeping with the luxury theme, these features include: rear view camera, sunroof, heated seats (driver and passenger), navigation system, HD radio, satellite radio, Entune integration for smartphones/web functions, 7 inch touchscreen, JBL audio system with 10 speakers, and of course, voice recognition.
When all of these factors are combined, the Toyota Camry hybrid is reasonably priced, boasts a solid city and highway mpg, features much improved handling and exceptional power. While it is still a far cry from a sports car, it is proving to be a fantastic family vehicle that can compete with any gas powered car.