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2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE: Technology In A Mid-Size Sedan

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE: Technology In A Mid-Size Sedan
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Toyota's Camry is America's best-selling mid-size vehicle. But it didn't get there by making any bold statements. We spent a week with a hybrid model to see if the car's technology could snap us awake from the boredom of an uninspired driving experience.

Toyota Motor Corporation has been around since 1937 in Japan, and the U.S. operation was founded in 1957. Unlike the Hyundai and Kia vehicles we previously evaluated, there are no origin stories here that have anything to do with Ford. The company surpassed General Motors as the largest global manufacturer of automobiles in 2008, and managed to hold that title up until last year. Due to the earthquakes in Japan and floods in Thailand, Toyota slipped to number three behind Volkswagen and GM.

Today, it’s hard to speak of Toyota without some mention of hybrid technology or its Camry, which currently holds 51% of the mid-size sedan market, and is one of the best-selling cars in the U.S. Although our inner enthusiast is sad to see the company that once brought us beautiful sports cars like the 2000GT, Supra, and Celica focus on more general-purpose sedans, it'd be hard to deny that Toyota is the poster child for eco-friendly hybrid vehicles with a complete line-up from the Prius to SUVs.

What happens, then, when you combine the best-selling car in America with a hybrid powertrain? We're taking a break from benchmarking graphics cards to find out what Toyota's 2012 Camry Hybrid XLE and its infotainment system has to offer.

The Vehicle

We acquired our test mule with the Leather Package, Toyota’s mid-level Display Audio with Navigation and Entune 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, push-button start, and the Blind Spot Monitor and Safety Connect features. We chose the Camry Hybrid XLE over a Prius because it’s a mid-size sedan, which is the automotive equivalent of a GeForce GTX 660 or Radeon HD 7850, a bread and butter product that faces stiff competition, but is responsible for big volume. Every non-luxury automotive manufacturer competes in this class with its own take on what American families want. We see some companies focus on the latest tech goodies, while others emphasize maximum interior volume, evolutionary tweaks that don't rock the boat, or perhaps even more aggressive styling cues to turn heads.

The seventh-generation (XV50) Camry is supposed to be Toyota's best representation of this family since the first front-wheel drive Camry rolled off the assembly line in 1982 for the '83 model year.

Although the North American XV50 Camry is available in a number of trims, including a 2.5-liter inline-four and 3.5-liter V6, drivers in Toyota’s domestic market (Japan) only have the hybrid powertrain available to them.

Today we decide if the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE is worthy of Tom's Hardware's tech-lust, or if it's simply the Japanese equivalent of your grandfather's Buick.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    apache_lives , October 16, 2012 7:53 AM
    but can it run crysis?

    wait its a car on a computer related website my bad
  • 10 Hide
    Onus , October 16, 2012 12:51 PM
    I may get a few thumbs down, but I come here to read about computers, not about cars. By all means review a "car PC" or similar system, or perhaps devices to interface with a car's computer, but I do believe overall automotive reviews are not the forte of this site.
    I would suggest reaching out to an automotive site for some kind of cross-linking arrangement; I would prefer this site not lose its focus. Thanks.
Other Comments
  • 3 Hide
    blackmagnum , October 16, 2012 6:49 AM
    Are we rivals to Car and Driver now?
  • 13 Hide
    apache_lives , October 16, 2012 7:53 AM
    but can it run crysis?

    wait its a car on a computer related website my bad
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 16, 2012 9:08 AM
    Anyone got this and forgone the Display Audio with Navigation and Entune option and instead got an proper aftermarket nav system (not those portable ones)?
  • 0 Hide
    alyoshka , October 16, 2012 9:35 AM
    Shouldn't they save all that power wasted on the in car electronics and utilize it for the commuting purpose itself?
  • 0 Hide
    Sakkura , October 16, 2012 9:40 AM
    alyoshkaShouldn't they save all that power wasted on the in car electronics and utilize it for the commuting purpose itself?

    Small problem: Even if it's using 500W, that still only amounts to a little more than half a horsepower.
  • 0 Hide
    lunyone , October 16, 2012 10:42 AM
    Quote:
    Though, in this case, it's used to maximize has mileage.

    I"m thinking it was "GAS" mileage :) 
    Under the "Hybrid Synergy Drive > Combining The Power" section.
  • 0 Hide
    lunyone , October 16, 2012 10:43 AM
    Quote:
    During our week with the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE, we found that aggressive driving from stoplight to stoplight was actually quite a big of fun

    I'm also thinking it was "actually quite a bit of fun"??
  • 0 Hide
    lunyone , October 16, 2012 10:44 AM
    Sorry last comment was from the "The End Result" of the Hybrid Synergy Drive section.
  • 1 Hide
    xsamitt , October 16, 2012 10:56 AM
    Do I see a trend happening here?
    I guess if this is the way things are going why not review some skidoos next time?
    Word on the street they too also have advanced computers nowadays.
    Hard core Computer world be gone,we've had enough of you apparently!!!
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , October 16, 2012 11:29 AM
    lunyoneI"m thinking it was "GAS" mileage Under the "Hybrid Synergy Drive > Combining The Power" section.

    Thanks, fixed!
  • -2 Hide
    JeanLuc , October 16, 2012 12:05 PM
    I really don't get hybrid cars, there expensive to buy, a nightmare to service and looking at those MPG stats you would be better of getting a diesel motor. Take the VW Golf 1.6 TDI Bluemotion for example, it will give 70 MPG, easier to service, costs less and its very unlikely you will have to replace the fuel tank after five years.
  • 1 Hide
    dlux , October 16, 2012 12:14 PM
    Apparently a bunch of you haven't read the very top of every page where it says "Tom's Hardware - The authority on tech" not "The authority on computer parts only and you will never read anything else on this site." This is a technology site and with cars gaining more and more tech inside of them it goes along with the territory.
  • 0 Hide
    vaughn2k , October 16, 2012 12:30 PM
    Its Cris Angelini's brand new car on review...
  • 10 Hide
    Onus , October 16, 2012 12:51 PM
    I may get a few thumbs down, but I come here to read about computers, not about cars. By all means review a "car PC" or similar system, or perhaps devices to interface with a car's computer, but I do believe overall automotive reviews are not the forte of this site.
    I would suggest reaching out to an automotive site for some kind of cross-linking arrangement; I would prefer this site not lose its focus. Thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    willyroc , October 16, 2012 1:10 PM
    I liked the previous Camry design better.
  • 0 Hide
    freggo , October 16, 2012 1:42 PM
    "6.5 A per hour with a nominal voltage of 244.8 V"

    6.5A/h ? WATT is that (pun intended) ?

    Also 6.5A at about 244V is only 1.5KW or about 2HP.
    Something does not add up here.
  • -4 Hide
    greenrider02 , October 16, 2012 1:42 PM
    What's the point of a hybrid? If you want to save the environment, don't bother. If you want to save money, get a small turbodiesel. If you want to accomplish neither, get a hybrid.

    A Humvee has to drive 100,000 miles before it makes up for the pollution created by manufacturing a hybrid engine. And that's offset by the environmental cost of making the Humvee already.

    As for the environment, our cars and trucks are but a sliver of the pie compared to the contributions of coal-fired factories, mega-freighters, Navies, etc.

    Either way, I wanted to express to Tom's that the more I see articles that aren't about hardware, the less I come to this site. This feels like a copout to try and get a few more clicks from readers outside your core, and it's really flimsy and transparent.
  • 2 Hide
    cknobman , October 16, 2012 1:53 PM
    JeanLucI really don't get hybrid cars, there expensive to buy, a nightmare to service and looking at those MPG stats you would be better of getting a diesel motor. Take the VW Golf 1.6 TDI Bluemotion for example, it will give 70 MPG, easier to service, costs less and its very unlikely you will have to replace the fuel tank after five years.


    Well this car is sold in the UK not in the US for starters. 2nd the 74 mpg is in imperial gallons no US gallons. 3rd The UK site Auto Express test drive/review of the car says they only observed and actual mpg of 58 mpg (imperial) which is 48 mpg (US). 4th This car is not even close to the same class as the Camry.

    You can compare this car to the Prius which it gets about equal real world mpg and since they dont sell the VW in the US then a hybrid like the Prius makes perfect sense in our market :) .
  • -1 Hide
    bak0n , October 16, 2012 2:47 PM
    Don't worry. I won't keep anything in this article in mind when I go and get my next motorcycle.
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , October 16, 2012 3:16 PM
    Quote:
    Anyone got this and forgone the Display Audio with Navigation and Entune option and instead got an proper aftermarket nav system (not those portable ones)?


    I haven't used an aftermarket navigation system since the Pioneer AVIC-F700/F500BT and back then the systems were clunky, unstable and ran Windows CE. I'm sure they're better now but the aftermarket navigation systems typically are the same hardware with updated software every year for a couple years.

    I spent a couple hours with a Sony XAV-X60BT MirrorLink demo in a portable box a Sony rep brought over and found it quite impressive. MirrorLink will be awesome once there are more handsets support it. The UI looked cleaned and had quite a bit more functionality than the Toyota DA6. Its also about a quarter of the price, maybe 1/3 after installation hardware (steering wheel adapter).

    MirrorLink has the potential to be great if phone manufacturers just grant access to GoogleMaps, iOS Maps or Nokia Drive via MirrorLink because no matter how good the maps are on a navigation system, it sucks if you have to pay $1-200 each year for "updated" maps vs Google, iOS or Nokia updating them regularly for free.

    Quote:
    Do I see a trend happening here?
    I guess if this is the way things are going why not review some skidoos next time?
    Word on the street they too also have advanced computers nowadays.
    Hard core Computer world be gone,we've had enough of you apparently!!!


    If they want to put an infotainment system in a Jet Ski, I would evaluate it.

    Quote:
    I really don't get hybrid cars, there expensive to buy, a nightmare to service and looking at those MPG stats you would be better of getting a diesel motor. Take the VW Golf 1.6 TDI Bluemotion for example, it will give 70 MPG, easier to service, costs less and its very unlikely you will have to replace the fuel tank after five years.


    We don't get too many TDI's in the US, which sucks. I wish BMW offered the E39 530d touring in the US, want to ship me a complete drivetrain for a swap? :p 

    Quote:
    I liked the previous Camry design better.


    The Camry in SE trim looks way better and more aggressive. However, compared to the Kia Optima and Ford Fusion, the styling is just too conservative.

    Quote:
    "6.5 A per hour with a nominal voltage of 244.8 V"

    6.5A/h ? WATT is that (pun intended) ?

    Also 6.5A at about 244V is only 1.5KW or about 2HP.
    Something does not add up here.


    The battery pack delivers 6.5amps @ 244.8 volts of DC power. The motors run on AC and there's a voltage-boosting converter and inverter.

    Quote:
    Don't worry. I won't keep anything in this article in mind when I go and get my next motorcycle.


    2 wheels are fun but not so much fun in constantly raining or snowing states.
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