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Eric's Autos / Automotive

Eric's Autos: Reviewing the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid

The Toyota Prius hybrid gets all the press - and a lot of the dealer mark-up, too. You might check out the new Camry hybrid to get something very similar - and nicer, in a number of ways - for about the same money.

Probably less, actually - since you should be able to haggle and so avoid paying full MSRP. Unlike with the Prius - whose popularity has made it pretty pricey. At least, until word gets out about how good this new Camry hybrid is.

WHAT IT IS

The hybrid Camry is a Camry with a tandem gas-electric powertrain instead of the regular Camry's IC-only powertrain. Otherwise, it's the same mid-sized, FWD sedan as the regular Camry. Oh, there's price.

The hybrid starts at $25,900 vs. $21,955 for the base model (non-hybrid) Camry L - so it's more expensive than a regular Camry. But in addition to the hybrid drivetrain (which also gives you much better gas mileage) the base hybrid Camry comes with the same upgraded equipment package as the non-hybrid Camry LE - which starts at $22,500. That means you get a touchscreen interface, remote keyless entry and power locks - stuff that's not included with the $21955 base model (non-hybrid) Camry L.

Plus, 43 MPG (or more) in city driving - the best you'll find on four wheels that's not a Prius. The Camry hybrid's main competitors are the hybrid versions of the Hyundai Sonata ($25,795 to start) and Ford Fusion ($28,775 to start).

WHAT'S NEW FOR 2012

The Camry - hybrid and regular - has been significantly updated for the new model year. The hybrid version is more powerful (and a lot quicker) and gets much better mileage than previously.

Also, the handling/ride has been tightened up. It's not a BMW - but it's no longer a reincarnated '87 Buick Century, either.

WHAT'S GOOD

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