The reviews of the 2012 Toyota Camry mid-size sedan are in now, and the consensus is that it's a competitively priced mild refresh with unadventurous styling. Which may be exactly what Camry buyers are looking for.
But on one metric--gas mileage--the 2012 Camry line shines.
The 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid model has been completely re-engineered, and the result is gas mileage that's not only projected to be 24 percent better than the 2011 model it replaces, but gets the car past the magic 40-mpg mark.
The new hybrid Camry's projected EPA ratings both surpass the previous model's ratings and handily beat two popular competing hybrid mid-size sedans: the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.
Here's how the ratings line up for hybrid sedans that are now on sale or will be within a few months:
Gas mileage has clearly risen, as you can see from the lower fuel efficiency ratings of two hybrid sedans that are no longer on sale:
One thing to keep in mind about the fuel economy ratings for the 2012 Camry Hybrid: The highest mileage (shown above) applies only to the LE model. A more luxurious Camry Hybrid XLE trim level has added features and different wheels, giving it slightly lower gas mileage at 41 mpg city, 38 mpg highway.
While Nissan is no longer selling its Altima Hybrid for 2012, it is expected to relaunch the hybrid Altima when that car is redesigned within a couple of years.
Another potential mid-size contender is the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco, which goes on sale early next year. That car uses a less expensive mild-hybrid system that can't propel the car exclusively on electricity. The Malibu Eco will still return projected mileage of 26 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 31 to 33 mpg.
And Honda has said it will launch a full hybrid system for mid-size and larger vehicles sometime next year. The mid-size Honda Accord sedan is a likely candidate to receive that system, which will maximize gas mileage (unlike the 2004-2007 Accord Hybrid model, which was tuned for quicker performance).
It's worth pointing out that the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid even comes close to the mileage of the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid, rated at a combined 44 mpg. But the mid-size Camry is a full car class larger than the compact Civic, which also uses a mild hybrid system that can't run under electric power alone.
[Toyota via TheCarConnection]