The 2012 Toyota NS4 Plug-In Hybrid Concept shown at the Detroit Auto Show may well represent the future of the mid-size sedan.

The concept car was developed by multiple engineering teams, with a focus on connectivity and passenger interaction. A secondary goal was a production date of 2015, meaning that a version of the car could very well be destined for production.

The result is the NS4 Concept, which may well be an early look at a 2016 model year Camry, or potentially the birth of an all-new range of plug-in hybrids to be delivered under a Toyota sub-brand.

The drivetrain of the NS4 is based on Toyota’s existing Hybrid Synergy Drive, but with smaller and lighter components for better efficiency, improved fuel economy, quicker acceleration and an increased electric range.

The exterior styling of the NS4 is intended to create “an emotional connection with consumers,” in Toyota’s words, and the car is certainly bolder than any Toyota sedan design we can recall.

Inside, the car emphasizes both safety and connectivity. Control inputs for ventilation, audio and other systems are via a smartphone-like touchscreen interface, and an adaptive vehicle function control system is able to learn and anticipate commands.

A Pre-Collision System uses cameras and millimeter wave radar for daylight detection, but supplements this with near-infrared detection for nighttime use. This is combined with a collision alert and prevention system that can apply brakes and steering input for the driver.

The NS4 will also use a lane departure warning and correction, blind spot monitoring, adaptive headlights that vary beam shape and intensity based on conditions and a pop-up hood structure to reduce pedestrian injuries in the event of a collision.


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