Toyota introduces 7th generation Camry for 2012 with improved fuel economy and performance across all models; ~39% jump in EPA city cycle fuel economy for the hybrid
|2012 Camry Hybrid. Click to enlarge.
Toyota has unveiled the seventh-generation Camry, the best-selling car in the US for nine years running and for 13 of the past 14 years. The 2012 Camry again offers three powertrain choices, all of which have been enhanced for 2012 to provide better fuel economy and more responsive performance: a revised 2.5L, 4-cylinder gasoline engine; an enhanced 3.5-liter V6; and a highly revised version of the Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain for the Camry Hybrid, including a new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine (the new 2AR-FXE, a variant of the Camry 2AR-FE 2.5L).
The 2012 Camry Hybrid LE, with preliminary EPA-estimated fuel economy of 43 mpg city/39 mpg highway/41 mpg combined, yields about 39%, 11% and 24% boosts in fuel economy in the EPA city, highway and combined driving cycles respectively compared to the previous generation, due largely to the new hybrid powertrain, but also due to lighter vehicle weight and optimized aerodynamics (Cd=0.27). (The outgoing model carries a 31/35/33 mpg US EPA rating.)
|Under the hood of the 2012 Camry Hybrid. Click to enlarge.
The projected city/highway/combined fuel economy for the LE model equates to 5.47, 6.03 and 5.74 L/100km, respectively.
The 2012 hybrid system produces a combined 200 hp (149 kW)—a 7% gain over the older model—and varies power between the gas engine and electric motor, or combines both, as needed. The current Camry hybrid delivers net system horsepower of 187 hp (139 kW).
Lighter overall vehicle weight also contributes to better performance and fuel economy. Its 7.6-second zero-to-60 acceleration time places the Camry Hybrid between the four-cylinder and V6 models. Lower rolling resistance tires, available for the first time in 17-inch size, also help boost fuel economy.
Top-level improvements to the system include:
- New hybrid transaxle and inverter, featuring reduced inverter electrical loss and reduced transaxle mechanical loss;
- New engine featuring reduced friction of moving parts, improved efficiency with cooled EGR, and increased engine torque at low rpm; and
- New EV and ECO modes added.
|Camry Hybrid and Prius family
|Bob Carter, Group Vice President and General Manager, Toyota Division, Toyota Motor Sales, USA has said that in the future, the expanded Prius family will likely outsell Camry. However, for now:
|Later this decade, we do see Prius actually arriving closer to Camry volume and ultimately surpassing it. But in todays’ market, 2011, and for the foreseeable future, mid-size is where the majority of the vehicles are. So we don’t really see them conflicting each other, they are complementary.
Hybrid Transaxle and Inverter. The 2012 Camry Hybrid features an all new hybrid transaxle. Like all Toyota hybrid transaxles, it is a series-parallel design with two motors: MG1, which primarily acts as an engine starter, a generator, and a motor to modulate the gearing ratio of the engine; and MG2, which primarily functions as the vehicle's traction motor, as well as a generator during regenerative braking. Both motors are driven by three-phase current up to 650V AC.
In the new transaxle, which has less electrical and mechanical losses than its predecessor, peak MG1 speed remains high at 13,000 RPM. However, peak MG2 speed is 4,500 rpm, down from about 14,000 RPM in the first-generation Camry. This reverses a trend in Toyota transaxles toward higher peak motor speeds.
The inverter is similar to the inverter used in the third-generation Prius, which has been designed to reduce assembly costs. An Oak Ridge report on the Prius inverter found it to be slightly less efficient than the first-generation Camry HV inverter. However, Toyota reports reduced electrical losses in the new Camry inverter as well, compared to the first generation.
The new Power Control Unit combines the inverter and DC/DC converter into one unit.
The transaxle cooling and inverter cooling have also been revised. Previous Toyota hybrids, including the first-generation Camry hybrid, have employed a liquid coolant loop shared by the transaxle and the inverter. In the 2012 Camry Hybrid, the engine and transaxle share a coolant loop, and a separate coolant loop is dedicated to the inverter. Toyota is researching new power switching materials such as silicon carbide, with an eye toward eventually incorporating all powertrain heat loads into a single coolant loop.
2AR-FXE 2.5L DOHC 16-valve VVT-i engine. The new 2.5-liter engine, like the 2.4-liter it replaces, uses the Atkinson cycle (delayed intake-valve closing for an expansion ratio greater than compression ratio) to achieve maximum efficiency. The engine alone delivers 156 hp (116 kW) of power @ 5,700 rpm and 156 lb-ft (212 N·m) of torque at 4,400 rpm. The current model delivers 147 hp and 138 lb-ft.
The intake-only Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) system enhances torque. An electric water pump, a roller-rocker type valvetrain and a variable-output oil pump help to reduce internal friction, boosting economy.
A new water-cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system helps to ensure the lowest possible emissions at all vehicle speeds and helps increase fuel efficiency. By cooling and controlling exhaust gas injected into each cylinder, the system eliminates the need to richen the air-fuel mixture to control cylinder temperatures.
Battery module. The NiMH battery module in the 2012 Camry Hybrid is more compact, with the air intake, junction box and service plug reconfigured to reduce footprint. As a result, trunkspace is increased from 10.6 cu. ft to 13.1 cu. ft.
The pack comprises 34 NiMH modules, each 7.2 VDC (1.2V x 6 cells, 6.5 Ah), for a total 244.8 VDC. Pack mass, including battery, ECU, system main relays (SMRs) and service plug is around 150 lbs (68 kg). The battery features enhanced air-cooling.
The 2012 Camry Hybrid meets AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology Partial-credit Zero Emissions Vehicle) standards. New sound absorbing materials in the engine compartment, along with more linear control over engine speed, give the 2012 Camry Hybrid a more pleasing sound under acceleration. Because there are situations in which the gas engine in the Camry Hybrid shuts off, air conditioning and power steering systems are driven electrically.
New efficiency measures in the Hybrid Synergy Drive system include reducing internal losses in the transaxle, improving motor-voltage control, and optimizing the regenerative braking. The NiMH battery, located in the luggage compartment behind the rear seats, now features enhanced air-cooling. Its more compact size, along with moving the DC/DC converter to the engine compartment, results in a trunk that is 2.1-cubic feet larger than in the previous-generation Camry Hybrid.
Regenerative braking. As before, applying the brake converts the motor to a generator that captures the kinetic energy from the still-spinning vehicle wheels, storing it in the hybrid battery pack. Putting the shifter into “B” uses regenerative braking as a form of engine braking for enhanced control on steep descents. New hill-start assist control helps prevent the vehicle from rolling backward when starting off on an incline when the brake pedal is released.
(Based on back-to-back drives of both 2011 and 2012 Camry hybrid models at a media preview last month, Toyota has significantly improved the feel of braking in the 2012 hybrid, making the transition essentially imperceptible.)
|At the media preview for the 2012 Camry launch held last month in Cle Elum, Washington, Green Car Congress drove each of the new 2012 models, as well as the 2011 Camry hybrid, over the same course (which combined some highway driving along with small town/city-type driving.)
|Our subjective take-away, after a short exposure: the hybrid was the most fun of the new lot, and felt even snappier than the top-end Camry with the 3.5L V6.
|Handling in the 2012 hybrid is noticeably improved from the 2011 version (little wallowing through corners), acceleration is snappy and the braking is extremely smooth. The car seems seated on the road much more firmly than its predecessor.
Driving modes. The 2012 Camry Hybrid offers two selectable driving modes: Eco and EV. Eco mode maximizes fuel savings across all driving conditions. It modifies or smoothes out the electronic throttle control program to reduce throttle response, and modifies air conditioning operation. It also improves acceleration in low-traction conditions (such as ice and snow) as the reduced output helps to minimize wheel slippage.)
New for the 2012 Camry Hybrid, an EV Drive mode allows the driver to operate the car on the electric motor alone for up to 1.6 miles at lower speeds (below approximately 25 mph/40 km/h).In EV Mode, the hybrid ECU operates the vehicle using only MG2 if the required conditions are satisfied; if those conditions (low speed and sufficient state of charge, SOC, in the battery pack) are met, then the driver pushing the EV button will enable the mode. The EV indicator illuminates when the vehicle is being propelled solely by the electric motor.
A Hybrid-exclusive instrument cluster with Hybrid System Indicator and fuel consumption indicator helps the driver to operate the car as economically as possible. Instantaneous fuel economy is shown with LEDs (light emitting diodes) around the outside of the average fuel economy gauge. The car’s Multi-Information display graphically shows fuel economy in real time and can also show energy flow, and cruising range information.
Gasoline-only models. All Camry models with the revised 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine now offer 178 hp (133 kW), an increase of 9 hp, and 170 lb-ft (230 N·m) of peak torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy figures are 25 mpg city/35 highway; and 28 mpg combined is two more than the previous generation Camry. The 2.5-liter engine employs Dual VVT-i (Dual Variable Valve Timing-intelligent), which controls valve timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts for optimal performance and efficiency at all engine speeds. The Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS) helps optimize torque over a broad engine speed range.
The DOHC 3.5-liter V6, available in the SE and XLE grades, delivers 268 hp (200 kW) at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb-ft (336 N·m) of peak torque at 4,700 rpm. Enhancements to this engine boost its fuel economy to projected EPA-estimated ratings of 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway, the best for any current V6 mid-size sedan.
The V6 uses chain-driven camshafts and Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (Dual VVT-i). To improve efficiency, the V6 features a new, lower oil viscosity and an automatic transmission fluid warmer that brings the transmission to operating temperature more quickly in cold weather. Higher final drive-gear ratios also contribute to better fuel economy in the new Camry models.
The gasoline-engine LE, XLE and SE models come equipped exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission that offers a sequential manual shift mode using the console shifter. Intelligent control adapts shifting strategy in response to driver input, with fast kick-down. In addition, the Camry SE exclusively offers a “D range” sequential shifting, which allows manual shifting with the new steering wheel paddle shifters even when the console shifter is in the “D” mode. Also exclusive to the Camry SE, the automatic transmission features faster shift times when in “S” mode and downshift blipping control emphasizes a sense of sportiness.
EPS. All new Camry models will be the first to feature Toyota’s latest electric power steering (EPS) control system, which will offer more flexibility to steering-feel tuning. The system regulates power-assist response based on vehicle speed, and for the first time steering-input rate. The vehicle-speed sensing feature will provide light effort during low speeds, changing to moderate effort during higher speeds. The SE grade will feature a power-assist ratio that provides a more sporty feeling than the LE and XLE.
Also, electricity is only consumed when assist power is necessary, helping to improve fuel economy. Electric power steering is also more environment-friendly, as it does not require hydraulic fluid.
Interior. While featuring nearly the same external dimensions as the previous generation, the 2012 Camry offers a more inviting and spacious interior. A new dashboard design, modified seat locations, redesigned seats and “lean” door, pillar and headliner trim all combine to add both real space and greater perceptual spaciousness while also enhancing outward visibility. Repositioning the driver’s seat and the standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel (tilt has increased 33% for greater driver comfort) also aid forward visibility and enhance the driver’s positioning.
The accelerator pedal and front seats were moved forward, and the rear-seat hip point was positioned rearward, increasing the couple distance by 0.6-inch; together with reshaped front seatbacks help increase rear-knee room by 1.8-inch. The redesigned center console and front edge of the rear-seat cushion increase rear middle seat legroom by two inches.
Not as obvious are the many areas where Camry designers reshaped interior trim to increase the feeling of spaciousness, including the A- and B-pillars, headliner over the rear seat and door trim. In most vehicles, space is left between the structure and the trim to yield a “clean” surface. Using a lean-car design approach, the trim more closely follows the structure beneath it. The result is added space that contributes much more to a feeling of comfort than the gains in mere millimeters might suggest.
Entune Multimedia System. Camry will be one of the first Toyotas to offer the Entune multimedia system. For the first time ever in a Toyota automobile, this new system leverages the mobile smartphone to provide a richer in-vehicle experience with fully integrated access to navigation, entertainment and information services.
Toyota Entune debuts support for engaging mobile apps, such as Bing, OpenTable, and movietickets.com, along with accessing travel-related services, such as live weather, traffic, fuel information (location and price), stocks, and sports. Toyota Entune brings the largest selection of music options available to a vehicle, including iHeartRadio’s 750+ stations, and Pandora’s personalized music service.
Quietness. To reduce noise throughout the entire cabin, focus was placed on suppressing noises that stand out. As powertrains have become more refined and quieter, wind noise and road noise have tended to become more noticeable to drivers and passengers. A low noise reading (in decibels) does not always equate to a subjectively quiet interior. Vehicle occupants’ perception of quietness also depends on the type and frequency of the sound.
Toyota engineers determined where such noticeable sounds enter the cabin, and additional insulation was placed in those areas. New sound absorbing materials silence any noise that manages to penetrate the interior. In particular, engineers focused on suppressing noises that are near the frequencies of human speech to provide an environment that is more comfortable for conversation.
Measures that focus on reducing wind noise include stronger door and rocker area seals; optimized placement of sound insulating materials; foam applied in the roof, pillars and door openings; acoustic glass used for the V6 and Hybrid model’s windshield; and special bracing of cowl intake louvers.
The dashboard structure and assembly, one of the most complex areas in modern cars, was thoroughly optimized to prevent noise intrusion. The structure employs a new cross member and center brace, along with sandwiched sheet steel to suppress resonance and reduce vibration. With the sandwiched steel, asphalt foam is used to absorb vibration energy while increasing sound blocking effectiveness.
A dash outer silencer uses an air layer between the dash panel and sound absorbing felt. An inner silencing layer uses soft and hard felts to block a wide range of low-to-high frequencies. Damping-coating thickness and application areas have been optimized for reduced floor-panel vibration and noise penetration through the floor, and a new type of carpet helps eliminates noise. Silencer panels installed in the rear-wheel housings, and new sound-absorbing materials added to the trunk’s interior side trim further reduce road noise from the tires and wheel housings.
Handling and Ride. A more rigid body structure, revised front suspension, redesigned rear suspension and aerodynamics all help to imbue the new Camry with greater straight-line stability and crisper steering response, while also enhancing overall ride comfort. Handling stability, more than just conveying a sense of driving enjoyment, also greatly influences the driver’s feeling of security.
The 2012 Camry body structure uses a greater amount of high tensile steel (440 MPa or higher) than before and even stronger high tensile strength sheet steel (590 MPa or higher), resulting in a stronger but lighter body than the previous model. A flared design on the doors and fenders enables use of slimmer but stronger construction. High tensile aluminum bumper supports are lighter yet stronger than before. Newly developed plastic for the bumper covers and cowl louvers reduces weight as well.
The stiffened cowl section increases suspension-area rigidity, suppressing twist. The front-suspension towers are directly connected through the cowl to increase rigidity, and the attachment method and reinforcement braces have been strengthened. The all-new rear underbody and rear sub-frame increase lateral force control and torsional rigidity.
The McPherson-strut front suspension now uses inversely wound coil springs that enhance straight-line stability. Shock-absorber damping and stabilizer-bar thickness have been optimized as well. The rear suspension retains the proven dual-link strut configuration of the previous model but has been redesigned with new geometry (increased toe-in during cornering and braking) and retuned components to enhance cornering stability. Coil springs, bushings, stabilizer-bar and shock-absorber damping have all been revised.
|Stabilizing fin on the rear lamp. Click to enlarge.
Rear-combination lamps and side-view mirrors on the 2012 Camry incorporate aero stabilizing fins, inspired by Formula One racing technology, that create air vortexes on the body sides to stabilize the body and contribute to handling stability. Underbody aerodynamic elements regulate airflow under the vehicle, also contributing to ride smoothness.
The Camry SE model features specific suspension components and tuning, including exclusive steering knuckles and lighter, stiffer lower front control arms. The front and rear springs are exclusive to this model, and the shock absorbers feature internal rebound springs for greater cornering roll resistance. The rear suspension No. 1 control arm uses a pillow-ball bushing to further enhance handling agility.
The 2012 Camry and Camry Hybrid will offer six different model grades to choose from. Camry will be available in the entry-level L, value-driven LE, premium XLE and sporty SE grades. The XLE and SE are available with four-cylinder or V6 engines. The Camry Hybrid is offered in LE and XLE grades.