Updated: The old Gray Mare is driving into the sunset now. It will soon be replaced with something snazzy and fun, and something with a minium of six cylinders. If I could find a car with 12 cylinders and 400+ horsepower, that’d be ideal.
Driving around looking for kit homes is a whole lot of fun, but one does burn through some gas. Recently, my husband and I purchased the world’s *most* perfect car for house hunting: A 2012 Camry XLE Hybrid.
I’ve been fascinated by the Toyota Prius since its introduction to the American markets in 2001. When I purchased my last Camry in 2003 (Salsa Red Pearl LE), I was torn between the Camry and the Prius.
After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I opted for the Camry. It was a proven car with an incredible track record. As a freshly divorced woman, I opted for “proven, reliable and staid” over “new, fancy and sleek.”
And yet, as the years rolled by, I paid close attention to the Prius. The hybrid technology was quickly evolving and it was clearly the wave of the future. Each year, the Prius had more features, better technology and improved gas mileage.
And then in 2007, Toyota introduced the Camry Hybrid.
It had been my intention to hang onto the old Camry until it hit 175,000 miles. After all, it was a one-owner car and I kept it in tip-top shape. The Toyota dealer had performed all the maintenance work since Day One. And the car ran like a top.
In February 2011, I heard about a purported Sears Magnolia near Gaffney, South Carolina. Shortly thereafter, I was on my way to personally inspect this rare and elusive kit home.
Somewhere between Charlotte and Gastonia, the “check engine” light came on. I also noticed the smell of gas, and my gas mileage wasn’t too good.
The odometer read 152,000 miles. Suddenly, I had a sinking realization. I was driving an old car.
What was I doing, launching out on a 1,000-mile trip by myself in a car with 152,000 miles?
I made it home without incident, and took the car straight to the shop. It cost $1,300 to get that check engine light to go away.
For the next few long trips, we rented a car. That wasn’t very satisfying.
I’m a car person. I love cars. Many moons ago, I took two years of auto tech at a vocational school in Portsmouth. There’s nothing about cars that isn’t fascinating.
Last month, we rented a 2012 Prius for a weekend trip to Roanoke, Virginia. I fell in love. It was a fun car, full of gadgetry and pie charts and diagrams and all manner of displays. Best of all, we averaged more than 50 mpg on the trip.
The next weekend, we went car shopping. The Prius had been a delight to drive, but I found the seats to be stiff and uncomfortable on our five-hour trek. Plus, it had a harsh ride. I loved the technology but my aching bum wasn’t happy. After more research and reading, I opted for the 2012 Camry Hybrid XLE.
In 2012, the Camry was redesigned and re-engineered. The 2012 model gets eight more miles from a gallon of gas than the prior year’s model. My car is rated at 41 (combined city/highway). The 2011 Camry was rated at 33 mpg.
The 2012 Camry boasts 200 hp (up 13 hp from 2011). The ICE produces 156 horsies, and the electric motor kicks in about 40. The battery pack (34 nickel-metal hydride modules) eats up a bit of trunk space, and yet the 2012 still has 13.1 cubic feet of suitcase space (2.5 cubic feet more than the 2011).
Under hard acceleration, you could really feel the shift points of those four gears in the 2003. In the new Camry, there are no shift points. The continuously variable transmission is an engineering marvel, picking up energy from two different sources (gas and electric) and transmitting into smooth forward motion of the front wheels.
It is, as promised a “smoother driving experience.”
And best of all, the CVT provides both faster acceleration and better fuel economy. The 2012 Camry Hybrid does 0-60 in 7.6 seconds. Quite impressive for a sedan.
My shiny new Camry now has 1,600 miles on the odometer. Driving on the interstate, I have averaged 40-45 mpg. The faster you go, the poorer the mileage. Last weekend, I traveled to North Carolina. When cruising south on I-85 at 75 mph, my mileage fell to 38 mpg.
The car really shines in the short jaunts around town. Driving through residential streets in Hampton Roads and looking for kit homes, I hit 65+ miles per gallon. That, together with a 17-gallon tank means that you can drive 1,105 miles between fill-ups (as long as you don’t go more than 30 miles per hour).
When I’m out hunting for kit homes, tooling up and down tree-lined residential streets in early 20th Century neighborhoods, I drive about 15 miles per hour. The Camry Hybrid loves that speed.
Toyota has created the perfect car for house hunting: The 2012 Camry Hybrid.
Maybe they should change their jingle to, “Toyota; I love what you do for history.”
Kit home history, that is.
To place an order for your own sweet ride, click here.
Oh, are you here to read about Sears Homes? Click here.
To learn about kit homes from Montgomery Ward, click here.
* * *
Congrats! Beautiful car indeed.
Did the old Camry die a natural death?
I always thought you’d take out a parked car because you were distracted by a Sears Home in the rear view mirror.
I hit the curb and bent a tire rim the time when you and I were out house hunting, and you started screaming STOP THE CAR!!!!!! because you thought you saw a Sears house.
Dale, I’m sure you have me confused with someone else. 😉
Mary Rowse was driving me around DC years ago, and we were in her beautiful (and HUGE) Vista Cruiser and she was in the middle of trying to turn around in a narrow street so we could re-visit a Sears Home I’d seen a block earlier.
Mary said, “Rosemary, if I die in a tragic inner-city car accident, promise me that you’ll tell the reporters that it was because of Sears Homes.”
That Mary is a funny girl!!
Maybe you could do a tv commercial or print ad for Toyota!
Yeah, I think Debbie is onto something here. How much of a discount did the Camry dealer give you to promote their car! Maybe they tossed in some cool options like heated side view mirrors?
Oh how I wish!! 🙂 I took Mr. Hubby with me to “negotiate” on the price. The dealer quoted a price and Hubby said, “That sounds fine,” and I said, “WHAT??!!??”
Hubby told me later, “I’m not very good at haggling on car prices.”
NOW he tells me!!! 😉
Great write-up and review of the 2012 Camry Hybrid.
The faster you drive, the poorer the fuel mileage, and this condition holds good for all models, but an average mileage of around 40 to 45 miles per gallon is really impressive.
Sharp looking car. Good luck.
How’s about you lower that Camry, put some 20″ wheels, tint it and call it a day. Oh and change the rear to the 6th Generation rear, as the 7th Generation rear lights are horrendous.
Forrest, I think not.
I’m quite puzzled by people who spend mega bucks for a car and then completely change its look.
As Hubby says, “Different people like different things,” and I think the 2012 Camry Hybrid XLE is a sweet-looking automobile! 🙂