|SE V6 shown in Attitude Black Metallic with available power tilt/slide moonroof and Leather Package|
What's New for 2012
The 2012 Toyota Camry is fully redesigned.
Can the most popular family sedan in America afford to take a risk? Not likely. The 2012 Toyota Camry doesn't aim to find out, either. Sure, the seventh generation of Toyota's bread-and-butter sedan shows a sharper look, including a more aggressive front grille and side profile. Tougher, more angular lines ring the exterior. There's even lip service paid to sporty handling, an effort to woo buyers who've already written off Toyota as the New Old Buick.
No, the new Camry isn't too different from the last one. And that's not a bad thing. For one thing, the 2012 Toyota Camry offers improved versions of last year's engines: a respectably powerful 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Both engines also join a six-speed automatic transmission to deliver better fuel economy. The four-cylinder returns an EPA-estimated 35 highway mpg, while the V6 -- with nearly 100 more horses -- achieves 30 mpg on the highway. There's also a Camry Hybrid, covered in a separate review.
Suspension improvements have been made to enliven the Camry's handling dynamics. There are even paddle shifters on the SE model, offering manual control of the automatic transmission and rev-matched downshifts. That's not to say the 2012 Camry is really sporty, but it does infuse slightly more enthusiasm into a rock-solid legacy of cushy, comfortable ride quality.
Given that the midsize sedan segment has changed considerably, with cars like the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Passat garnering some of our top recommendations, the Camry is no longer a no-brainer. Redesigned Honda Accord and Nissan Altima models are also due next year. But the 2012 Toyota Camry still has plenty going for it and is infused with all the qualities that have benchmarked the class for so long. It may fit you perfectly.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Toyota Camry is offered in L, LE, SE and XLE trim levels. The L features 16-inch steel wheels, power-folding mirrors, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth and a six-speaker CD sound system with auxiliary input and USB jacks.
The Camry LE adds auto headlamps, remote keyless entry, steering-wheel-mounted audio and Bluetooth controls and the six-speaker Display Audio system featuring a 6.1-inch touchscreen.
The SE includes a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, heated exterior mirrors, unique interior and exterior styling treatment, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, sport seats and the Display Audio system. SE V6 models get the upgraded Display Audio system that adds navigation, HD radio, satellite radio, voice recognition and Entune smartphone and Web integration.
The luxurious XLE reverts to the LE's softer suspension settings, and adds heated exterior mirrors, foglamps, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, a four-way power passenger seat and the Display Audio system with navigation and Entune. XLE V6 models get a rearview camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery and heated driver and front passenger seats. A premium 10-speaker JBL audio system integrated with a 7-inch touchscreen hard-drive-based navigation system is also optional on XLE V6 models.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Toyota Camry is offered with a choice of two engines. Base Camrys are powered by a respectably powerful 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 178 hp and 170 pound-feet of torque. Upgrading gets you a silky smooth 3.5-liter V6 generating 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. Both engines drive the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder returns an EPA-estimated 25 city/35 highway/28 combined mpg, while the V6 -- with nearly 100 more hp -- achieves 21/30/25.
The 2012 Toyota Camry comes with a battery of standard safety features, including antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, front- and rear-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and knee airbags for both driver and passenger, the latter new for 2012. A blind-spot monitoring system is also available.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the Camry's cabin feels slightly roomier. Thinner front pillars increase visibility and narrower door panels open up elbow room. Door panel controls also move higher, allowing knees to breathe better. Among other amenities, top Camry trim levels get an eight-way power driver seat, while all Camry models now offer a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat. But the most notable improvement has been in interior materials. The previous wave of hard plastic is replaced with complementary dash textures, handsome trim and subtle, decorative stitching.
The Camry's new upgraded audio system also includes Entune, a suite of smartphone-connected services that include features like the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio, real-time traffic, sports and stock information, and the ability to reserve movie tickets or a table at a restaurant on the go (Entune is optional with the Display Audio package).
In terms of power, both four-cylinder and V6 engines are pretty similar to last year's model. The Camry's new electric steering (once limited to the hybrid) feels pretty decent in the V6 versions. But four-cylinder versions, which use electric steering from a different supplier, feel vague and somewhat lifeless. On the bright side, this new Camry feels more planted to the road and less disturbed by bumps, the result of refined rear suspension tuning. The SE in particular, with its larger tires and sport-tuned suspension, feels more athletic than before.
Video - 2012 Toyota Camry (Review)
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