So what do you do when you already have the #1 selling car in America? You make it better, lower the price, and make it better looking. That is exactly what Toyota did with the 2012 Camry.
I had the top of the line XLE version of the 7th-generation family sedan. The changes to the exterior are not what I would call “in your face bold” but you do notice the more masculine lines of the car and you immediately know something is different.
My test car had the 2.5-liter 4 cylinder that puts out a surprising 178-horses. There is also a 3.5-liter V6, but after driving the smaller engine, I don’t think the V6 is going to be a big seller. The power and acceleration of the smaller engine are more than adequate. The 2012 Camry has some tweaks to the suspension, but honestly I could not tell a huge difference from the last generation model.
What was noticeable was the increase in interior room, particularly for the driver. Speaking of the interior, there is a huge difference inside with the materials used. My test car had two-tone leather seats and a much more attractive dash, with a lot less plastic and more material. It seems to me the new Camry was much quieter than the last one I drove in 2010.
Also a major improvement comes with the new electronics package. The Camry’s new upgraded system is called Entune, an array of smartphone-connected services that include features like the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio, real-time traffic, sports, weather, and stock information, plus the ability to reserve movie tickets or a table at a restaurant on the go. This was an area Toyota was woefully behind on, but this system seems to be one of the best out there, period.
The Toyota Camry XLE I tested had a rear camera, heated leather seats, a power moonroof, and blindspot monitoring system to round out the terrific interior package on the XLE. You just cannot help but notice the massive room for backseat passengers.
The ride and drive dynamics are very good in the new Camry and you notice a difference in the new electric steering system they use. Camry handles bumps and dips very well, and overall is an enjoyable car to drive.
Toyota did not get too risky with the changes to the 2012. Some people have criticized them for that, but to me it was a smart move to make the changes they did and, at the same time, lower the price $300 or so. That is an unusual move for an automaker, and it is clear Toyota intends to keep the Camry the #1 seller in America.
Value is the key word here, be sure to pay attention to the window sticker price below. Bear in mind too, this is a large sedan that will fit five full-sized adults that I got 36-miles per gallon with on the highway.
What I liked most: The value and interior.
What I would change: As usual, give me an option for larger wheels.
Fuel Economy: Rated at 25 city and 33 highway, but getting slightly better.
2012 Camry in a few words: A great car got better AND cheaper!