Review: 2012 Toyota Camry

Posted on 24. Aug, 2011 by in Auto News

The year: 1992. The rental car: the then-new third generation Toyota Camry. My father was surprised at how much the car drove like his Lexus LS 400, it was so smooth and quiet. While enthusiasts might deride the Camry as an appliance, it had said, and in the last two decades, the mid-size sedan segment benchmark for refinement served. Despite dull handling and an interior that grew cheaper with each redesign, sales increased, to the point that the Camry was the best selling car in the U.S. for 13 of the past 14 years.

But with competitors more stylish, more powerful, better get ready, and even willing to pass the Camry in refinement, the Camry is always at the last awards, incentives, and a reputation for reliability. Consequently, younger drivers go elsewhere, and the average buyer has hit the big 6-0. Many have bought their last car. To assert its supremacy, the Camry improve. With the 2012 redesign, is not it? (This review covers the regular Camry., The SE and Hybrid are analyzed separately.)

Time was, Toyota redesigned its cars every other generation. But the 2012 Camry is the third generation on a platform, comes from the model year 2002. External dimensions are unchanged and internal dimensions of only fractions of an inch to increase. Consequently, the Camry remains much smaller than the Honda Accord, the Mazda6, and even the new Volkswagen Passat. But many buyers have rejected the Honda and Mazda as too large for them the Camry was already the right size.

Toyota notes that every exterior panel is new. At first glance, the middle part looks much the same, although a closer examination discovered simpler surfaces. The ends of the car have more dramatically altered their task Banglesque curves for boxier shapes. Neither flashy nor laden with controversial flourishes, reminiscent of the new exterior colors, the Camrys of the 1980s and 1990s in his innocence completely forgettable.

Criticism of the 2007-2011 interior clearly struck home, has been updated for the Toyota Camry car for 2012. The instrument panel top in a contrasting color into it (a technique also employed by Buick and Lincoln) shaped stitching, some other areas are a little soft, the instruments have a more sophisticated look and feel of solid doors when opened and closed. Although many hard plastic lingers, the thin velor seat fabrics verge on chintzy even in the XLE, and the "seam" in the trim flanking the lower center console (why?) Not formedness could less convincing is the overall effect is a major step in the right direction. Not class leading, but solidly average. The hard plastics feel solid and none of the switches screams cheap. The controls are easy to reach and intuitive to control.

The seating position and perceived roominess of the Camry have changed much more than suggest the minimum inside dimensions changed. The base of the side windows, and especially that of the windshield seems higher and further away. Part of it is real, but the interior panels have also been redesigned to create the appearance of a more spacious interior. With more horizontal lines, sharper corners where the doors and instrument panel, and less intrusive curves The seats seem to have repositioned. The disadvantage is the view forward takes a modest hit in the first row and a significant one, in the second row.

On this front seats: They are larger and less contoured. Better for patrons of Old Country Buffet, less supportive for the rest of us. In the non-adjustable lumbar support, the LE is missing high with a small bulge the backrest. The power lumbar in the XLE helps, but also applies a little high. The rear bench seat, perhaps the segment roomiest a decade ago, may not match those in the Honda and VW for limo-like legroom and sits a little low. Vents are equipped only with XLE. Trunk is much more competitive.

With a strong focus on what are car buyers to pay ready and willing and has perhaps done to minimize the first year disorders and Toyota over the previous year 178-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 268-horspower 3, 5-liter V6 engines. Ie no direct, but the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima are the outliers here. All others are in the same league with their fours. Others' uplevel engines kick out a few more horses Is it an industry-wide gentleman's agreement to the mid-size sedan buyers to 280 hp limit? (Not that it would make sense to a lot more to channel through the front wheels only.) As before, coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission, the four easily fast enough for most drivers. The manual transmission has been dropped, but the automatic manually shiftable in all non-hybrid Camrys. The four the shakiness at idle and when revved Buzziness are major problems. Wrap the four gets the job done, but is more annoying than exciting. Those who want a smoother, better-sounding engine should still opt for the six.

Car buyers have put a higher priority on fuel economy than HP in recent years, and Toyota focused its efforts accordingly. Toyota cut curb weights (by 117 pounds for the four, 63 for the V6) paved the underbody, dilute the oil, raised the final drive ratios, fitted kitchen electric-assist power steering, and so to bring forth a few tenths here a few tenths there. The end result: EPA ratings of 25 city / 35 highway for the four, from 22/32 last year, and 21/30 for the V6, from 20/29. The four figures are best-in-class (for now) bind, the Hyundai Sonata on the highway and beat them by in the city. Toyota claims best-in-class awards for the V6 as well, but somehow ignores the Sonata 2.0T 's 22/34. A BMW-style instantaneous fuel consumption gauge and attending row of green LEDs are trying to promote fuel-efficient driving, but they often swing wildly after a delay, so I found it very helpful.

So far incremental rather than game-changing improvements, but improvements nonetheless. The chassis changes are iffier. Revised suspension geometry reduces body roll and improves body control, while light steering helps the car feels lighter than it is almost agile. But the old car has a more fluid, natural feel. The steering is part of the difference. While the old system was hardly talkative, is the new, electric-assist system light on the center, and even though it weighs as the wheel is turned, offers little feedback.

Then there's ride quality. Especially for those first few meters and at low speeds, the last few generations have felt like they were sliding down the road. Well, this is silky, comfortable feel that a Camry highlight since 1992 all but gone. Although big bumps are absorbed with more control than ever before, is the little things no longer filtered out almost entirely and the ride is more jiggly over patchy pavement. Toyota seems to benchmark the Ford Fusion or Honda Accord instead of the other way around have. Toyota claims that the new car is quieter, but my ears beg to differ. Sometimes objective measures are one thing, and the subjective experience of another. The new Camry has the character of a "numbers car."

Apparently aware that the gradual improvement conservatively styled new car will not take the world by storm, Toyota has lowered the prices for each version store loss leaders L, in one case, $ 2,000. Standard content cuts would offset much of the cuts to come, the details. Toyota Camry also advertises the storied reliability, pitching it as a "worry-free" choice. That remains to be seen, but with so many parts carried over, including the engines and transmissions, and few minor bugs should.

In the end, while the new interior is a significant improvement to improve the reduction of fuel consumption and handling, and perhaps also to reduce costs, the Camry a main differentiator have rob power. If my Lexus-loving father rented the 2012 Camry, he would find, … nothing. The new car is not gross, but it is no longer the segment benchmark for elegance. With their own redesigned midsize sedans on the road, and the Toyota and VW in recent years in their crosshairs, Chevrolet and Ford will now vie for the title.

Toyota fueled cars provided and insured along with a light lunch at a press event.

Michael Karesh operates True Delta, an online auto reliability and fuel efficiency to provide information.