By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.6
America's top-selling passenger car for the past nine years, the Toyota Camry receives a major overhaul for 2012. While the seventh-generation of the front-drive sedan retains its midsize status, a new look, new features and an even more people-focused personality are all aimed at infusing its well-honed practical persona with a new measure of emotional appeal that Toyota hopes will curry favor with younger buyers. Available in L/LE/SE/XLE trims with four-cylinder and V6 (SE/XLE) gasoline engines as well an impressively redone Hybrid variant in LE/XLE variations, the 2012 Toyota Camry will need every edge it can muster as it takes intense challenges from perennial arch-rival, the Honda Accord, as well as formidable foes like the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima and also-new-for-2013 Chevrolet Malibu.
Arguably better in every measurable way, the thoroughly tweaked 2012 Toyota Camry has what it takes to retain its already bountiful buyer base and make an even-stronger case for consideration by anyone seeking a top-rate midsize sedan with either conventional or hybrid power.
Its comprehensive list of enhancements notwithstanding, those with more avant-garde styling preferences still will find the 2012 Toyota Camry sedan falls short in the head-turning department, especially compared to the current sedan-class benchmark, Hyundai's high-profile Sonata.
The 2012 Toyota Camry sedan is a generational redesign that builds on the midsize sedan's historic strengths by complementing its practical nature with an even more modern character and better value at all trim levels.
Driving Impressions Toyota engineers diligently worked to improve the new Camry sedan's structure and suspension. More high-strength steel increases rigidity of the body while trimming weight – significantly on gasoline models and...by over 230 whopping pounds on the Hybrids. Revised chassis components and new geometry give all Camry versions a more confident feel with better ride compliance and body control, changes that are particularly noticeable when the going gets twisty. Numerous new noise-abatement technologies also make the 2012 Toyota Camry far quieter over most roads. Without a doubt, the biggest beneficiary of the 2012 Camry remake is the Hybrid. With major mass reduction, handling dynamics on par with its conventional kin, and a redone Hybrid Synergy Drive system that finally has the engine/motor/transmission triumvirate speaking far more directly to each other, the most fuel-efficient Camry variant should have far greater consumer appeal regardless of the price of gasoline.
Upgraded Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD)
Taking a much-needed next step in the greener arena, the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid features a comprehensively redone HSD system that's lighter, tighter and far more impressively integrated – improvements that yield more spirited performance under all conditions and a stunning 30-percent bump in key fuel economy numbers.
Still a work in process, Toyota's new Entune multimedia/telematics system already shows solid introductory capabilities and offers both a user-friendly interface and the promise of an ever-expanding group of downloadable apps that should make it a worthy state-of-the-art rival to in-car alternatives of its competitors.
The redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry cabin adds both space and contemporary sophistication, highlighted by a leather-covered "layered" dash set off by trim-specific instrumentation and a center cluster inspired by portable music players. Headroom is up in all positions while aft passengers also gain significant hip and legroom. Other key plusses include more supportive front buckets and a revised lower cushion on the 60/40 folding rear bench seat that adds stretch space for the middle rider – although minimal padding still limits the center perch to part-time duty. Trunk space also is up, modestly in gasoline-powered Camrys; but by 2.1 cubic feet in the new 2012 Hybrid.
Although its external dimensions are virtually unchanged, the 2012 Toyota Camry's fully redrawn bodywork adds an edgier flair. The new sedan sports a bolder front and rear look with more expressive contours and character lines that impart a wider, lower look and a more wedge-like profile. Helping the cause are a host of subtle touches like mini-strakes on the mirrors and taillamps that channel air to improve stability, and new underbody work that further reduces drag. Unique front/rear/side-sill styling adds more cosmetic swagger to the Camry SE while blue-trimmed "Hybrid" and "HSD" (Hybrid Synergy Drive) badges visually define the most fuel-efficient 2012 Camry.
Impressively packaged at all levels, even the base Camry L sedan offers numerous power assists, air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with AUX/USB/iPod inputs, Bluetooth, Toyota's STAR safety system and 10 airbags. The LE adds keyless remote entry, multifunction steering wheel, and an upgraded Display Audio sound system. Moving up to the Camry SE nets you a dedicated sport suspension/wheel/tire package with unique trim, Softex covered sport seats and paddle shifters. The top-line Camry XLE sedan features dual power seats, dual-zone climate control, power moonroof and premium fabric or leather (V6-only) upholstery. Both the SE/XLE V6s add Navigation and Entune multimedia telematics, HD radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The Camry Hybrid sedan offers LE and XLE trim-level appointments.
The 2012 Toyota Camry sedan's extras roster is confined to color choices on the L trim and a power driver's seat and moonroof on the LE. Upgraded Display Audio packages with Navigation and Entune – including a 10-speaker premium JBL system with energy-saving GreenEdge speaker technology – dedicated Convenience Packages and Leather-trimmed Ultrasuede Sport Seats with deluxe trim also are available on SE/XLE models, while SEs can be had with a power moonroof. Camry Hybrids offer a Leather Package, Moonroof Package and two tiers of JBL-enhanced Upgrade Packages, one with Navigation and one without.
Focused drivetain revamps yield impressive gains in both performance and economy for all 2012 Toyota Camry sedans. Modest internal enhancements to the largely carryover 178-horsepower 2.5-liter four and 268-horse 3.5-liter V6 coupled with revised final-drive ratios in their standard 6-speed automatic transmissions, plus lower-rolling-resistance tires, help raise EPA city/highway numbers by three mpg on four-cylinder Camrys and one mpg on V6s. While its electric motor remains unchanged, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine replaces the previous 2.4-liter in the Camry Hybrid, which also features lighter, more compact and better-managed electrical components – including a new battery pack and a CVT (continuously-variable transmission) automatic with new ECO/EV modes. While the total hybrid-system output rises from 187 to 200 horsepower, preliminary EPA figures – 43/39 mpg for the LE and 41/38 mpg for the XLE – reflect a huge 30-percent uptick in fuel economy.
2.5-liter in-line 4
178 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
(PZEV 173 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm)
170 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
(PZEV 165 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm)
EPA City/highway fuel economy: 25/35 mpg (6-speed automatic)
268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA City/highway fuel economy: 21/30 mpg (6-speed automatic)
2.5-liter in-line 4 plus a 105-kilowatt Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Electric Motor and Ni-MH battery pack
Engine: 156 horsepower @ 5,750 rpm
Battery: 141 horsepower 4,500 rpm
Total hybrid system (engine and battery): 200 horsepower
Engine: 156 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
Battery: 199 lb-ft of torque @ 0-1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 43/39 mph (LE with CVT automatic), 41/38 mpg (XLE with CVT automatic)
By Solas on Friday, August 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty, reliable"
Cons: "lacking storage, not as good on gas as expected"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"So my review is based on trading in my 2007 Camry which I really loved. Only traded it for the 2014 model because I was going to need a bunch of standard work on the car (tires, brakes, shocks, etc...136,000 miles and never had the shocks done...never needed it until recently!) and I thought I'd use that money to invest in the new car. There are some real misses in the 2014. Transmission: Is it me or does anyone else find the transmission a bit clunky? The "eco" mode is odd and feels like it's shifting into another gear. Gas mileage - the car tracks this for you and so far, even though I commute via highway every day, I have yet to get my 35 mpg. This is very disappointing. Bluetooth - haven't used it much more than making calls because it's really not working right in maps/navigation mode. Not sure if that's my phone or the car. Need to read/research more. Storage - compared to my 2007 camry, the storage is gone! The glove box is tiny, the small but convenient storage pockets next to center console (perfect for a tire pressure gage or an ipod) are gone. The center console storage is much smaller than past models, and the car is missing the build-in trunk storage (just a small, plastic cut out into the floor of the trunk in my 2007 model) that was perfect for keeping small tools and a flashlight from rolling around. I'm glad I kept my cargo net from my old camry. Also, the storage behind the front seats is just a little pocket. In my 2007 camry it was a roomy pull out pocket with fantastic space for anything, including umbrellas. The pockets used to have a little expander on the sides, and now it's just a cheap pocket. There is an improved storage add in this mode: all 4 doors have an area for water bottle storage. Seating - I haven't sat in the back but the front seats are just not as nice as in the past. Feels cheap, like an airline seat. Takes forever to get the lumbar and other controls right. The back seats have a built-in, non adjustable headrest...again, a cheap shortcut."
By Joecug on Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Road noise is excessive. Has good feel, easily controlled, great power. Would give it even higher rating if road noise could be reduced. I had bottom sprayed with noise barrier product, but reduction was barely audible. My 2004 Avalon was dead quiet."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By baseballboy on Sunday, August 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good performance"
Cons: "Comfortable go kart."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Not touring car but excellent daily driver. Can handle traffic with any car or truck. Good on tollways with faster speed limits."
12 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By car12345 on Sunday, August 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fast but efficient car"
Cons: "interior design and Entune"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"The car does drive nicely -- it has an excellent combination of power while maintaining good fuel economy. When you turn off "eco mode" it accelerates quickly. the trunk pass through is nice despite batteries being back there. However, at this level of car and this price tag I expect more than a basic experience. The ergonomics throughout are bad to terrible. The switches one would use while driving are mounted in the center where one has to take eyes off road to use. The switches not normally used such as the blind spot monitor (which works well) are next to the steering wheel. It display an eco mode indicator on the dash even though as a hybrid you bought it for fuel efficiency and usually have it in that mode. Thus, Toyota should consider eco mode the normal mode of operation and 'power' mode (not operating in eco mode) to be worthy of an indicator. Toyota has no lock on the trunk release switch so you cannot lock anything in your trunk. all you have to do is bust a window of any such vehicle and you have full access to the trunk, no tools needed. This defeats the point of secure storage in the trunk. Now we get to the real sore spot, "Entune". Mine has already required repair as the voice command crashed the whole system. radio, map, everything. Even after they "fixed" it the voice command often takes 20+ seconds to load, not counting the 2 to 5 minutes initialization time when starting the car. It cannot function @ at during calls while you are supposed to be able to tell it to send touch tones (such as automated systems that call you back and say "press 1 to continue"). It cannot understand a lot of what is clearly said. The map hard to move around and find alternate routes to traffic jams. Car navigation is nice even with smartphones because its in front of you, does not rely upon cell networks, bigger screen, etc. but this defeats most of that. It is definitely a disappointment."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By bigdemps on Friday, August 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, features, low operating cost, good mileage"
Cons: "slightly smallish driver's area"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We have had this car for about 1-1/2 years and have had zero problems with it. The engine is strong, acceleration is quick, steering is very responsive, maintenance is inexpensive and user-friendly, parts are readily available and overall, it's one of the best cars we've ever owned."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Tomcat on Saturday, July 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Acceleration, and fuel mileage"
Cons: "Blind spot, and seats are too firm."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My first Hybrid has been a very good experience. This car (Hybrid XLE) meets or exceeds all specs promised especially fuel mileage. I commute 75 miles daily on all road types, city to expressway, and couldn't be more satisfied with the MPG combined with handling, and acceleration. Recommend getting the 'blind spot' mirrors as there is definitely a issue on the driver side window. On long trips you will notice the lack of cushion in the seats. Maintenance is an added cost saver, no timing belts, or transmission service required. Oil change at 10k, and rotate tires at 5k that's it. A definite recommend buy!"
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful