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 Mike on Wednesday, February 18, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,300overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive. Looks. Reliability. Resale value."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love the way it rides and best gas mileage of any car that I've owned. Don't know why some people complain about not getting good gas mileage. Funny I get 32 in town and have gotten up to 42 hwy, but avg 38. I really think those that complain are those that have a lead foot. I don't. I ease on pedal trying to keep eco light on and let up before I reach the rear of the car in front of me. People speed! Let's face it. No car is going to give you the mileage you expect that way. The speed limit signs posted are the max speed you should be driving not the min. I'll drive 5 miles over the limit and people still pass me. Guess that's why I can proudly say I haven't had a ticket since 1991. If you got a lead foot quit your complaining. Another fact I find is the reliability. Had my camry for 2 years now and hasn't had any trouble at all. Most cars I've owned till now saw the garage more than I see a doctor. Won't buy anything other than a Toyota."
9 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By AJ on Wednesday, February 11, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Value room ride safety reliability Paddle shifter!"
Cons: "center console set up could be more ergonomic"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Cars like Camry Accord and fusion are an improvement over the "junk" that was marketed years ago. It's tough to keep one-upping the better performers in this category, so the proof is usually in the numbers and this car is at or near the top for so many years simply because it delivers all it promises. Reliability is great, good room, good ride, good mileage and a 10 airbag full safety system. All for under $25K out the door. My secretary drove an '01 til she retired and it still looks great around town. She still reminds me that she's almost 9 years without a car payment. If you need to live through your car, go blow your kids college tuition for a 3 year status symbol, but if your smart you will look at this car and laugh all the way to the bank."
23 people out of 38 found this review helpful
By wellrounded on Tuesday, February 10, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun and easy to drive, smooth and quite ride."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am 66 years old and have had most every luxury brand as well as luxury sports cars through the years. Had a Lexus GS some years ago so I have some familiarity with a Toyota product. Having no need to spend ridiculous money on a more expensive car since I don't spend anywhere the amount of time in a car like I used to, I went for the 2014.5 Camry XLE for its rich looks, (A picture tells a thousand words in the right color) and reliability. I just want to say again, after 10 months with this car, I get it!!!!"
10 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By JoeJuice on Monday, February 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,400overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable interior"
Cons: "See review"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"1) Too much off the windshield, 2) Right front cross bar interferes with vision, 3) car is too low in the right 4) ride is too choppy 5) center console controls too and difficult to adjust while driving 6) glare off the rearview camera can make it useless 7) average gas mileage is 24.2 way under what is advertised."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By LG on Tuesday, February 03, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"We have enjoyed the Camry and it is a dependable vehicle but I am not sure if the extra expense of getting the hybrid really paid off for us. We average about 30 MPG and probably could have done better with a different non-hybrid model."
13 people out of 29 found this review helpful
By mbm on Saturday, January 31, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, cozy, amazing stereo"
Cons: "paint chips"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have the i4 SE model and i think it's great. Super comfortable. Nice thick steering wheel, easy to drive, excels super fast. All around pretty nice car. The paint does chip a little but nothing too bad and I've covered it up with touch up paint fine. But i love this car so much"
14 people out of 23 found this review helpful