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 momof2 on Sunday, January 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "good gas mileage, comfortable"
Cons: "bad paint, no garage door opener"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I do like the Camry SE. I get good gas mileage with this car being that I drive 100 miles a day for work. But I have to say that the paint on this car is the worst I have ever seen. I have only had this car for 1 1/2 years and it has so many chips on the hood and the paint on the hood is in a swirling pattern. I have never had a car that chipped as easily. I don't know if I would buy another Toyota due to that very fact."
By annette on Thursday, January 22, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Car is very good shape, serviced regularly by Toyota, garaged. I buy a car every three years and only Toyota."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Matt on Monday, January 05, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 112,400overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "miliage (40 mpg), no rattles even after 112k+"
Cons: "road noise, poor performing blue tooth for phone,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have over 112,000 miles on this car and it is as tight and solid as brand new. No major repairs - just regular maintenance - with one exception: passenger power seat failed to move - Toyota dealer quoted $1300 to repair and replace the broken lower seat unit ($700 for part + $600 labor). He was nice enough to give me an online site though, where I found a used part in CA - part was only $50 but shipping (entire seat) was $150. Spent 5-6 hrs myself and fixed it for total of $200. Toyota customer service 800 number was no help due to high mileage - they in fact were quite rude - no help at all. Still over all, Toyota makes a good solid product and I would buy one again. 36-40 mpg means I get 500 miles+ to every 14 gallon tank of fuel - really nice when gas was near $4/gal. I recommend this car."
15 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By roony on Thursday, January 01, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"OK since week 2 I have not been someone who would want this car as a long term driver. I have 9 months left on a 2 yr lease and can't wait to own something else. These are not serious issues, but rather quirks that can make driving unsafe. 1.headlights - projector beam type - they do not illuminate far enough in front and seem to be aimed too low. Google the problem for yourself. Can be dangerous when reaching the bottom of a downhill 2 lane road. You can't see the area ahead on the uphill portion of the road. 2.roof pillar - drivers side - creates a blind spot too often, however seat adjustment can resolve this but makes driving position uncomfortable. 3.dashboard - sun glare reflects onto windshield distorting vision. 4.transmission - gearing does not allow the engine to be used to slow the car. 2nd gear downhill speeds can reach 40mph, 1st gear can reach 25+mph."
8 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Henry on Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Never thought I would be in such a disappointment with Toyota! I have always been a fan of Toyota cars, and own them. However this time I had a very bad experience from the Toyota Company and I feel that I had to share my experience! I walked into the dealer knowing exactly what I wanted to purchase, which was the brand new 2015 Camry XSE. One of my most important concerns about my car is the stereo and speakers. I believe that we spend so much time in our cars and I love to listen to my music while I'm driving so therefore my stereo and speakers needs to have the best quality. While doing my research on the car it explains that this car (Camry XSE 2015) has 10 speakers, so my expectations about my stereo were met, or so I thought. When I walked into the dealer and signed the contract it also stated that the vehicle had 10 speakers. As I drove the car for a couple of a days, I noticed that the speakers were not as loud as I thought/ expected from 10 speakers. So I started examining the car, and noticed that I had only located 8 speakers in the entire car. I took the car to the dealership; they could only locate 8 speakers as well. Five speakers in front, two very small speakers in back and one subwoofer that doesn't work!! Really!! The car has two spaces in the back where it should fit two big speakers, one is filled with a worthless subwoofer and the other space is empty. What kinds of manufacturers design this kind of sound system???? I immediately took the car back but TOYOTA would not do anything to accommodate me for this issue. I called corporate and they did not seem like they wanted to help me either! I paid $5k extra in order to get the premium package, but corporate tries to tell me that since this car is eco-friendly, this is all the quality I will get. They also mentioned that I have to maximize the sound to be able to hear the music, which makes NO sense to me what so ever! If I’m purchasing a new vehicle, and paying a lot of extra money for it, I would like my expectations from the car to be met ESPECIALLY when the contract states that there must be 10 speakers in the car! I shouldn't have to spend more money to change the speakers of a brand new car, since the Toyota contract is misleading, and I trusted them enough to sign! I'm VERY disappointed with TOYOTA! I'm unhappy with my $35K purchase due to misleading info, and I will NEVER walk into any TOYOTA dealership again. I just though I should share my experience with everyone so this doesn't happen to anyone else."
6 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By BigAl on Thursday, December 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price and fun to drive with paddle shifters"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Light Silver exterior; black and grey leather trimmed seats; leather trimmed steering wheel; low mileage. Only reason to sell, we want an SUV."
23 people out of 44 found this review helpful