Today: Nov 20 , 2019

The 2012 Toyota Camry: An Already-Great Car Gets Even Better

14 January 2012  

Toyota improves an already-great Camry for 2012

My only complaint with the 2011 Toyota Camry was that it was a bit bland. Though, that complaint was not shared by many. Some 328,000 Americans thought the Camry was the best car for their money—making it the best selling sedan in the U.S. for yet another year.

For the few of us who did find the 2011 Camry a bit too conservative, there is good news. Toyota has improved the 2012 Camry with edgier styling and slightly tighter, better handling springs.

In all, Toyota has taken its best-seller and made it even better. It rides better, looks better, and inside it feels more upscale than the 2011 model. With all that improvement, the 2012 Camry still retains its bargain price. In other words, the most practical sedan money can buy is now an even more comfortable and good looking.

With the exception of the Honda Accord, no other family sedan can touch Toyota’s reputation for reliability or its middle-of-the road family appeal. If resale value, gas mileage and crash ratings top your priority list, then the 2012 Camry is your baby. This car shines and ranks near the top in most, if not all those contests.

The Camry does not pretend to be a sports sedan. However, shoppers looking for a sporty family sedan should not write off the sport-tuned SE trim package. I recently tested a 2012 Camry SE and was delighted with its gas mileage, handling and value. The SE offers a small step in the direction of driving excitement, while retaining Toyota value, reliability and resale value. It starts at just $23,000.

The new Camry can be had with either a 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine or a potent and smooth 268-horsepower V-6, which may be the best V-6 engine in the family sedan market. The four-cylinder offers enough power for most drivers (179 horsepower in the SE model), while earning 25 miles for every gallon of city driving and a noteworthy 35 mpg highway. The V-6 delivers a more refined and confident drive with plenty more punch off the line. It lands 21 mpg city/30 highway.

Of course, the Camry hybrid remains one of the most comfortable and civilized hybrids on the road today. It delivers 43 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. With any of the optional engines, the Camry earns a gold stars for its safety score. Five gold stars, to be precise. That’s the perfect score that The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave for front and side crashes in the 2012 Camry.

On the previous model, I complained that the Camry had lost the quality interior materials that set the base Camry apart in the 1990’s. Thankfully, all that has changed for 2012. The interior of the “base” model Camry now feels more upscale and competent.

In all, the 2012 Camry resolves my only two complaints with the previous Camry. And, it continues doing what Camry has always done best – delivering an unbeatable concoction of practicality and value.

John Dickerson, Auto Reviews

Each month John Dickerson tests a worthy car. From smoking teenagers at stoplights to cramming groceries and small appliances into the trunk, Dickerson examines the features you actually care about, like how well a spilled mocha cleans off the upholstery. Dickerson was raised on industrial pollution, deer venison and American steel in Detroit, Michigan. His co-workers often find him in a trance, slumped over his keyboard, uttering words like “torque steer, horsepower-to-displacement ratio” and “nav system.”