Driving Today

2012 Toyota Camry: More of the Same

One of the bestselling cars in America has just been completely redone.

If you were about to redesign a bestselling product, it might be smart to stay pretty close to the winning formula that put the product at the top of the charts in the first place. That’s exactly what the Toyota designers and engineers did when it came time to redo the car for the 2012 model year. The bestselling car in America for most of the last decade, the Toyota Camry did get a complete makeover; however, in its new form, it retains and enhances all of the virtues that made it a popular favorite. At the same time, it’s clear that the designers didn’t want to take any chances.

Its exterior design has been updated, but you almost have to put old and new cars side-by-side to see the changes. Clearly evolutionary, the curvaceous design looks a bit sportier and more contemporary, and it provides more interior space. At the same time, the model maintains its most beloved features: comfort, roominess and value. Like the exterior, the new Camry’s interior is modern and stylish in a conservative mold. Instruments are large, readable and well-illuminated, and storage cubbies are plentiful. The Camry’s steering, braking, and handling are tuned toward comfort, although handling and steering seem crisper and more athletic than the previous version.

While the exterior and interior have been treated to significant improvements, the engines and transmissions are largely the same as in the previous edition. The Camry’s 2.5-liter, 178-horsepower four-cylinder engine provides adequate acceleration with good fuel economy, and the muscular 3.5-liter V-6 is a powerhouse, offering 268 horsepower and a wholly different level of acceleration. The biggest changes came to the lowest-volume version of the car. The Camry Hybrid now sports the 2.5-liter four-cylinder of the base model plus its electric motor, giving it a combined horsepower figure of 200. With the new engine, the hybrid will offer 43 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.

The new 2012 Camry starts at about $23,000, though with popular equipment the suggested price runs up to about $29,000. The model is now being sold at Toyota dealers across the country.



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