The Toyota Camry has lead U.S car sales for 13 of the past 14 years. It arguably has been the best car in its class for the past 20 years. Obviously the automaker has been doing much right in consumers’ eyes. Toyota expects to sell 50 percent of this new Camry from past Camry drivers.
So what does the 2012 Toyota Camry LE have to offer?
For 2012, the Camry has been redesigned; however, it is built on the same platform as the outgoing model. The wheel base remains at 109.3 inches.
The Toyota engineers have used high-strength steel to build this Camry resulting in better structural rigidness and lowering the car’s weight by about 120 lbs.
The exterior styling of this Toyota is conservative. However, such is to be expected as this car has been highly popular with the U.S. driving public. From the front, it has a resemblance to the Corolla. From the side, it has a wedge shape with crease lines running from the top of the trunk and moving forward just above the door handles. I see a bit of an Avalon look in the side glass and chrome surround shape. The doors look a bit more solid than the last model and the glass profile is clean and classy. Overall, the exterior of this Camry has shaper creases that make it look toned and ready to drive more aggressively than the last model.
At the rear, this Camry has a high trunk with a crisp horizontal line at the top. A lip spoiler adds some sportiness. The taillights are large and nicely integrated with the fenders and trunk. I see a bit of the Avalon with how the rear lights become are part of the trunk lid. All and all, this Camry looks solid and pleasing. The trunk provides 15.4 cubic feet of cargo space.
Although it is the same size as the last model on the outside, on the inside, the Toyota engineers have added a bit more headroom, shoulder room, and leg room. The front windshield extends a bit further back than the last car allowing a better outward view. This new Camry has comfortable seats that provide good support. Higher quality materials have been used for the interior and the attention to detail is top notch. The audio system is incorporated into a 6.1 inch touch-screen. The dash is layered and includes complementary textures and handsome trim. Overall, the interior is classy and somewhat Lexus like.
The controls including the climate control feel weightier and the gearshift movement from Park to Drive is crisper. As in the past, the rear seat is a 60/40 split unit that folds flat. The roof at the rear is flatter (rather than the slight downward slope of the last model) providing additional headroom and a more airy feeling. Overall, this Camry’s interior is highly practical and pleasing by providing many convenience features and storage cubbies.
The engine for the LE is a 2.5-liter in-line four-cylinder providing 178 hp and 173 ft. lb. The SE is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine making 268 hp and 248 ft. lb. of torque. For most driving situations, the four-cylinder will exceed most drivers’ needs. The transmission is a six-speed automatic with increased torque converter lock up (sixth gear is a ‘real’ overdrive at .608!). Thus, low rpm interstate cruising is available mile after mile with the Camry. The LE’s 0-60 mph time is in 8.4 seconds and the SE with its 3.5-liter 268 hp V6 engine will do it in 6.0 seconds.
The car’s suspension consists of MacPherson struts, inversely wound springs, new shock absorbers, and anti roll bar at the front and dual strut-links and new suspension geometry at the rear. Thus, this Camry provides the traditional smooth ride that handles all road surfaces very well but the suspension is also a bit more taunt. This moves the car closer to a buttoned-down driver’s piece that can feel more at home hustling on back roads. Additional insulation has been added to the Camry and thus it is a highly quiet car that equals or exceeds automobiles costing $10,000 or even $20,000 more. This is quite an accomplishment indeed!
The power steering is an electric unit. It is described as providing better feedback than the steering on the last model. Thus, the steering on this Camry now provides the driver with more confidence whether the car is driven on the interstate, in town or on twisty roads.
The brakes are four wheel discs at each corner. The rotors are vented and measure 11.65 inches at the front and 11.06 inch solid units at the rear. The car’s 60-0 mph stopping distance is in 127 feet. The LE’s tires are 205 65 16-inch.
Regarding the Camry’s safety, it is equipped with ten standard air bags including knee bags for the driver and passenger and rear-seat outboard passenger side impact bags. The Camry also is equipped with ABS brakes, traction control, stability control, and electronic brake force distribution.
Standard features on the Toyota Camry LE include a six-way manual driver and four-way manual passenger seats, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and door locks, outside temperature gauge, steering wheel audio controls, remote keyless entry, a touch-screen stereo with Bluetooth and audio streaming, and more.
In regard to ordering a Camry, Toyota has made it simpler as the order combinations have gone from over 1,200 to 36. This makes sense as standardizing the process helps Toyota to cut unnecessary costs and give the consumer more for their money.
The fuel rating for the new Camry LE is 25 city and 35 mpg on the highway.
Regarding the Camry’s styling, some people opinion that Toyota should have gone for the long ball (like Hyundai has with the Elantra and Sonata). However, the automaker chose to improve the car in almost every way and work to add to its loyal customer base. After all, there is a reason other automakers are ‘chasing’ Toyota!
View the slideshow to see the 2012 Toyota Camry LE inside and out!
The 2012 Toyota LE starts at $21,995. Sure, you pay a bit more but you get much more. Also, the low cost of ownership over the years and great gas mileage adds up. Thus, you cannot go wrong with this newest Toyota Camry LE! Test-drive it and you will be highly impressed!
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price: How to Buy a Used Automobile, Sport-Utility Vehicle, or Minivan and Save money.” He welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: www.cartown1.com. Follow Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.