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Review: 2012 Toyota Camry SE
Serious refinements lace the sleek new Camry for 2012 while still packing the reliability Toyota cars are know for.

Courtesy Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
The Barcelona red metallic 2012 Camry breaks away from the past vanilla style.

The Camry was redesigned for 2012 with significant upgrades to exterior and interior styling. To us, both are winners.”
Since its debut in 1983, Toyota has sold more than 15 million Camry cars worldwide. That is enough Camrys to, if parked bumper to bumper, wrap around the world almost twice.

If you’re asking yourself why you aren’t one of millions behind the wheel of a Camry, consider this—it is redesigned for 2012 with a better-looking body and the same dependability. Now in its seventh redesign, the Camry and Camry Hybrid offers six different trim levels to choose from. The Camry is available in the entry-level L, well-equipped LE, premium XLE and sporty SE grades.

All 2012 Camry models are equipped with 10 standard airbags, including new driver’s and front passenger’s knee airbags and rear-seat side airbags.

For the well-received Camry, warranties are easy to come by. Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles, and against corrosion with no mileage limitation. The hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery-control module, hybrid-control module and inverter with converter, are covered for eight years/100,000 miles.

The Camry also comes standard with Toyota Care, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

What’s It Like To Live With?

The Camry was redesigned for 2012 with significant upgrades to exterior and interior styling. To us, both are winners.

The exterior breaks away from a bland look and takes on a more dynamic one, complete with wraparound headlights and a lower and wider stance. The Camry has been perceived as a vanilla, safe option for buyers, but the Leather package on our tester with leather-trimmed gray Ultrasuede sport seats and leather door trim are fantastically stylish. The bolstered seats are soft and comfortable and look really fresh in the black/gray combo and white horizontal stripe. The dashboard’s hard plastic gets dressed up with white stitching to hint at sporty luxury on our SE trim, and there is faux stainless steel near the gear shifter and cup holders.

There is plenty of storage with an extra-large center console, two large cup holders and a generous covered storage area for iPods or cell phones. The Camry also has a 60/40 split-folding rear seatback to expand cargo capacity. The seats can be lowered by a remote release from the trunk area. Rear-seat side airbags are standard across the line, and an armrest with cup holders adds comfort and convenience.

2012 Toyota Camry SE

Base price: $27,400; As tested: $30,910
As tested: N/A
Safety: 5 stars/good (NHTSA/IIHS), 10 airbags
EPA (city/highway): 21/30/24 mpg
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower: 268 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque: 248 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
Drivetrain: FWD, six-speed automatic transmission
Passenger room: 101.3 cubic ft. (102.7 without moonroof)
Cargo room: 15.4 cu ft
Towing/payload capacity: not rated
Curb weight: 3,420 lbs.
The standard audio system on LE, XLE and SE models has a 6.1-inch screen and six speakers. The screen also displays the energy monitor and fuel consumption data, and functions as the monitor for the available integrated back-up camera (SE and XLE only) and the Display audio system. The screen also offers navigation system and displays Toyota’s multimedia system Entune.

The Camry isn’t the fastest car, but feels adequate when leaving a red light. The transmission shifts are noticeable when merging on the expressway. It’s a comfortable ride though, taking bumps along the road well. The 3.5-liter V6 engine on our tester delivers 268 hp and has EPA-estimated ratings of 21 mpg city/30 highway.

Overall, we like the Camry for what it is—a mass-produced family cruiser and daily commuter for those who prefer low maintenance and ease of use.

Who Should Consider This Car

The 2012 Toyota Camry’s popularity isn’t by accident—it’s a solid vehicle that offers many positive features. It would suit many buyers but is best for someone seeking reliability, fuel economy and decent interior space in a stylish package.

What Other Cars Should I Consider?

The redesigned Toyota Camry is stacked up against some serious competitors—the redesigned 2013 Honda Accord, the 2013 Nissan Altima and the 2013 Ford Fusion. Each has improved fuel efficiency, styling and technology, and you can get into one in the low $20,000 range.

Angie Fisher is an associate editor at shopautoweek.com. Angie loves anything Audi—of course, if she had to pick it would be the R8. Realistically, though, right now she is looking at a Jeep Wrangler. She graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and is the recipient of a Michigan Press Association award. Angie is married and loves spending time with her dog. Follow her on Twitter @Ang_Fisher.

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