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2012 Toyota Camry

The ultimate family car settles into middle age

By: Travis Persaud / 01.11.2011 / Comments | Print | Email

2012 Toyota Camry

2012 Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry's list of accolades is long: North America's best-selling car for 13 of the past 14 years; AJAC Canadian Car of the Year in 2007; over 500,000 of its sixth generation sold in Canada since its launch. The Camry is successful, to say the least. The numbers tell an impressive story, but hide the fact that while the Camry started out strong it became a boring, if dependable, vehicle.

 
Toyota Camry Dashboard

Toyota Camry Dashboard

With the redesigned 2012 Camry, the seventh-generation model, Toyota succeeds at reinvigorating its prized nameplate albeit, without doing much to excite you. Not that you should expect it be excited by it. The Camry made its name as a quality family vehicle, and that DNA remains in the 2012 version.

While refreshed from end to end, there isn't much from the outside that really makes this Camry stand out from its competition. It's not sexy, sporty or especially stylish. It's competent and certainly more attractive than the sixth generation, with a lower stance, angled lines down the side and an updated nose.

 
Toyota Camry Interior

Toyota Camry Interior

Inside, however, is where the redesign is truly noticeable. As in previous generations of the Camry, the cabin is extremely roomy, with space for my six-foot-plus frame to easily stretch out and get comfortable. The seats are thick and firm, providing excellent support for longer rides. And the sculpted doors provide more knee room for both front and backseat occupants. A small detail, but a huge plus.

The infotainment console was a disappointment, however. The buttons are clunky and look outdated, and the layout of the controls-the main ones well outside the frame of the touch screen (for the models that have that upgraded feature)-don't feel intuitively placed when reaching to use them. And, for some reason, the up/down volume buttons on the steering wheel are separated - quite annoying when needing to raise or lower the volume. However, the stitched dashboard and the brushed plastic materials around the centre console and doors help bring an upscale look, and somewhat make up for those negatives.

 
Toyota Camry Rear Seats

Toyota Camry Rear Seats

More importantly, the Camry excels on the road. The ride is smooth and straight line acceleration is strong. I had a chance to test both the SE V6 model and the LE four-cylinder, and while the SE certainly has more power (268 HP compared to the four's 179 HP) and has a sport-tuned suspension, they both displayed a level of smoothness that competitors can't touch. The Camry is also eerily quiet, with a reduction of two to four decibels from the previous model. I barely noticed any road noise when driving.

Equally as impressive is the price. Across all trim levels-LE, SE, XLE-and engines, the price has dropped compared to the previous models, with more value added, according to Toyota. The LE four-cylinder starts at $23,700 and the XLE V6 tops out at $33,700.

For a solid, safe (it boasts a class-leading 10 air bags and Toyota's Star Safety System), smooth family sedan, the price will be the one sure thing that excites drivers about the 2012 Camry.

 

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