Redesigned for 2012, the Toyota Camry has identical dimensions and similar styling as its predecessor, but it's lighter and more fuel efficient. Competitors to the popular family sedan include the Honda Accord, the Ford Fusion and the Nissan Altima.
In ascending order, the Camry comes in L, LE, SE and XLE trim levels. You might have trouble finding a Camry L at a dealership: Toyota expects to sell the base model in only small numbers to commercial fleets. A four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission are standard; the SE and XLE offer a V-6.
The related Camry Hybrid uses a gas-electric drivetrain to achieve some 45 percent better gas mileage than a four-cylinder Camry. It comes in LE and XLE trims.
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The Camry's length, width and height remain the same as before. Principle differences include larger bumper inlets and boomerang-shaped taillights, as well as the sport-tuned Camry SE's unique bodywork, which includes racier bumpers and a new grille. Four-cylinder cars have a single tailpipe in back, while V-6 models have two. Exterior features include:
- Standard 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers
- Standard body-colored side mirrors
- Optional 17and 18-inch alloy wheels
- Optional fog lights
Major differences lay inside, where the Camry loses its wraparound dash for a layered design. Stitched faux leather covers the upper dashboard, while the center control panel sits elevated to appear as if it's hovering. All trim levels have a 60/40-split folding rear seat; last year's Camry SE and XLE omitted the feature. Trunk volume, at 15.4 cubic feet, improves on last year's 15.0 cubic feet (14.5 in some trims). Toyota offers two navigation systems: an entry-level unit with a 6.1-inch screen, or an upgraded 7.0-inch system with sharper graphics. The latter is optional on the V-6 XLE. Other features include:
- Standard power windows, locks and mirrors
- Standard cruise control and air conditioning
- Standard iPod/USB-compatible stereo with Bluetooth
- Optional Bluetooth audio streaming, touch-screen stereo and JBL audio
- Two optional navigation systems
- Optional power seats, heated leather upholstery
- Optional dual-zone automatic climate control
- Optional moonroof
Under the Hood
Last year's engines carry over, but thanks to mechanical updates, all Camry models gain 2 mpg in combined city/highway gas mileage compared with last year. Mechanical features include:
- Standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 178 horsepower and 170 pounds-feet of torque
- Optional 3.5-liter V-6 with 268 hp and 248 pounds-feet of torque
- Six-speed automatic transmission (both engines) with paddle shifters in Camry SE
- Sport-tuned suspension in Camry SE
Safety features include:
- Ten standard airbags, including front knee airbags and front and rear side-impact airbags
- Standard all-disc antilock brakes
- Standard electronic stability system
- Optional blind spot warning system
Toyota Camry Hybrid
The Camry Hybrid combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor for a combined 200 hp. An automatic transmission is standard. Thanks to a host of mechanical changes — including some 260 pounds' less overall weight and more efficient engine cycling — the Hybrid gets 41 mpg in combined city/highway ratings for the LE trim, or 40 mpg for the heavier XLE. That improves over last year's 33-mpg Camry Hybrid. Like Toyota's Prius hybrid, the Camry Hybrid now has Eco and EV modes. Eco mode trades air-conditioning effectiveness and accelerator sensitivity to maximize gas mileage, while EV mode raises the threshold the Camry Hybrid can travel on electric power alone — up to half a mile on a full battery, Toyota says. The backlit gauges have a hybrid display that shows gas mileage history and real-time power flow between the drivetrain's components.
Like most hybrids, the Camry Hybrid has a battery back behind the rear seat that powers the electric motor. Braking friction and engine power recharge the battery. Toyota moved the battery pack forward 5.5 inches this year, and the resulting 13.1 cubic feet of trunk volume beats last year's Camry Hybrid (10.6 cubic feet) and comes close to the regular Camry's 15.4 cubic feet. The battery obstructs most of the pass-through space for the folding rear seat, however.
The Camry Hybrid LE gets standard dual-zone automatic climate control but loses the Camry LE's touch-screen stereo, which moves to the Camry Hybrid's options list. Other features are similar. Load up a Camry Hybrid XLE, and it can come with heated power seats, leather upholstery with faux suede inserts, JBL audio and a navigation system. Back to top
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