Toyota has been making its Camry sedan for 28 years with most of those built right here in the U.S. of A. at its Georgetown plant. For the past nine years the Camry has been the best-selling car in America. And the entire time Toyota has not had to resort to using adventure, culture, heritage, patriotism or even sex to move these vehicles.
The Toyota Camry does what it does best – it sells itself.
For 2012 Toyota delivers an all-new, 7th generation Camry with 100 percent new sheetmetal while exterior dimensions remain the same. Inside, however, the sedan grows by two cubic feet including an additional two inches in rearseat legroom.
So what better way to introduce this new vehicle to a bunch of journalists that have never reached into the “exciting” section of the Thesaurus than to bring it to a road course racetrack.
Granted this was a regional launch program but Toyota pulled out all the stops by offering track time to a group of autowriters who long ago realized racing was not in their professional future.
Toyota brought the 2012 Camry in all forms being offered this year including the new hybrid model whose fuel economy has increased dramatically. In addition to the hybrid powertrain, Toyota offers a beefier 2.5-liter four-cylinder to the lineup along with the 268hp 3.5-liter V-6 engine.
And to ease consumers’ decisions at purchase time Toyota has reduced Camry build configurations from 1,260 down to just 36 on LE, SE, or XLE trim levels. Significant to the SE grade are sport enhancements to the vehicle both aesthetic and functional in nature.
SE changes includes sportier front and rear fascia including a trunk spoiler along with side rocker panels. Functionally Toyota adds sport-shift mode to the transmission along with paddle shifters with suspension and steering systems receiving some sport tuning as well. Heck, they even include rev-matching “throttle blips” during downshifts for the full effect.
Safety and technology are state-of-the-art in the 2012 models with the offering of the new Entune infotainment system along with JBL GreenEdge audio system allowing twice the performance using half the energy to produce it. New Camrys also see 10 airbags including rear seat side impact protection and the front seat frames feature a whiplash impact lessening design. A blind spot monitor system has also arrived for 2012 models.
Interior layout and design has been greatly enhanced thanks to a layered dash panel configuration along with a floating center stack design.
My last review of the Camry Hybrid described the overall experience as boring, but that boring was a good thing for the hybrid version and its demographic. Not much has changed for 2012 except that the updated Hybrid Synergy Drive system is now up to 200hp total output while delivering an impressive 43 mpg around town, a significant increase over the previous model.
Driving the Camry Hybrid around the race course did get the adrenalin flowing a bit but most of that was due to the extra body roll the hybrid model experiences over that in the SE Camrys. The Camry Hybrid is still boring but for 2012 that boring is an even better thing.
The 2012 Toyota Camry is more attractive inside and out but the car will continue selling itself and I predict sales leadership won’t be going away anytime soon, especially given that base pricing for the new models is lower than the cars they replace.