How Affordable Is the 2012 Toyota Camry?

Midsized Comparison

Toyota showed off its 2012 Camry to a discerning public yesterday. The new version of America’s top-selling sedan goes on sale in October, with the Toyota Camry Hybrid following in December.

2012 Toyota Camry Review
2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review
2012 Toyota Camry: Trim Level Breakdown
2012 Toyota Camry Photo Gallery

Although Camry shoppers will see numerous improvements — slightly better ride and handling, a more luxurious interior and improved fuel economy — there’s the unfortunate reality that the Camry’s  introductory price has inflated to $21,995 excluding $760 for destination. That’s $1,800 more than the 2011 Camry.

But the price increase doesn’t tell the whole story. The new Camry packs a lot more value and is more competitively priced than its predecessor.

Below, we compare the Camry’s value to its three closest competitors in terms of sales — the Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and Honda Accord — and we’ll throw in the up-and-coming Hyundai Sonata for good measure.

2012 Toyota Camry LE

The base Camry L trim comes with air conditioning, cruise control, power accessories, Bluetooth, iPod-compatible stereo and an automatic transmission standard. All Camrys get 10 airbags standard – that beats everyone in this comparison. Here are the prices of the similarly equipped competition: Altima, $20,270; Sonata, $20,695; Fusion, $20,745; and Accord, $22,180. It’s important to note that the Altima and Fusion can’t be equipped with Bluetooth or a USB port but have other standard features, such as push-button start (Altima) and alloy wheels (Fusion), that balance out the value equation.

The 178-horsepower four-cylinder in the 2012 Camry achieves 25/35 mpg city/highway, better than all the competitors here. The Sonata is the closest at 24/35 mpg.

Toyota acknowledges that not many car shoppers are going to buy the L trim, which is built mainly for commercial fleets, not consumers.

2012 Toyota Camry dashboard
A better comparison of value to car shoppers is what Toyota says will be its bread-and-butter Camry trim, the LE, which starts at $22,500, $200 less expensive than the 2011 Camry LE with an automatic. That model gets all the above features in addition to a 6.1-inch touch-screen, automatic headlamps, Bluetooth music streaming, remote keyless entry and steering-wheel-mounted controls.

2012 Toyota Camry touch screen
None of the competition offers a touch-screen at this price point. In fact, a touch-screen interface isn’t common in a family sedan right now unless you spring for a navigation system. Barring the touch-screen, competitors price their products at $23,060 for the Altima and $23,225 for the Fusion. The Accord and Sonata don’t have comparable trim levels.

For 2012, Toyota has pushed the 268-hp V-6 further out of reach for the average consumer. The high-powered V-6 is available only on the SE and XLE trims, and you must opt for even more feature content for the powertrains. The SE V-6 starts at $26,640, which is $1,275 more than the most affordable 2011 V-6 Camry LE. The model ekes out slightly better fuel economy at 21/30 mpg, but it’s more fuel efficient than V-6 equipped versions of the Fusion (18/27 mpg), Accord (20/30 mpg) and Altima (20/27 mpg). The Sonata’s turbocharged four-cylinder is more fuel efficient at 22/33 mpg and packs more power. Comparable high-powered competition starts with the Sonata at $24,645, Altima at $25,430, Fusion at $26,910 and Accord at  $27,280.

2012 Toyota Camry V-6
The Camry Hybrid’s new pricing strategy is where the model really shines in terms of affordability. There are two trims for 2012: LE and XLE. The LE starts at $25,900, about $1,150 less expensive than the 2011 model, and returns 43/39 mpg and 41 mpg combined. This clobbers the similarly priced ($25,795) Hyundai Sonata Hybrid’s 37 mpg combined score. The Ford Fusion Hybrid is nearly as competitive at 39 mpg combined, but the model is more expensive at $28,600.

Even at that price, the fully loaded Camry Hybrid XLE  — which includes features like an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, auto-dimming mirror, rear air vents, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and a 6.1-inch touch-screen – is less expensive at $27,400.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Ultimately, what we have here is a pretty competitive car in terms of value depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for leather or alloy wheels at the cheapest available price, the Camry isn’t likely the best candidate. (Go check out the Fusion SEL or Accord SE for that.) If you’re looking for the lowest price with the most features, the Sonata is probably the best choice.

Where the Camry really shines is its LE trim, which offers novel features such as a touch-screen and audio streaming at a price in between the competition’s base and midlevel trims. If you’re looking for an affordable hybrid sedan, the Camry Hybrid is impossible to beat once you account for annual fuel costs.



Since the malibu outsells two of your comparable models I'm not sure why it was excluded. Oversight or intentional because of its brand?

As far as I can tell can't find any faults with camry. Worlds first perfect car apparently.


It's hard for me to tell. Are the tail lights still LED?


What is the difference between the basic and premium navigation?

Like it says in the post, we compared the Camry to the next top three sellers in the U.S., plus highlighted the Sonata. I don't know where you're getting your info from, but here's of breakdown of 2011 sales thus far in the family sedan category.

1. Toyota Camry: 174,485
2. Nissan Altima: 153,182
3. Ford Fusion: 151,004
4. Honda Accord: 143,936
5. Chevrolet Malibu: 142,312
6. Hyundai Sonata: 135,898

The current Malibu is about to be discontinued so we decided to highlight competition that'll stick around for the time being.


The difference includes: screen size (6.1 inch vs. 7 inch), and resolution. The premium system has crisper graphics and runs off a hard drive. Also, Toyota's Entune system is more elaborate on the premium system.

Toyota restricts the premium HDD navi option to the XLE V-6 only, which starts at $29,845.


Just went through all the product info, again. I don't see any mention of LED tail lamps...



Well I asked if it was left out intentionally in spite of sales and you answered the question. You're right, the malibu only outsold one car on your list, not two. It and the accord are in a dead heat and could be considered tied. Fusion and altima are due to replaced next year just like malibu. All three are near end of lifecycle. I just aksed why you singled the malibu out for exclusion.


The WSJ also excluded the Malibu.


Is the gas / hybrid engine combination carried over from the 2011?


The hybrid exists with much better mileage.


I hardly consider the wsj an authority on cars. Do you?


Hmmm.... Altima Now outsells the Accord. Hope the tail lights are still LED. The last time Toyota re-designed the 4Runner, they took that away, seems like a step backward.


Yeah I agree. Honda did the same thing with the Accord. Once you start with the LED, you need to stick with it and not go back to regular bulbs.


not so good looking. dull design.

Bernie Goldman

The Malibu is closely becoming the most fleet sold car of all time behind the Impala. I've been in the business for over twenty years and haven't seen GM get this aggressive since 2005. The Malibu is a good car but the manufacturers should separate their fleet sales from retail so the public can see what models are favored by the public. Except for a new ac system and some minor transmission work my 2000 Malibu has had 116,000 trouble free miles.


I see more new cars running around with their LED's not functioning. Either one side or both. Not sure what the problem is as the 3rd light has been LED for years. And I hate the bling bling white LED's in the front of some of these high end models. Showing my age? I don't know...


Unfortunately it looks like Toyota Corolla. Bad redesign in my opinion


@ Rick

@ Sheth
Your still around here bashing every time a GM product doesn't get mentioned? He clearly outlined why the Malibu was left out. It currently has not innovative features, is about to be redesigned, and is not in the top three of the competition. Seems pretty clear to me. And - as someone mentioned - its retail sales are lackluster. It may be a great car, but with a redesign pending there is no reason to mention this cars aging design when compared to a newly released car.


I really like the Camry redesign and am relieved they didn't get radical as I'm not a fan of the Sonata and Optima designs. Two years ago I traded in my 330i for a Camry SE and don't regret it one bit. The v6 sings and the car is rock solid bullet proof. Two things I'll never miss: snotty BMW service managers and electrical problems galore. I look forward to test driving the SE and XLE when they arrive at dealerships. Nice job Toyota!


It's impressive that Toyota has managed to hold onto the sales lead given the earthquake and Tsunami issues they've had to deal with.

Ken L.

I hope people realize that out of the 5 sedans pictured, only the Sonata is the most stylish. And even then, its silhouette came from the Lexus ES. The previously Sonata was truly very bland and was not very noticed. That was not a good strategy if you want to be in the top 3 amongst sedan buyers. The current Sonata reversed that trend and is currently on a roll. The Altima has the most radical taillights and is probably the sportiest as well. Above all, they are still conservatively styled sedans. The majority of Americans like conservative styled vehicles; just look at the pickup truck market, and you'll understand. High powered/high styled sedans (i.e.: Dodge Charger) appeal to only certain types of buyers.

You can tell that Toyota's pricing strategy this time around accounts for an increased competition in the marketplace; and that ladies and gentleman is a good thing for consumers like you and I. We can also see that Toyota was not going to let someone unseat them in terms of mpg, especially in the hybrid arena nor packaging and pricing strategies.


Only the SE looks good. They did a good job with the wheels and body for that trim.


Thanks for giving folks the real story of BMW ownership. You made a good move!



The rationale was mentioned after I posted, not before. The initial post indicated camry was being matched up with top competitors but sonata has sold less than malibu and yet it was considered. Accord and malibu have nearly identical sales but accord was included. Malibu is about to be replaced but when the camry goes on sale the 2012 malibu will be available so that's the car that should be compared. has a history of playing favorites and the reality is they offered no explantation for not mentioning malibu as one of the top midsize sedans. As stated, the altima and fusion are also in last model year before being updated and yet they were included.

As someone said, the aggressive pricing shows toyota is feeling the heat. 5 years ago the camry could easily command a price premium over korean and american sedans.


Don't put words in my mouth. It says in the post exactly why we chose the four models to compare. The three are the next three bestsellers and we decided to highlight the Sonata, too.

"Below, we compare the Camry’s value to its three closest competitors in terms of sales — the Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and Honda Accord — and we’ll throw in the up-and-coming Hyundai Sonata for good measure."

Stop wasting digital ink AR

We can see how has a fascination with the Camry and Civic. I've never seen so many posts covering and promoting these two models. I wish all new introductions got the same preferential coverage.

Just love the plood, silver colored plastic, and digital clock from the 80's.

Yeah...we really don't need to argue Malibu not being included, I don't think it's doing a discredit to most Camry shoppers. Especially since only one person complained about it in the comments, and I don't think that person would consider a Camry.

As for how we cover the best-selling cars in the country extensively, that's our job. This came up before and it turns out we did the same thing for the MALIBU when it debuted in its current generation.

Readers also have to understand both Toyota and Honda often hold off on introducing a new model until journalists have driven it for reviews. So you get all the information at once. While most automakers debut models at an auto show and then it goes on sale and is reviewed significantly later. That's why it seems like we're covering these more extensively. But if you follow our auto show coverage you know we focus on every automaker equally.

Stop wasting digital ink AR

I would complain too if I were as nitpicky as someone especially since you conveniently chose to include another brand not that did not qualify by the sales figures. Forgetting the Malibu, explain the omission of the new Passat. It's brand new and worthy of a comparison.

Passat would definitely be good and would work in one of our future posts. Great idea.



I read the post, it didn't explain why sonata was included and not malibu. Sonata may be up and coming but its failed to surpass malibu in sales in recent months. The reality is several of these models are very close in sales this year and the malibu was the only top 5 player excluded. As for price comparo, there isn't much point in comparing brand new camry to older models being sold with notable incentives based soley on msrp forr obvious reasons.



I think I understand what you're trying to say about the malibu but when you consider the facts it reveals how your views of these brands colors the info presented. You infer that malibu is worthy of exclusion because its old and presumably uncompetitive with the great camry. Malibu debuted as 08 model, altima as '07, accord as 08. Point being three of the cars mentioned in this post are over 4 years old. Why is the malibu singled out to be dismissed as a nonfactor? Especially when its been the #1 or #2 midsize sedan over last few months and has outsold sonata. Double standards. The altima is just as dated and has nearly the same disadvantages in terms of mileage and features.

I was being sarcastic for the most part in the Malibu part of the response. Regardless, we have so many resources and there are four more we could have added at least. We just have to cap it and move on. I think it takes very little if anything away from the rest of the post. Luckily we do these posts regularly and there's a chance the new Malibu will be added next when they announce pricing.

Tom V.

I can't imagine going through life being as sensitive and insecure as sheth is. What a shame, how sad.
The facts are the Camry is the most American made car today and it's also the most preferred family car by the majority of Americans. Toyota has become to Americans what GM never could. A popular quality company that you can trust.
Our family dumped GM years ago for Subaru's and Toyota's and have never looked back.

Stop wasting digital ink AR

Tom, what are you for making a statement like that?

Matt C.


I'm right with you. Outside of the heavy duty trucks, my confidence even in Ford is even wavering. After test driving nearly every midsize car and small SUV, we went Subaru. I wanted to get a Ford so badly, but the Escape was complete crap and the Fusion was just meh.

Matt C.

Sorry for my English in the previous post. Delete one of those 'evens'.



I feel bad for closed minded people like yourself that won't consider half the cars on the market based solely on where their hq is located. Everything changes over time. 30 years ago the japanese only made compacts but now they make great minivans, pickups, suvs and large cars. In that same time frame that they have transformed, american cars have done the same. What was true a decade or two ago isn't applicable now. You're stuck in the past.

Brian Greenberg

The Japanese have been making better cars than General Motors and Chrysler for the past thirty plus years. The only thing that has changed is now the Koreans and Ford are also making better cars than GM and Chrysler.



Actually ins 2010 detroit gained share for first time since the 90s. They are doing it again this year. Based on your blanket statement about gm and chrysler making poor vehciles I can only surmise you are biased, closed minded and poorly informed. Get some exposure by reading up on recent american cars and then you can make credible comments.

Brian Greenberg

General China Motors lacks the capability to make a car as good as the Toyota Camry. Even after a major earthquake and Tsunami the Toyota Camry is still #1. It's no wonder it's America's #1 car in both sales and content.

Stop wasting digital ink AR


What are you trying to compensate for?

Brian Greenberg

*YAWN* Meh


You seriously think that Chrysler is a reliable and just as capable company as the likes of Toyota?

Jeep Liberty: Engine failure due to valve seats loosening and causing the rockers to fall off. Replacement heads through Chrysler are on national back order. Less than 100,000 miles.

Dodge Dakota: Almost identical problem. Cylinder heads on national back order with no release date from Chrysler. Less than 80,000 miles.

Chrysler Pacifica: Needs a muffler and tail pipe assembly, the original component rusted away. On order through Chrysler, on national back order with no release date. Less than 80,000 miles. (Order placed in April. APRIL!)

Chrysler PT Cruiser: Other than it being a PT Cruiser, fog lights will not illuminate due to failure in headlamp switch. Headlamp switch on national back order with no release date. The last one took me 3 months to acquire. All factory lights MUST work in order to pass annual inspection in my state. Less than 90,000 miles.

This is what has come in my shop within the past year and that I can think of just off the top of my head. Low miles, ridiculous failures and no parts availability. No excuses.

The Beemer

That is one plain jane vanilla car for all the plain janes out there.



Just bought the 2012 Camry SE 2.5 after months of looking at all the changes/competition under a microscope! 10 air bags, almost 40 mpg @ 65-70mph, precision engine/drivetrain, bank vault quiet and more upscale! You can get a base SE with pwr seat for $22k now @ 1.9%! Best resale, most reliable and yes a little plain jane due to aero focus (40 mpg is achievable FYI) The gap is narrowing, lots of good looking cars but none as reliable/refined! Don't trust direct injection, turbos, CVTs other than toyota direct/gear drive! Picky Engineer that hasn't bought new cars (since late 80s) until this one! Perfect commuter car for my wife and a little sporty/company car for me when needed! Thank you Totota production systems-you've changed the world for the better! Most American car too! (participative management)

Hmmmm...liking the sat-nav layout and the cup holders, that's about it...LOL


I purchased a 2011 Chevy equinox after talking to the salesman and reading their specs. I was very disappointed in the MPG which was the reason I traded in my 2008 Acura RDX. Really disappointed in how Chevy can outright lie about their milage...quoted as 32 mpg, I realize that's optimum , I could have lived with 27 - 28 but the best I could consistently get was about 24 - 25 and that's driving an average of 600 highway miles round trip. I traded it in for a 2012 Camry Hybrid and haven't looked back, in fact we also have a 2011 Prius . At least Toyota's specs. were closer to the truth.

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