Road Trip Report: 2012 Toyota Camry

2012 toyota camry
The midsize-sedan class is one of the most competitive segments in the automotive marketplace, with Toyota's Camry and Honda's Accord fighting for the title of market leader. A new Camry for 2012 and an impending Accord for 2013 heat things up even further. Ford's new-for-2013 Fusion looks competitive, too.

Camry, though, has a little explaining to do. A 2010 refresh left critics complaining about cost-cutting measures like interior squeaks and rattles and a cabin draped in budget-grade plastics. For 2012, it was redesigned with fresh styling, new features and what appears to be a return to the level of quality that's kept it a midsize benchmark for years. After renting a 2011 Camry LE over New Year's, I was anxious to compare them, so I put a few hundred miles on our 2012 Camry test car to gauge its improvement.

Our test Camry was a four-cylinder XLE with a base price of $24,725. Convenience standards included keyless entry, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, dual-zone automatic climate controls, power front seats and a sunroof. A Leather Package (which, coupled with the Convenience Package, cost $2,845) added goodies like heated, leather-trimmed front seats, power front passenger seat, push-button start and a backup camera. The optional navigation system cost an extra $1,050 and included HD and satellite radio, text-to-speech functionality, a digital-media player connection with USB port and Bluetooth connectivity.

During my weekend drive, I got 25.4 mpg after driving 190 mostly highway miles, disappointing since the EPA rates the four-cylinder at 25/35 mpg city/highway. What didn't disappoint, however, was the four-cylinder. The Camry's 178-horsepower, 2.5-liter engine and six-speed automatic transmission proved more potent than expected. It was surprisingly peppy in stop- and-go traffic and more than adequate during passing and merging maneuvers on the highway.

The surprises carried over inside, too. I've always thought two-tone color schemes in a cabin go a long way toward sprucing things up, and the Camry definitely benefits from the Leather Package's sharp two-color seats. Even better though, is that much of the hard plastic and panel gaps that were tough to ignore in the previous-generation Camry have been replaced with a generous amount of soft-touch plastics and some handsome wood trim.

This XLE had a version of the previous-generation's navigation system — the entry-level unit with the smaller touch-screen. (The new, more advanced premium navigation system is available only on XLE V-6 Camrys.) Still, it was fairly intuitive to use, though it would often omit street names. Instead of telling me to turn on Manheim Road, it would say, "Turn right on … " I reached my destination OK, but the omissions were puzzling.

Less puzzling but more annoying was the placement of the Latch anchors in the backseat. My knuckles were casualties of its recessed brackets. I had to dig deep into the seatback to get the hooks to connect properly with the brackets while trying to install a rear-facing convertible car seat for my toddler. Ouch.

Despite the sometimes glitchy navigation system and my workout with the car seat, the Camry fit my family nicely. Its roomy, comfortable interior, composed ride and decent level of convenience equipment for the price make it a pleasant long-trip sedan.

Should Toyota feel threatened by the looming Accord? Of course, but at least the Camry’s interior is back up to the standards we expect from a midsize car leader.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 25, 2012 | Comments (12)

Comments 

JR

I think you should redo your run. Never seen a Toyota go way way below its EPA highway rating. Most of the time it is at least 1 mpg higher. The parking brake must have been engaged during your trip which led to that low mileage.

sheth

Accord was #4 in sales in 2011. Let's try and get the facts straight. Accord hasn't been close to #1 in years. The camry is the clear leader and now its a question of who will be #2 going forward. There are new cars from Nissan and Ford coming for 2013 as well- and both cars finished ahead of Accord last year.

sheth

JR:

Recently introduced cars that show 3-4 mpg jumps with little change in technology dont see to be living up to their EPA ratings. I am not surprised at all that this camry didnt get the EPA mileage. The car has a carryover powertrain but mpgs went up by 3- I don't buy it. The camry is now rated about the same as the corolla but the corolla is 400lbs lighter and has a smaller, weaker engine.

Amuro Ray

@ Jennifer,

During this road trip, were you the lone driver, were there additional cargos (luggages), and what was the fwy speed you were maintaining?

Those are some critical factors in evaluating EPA #s, and may explain the lower than expected figures you've observed.

Jennifer Geiger, Editor at Cars.com

@Ray
The "mostly highway miles" I mention was about 75% highway driving, with the remaining 25% stop-and-go city driving. The car also had myself and two passengers during the trip. As for average highway speed, it was probably around 65-ish. The conditions were also less than optimal: freezing temperatures and some snow.

Amuro Ray

Ah, that's explain why the mileage deviated from EPA rating significantly.

Fueleconomy.gov explains how they measure the ratings, and they definitely aren't the ones you were in.

Jennifer Geiger, Editor at Cars.com

We haven't heard too much about the new Altima, but Ford's 2013 Fusion looks very promising.

I drove the same Camry about 100 miles and also got 25 mpg in normal heavy commute traffic but that usually returns city mileage for me while open driving like this returns better. It's probably right on the nose.

Tony

I recently drove 2009 Camry fro 2 weeks. It was a disaster. Mostly, the way it drove.
A week ago I did spend 10 minutes in and around 2012. Have to say, this is some improvement. Besides 2 round HVAC dials that feel a little flimsy I could hardly spot any problems with the interior. Would need to drive one before comparing fully.

As far as /Altima/Camry/Accord/Fusion/Sonata... To me, Accord is the best out of this group. It is comfortable, with pep and drives nicely. Other cars have more problems than solutions. Only packaging of Accord is the issue.

Tony

Just wanted to add that in my opinion, Camry's exterior could be done better using same forms but different details. Drove behind white one - what a joke. In silver it looks better.

The protruded chin in the 2012 Camry sedan makes it look different. It did not quite go down well with many fans, on the other hand many appreciated it.

M

I recently took one of these on a road trip and while it's not exciting, it's comfortable, solid, and gets great gas mileage. We drove from St. Louis to Outer Banks, North Carolina. It was very pleasant and easy to drive. I can see why so many are sold. It's a great machine if you just want some no non-sense transportation. The bland styling didn't bother me because after all, it seems like there are so many on the road that you wouldn't stand out anyways.

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