3/4 Front Glamour 2012 Toyota Camry

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Expert's Rating

4.9Excellent

MPG 24 City / 34 Highway
Pros
  • Excellent reliability history
  • Exceptional safety features
  • Quiet interior at any speed
  • Refined engine makes smooth power
Cons
  • Rear seats don't fold flat
, Automotive Editor -
The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in this country for 14 of the last 15 years, and is on track to top the charts in 2012. Last year alone, more than 300,000 were sold, with many of those going to people who previously owned at least one Camry. Americans come back to the Camry over and over because it's a quiet machine for transporting people safely and comfortably, and one that has a relatively spotless history for reliability - many drivers get well over 200,000 miles out of these vehicles. The 2012 redesign aimed to add more sportiness on SE trim and luxury on XLE. But no matter which Camry you choose, this is a capable midsize sedan that hits all of the points that a family vehicle is supposed to hit, and even tries to add some excitement or luxury on upper trim levels.

Introduction

All Camrys get a six-speed automatic – for the first time, no manual is available. The standard engine is the 2.5-liter 178-horsepower four-cylinder, but an optional 3.5-liter V6 with 268 horsepower is available on SE and XLE trims. The V6 gets up to 30 MPG highway, the four a very competitive 35 MPG. Power windows and mirrors are standard, along with a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth and USB input. LE adds automatic headlamps and power door locks with remote keyless entry, as well Bluetooth. SE tries to please shoppers looking at sportier sedans. It comes with stiffer suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights and more aggressive seats. XLE gets leather seats, a power driver's seat, power sunroof and Toyota's Entune infotainment system. A navigation system is also optional on SE and XLE.

The Nissan Altima is similarly quiet and will do up to 38 MPG highway with its four-cylinder. But the design is just as conservative as the Camry's. The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu offers a hybrid-electric Eco trim, as well as a turbocharged four-cylinder, but is smaller overall. The Hyundai Sonata is just as fuel efficient but has a more stylish exterior and interior, but the sleek roof cuts into headroom. The Volkswagen Passat offers both a manual transmission and a fuel-efficient TDI clean diesel engine, along with a vast rear seat and trunk. But the Passat's gas engines are not as fuel efficient and VW doesn't have Toyota's reliability reputation.

None of the competition can match the Camry's sales record and few can approach its record for worry-free ownership. Shoppers return over and over for the Toyota's dependability and cosseting ride and noise qualities that make the Camry one of the best picks for a midsize family sedan – provided an enthusiastic driving experience isn't a priority. But it offers buyers a quiet experience with lots of space and a fuel-efficient range of engines. In all, it represents one of the most pragmatic buys in the segment and presents no reason why it shouldn't continue as the country's best-selling car, or prevent loyal customers from returning to Toyota over and over.

Which Style To Buy?

2012 Toyota Camry
Starting price
$10,995

2012 Toyota Camry L

Recommended for: For shoppers looking for an inexpensive, but competent, midsize sedan

The Camry L offers a simple way to get all of the space of a Camry and most of the desirable features for a low price. Available only with the four-cylinder, the L includes power windows and mirrors, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 16-inch wheels, Bluetooth and a six-speaker audio system with both AUX and USB inputs.

2012 Toyota Camry
Starting price
$10,995

2012 Toyota Camry LE

Recommended for: For shoppers looking for some more class in the midsize sedan segment

The LE adds to the L's essential features with a bit more refinement. All Camry LEs have the four-cylinder engine like the L, but also get automatic headlamps, power locks with remote keyless entry, Bluetooth streaming audio and a touchscreen interface for the audio controls. Optional is an 8-way power driver's seat an a power sunroof, leaving enough options to personalize the Camry the majority of buyers choose.

2012 Toyota Camry
Starting price
$10,995

2012 Toyota Camry SE

Recommended for: For buyers looking for the sportiest Camry

The SE adds a dose of sportiness to the sensibilities of the standard Camry. It gets special 17-inch alloy wheels with a sport-tuned suspension for added grip and sportier ride and handling. V6 models add 18-inch wheels, as well as an 8-way power driver's seat and keyless entry and start, both are optional on four-cylinder SEs. Toyota's Entune system with navigation is optional, as is a power sunroof, leather seats and a Convenience Package with backup camera, Homelink, alarm and auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass.

2012 Toyota Camry
Starting price
$10,995

2012 Toyota Camry XLE

Recommended for: For midsize sedan buyers looking for Lexus-like luxury

The XLE is the most refined and opulent Camry, available with features that rival those offered by premium brands. Standard equipment includes heated outside mirrors, foglights, 8-way power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, the Entune system and a power sunroof. V6 models add leather seats, power front passenger's seat and heated front seats, backup camera, keyless entry and start and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Those features are all optional on the four-cylinder. Other options include navigation, blind-spot warning and Toyota's Safety Connect system, a JBL audio system and a larger hard drive for the navigation system on V6 cars.

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