The Camry is a seriously important car for Toyota. The company has sold 15 million copies of the Camry in over 100 counties since 1983, and 9.7 million of those wound up in the garages of American drivers. It should come as no surprise, then, that Toyota pulled out all the stops for a live webcast to unveil the 2012 Toyota Camry: dancers, streamers, confetti, and even an appearance from Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda.
The new 2012 Camry goes on sale this fall, and Toyota claims that 90 percent of its parts are new for this model year. The car wears an evolution of the 2011 car’s styling, with somewhat flatter surfaces and a restyled grille. Although its exterior dimensions have barely changed, Toyota says the new Camry has a larger, more comfortable interior than the outgoing model. The head- and taillights are new, each with a more curved design and wrapping slightly onto the adjacent body panels. Four new paint colors join the Camry order sheet — hooray! The taillights have special air deflectors to help make the car marginally more aerodynamic.
There will three engine choices, starting with a 2.5-liter inline-four that produces 178 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and is expected to return 25/35 mpg (city/highway) — up from 22/32 mpg in 2011. The optional 3.5-liter V-6 engine is rated at 268 hp and 248 lb-ft, and is expected to receive EPA ratings of 21/30 mpg, an improvement versus ratings of 20/29 mpg last year.
The new Camry hybrid, which now mates a 2.5-liter inline-four engine to an electric motor, should receive ratings of 43/39 mpg (city/highway). The 2011 Camry hybrid was rated at 31/35 mpg. The hybrid model is now offered in both LE and XLE trim levels. It can travel up to 1.6 miles at speeds up to 25 mph on electrical power alone.
A stiffer body shell, redesigned front and rear suspension, and improved aerodynamics are all said to make the 2012 Camry better to drive. Toyota says it is more stable at speed and has better steering response than past Camrys. In addition, the changes are meant to improve the car’s ride.
The car’s interior has been made more spacious by carefully moving and reshaping interior components. Doing so has also apparently improved visibility and sightlines; rear leg- and knee room is improved over the 2011 Camry. The upgrades make the Camry’s interior quieter, thanks to improved sound-deadening materials, noise-blocking windshield glass, and even absorbent foam in the car’s roof.
Toyota promises the Camry will offer plenty of equipment, including 10 standard airbags, standard Bluetooth and USB connectivity, plus an available blind-spot detection system and Toyota’s Entune connectivity system (which can access Pandora Internet radio, the Bing search engine, and more).
Toyota will slash prices on all trims of the 2012 Camry: the LE will be $200 cheaper than in 2011, the SE $1000 cheaper, and the XLE is to be $2000 cheaper than last year. The hybrid LE will be $1150 cheaper than the current Camry hybrid, while the hybrid XLE will be $800 cheaper.
The 2012 Camry L starts at $22,715 (including a $760 destination charge), and the LE is $23,620. The Camry SE starts at $23,760 with the four-cylinder engine or $27,400 with the V-6. The top-spec XLE costs $25,485 with the four-cylinder and $30,605 with the V-6. The 2012 Camry Hybrid requires $26,660 in LE trim and $28,160 in XLE trim.
“We expect Camry will continue to earn its position as America’s best-selling car,” said Toyota group vice president Bob Carter. “It’s the smart, safety-conscious, and worry-free leader of the Toyota brand.”
Look for a big marketing push after the 2012 Camry goes on sale this October. It will also feature “prominently” in advertisements during the Super Bowl in February 2012.