2012 Toyota Camry: Quieter, more upscale and easier on gasolineTue, 23 Aug 2011 00:00:00 -0700
How best to describe the redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry? Here are the basics: The 2012 Camry has more horsepower yet gets better fuel economy; a repackaged interior is quieter, covered in expensive-looking materials and has more room for passengers, and it's all wrapped in restyled sheetmetal that won't make an enthusiast's heart flutter but won't offend the average car buyer, either.
The new Camry--the brand's flagship that has been the top-selling car in the United States for the past nine years--is also a prime opportunity for Toyota to prove to car buyers that it has put the controversy over claims of unintended acceleration and recalls behind it.
The 2012 Toyota Camry is a testament to refinement, not revolution. The car's exterior dimensions--overall length and width and wheelbase--practically mirror those of the 2011 model.
Under the hood, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the 3.5-liter V6 are carryover engines but with subtle changes designed to boost fuel economy. The four-cylinder is rated at 178 hp, up 9 hp from the 2011 Camry, while the V6 is rated at 268 hp, unchanged from the previous model. Both engines use variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust. Also, both are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that was engineered for fuel economy with an expanded range of torque-converter lockup and higher final-drive gear ratios.
The 2012 Camry gets the latest generation of Toyota's electric power steering, which reduces the load on the engine to help save fuel.
The new 2012 Camry hybrid gets an overhauled version of Toyota's gas-electric powertrain and now uses a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with water-cooled exhaust gas recirculation to cut emissions. The nickel-metal-hydride battery pack was made smaller by moving the DC-to-DC converter to the engine compartment, creating more trunk space. An EV drive mode lets the Camry hybrid travel on battery power alone for up to 1.6 miles at speeds of 25 mph or less.
Toyota's engineers stiffened the Camry's body, using more high-strength and ultrahigh-strength steel for rigidity while keeping overall weight in check. The cowl area was stiffened to reduce body flex induced by the front suspension. The 2012 Camry SE gets specific upgrades such as solid antisway bars front and rear, different front and rear springs and lighter lower front control arms for a sportier feel.
Inside, the goal was to make the interior roomier without increasing the car's dimensions. The car's A-pillars are thinner to improve outward sightlines. Interior trim was made to more closely hug the contours of the doors and the body. The mounting points of the front seats were moved forward, the backs of the front seats were sculpted to create more knee room and the hip point of the rear seat was moved backward to create more space for passengers.
At the same time, the new 2012 Camry is styled for a more expensive look. The top of the instrument panel is embellished with top stitching, a theme picked up on the seats and trim panels. Soft-touch trim is used on the doors, armrests and center console.
Engineers also called for more sound-deadening material throughout the cabin and in the trunk above the wheel wells to reduce road noise. Higher-trim 2012 Camry models also get noise-deadening windshield glass.
Bluetooth and a USB port are standard equipment. All Camry models but the base L trim level get a standard audio system that includes a six-inch screen. The optional navigation unit includes Toyota's Entune system, which uses a cellular telephone to bring infotainment options such as Pandora streaming radio into the car.
By Dale Jewett