Car reviewed is based on Australian Specified model and may differ to that available in your country of residence.
The Camry is a car that is synonymous with the three most important things in A to B transportation – Safe, Reliable and Cheap. It does everything that a car should brilliantly. It’s comfortable, it’s quiet, it’s economical and it’s reliable enough that you can drive it around the world three times and yet the engine still refuses to give up.
However, the Camry has no soul. It is not very exciting to drive and in white colour, looks like a large fridge on wheels. So if you are a car enthusiast I suggest you go back and read some of our other articles on the site. But, not everyone wants a car that can do 0-100km/h in 4 seconds or take corners like it’s on rails. And now there is a new model, the 2012 Toyota Camry. So why not we take a look at how the new car performs, as nothing else but a car?
The model in this review is the Camry Altise.
Let’s first kick things off with the design. The new Camry has been sharpen with a more edgy and muscular design. The design of the new front bumper is heavily influenced by the one found on the Toyota GT86 sports coupe. It also has a higher and more angular rear end with bolder shoulder lines. Overall the new Camry’s design is sportier but nothing fancy or exciting.
Designed as a large family sedan, the Camry is no doubt a very comfortable long distance cruiser. The seats are comfortable but could do with more lumbar support. You will find most of the creature comforts that you expect from a modern passenger car in the Camry. Cabin noise has been reduced largely thanks to better aerodynamics. However, compared to the old model the new Camry is a tiny bit bumpier due to stiffer suspensions. This is not all bad news as I shall explain later in the Handling section. Annoyingly, I feel the steering wheel is slightly off centred, which takes a bit of getting used to.
The four-cylinder 2.4-litre in the old model has been replaced by a slightly larger, more powerful 2.5-litre four cylinder petrol engine producing 133kW (178hp) of power, compared to old engine’s 117kW (157hp). It features a more advanced version of Toyota’s dual VVTi technology. However I think direct-injection would have been better.
Also gone is the 5-speed automatic transmission of the old car to make way for a new 6-speed automatic. The new gearbox is miles better than the old. By adding one extra ratio, it makes a world of difference in terms of acceleration and smoothness. The gear shifts are seamless and 0-100 km/h can now be accomplished in 9 seconds. Not bad for a large and heavy sedan. I like how well the new transmission works with the new 2.5-litre engine. Overall, the drive in the new Camry is a major improvement over the old car.
All previous Camry’s handled like a boat. Should we even talk about handling for the Camry? Well, actually not only we should, but we must. Because I was pleasantly surprised by the handling of the new Camry. With a slightly stiffer suspension, the new car goes round the bends with much more confidence compared to the old model. Don’t get me wrong, it is still no sports saloon and it still feels big and heavy, but push the Camry around corners, it feels more planted and more predictable. I still cannot believe I actually have something to write about the Camry’s handling this time around!
Quality is one of the Camry’s key strengths. Everything is properly put together, fit and finish is excellent. The car feels very solid.
The interior quality has also gone up a notch. The vinyl stitching on the new dashboard is something new and although it’s no leather, it does give the interior a more up-market feel. There is also a slight hint of Lexus in the overall interior design theme.
Fuel economy is excellent. After 3 weeks of combined freeway and urban driving, the Camry managed to return a remarkable 7.7l/100km average fuel consumption, despite having a larger displacement engine. It will also happily accept Ethanol E10 fuel. A rather interesting feature in the new car is the “Eco” indicator on the dash. It lights up when the car thinks that you are driving economically. This means no pedal to the metal, late shifting or inconsistent throttle control. At times I find myself unwilling to give it a bit more power going up a slope just so that I can keep the “Eco” light lit!
The new Camry Altise tested here comes standard with cruise control, bluetooth connectivity, power-windows all round, trip computer and CD/MP3 player.
Overall, the new Camry has made remarkable improvement over the old model. It not only retains all the qualities that made the Camry such a popular A to B car but also sport major improvements in areas such as handling and performance.
Price: From $30,490 to $41,490
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder, 133-135kW/231-235Nm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body: 4-door sedan
Safety: 5-star ANCAP
Dimensions: length 4815mm, width 1825mm, height 1470mm, wheelbase 2775mm