America's best-selling car for 13 of the last 14 years has been finely tweaked for 2012. But don't expect a major transformation for the Toyota Camry, which has been on sale since 1983.
With more than 15 million units sold worldwide, the sedan continues to be a solid and dependable ride seating five people in comfort and safety.
The midsize car is offered as a base L, volume LE, sporty SE and top-of-the-line XLE. The L and LE are equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 178 horsepower (up by 9) @ 6000 rpm; the SE and XLE doles out 268 horsepower @ 6200 rpm. Toyota has retained the smooth-shifting 6-speed auto gearbox.
However, the independent front MacPherson strut and the rear dual link suspension have been retuned for soaking up potholes and rough surfaces. New for 2012 and providing superb on-center feel to the driver is an Electric Power Steering system, which nixes pumps and hoses for significant fuel savings.
Also a welcome addition is a front-passenger airbag and rear-seat side airbags, making for a total of 10 standard airbags. With four-wheel antilock brakes, stability and traction control and brake-override technology, you couldn't ask for better reassurance all around.
Gas savings are respectable with the 4 cylinder boasting 25 city/35 highway/28 combined fuel figures while the 6 cylinder ekes 21/30/25. Base-priced at $21,955, the SE Camry is available for $23,000 and the XLE peaks at $29,845. We expect the SE, our favorite with its muscular stance and affordable value, to be an easy sell.
The Japanese carmaker hasn't made drastic changes to its bread-and-butter car. But the Camry gets a report card with high marks, thanks to ample power, substantial passenger and cargo capacity, decent fuel economy and a fair price. Indeed, this car screams, "Toyota is back."
CAMRY SE (4-cylinder)
Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
Length: 189.2 inches
Weight: 3,240 pounds
Fuel capacity: 17 gallons