2012 Toyota Camry Combines Absolute Charm with Ultimate Performance

August 26, 2011, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Been at the wheel of a Camry at least once? If you have, you will know why the beauty comes across as a sweetheart from the house of Toyota. The Camry has been America’s best-selling car for the past nine years running and 13 of the past 14 years. That sums up the charm the vehicle exudes. Adding more to that, Toyota has just pushed out of their stables an all-new seventh generation Camry.

Ultimately bold and sporting a sophisticated new design that promises maximum comfort, improved driving dynamics, fuel efficiency, class leading safety and multimedia technology, the all-new 2012 Camry is one vehicle we would love to take out for a spin.

Offered in three powertrain choices that provide better fuel economy and more responsive performance, the new Camry models will boast a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine offering 178 horsepower. That’s a hike of nine hp – to be precise.

Further, the models will return 170 lb.-ft. of peak torque and has EPA-estimated fuel economy figures of 25 mpg city/35 highway. The 2.5-liter engine comes spruced up with Dual VVT-i (Dual Variable Valve Timing-intelligent) so as to ensure optimal performance and efficiency at all engine speeds. Meanwhile, the Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS) helps optimize torque over a broad engine speed range.

The SE and XLE grades Camrys will sport a DOHC 3.5-liter V6 so as to deliver 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,700 rpm.

Fuel economy aspects receive a boost with the enhancements incorporated to projected EPA-estimated ratings of 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway. Now, that may be termed the best for any current V6 midsize sedan made till date.  Efficiency gets a boost with the V6 sporting a new, lower oil viscosity and an automatic transmission fluid warmer.

Meanwhile, the gas-engine LE, XLE and SE models have been equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission offering a sequential manual shift mode using the console shifter.

You will notice that the Camry SE offers a D range sequential shifting, permitting manual shifting with the new steering wheel paddle shifters even when the console shifter is in the D mode. Further, the automatic transmission brings in faster shift times when in S mode and downshift blipping control emphasizes a sense of sportiness. (More product specs and info are available here)

Besides these variants, the new Camry is offered in the form of mid-size Hybrid Sedans too. What’s noteworthy is the fact that it sports a tweaked version of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain. This includes  a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.

Toyota has said that the Hybrid Synergy Drive system would combine output from the four-cylinder engine with a small high-torque electric motor, and produces a combined 200 horsepower.

Talking of the 2012 Camry Hybrid LE, the variant boasts EPA-estimated 43 mpg city/39 mpg highway/41 mpg combined, and returns more-than-30 percent fuel economy boost.

The Atkinson cycle is deployed in the case of the new 2.5-liter engine that delays intake-valve closing for an expansion ratio greater than compression ratio so as to ensure maximum efficiency.

Significant is the fact that the 2012 Camry Hybrid adheres to the Advanced Technology Partial-credit Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) standards. ((More hybrid product specs and info are available here)

The novelty in the model could be the EV Drive mode that lets the car operate on the electric motor alone for up to 1.6 miles at lower speeds – below approximately 25 mph.

You will have before you six different model grades of the all-new Camry and Camry Hybrid vehicles to choose from.  Toyota is offering the new Camry in the form of the entry-level L, value-driven LE, premium XLE and sporty SE grades. The XLE and SE are available with four-cylinder or V6 engines. The Camry Hybrid is offered in LE and XLE grades.

The design, as we mentioned, is bold and sophisticated with precise character lines. A strongly curved door cross-section, more defined rocker panel molding with chrome accents on LE and XLE, and dynamic shaped headlamps add to the charm.

The Camry LE and XLE specifically have been given additional exterior chrome trim, while the SE grade comes with a lower-body design and exclusive fine-mesh upper grille section. The SE will also boast three-part lower grille section housing fog lamps, along with black sport trim headlamp bezels.

The interior has a new dashboard design, tweaked seat locations, redesigned seats, lean door, pillar and headliner trim and a standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel that aid enhanced visibility and driver positioning.

The Camry LE and XLE grades catch our attention for the ivory/gray seating hues and unique upholstery in black-on-black or black-on-gray. The front-seat frames are redesigned, while the height adjustment on the driver’s seat offers nearly a half inch greater range than earlier models.

Enhanced connectivity aspects have been thrown in too.

A Bluetooth wireless connection for compatible hands-free phone calls comes as standard and this time around it gets an automatic phone book transfer function. The USB port allows playing of music and video from portable audio devices, and also aids full iPod integration.

Look for some exciting hues that will wrap the models. Four new colors are offered, with two of them – Attitude Black Metallic and Clearwater Blue – come for the first time to Toyota fans in the US.

Tell us which one you plan to own.

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