Road Test: 7th generation Toyota Camry

Prices for the 2012 Toyota Camry start at

Prices for the 2012 Toyota Camry start at $22,055. (Credit: AP)

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Toyota has redesigned its bestselling Camry midsize sedan, giving it a new exterior, upgraded interior materials, increased passenger space, more-responsive handling, better fuel efficiency and a quieter ride.

Representing the seventh generation of the Camry, this one also gets Toyota's new Entune multimedia system, and both USB and Bluetooth connections are standard.

The interior is impressively roomy, thanks to some shifting and reworking of space. For example, the front seat rails and the accelerator pedal have been moved slightly forward.

Camry prices start at $22,055, with various packages available for each of six trim levels. My tester was a Camry SE V-6 sedan, with a base price a few hundred dollars less than the comparable 2011 model.

It came with a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter engine, connected to a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, which is designed to respond to each particular operator's driving style. It has paddle shifters on the steering wheel for those who want to decide when it should shift.

The V-6 had plenty of punch for my everyday commute. I'd be happy with the more-fuel-efficient base four-cylinder engine. Acceleration was smooth, and handling in turns and curves was confident and effortless with sport-tuned electric power steering and suspension.

Inside, the ride was very quiet, thanks in part to an acoustic windshield and application of sound-deadening material throughout the cabin.

Included on the Camry is Toyota's Star Safety System, which includes electronic stability control with traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, and Smart Stop, which overrides the accelerator when the brakes are applied -- even if the accelerator pedal is fully depressed.

The V-6 is EPA rated at 21 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway, and the car has a 17-gallon tank; unleaded regular is acceptable. According to the dash driver-information system, I achieved a little more than 27 mpg, mostly on the not-so-open highway between home and work.

The Camry isn't a sports car, but the mesh grille, integrated front and rear underbody spoilers and rear spoiler, and chrome-tipped dual exhaust outlets, along with the 18-inch painted-alloy wheels with five sculpted spokes give it a sporty edge.


Base price: $22,055

Price as tested: $30,375

EPA fuel economy: 25 mpg city, 35 mph highway

Engine: 2.5-liter, four cylinder

Power: 178 horsepower at 6,000 rpm

Length: 189.2 inches

Height: 57.9 inches

Cargo capacity: 15.4 cubic feet

Wheelbase: 109.3 inches

Bottom line: Redesigned, roomy, responsive

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