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By Tony West and Jamar Lee
Toyota’s 2012 Camry XLE gives a great first impression; looks good, leather options, power this and that and digital here and there, though something feels different about the 2013 model against earlier Camry models.
The Camry was always known for being the swank conservative Toyota. 20 years ago, the body was longer and less contoured. The 1991 model my Dad owned resembled the Lexus LS. The 2012-2013 body style is shorter and the hood is more rounded. It now resembles the Honda Civic, or a Nissan Maxima. Historically the Camry rivaled cars more expensive because of its endurance, its conservative style, and unpretentious “fancy” interior. Where Camry once led their competitors, their design now seems to strive to catch up with Lexus, Cadillac, Hyundai, and even Ford.
The Camry’s interior is still very nice, especially the leather two-toned options. There’s also a 6-speaker surround sound system, and Smart-car technology utilizing navigation, Bluetooth, Pandora, and the backup camera all on a 6” touch screen. The 2012 Camry also has a wood grain accents, climate control, and 10 air bags in the cabin.
As expected, the Camry XLE is a smooth easy ride, with the gas mileage at 25 mpg city and 35mpg highway. The 4 cylinder engine is easy with maintenance. Although Camry XLE handled very sturdy at hard turns, the ABS system is conservative (to put it lightly). One issue I had with driving the 2012 Camry XLE was that the suspension felt cheaper. I and my passenger would feel every bump we rode over. In metro Chicago, some neighborhoods have blocks with speed humps on their streets. In the Camry, I felt the speed humps in my appendix. Other than that, the Camry XLE accelerated very well and proved a pretty exciting ride at over 100mph. And the disc brakes stop the car much better than brake drums.
In terms of comfort the Camry hits it out of the park both for the driver and the passengers. Where some cars give most of the luxury to the driver, the new Camry is about maximum comfort for all passengers. The backseat of the 2012 Camry is roomier than the Lexus GS 350. I like for everyone in my car to be comfortable but I’m the king of my whip so I prefer the driver to have some custom accouterments. Toyota should’ve surveyed the Alert System feature before including such a anal version. The 2012 Camry alerted me everything, which became distracting.
For $29,500 you could get the super safe efficient, sorta luxury-digital Toyota Camry and have minimal maintenance and upkeep. For the same price you could purchase a Honda Accord, a Buick Verano, Chevy Malibu, Hyundai Sonata or the Nissan Altima. Whether you’d be most satisfied with the 2012 Camry depends on how important efficiency is to you these days. That’s where the 2013 Toyota Camry has them all beat.