2012 Toyota Camry Test Drive Review
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Toyota Camry Review

Car tested: 2012 Toyota Camry AT

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 30,05,754/-

The new Toyota Camry is a mini-Lexus in style and luxury, with splendid ride quality.

The D-segment has always been a favorite of the Japanese biggies. Whether its Honda or Toyota, both are known to sell good amounts of the Accord and Camry respectively. However they are not the leaders in India, because India is a diesel dominated market. Neither the Accord nor Camry are available in diesel and thus the Skoda Superb continues to dominate in this segment. In fact petrol powered D-segment cars have such poor demand, that Honda has delayed the next generation Accord and Hyundai is already working on a diesel version of the fluidic Sonata. All this hasn’t stopped Toyota from launching the latest generation Camry (XV50) in India although its powered by a petrol engine. Does the new Toyota Camry have anything special to make a strong case in the D-segment?

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Exteriors – The styling of the new Toyota Camry draws heavily from the last generation model. It does look bigger than the model it replaces but not by much. The dimensions are almost similar but Toyota says the complete car is re-engineered. The new Camry gets new sheet metals and Toyota claims to have used its experience in Formula 1 in developing this car, which results in is a more aerodynamic vehicle having a CD of 0.27, which is the least in the segment. The front and rear styling has been re-worked to make the Toyota Camry look sharper. For India, Toyota has given the Camry a generous dose of chrome (look closely below the doors and you will notice a chrome strip there too) to give it that premium feeling. The Japanese automaker calls the new design language on the Camry ‘rational tech-dynamism’. Overall the Toyota Camry looks like a mini-Lexus and has amazing road presence.

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Interiors – Step inside the cabin of the new Toyota Camry and you are greeted by very well appointed interiors. The cabin has a very Lexus feel to it and the quality is very good too. The two-tone dashboard is very functional and has wood inserts and the upper half of the dashboard has soft touch leather. While the dimensions of the Toyota Camry remain almost similar as the old model, interior room has improved marginally. The A-pillar is now thinner than before and the roof is flatter. This results in good amount of headroom for passengers at both the front and rear.

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The steering wheel is quite big for our liking but won’t be much of a bother as most owners are going to be sitting on the rear bench with the chauffeur driving. The steering wheel houses audio controls and telephone buttons and the cruise control stalk is placed on the right side of the steering. The center console has an analogue clock on the top, with the AC vents right below. There is a touchscreen DVD audio system (MP3, USB, Aux and Bluetooth compatible), which also displays vehicle information (average speed, fuel history, trip information etc). The Camry also features dual zone climate control. The gear lever mechanism is quite old school and the new Camry has a foot operated parking brake. There is a dead pedal which is big enough for the largest of shoes.

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The instrument cluster is called the Optitron Combimeter and is divided into three distinct areas. The left most is the tachometer, which has the gear indicator and outside temperature screen under it. At the center is a large speedometer with a multi-information display that showcases the cruising range, average consumption, etc. On the right most side is the fuel meter and analogue fuel efficiency meter for the Eco mode. The odo and trip meters are placed right below this in a small display. There are reverse parking sensors and headlight washers too. The automatic HID headlights are auto leveling.

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The front seats are 8-way power adjustable. However most owners will be sitting on the rear seat, something which the Toyota Camry is known for. The new Camry does offer excellent legroom and back support at the rear. However under thing support is a bit lacking for tall passengers. In order to boost rear leg room further, Toyota has neatly incorporated buttons on the side of the front seats to adjust them. Thus rear passengers can adjust the front seats from behind comfortably, without having to stretch even slightly. There are rear AC vents too, which are pushed forward and the floor is flat resulting in the Camry being a comfortable 5-seater. The front seat backs have scoops to boost legroom even further, even though with the front seats pushed all the way back, there is still plenty of legroom. A flap behind the rear seat armrest can be opened to access the boot, which is big enough for most. The rear doors open wide and big for easy ingress and egress.

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Performance – Dab the engine start button below the steering wheel on the right side and the highly refined 2.5-litre petrol engine come to life. This motor uses Dual VVT-i and produces 181 PS of peak power at 6000 RPM and 233 Nm of peak torque at 4100 RPM. This engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox and Toyota has no plans to bring in a manual or a diesel engined Camry anytime soon. The Camry’s engine is butter smooth and revvs very cleanly to its 6100 RPM redline.

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Don’t be fooled by the positioning of the Camry as a luxury automobile, the Camry does not lack even when it comes to performance. Stand on the accelerator pedal and the Camry will reach 100 km/hr in just a shade over 9 seconds. Although the cabin is well insulated from NVH (some amount of road noise does creep in at triple digit speeds), the Camry does growl a bit when you give it the beans. The gearing is spot on, which being on the taller side enables the Camry to do in 110 km/hr in second gear! There is no sports mode though and one can manually shift through the tiptronic mode. The petrol powered Camry is certified by ARAI to return a mileage of 12.98 km/l, but on our test, we never saw more than 6 km/l on the Camry’s MID although with a light foot and activated Eco mode, one can get 8 km/l in the city.

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Driving Dynamics – When it comes to dynamics, the new Toyota Camry did surprise us. Toyota has worked hard on ensuring the Camry offers decent handling and a splendid ride, along with good stability. The new Camry is more aerodynamic than before and even features underbody fins. High speed stability is good and handling is more predictable than before. However the large dimensions and weight do result in some amount of body roll. There is no ESP or TCS on the new Camry and when you become too ambitious and the Yokohama tyres start to screech but still grip adequately, we are rest assured though, that no chauffeur is going to drive it on the boil.

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The steering wheel is an EPS unit and is extremely light at city speeds and weighs up decently at high speeds. However it lacks the kind of accuracy you get from the German boys. The old Camry was known for the carpet ride and the new one is no different. Ride quality is splendid and the Camry gobbles up potholes with utmost authority. While Toyota has made the new Camry slightly stiffer (15% stiffer springs, 50% firmer shocks), they have maintained comfort levels of the vehicle. The new Camry offers a splendid balance of neutral handling and good ride quality, which is what most owners would like. Braking performance is excellent and the car sheds speeds quickly, offering very good pedal bite.

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Verdict – The new Toyota Camry is a step in the right direction. It keeps up to the promise of the Camry brand, by offering excellent space and ride quality, which is what most owners who buy the car would look for. However the pricing is on the higher side, considering equipment levels are low (no side airbags, ESP, TCS, sunroof, paddle shifts, etc). That said, the new Toyota Camry is difficult to beat when it comes to sheer comfort, which when factored with Toyota’s excellent service makes the Camry a strong vehicle in its segment. No wonder the Camry has already outsold its petrol rivals last month, with 85 units being sold!

The Toyota Camry continues to offer splendid comfort with good seats, roomy interiors and the magic carpet ride it’s known for. Strong performance and Toyota quality are the icing on the cake.

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Whats Cool

* Interior Room
* Engine Performance
* Ride Quality
* Toyota Badge

Whats Not So Cool

* Price
* Low Equipment Levels
* No Diesel Engine

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2012 Toyota Camry Specifications

* Engine: 2494 cc, 2AR-FE, 16 Valve DOHC Chain Drive, Dual VVT-i
* Power: 181 PS @ 6000 RPM
* Torque: 233 Nm @ 4100 RPM
* Transmission: 6-speed automatic
* Top Speed: 210 km/h
* 0-100 km/h: 9.12 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 5-6 km/l (City), 7-8 km/l (highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: MacPherson Struct with Stabilizer Bar (Front), Dual link with Stabilizer Bar (Rear)
* Tyres: 215/60/R16 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Solid Disc (Rear), ABS, EBD
* Safety: ABS, EBD, BA, Dual SRS Front Airbags, Immobilizer, Impact Sensing Fuel Cut Off

2012 Toyota Camry Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4825 mm x 1825 mm x 1480 mm
* Wheelbase: 2775 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1580 / 1570 mm
* Ground clearance: 160 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.7-meters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 70-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1475 kgs