The seventh generation of the Toyota Camry has hit the American shores, and brings with it a look of aggressiveness that is becoming more and more common among the average consumer rides. While the Camry has not changed in such a way to become unrecognizable, maintaining its common look and size, the new lines bring an updated styling to the ever-reliable Toyota full size that not only conveys sportiness, but the look of a fun family car.
More than a facelift from the previous generations, the new look has strong, aggressive lines throughout the body, paint-matched lower body panels, and some beautiful colors, all in an attempt to appeal to the younger family looking for a reliable, fun family car. The SE V-6 comes with a tuned suspension, halogen headlamps, 18in wheels, and paddle shift, with options to upgrade to navigation, heated seats, and parking assist.
The interior in the 2012 Camry is also updated, bringing in new textures and looks to the dash and seats, carrying in the strong lines from the exterior to complete the full look. The seats are wrapped with wonderfully comfortable SofTex synthetic leather, and the dash has plenty of nooks and crannies for storage that are almost necessary with every family sedan on the road.
But this sporty look is all a façade, the proverbial sheep in wolf’s clothing of sorts. The 2012 Camry is not sporty in the ride, even with the 3.5 liter 268 horsepower V-6 under the hood and upgraded brakes, it is lacking in not only the handling quality but the actual sensation of driving a sporty car. Compared to the equally priced and equipped Hyundai Sonata, the Camry misses the point of being sporty and aggressive completely.
The interior does not help this image. As mentioned, the dash has the look of real leather, but is merely plastic textured to be similar, with stitching on the edges to increase the visual value. The center dash is covered in buttons of all sizes for options of all sorts, from apps to radio to speaker setup, power, driver assists, with many making no sense as to the placement in relation to the driver’s hand positions. And the steering wheel is simply molded and textured to look like leather wrapped, with fake stitching and all.
And the cream of the crop is the multimedia system built in. Feeling as if its belongs in an older model Camry, the whole setup is chaotic at best, with a low resolutions screen that can barely be read in sunlight, and apps built in that actually distract the driver from, well, driving. Do we as the consumer really need to connect our phones to our cars to surf Bing, or check sports scores, or even stock, through our car? And just getting to navigation screen is the matter of actually clicking the ‘Apps’ button, then clicking ‘Navigation.’ It is one of the worst, most distracting systems that Toyota could have put in a car.
The all new Camry is not a bad ride, nor does it miss its market as being a family car. In that sense, it’s amazing, with a smooth ride over the bumpiest of roads and providing enough amenities to fit a family of 5 comfortably. The road noise is a little bit high, and steering is a little dull, but when it comes to having a family car that will work for years to come, it fits the bill. The front gauges are fairly basic and easy to read, with most the information being delivered through analog needles and gauges.
But as an aggressive sports sedan, it’s a complete disappointment. From the fake interior to the aggressive lines, it is an analog car in a digital world. The ride is not exciting, not even on the curviest of roads, and there seems to be a strong disconnect between the driver and the road itself.
Honestly, the Camry has always been a safe bet for a nice, reliable family sedan, but the 2012 model will leave a consumer wanting more. And while some might argue that it needs to change with the times, a ride should never leave the factory feeling incomplete or cheapened as this car did. Toyota would do best to look at the 6th generation Camry again and bring back many of those safe, comfortable elements that the consumer fell in love with, and work towards building on that image than trying to make the Camry something it will never be.