October 29, 2012
Our long-term Camry has been busy running back and forth between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Yes, that's the Golden Gate bridge back there.
During the trip the Toyota proved once again that this is the best Camry since the mid-1990s. And it's a great road tripper. Comfortable. Quiet. And economical. But also interesting to drive. For a few generations, Camry's have been so boring you couldn't remember driving the sedan ten minutes after climbing from its driver's seat. Not anymore. Our Camry SE hs plenty of personality.
Our only issue during the drives were the occational miscue by its navigation system, which suggested a few questionable detours. After following the first two, we smartened up and ignored the rest.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 15,821 miles
September 20, 2012
We've gone on and on about the immensely satisfying charms offered by the seats found in our Camry (shown above). Of course, our Camry is an SE model, which means it's equipped with upgraded sport seats.
We had a Camry from one of the lesser trims (the LE) in our garage the other day, and I was curious to see how its seats compare with the lauded, legendary seats found in our SE.
July 23, 2012
Over the weekend I did another road trip with our Camry. It was pretty much the same route I did back in April when I compared the Camry to the Explorer, though this time round-trip. As I expected, the Camry was an appealing companion. A few thoughts on why follow.
Composed and quiet ride. The Camry's not the quietest sedan out there, but it's still pretty good. My wife and I could talk easily. Our kids slept in the backseat. Oh, and at one point, I had to perform some unexpected maneuvering due to a tire blowout from a semi-truck ahead of us. The Camry's not the sportiest out there, but the SE is composed enough, and certainly preferable (in this situation) to some of the other family haulers in our fleet, such as the Explorer.
Comfortable front seats. We've covered these before in various blog posts, but I'll still call it out. I could drive the Camry all day and still be comfortable.
Plenty of storage space. The cupholders are nicely sized, as are the door bins and center console bin. We never had a problem trying to find a place to put something.
Decent power and responsive transmission. Sure, it's just a four-cylinder, but I wasn't ever left wanting for power. Having the responsive transmission certainly helps, as it did driving over the I5's 4,000-foot Tejon Pass. (I haven't calculated fuel economy for the trip, but will do that later this week.)
The only things that I found to be negative were the dim-witted touchscreen interface and trunk space. Trunk space is certainly adequate, but because of the bracing at the front of the trunk (behind the rear seats) and the gooseneck trunklid hinges, it's not as optimized as I'd prefer.
Looking this over, it reaffirms to me what I summed up back in April. The Camry doesn't really excel in any particular area, but it doesn't drop below a B anywhere, either. And for me, that's pretty impressive.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 11,372 miles
June 20, 2012
Both Erin and Scott have singled out the Camry for its excellent seats and now it's my turn to jump on the bandwagon. After a two-hour stint behind the wheel yesterday I agree that these buckets offer excellent support and plenty of adjustability. They don't look half bad either, and in a Camry that's saying quite a bit.
I also noted that after nearly 10,000 miles, the interior still looks brand new. Not a big deal really, after all it's only been six months. Still, there are lots of shiny bits and stitched seams that I expect to show some wear eventually, so far they're holding up well.
Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 9,878 miles
May 11, 2012
Here's a realization I had this week: The 2012 Toyota Camry SE might be my second favorite car in our long-term fleet right now.
I'm putting an asterisk next to the Acura NSX, which I really like but don't find practical to drive every day. My No. 1 pick is, wait for it, the Mazda 3. Since I claim to enjoy driving, our 5.0 Ford Mustang and turbo Chevrolet Sonic really should follow in order behind it.
And on some days, they do. The Mustang is fast and sounds fantastic, and the Sonic is, well, like driving a mini GTI.
But both of these cars have a few annoying compromises (bad sightlines and silly instrumentation in the Mustang; dead throttle response in the Sonic to appease the EPA), and this week, I wanted to drive a car that's all about the packaging, all about the total experience. And that's the Camry.
There's nothing to obsess over when you drive this car. The ride is fine; the car feels buttoned down through faster entrance ramps. The cabin is not what I'd call serene, but it stays reasonably quiet. The steering is acceptably accurate, but too electric to offer much feedback. Brake pedal feel is fine. The controls are never confusing.
Seat comfort really is very good (with the optional UltraSuede upholstery), so I always do remember that, probably because I've never liked past Camry seats. And, OK, I fixate a bit on the audio system, because it's pretty weak and makes you want an upgrade even if you're just listening to NPR.
But other than that, I don't do a lot of extraneous thinking in the Camry. I just relax in its comfy seats and focus on driving, with news or the Dodgers in the background. I like my boring life.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 8,986 miles
May 09, 2012
My colleagues love the seats in our Camry. I like the surfaces, the bolsters and the heater, but the driver seat is too deep for me. The front edge bumps up against the back of my knees and calves, and I feel like a little kid who's been plopped in a chair that's just too big for her.
I'm 5' 4'', which is the average height for U.S. women. My legs are short, however, and I guess that's the problem. It's just a minor discomfort for a half-hour drive, but think it would bother me over a longer trek.
A 2007 Edmunds feature story talked about the difficulties carmakers face in pleasing everybody when it comes to seats:
"Thigh support is the peskiest aspect of cushions. 'If your thighs don't have enough contact with the cushion, you create a pressure point where you're actually sitting on your tailbone, and your weight isn't distributed,' explained [Michael] Sweers [general manager of engineering design for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America]. 'An hour or two along, you get "tailburn" a lower backache. Most people associate that with not having enough lumbar support, but it's really the pressure on your tailbone.'
"So seat designers can make cushions longer or wider, or make them electrically movable. But they also have to watch out that the calves of shorter drivers don't come into contact with the longer cushions "
That's me: a cushion contactee. Probably a misdemeanor in several states.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @8,327 miles.
May 02, 2012
Earlier this week, circumstances necessitated that I wade right into evening freeway gridlock at an ill-advised time of day and drive to an unfamiliar part of town (not pictured above since I ended up parking in front of a bail bonds agency; instead, enjoy the gloomy Pacific coastline as seen from this parking lot in La Jolla, California).
When it was my turn to choose a car, I knew I was taking the long-term 2012 Toyota Camry SE if it was still available. It was indeed.
Although I profile myself as a lover of compact hatchbacks, I really like the Camry as a commuter car, and this particular SE model is set up just right for me. The simulated suede/leather driver seat is really comfortable. I like having a factory navigation system (especially since this one costs a little less), and I don't mind using Entune to get traffic data and Pandora integration (when I want it) -- it's a bit of a process, yes, but now that I have everything set up on my iPhone, it's easy.
More substantively, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder provides good throttle response in traffic, and for the most part, the six-speed automatic shifts when and how I want it to -- I never really think, "hey, I'd like a manual in this car."
Ride quality is comfortable enough over the rain-grooved concrete slabs on the 405 freeway. And while steering feedback isn't so great, the ratio feels right for the car and the steering offers good precision in normal traffic.
Honestly, it's the overall experience that keeps me coming back to Camry. No one of these attributes is particularly special on its own, but they come together in our SE in a way that I really like.
This overall-ness stood out to a lot of us who participated in the recent 2012-'13 Midsize Sedan Comparison Test. No doubt, the Camry's a great package for commuters -- trouble is, the Hyundai Sonata offers darn near the same experience and, even when you adjust for equipment, it's cheaper. Of course, that doesn't mean I wouldn't buy the Camry if it was my own money.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 7,858 miles
April 19, 2012
If you don't have kids and child safety seats to schlep around, the Camry still works out fine. In fact, I think the Camry's got one of the more comfortable back seats in the midsize sedan class.
Now, everybody is going to be different, but for me, the Camry's rear seats are angled in such a way to give more thigh support and a more relaxed overall position than the norm. This helps out comfort during long drives. There's also enough legroom and headroom that most adults should fit just fine. Padding for the door armrests is also decent.
The lack of adjustable rear head restaints is the only issue that I see. They're properly positioned for me (5 foot 10 inches), but someone taller might want them to go higher.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
April 11, 2012
I've got a couple follow up thoughts about the Camry after yesterday's post. One, I'll agree with Erin -- the cabin is a bit noisy at freeway speeds. Not terrible, mind you, but certainly noticeable. There are quieter midsize sedans out there.
Then there's the ride quality. We've written a lot of positive posts so far about our SE's suspension tuning. And I'd agree that it's the ideal Camry setup for people who at least like to drive a little (likely, everybody reading this). But I can also picture many Camry buyers -- the multitudes who previously bought a Camry for the car's appliance-like personality -- being happier with the regular suspension tuning. The SE does let in a fair amount of road imperfections that those buyers might find objectionable.
In the end, though, it's nice that Toyota gives you a choice.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
April 10, 2012
I did a road trip over the weekend with my family. Actually, the one-way trips were split between two vehicles, the Explorer and the Camry. Those aren't two vehicles you would normally compare, but it was interesting to me nonetheless to notice the differences.
I was a little worried at first since I had the Explorer to start out. As I have two small children, there's no such thing as a small load for a road trip. After packing up, the Explorer's cargo area wasn't at capacity, but it was pretty close to being at my comfort level (not putting stuff higher than the top of the second-row seats). Would it all fit in the Camry?
March 20, 2012
Add my name to the list of editors that thinks our longterm 2012 Toyota Camry SE is, dynamically, a nice improvement over the outgoing model.
Now, I can't say for certain how much the SE trim level's suspension calibration is responsible, but I can say this: there's no reason not to spec every Camry suspension like this one. I can't imagine anyone objecting to the SE suspension calibration since it strikes the sweet spot between tautness and compliance without ever, ever feeling harsh.
The same base-vs-SE situation applies to the Sienna, come to think of it.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
March 16, 2012
Our long-term 2012 Toyota Camry passed the 5,000-mile mark this week, and we barely noticed as it happened in the midst of a five-car comparison test that saw us rack up hundreds of miles. The Camry SE is one of the five.
I drove our long-termer last night, and as in the past, it's the Camry's total package that impresses me -- the engine is, well, rather stellar among the four-cylinders this class (now that the Passat has lost the 2.0T motor).
In addition, the automatic transmission is well programmed (i.e., shifts quickly enough and smoothly enough to keep me happy), the seats are comfortable, the controls are simple... but you know, I'm not sure I'd get an SE if it was my decision. I don't care for the SE styling flourishes, and the combination of the suspension calibration and the tires makes for a busy ride on I-10 and California 60 -- the two freeways I use the most.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 5,539 miles
February 27, 2012
I know Erin Riches has already sung the praises of the Camry's driver's seat. Well, I've decided to second the motion.
I'm 5' 11", 185 lbs and I love everything about this seat. Its shape. Its size. Its placement. And its adjustability. I like the density of its padding, the feel of its upholstory and really like the way it looks with the contrast of its white stitching and its suede-like inserts.
Toyota is getting its game on.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
February 03, 2012
My experience with the Toyota Camry goes back a few generations, and in all that time, I never liked the driver seat in any of the cars. Space was never the problem -- I'm 5-foot-10; most cars are designed to fit someone my size. Rather, it was the shape(lessness) of the seats themselves usually combined with a lack of firm support and adjustability.
The driver seat in our long-term 2012 Camry SE rights pretty much all of those wrongs. The shape is great for me, and there's ample adjustability (I can raise the seat without being dumped toward the pedals, I can telescope the steering wheel toward me, etc.).
And although I'll need to take a longer trip to know if the seat is really supportive enough, it felt fine during the drive to San Diego.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 3,333 miles
February 02, 2012
I'm not sure my 250-mile trip to San Diego this week really qualifies as a road trip, but it was my longest stint in our 2012 Toyota Camry SE to date. In general, I like the changes that happened to the Camry during this redesign -- the more controlled ride quality, the extra precision in the steering. And I still think our car rides comfortably enough for an SE model.
But I sure wish the cabin was quieter. The previous two generations of the Camry were really serene, really sealed off from the noise of highway travel; although, in fairness, the last couple older-gen Camrys I drove were LE models.
Our SE is not serene to my ears. I felt like I was hearing everything around me, as if someone had pulled out some of the sound-deadening material. It was like being in an Accord or Altima.
Of course, I could be wrong about all this (I went to a few too many concerts with mosh pits back in my youth), so we'll have to see what other editors have to say as we rack up more miles.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 3,333 miles
January 27, 2012
I've had some nitpicks with the new Camry but overall I like it very much. Here are some things I appreciate about this car:
1. strong seat heaters with a scrolling adjuster
2. roomy interior and trunk
3. good pedal placement for a person with short legs and small feet
4. excellent headlights
5. nice stitching on the padded dash
6. comfortable optional leather-trimmed seats
7. firmer than expected suspension
8. overall five-star safety rating
9. much improved interior materials
10. simple clean gauge design
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
January 25, 2012
Our long-term 2012 Toyota Camry SE has leather-trimmed Ultrasuede sport seats. They're part of the $1490 Leather Package which includes those seats, leather door trim with seatback pockets, heated driver and passenger seats, and 8-way power driver's and 4-way power passenger seat.
They are functional and look racy. But I really like these seats because they remind me of my 2001 Lexus IS 300 (nee Altezza). That ultrasuede center section in my IS felt smooth, and wasn't too hot in the summer, or too cold in the winter.
So I love the ultrasuede in our Camry's seats. But not nearly as much as I loved my OG Altezza.
Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~3,100 miles
December 19, 2011
I could pretend (and sometimes I do pretend) that I find mid-priced, midsize, front-drive sedans boring, but the reality is I have a huge soft spot for cars like our 2012 Toyota Camry. They are easy to drive, they have just the right amount of room for four people and, more often than not, they have exactly the features I want.
After yet more Camry time over the weekend, I've decided that I like the suspension calibration on our SE. Indeed, it's firm by historical Camry standards, but I like how this car expediently deals with bumps and seams instead of flopping around for a couple beats.
Also, after a family dinner and a sightseeing tour of Pasadena residents' holiday lights, three of the car's four occupants were sacked out on the drive home -- real-world evidence that the ride quality is just fine.
December 15, 2011
Last night a friend and I ran a bunch of errands in our long-term 2012 Toyota Camry SE. It was a mix of city driving and freeway travel, and at every store, yet more bags were loaded into the midsize sedan. In short, it was like any other day in the life of a Camry, which took it on without complaint and without drawing attention to itself. It really is the Marcy of cars as the great Dan Pund once wrote.
Except twice it did draw attention to ourself. See, for the first time in my memory, the SE really feels like an SE. The ride borders on firm. When you hit a major expansion joint or bump on the freeway, you really feel it once, and then it's done... it's not some floaty, drawn-out affair. In this regard, it's like no other Camry I've ever driven, and my Camry experiences go back a couple decades.
I think the ride quality on our Camry SE is an improvement. I think. Sometimes I'm not sure the world is ready for a firm-riding Camry... so, well, are we?
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 1,663 miles
December 12, 2011
This weekend I had our 2012 Toyota Camry as my ride about town. As a comfortable conveyance to run my errands, it performed well. I stuck to surface streets, hit up brunch in Mid-City, a party in Hollywood, Christmas card shopping.... Nothing too exciting. Cushy seats, effective seat heaters and decent power made it all bearable.
Only thing is that the Camry didn't feel like me. Ever put on a piece of clothing that so wasn't you? Think the Big Lebowski being forced to wear a suit. That's sort of how I felt in our Camry. It was too "grownup" for me.
Not that that's a bad thing. I can appreciate how it would work well for small families or my parents what with its roomy interior, decent mpg (25 city/35 highway/28 combined), conveniences (Entune) and plush ride. Folks who just want to get from Point A to Point B will like the Camry.
But I want a car that makes my heart skip a beat. Where you can feel the road and get a thrill from driving it. Again, not that the Camry is bad, I'm just not ready to grow up.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 1,606 miles