2012 Toyota Camry SE Sedan (2.5L 4-cyl. 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 12/6/2011
This rating has been carried forward from a prior year because the newer model has no substantial differences.
In SE trim, the 2012 Toyota Camry delivers some performance without sacrificing fuel mileage or comfort. Add a spacious and user-friendly interior and it's easy to see why the Camry is one of the best-selling sedans in the class.
PerformanceThe 4-cylinder offers enough acceleration for freeway merging and passing, but we wouldn't call it spirited. This SE suspension enhances the ride and handling of the Camry.
Acceleration is strong for a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder, yet almost one-half seconds slower to 60 mph than the last 4-cylinder Camry we tested.
There was no excessive body dive or pedal sponginess during our braking tests. On the streets, braking was linear and predictable.
Steering is heavier than what you'll find in the LE and XLE, yet not so heavy as to be offensive. Communicates a sense of what the tires are doing which is rare for a Camry.
As you might expect, the Camry is uninspiring when pushed and understeers at its limit. ESC is slighty crude, intervening heavy-handedly, but is effective.
The SE has firmer damping than the base Camry which doesn't hurt ride quality, but instead helps with stability especially at freeway speeds.
ComfortComfort and isolation are the Camry's bread and butter. The front seats are wide and plush, the ride is soft and cabin noise levels are exceptional for this segment.
Seat cushions are soft with suitable side bolstering.
The Camry soaks up road imperfections well. Even this sporty SE trim errs more on the side of comfort when cornering but remains controllable and not floaty.
Isolation is where the Camry excels. Tire and wind noise are minimal, even at speed. Exterior noises (passing cars, horns, etc.) are well neutralized and inoffensive.
InteriorA combination of knobs, buttons and touchscreens keeps the layout clean yet functional. But the use of hard plastics is somewhat of a visual letdown. Plenty of space and storage.
The primary and secondary controls are easily within reach. But some items on the dash are too far away for comfort and the Camry is missing a telescoping steering wheel.
Entry and exit from the vehicle is adequate for a midsize sedan with an H-Point that is neither high nor low.
As a car designed for transport exclusively, the Camry was designed to have enough space for people to ride comfortably. Plenty of hip, shoulder and legroom.
Visibility is good for the segment. The availability of a rear-view camera kicks its score up a notch. Base headlights are only adequate, however.
Nooks and bins galore. We found enough spots for all of our small item storage inside the cabin. The trunk is immense.
ValueThis Camry is well constructed with tight gaps, good paint and good materials. It is an example of how to do it right.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Build quality and materials are higher than what has previously been acceptable for the segment. Not the cheapest car in the segment, but doesn't feel overpriced at all.
You get a lot of Camry SE for the money: 17-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and electronic power steering and iPod integration with USB input.
Our long-term Camry SE stickered at $28,658. We sold it a year later at just 19-percent depreciation and put very little into maintaining it for that year.
EPA fuel economy of 25 city and 35 highway mpg. We averaged 26 mpg during our 17,000-mile test of the car.
Basic warranty is 3 years/36,000 miles. Drivetrain is 5 years/60,000 miles. Roadside and free maintenance are 2 years/25,000 miles.
Toyota Care free maintenance covers all routine service costs for 2 years or 25,000 miles.
Fun To DriveThe SE is considered the sporty version of the Camry. We didn't find it to be particularly fun to drive, but relative to this segment and the normal Camry, this is a far better car to drive.
It drives like a Camry. Four cylinders that return good mpg and a suspension that is slightly firmer than other Camrys yet arguably just as comfortable.
Midsize sedans are not built for fun driving. That's OK. The Camry gets the job done without being obtrusive or unpleasant.
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