2012 Toyota Camry: No Longer Terrible
December 20, 2011
Yeah, I'll say it, the last Toyota Camry was terrible. Let's put aside the utter forgetability of driving it that made me depressed before even turning it on. The Camry has always been boring, I'm not talking about that.
I'm talking about the fact that every last-gen Camry I ever drove had misaligned interior panels that were always and literally different shades of grey. Oh, and they often had sharp flaring on them. I'm talking about the center stack switchgear that looked removed from a child's toy. I'm talking about the shapeless seats. I'm talking about the suspension that would bob and float over road undulations and slap its wheels over bumps. I'm talking about steering devoid of any semblance of feel. I'm talking about a general feeling of cheap that didn't permeate past Camrys. I'm talking about the perception that the entire car was just phoned in for people who'd never cross shop anything else. I'm talking about it being worse than every family sedan not named Sebring, Avenger or Galant. I'm NOT talking about floor mats, unintended acceleration and people who don't know what Neutral does.
Then I drove our long-term Camry SE last night as well as a lesser equipped, non-quasi-sporty Camry LE last week. I am happy to report the 2012 Toyota Camry is not terrible, far from it. The interior is a gargantuan improvement, though not quite the nicest in the class. Better built, better switchgear, better looking, better functionality, better pizza, Papa Johns. I really like the seats; comfortable and their thin profile frees up backseat room. The suspension is better sorted and provides a more solid, substantial ride. The steering on the LE is still devoid of feel and utterly lifeless, but hey, at least the SE offers a bit of feedback and response for people who see the value of having some idea about what their tires are doing.
In short, I will not be feeling depressed every time I get our Camry SE for night as I was with our last-generation Camry long-termer or any other time I had the misfortune of driving that ... um, let's be nice, automobile.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 1,861 miles