2012 Toyota Camry Long Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2012 Toyota Camry Long Term Test

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2012 Toyota Camry: Wrap-Up

December 27, 2012

Read the 2012 Toyota Camry introduction to our long-term fleet.

See all of the 2012 Toyota Camry blog posts.

What We Got
We had a ballpark figure of $25,000 in our head prior to shopping for our long-term 2012 Toyota Camry. The base L model was $22,000 while the midrange LE was just $500 more. For $23,000 there was the sporty SE trim so we weighed our wants and needs to see which trim made the most sense.

The Camry's 2.5-liter, 178-horsepower, four-cylinder engine impressed us with its performance and since it was also likely to be the volume seller, the inline-4 was a must-have. Like all Camrys, it utilizes a six-speed automatic transmission. Favorable impressions of the firmer suspension offered only in the SE model made the decision a little clearer.

2012 Toyota Camry

Standard equipment on the Camry SE was plentiful. Included were 17-inch wheels, the aforementioned sport-tuned suspension, sport-tuned electronic power steering, SofTex seats and a moderate list of technological offerings.

Still within our budget, we added on the Display Audio with Navigation and Entune package ($1,050) and a Convenience package for $1,195. When we located a car with those options we also found it had extras like the Leather package ($1,490), a sunroof ($915), carpeted floor mats ($130), a rear bumper appliqué ($69) and a cargo net ($49). We decided to take a chance on this car, despite the price.

Our disciplined team of buyers talked the dealer down $2,200 from sticker. The result was a nicely optioned Camry SE that we drove away for $26,397. It was slightly more than we wanted to pay, but we thought it made for a solid midsize sedan with interesting features. Here's what we found.

Our Impressions

  • "At $23,760, our 2012 Camry SE is money well spent. I wouldn't have made this claim about the last Camry. It was a nice car and a reliable way to get from Point A to B. It just didn't feel like a deal. The interior wasn't this nice, the ride wasn't this composed and if memory serves me, it wasn't this quiet on the road." — Mike Magrath

  • 2012 Toyota Camry

  • "It is strong for a naturally aspirated four-cylinder. Revs hard. But for some reason (perhaps our California PZEV car?) was 0.5 second slower to 60 mph than the last four-cylinder Camry we tested.... This is a Camry? Seriously, it's not that bad at all. Steering has some feel, even if the effort is a bit artificially heavy. Suspension has good damping and it corners pretty flat." — Mike Monticello

  • "Seriously, Toyota has the most legible buttons on the market, and that's a good thing. The buttons are so big, I'm pretty sure I could operate them with an oven mitt on. Maybe it's not the most attractive center stack out there, but in this regard, I would choose function over form any day." — Mark Takahashi

  • "You're going to have to trust me on this one. This generation Toyota Camry has awesome headlights.... in high-beam mode both the reach and coverage are better than virtually any car I've driven recently — and far better than anything else with this kind of price tag. Here's the best part: All of that light comes from a standard Halogen 55-watt H11 bulb that can be found on eBay for about $20 per set." — Josh Jacquot

  • "The Toyota Camry is no longer terrible.... In short, I will not be feeling depressed every time I get our Camry SE for nights 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

  • "I'm 5 feet 11 inches, 185 pounds 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 upholstery and really like the way it looks with the contrast of its white stitching and its suedelike inserts. Toyota is getting its game on." — Scott Oldham

  • "There are only a couple of things that I don't like about our Camry. The touchscreen is one of them. Mainly, I get annoyed with its lack of sensitivity to touch. It reminds me of our Explorer's touchscreen in the way that I'll touch a virtual button, but occasionally nothing will happen. Then I have to touch it again, still wondering if it will take for the next touch. I find it distracting because it just takes that much more concentration away from driving." — Brent Romans

  • "Erin detailed the steps necessary for pairing an iPhone with our Camry SE's Entune system and noted the device needs to be connected via a USB cable. I recently tested a 2012 XLE model with the $1,550 Premium HDD Navigation system and found it much easier to get Entune up and running. But after using Entune for a few days I really didn't see the point. Most of these apps are available for a smartphone anyway and, except for Pandora and iHeart Radio, you can't use them while the car is in motion." — Doug Newcomb

  • "My point is that a midsize affordable four-door no longer needs to be unattractive, which our 2012 Camry undeniable is. Toyota can't seem to figure that out. Although our Camry's dark color hides much of its homeliness, anybody that finds its shape appealing needs a new set of bifocals." — Scott Oldham

  • "Methinks Magrath was being optimistic when he decided our Toyota Camry steering wheel control buttons fixed themselves. I drove the Camry last night and this morning, and they were wonky nearly every time I restarted the car. Not the same level of wonky, mind you, just intermittent enough to keep you guessing." — Kelly Toepke

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
Toyota recommended routine service for the Camry at 5,000-mile intervals. So at 5,000, 10,000 and 15,000 miles we saw Toyota of Santa Monica. Fresh oil and filters cost us nothing out of pocket courtesy of the Toyota Care free maintenance program.

Service Campaigns:
A problem surfaced just days before the odometer clicked 15,000. And it was the only such issue we had during our test. The steering wheel controls stopped working, which required the dealer to reboot the audio system. That seemed to fix things, because all buttons worked fine for the remainder of its stay.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
EPA estimates rate the 2012 Toyota Camry SE at 25 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. These average out to a combined 28 mpg. After 17,000 miles we averaged just 26 mpg. Our best and worst tanks of gas achieved 36 mpg and 16 mpg, respectively. The Camry proved itself capable of EPA fuel economy claims, but over the long haul it was just a little short of expectations.

Resale and Depreciation:
One year ago we found a reasonably equipped Toyota Camry SE with a sticker price of $28,658, then we managed to talk the salesperson down to $26,397. At the time of sale, Edmunds' TMV® Calculator valued our Camry at $21,456. This figure was based on a private-party sale and reflected 19 percent depreciation in value from our purchase price.

We only had to look as far as our own employee roster to find a buyer. He happened to be in town for a company meeting and in the market for a Camry. After a short test-drive the car was sold, loaded and shipped to its new home in Chicago.

Summing Up

Pros: Excellent seats, easy-to-use controls, strong performance from the four-cylinder engine, can hit EPA mileage numbers with careful driving habits, good balance of comfort and road feel from sport suspension, solid resale value.

Cons: We averaged 26 mpg over 17,000 miles, slightly below EPA estimates; Entune application interface is not particularly useful.

Bottom Line: In SE trim, the latest Camry provides solid performance without sacrificing mileage or comfort. Add to that a spacious and user-friendly interior and it's easy to see why the 2012 Toyota Camry is still one of the best-selling sedans in the class.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: None (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: Reinitialize audio system to correct steering wheel button malfunction
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: None
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Best Fuel Economy: 35.7 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.9 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 25.7 mpg
True Market Value at service end: $21,456 (private-party sale)
What it Sold for: $21,456
Depreciation: $4,941 (or 19% of paid price)
Final Odometer Reading: 17,291 miles

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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Past Long-Term Road Tests