2012 Toyota Camry XLE
2012 Toyota Camry XLE; photo courtesy Toyota. Click image to enlarge
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Toyota Canada

By Paul Williams

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2012 Toyota Camry

Although the mainstream midsize car sector has experienced strong competition from Compact SUVs and Crossovers over the past decade, it’s still a vibrant segment that appeals to a broad range of Canadian consumers.

After all, it’s the family four-door sedan: the comfortable all-purpose vehicle for your shopping, your luggage, your passengers, your commute, your vacation, your entertainment and maybe your fun.

While it’s true that midsize cars do many things well, they’ve been criticized for being too similar to each other: dull cars for dull people – who needs that?

However, style is back. Have you checked out the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima lately? And wait until you see the new Ford Fusion. Popular carmakers like Toyota have a challenge, therefore: should they respond in kind and get flashy? If they do, will they lose or gain market share?

2012 Toyota Camry XLE
2012 Toyota Camry XLE; photo by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge

The Toyota Camry has been such a success for Toyota over the years that you really don’t want to mess with it too much. Rather than going all-out flashy, Toyota has chosen to raise the quality bar while at the same time refining the look of the 2012 Camry both inside and out. It’s an approach that Toyota believes will pay off in the longer term, as their vehicles remain fashionable while others become dated more quickly.

At first glance, you may not see the differences between the 2011 and 2012 Camry, as the overall design retains an easily identifiable Camry “look.” But pretty much the entire car is new, including all the sheetmetal, a more rigid chassis, new lights, suspension, interior and trim.

The interior of the 2012 Camry, especially, is a significant improvement over the outgoing model. Our $31,525 four-cylinder Camry XLE (the price includes freight/PDI and environmental fees) featured black leather upholstery of premium quality with contrasting stitching. This is echoed in the door panels and across the dashboard, although simulated leather and wood accents are used in those locations.

2012 Toyota Camry XLE
2012 Toyota Camry XLE; photo courtesy Toyota. Click image to enlarge

The new Camry’s cabin is rendered with obvious attention to detail throughout, while also being roomier than last year’s model. The overall impression is of premium quality (for the segment) and thoughtful, appealing design. Headroom is excellent — even with the sunroof — seats are comfortable, supportive and multi-adjustable, and rear-seat occupants have plenty of head and legroom. Tastefully contrasting colours complete the inviting interior environment.

The XLE is also equipped with 17-inch aluminum wheels, dual-zone climate control, XM satellite radio, navigation system with Bluetooth and a 6.1-inch display, power seats for the driver and passenger, leather wrapped steering wheel, sunroof, rear back-up camera and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. It’s pretty much “loaded.”

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