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Toyota Camry 2012 review: snapshot

The extra punch from the new 2.5-litre engine and six-speed auto is immediately evident.

Four fours and a six but no more five. That's how the numbers stack up in Toyota's quicker, quieter and more entertaining Camry.

The seventh generation of Australia's most popular four-cylinder medium/large car comes in four versions, all with a six-speed automatic transmission replacing the previous five-speed automatic and five-speed manual.

SAFETY

All models get seven airbags, stability and traction control, a stronger body, larger and more supportive front seats, a more inviting driving position and an expected five-star safety rating.

VALUE

A little more confusing is the name change for all but the entry level Altise, which remains at $30,490. The Atara S, at $33,490, replaces the previous Ateva ($32,990), the Atara SX, at $35,990, replaces the Sportivo ($33,990), and the Atara SL, at $39,990, is the same price as the Grande it replaces. The Atara S and SX get more equipment than their predecessors to offset the price rises.

DESIGN

Styling remains conservative and similar in silhouette, but with smoother lines and more impressive proportions. Overall, length is similar but the new model's interior is bigger, especially in the rear, where knee room improves by 46mm. Boot space remains generous, and all models come with a full-size spare wheel -- steel on the Altise and alloy on the others.

ENGINE

The 2.5-litre four cylinder engine replaces the previous 2.4-litre engine (117kW and 218Nm) and comes in two states of tune -- 133kW and 231Nm in the Altise and 135kW and 235Nm in the Atara. 

When mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission, the engine delivers sharper response and improved fuel economy -- now a best of 7.8l/100km, compared to 8.8 litres/100km previously. Some of this gain comes from taller gearing, which has the six-speed auto cruising at about 1800rpm at 100km/h, or about 200rpm less than the five-speed 2.4.

TECHNOLOGY

Equipment on the Altise includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a trip computer, Bluetooth and an upgraded sound system with six speakers and controls on the steering wheel. An “Eco'' light on the dash flicks on and off according to throttle setting.

Atara S adds fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and engine start/stop, a reversing camera, dual-zone airconditioning, paddle shifts, dual exhausts, a 152mm touch-screen display audio and an electric driver's seat with lumbar support.

The Atara SX adds sports suspension, alloy pedals, a boot lip spoiler and leather accentuated trim. The Atara SL also gets premium audio with 10 speakers, a 175mm touch-screen display with satellite navigation, digital radio, live traffic updates, a reversing camera, blind-spot monitor, automatic high beam, electric front seats and rain-sensing wipers.

DRIVE

First impressions are how smooth and quiet it is, how roomy and comfortable, how upmarket the trim looks and feels on the dash and how easy it is to drive, foot-operated park brake aside.

The extra punch from the new 2.5-litre engine and six-speed auto is immediately evident, as is the sharpness in the new electric power steering and the tautness in the suspension, all adding up to a more involving and entertaining driving experience.

The broader spread of gearing and a 35kg shaving in weight -- through the use of lightweight higher-strength steel -- has trimmed 0.2 seconds off the 0-100km/h sprint. It is now down to 9.8 seconds. The transmission has a sequential shift slot -- push forward for up and pull back for down -- and blips the throttle on down changes.

Ride and handling are impressive. The suspension is a little firmer and feels more disciplined on the open road. But there is some lumpiness over bumps around town and some tyre noise on coarse chip surfaces.

VERDICT

Above all, it feels durable, reliable and well built.

Pricing guides

$12,988
Based on 146 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$6,999
Highest Price
$18,980

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Altise 2.4L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $6,000 – 9,350 2012 Toyota Camry 2012 Altise Pricing and Specs
Atara R SE 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $6,300 – 9,790 2012 Toyota Camry 2012 Atara R SE Pricing and Specs
Atara S 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $6,700 – 10,340 2012 Toyota Camry 2012 Atara S Pricing and Specs
Atara SL 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $8,000 – 12,320 2012 Toyota Camry 2012 Atara SL Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$6,999

Lowest price, based on 144 car listings in the last 6 months

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