Last month, Toyota introduced the all-new, seventh-generation 2012 Camry during simultaneous media presentations at the New York Mets' Citi Field in Queens, in Detroit and at the Camry manufacturing facility in Georgetown, Ky.
The all-new Camry is expected to debut at Puerto Rico dealerships next month, while the hybrid version will arrive at local showrooms in November.
While the Camry has been America's best-selling car for nine years running—and 13 of the past 14 years—the 2012 model will square off in an increasingly competitive market segment that now includes the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Volkswagen Passat and a redesigned Chevrolet Malibu early next year. Later next year, an all-new Honda Accord and Nissan Altima will hit showrooms as well.
After experiencing several voluntary recalls last year, an earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March that caused some vehicle inventory shortages and a slowing U.S. economy— Toyota's most important market—the Japanese automaker couldn't risk it with the redesign of its flagship midsize sedan.
NEW DESIGN ALL AROUND
The 2012 Camry features a bold, sophisticated new design with a more spacious interior, improved driving dynamics and an even quieter ride than before. With class-leading safety, fuel economy and multimedia technology added in, the end result is probably the best Camry ever made.
First introduced in 1983, the Camry would go on to establish the template for the modern midsize sedan. Since then, Toyota has sold more than 15 million Camry models worldwide.
For 2012, the Camry again offers three powertrain choices, all of which have been enhanced to provide better fuel economy and more responsive performance.
All Camry models with the revised 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine now offer 178 horsepower, a nine-horse increase, and 170 foot-pounds of peak torque. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-estimated fuel economy figures are 25 miles per gallon (mpg) city/35 mpg highway, and the 28 mpg combined is two mpg more than the previous generation of Camry offered.
The all-new Camry and Camry Hybrid will offer six different model grades to choose from. Camry will be available in the entry-level L, value-driven LE, premium XLE and sporty SE grades. The XLE and SE are available with four-cylinder or V6 engines.
The Camry Hybrid comes in LE and XLE grades.
PERFORMANCE AND EFFICIENCY
The DOHC 3.5-liter V6, available in the SE and XLE grades, delivers 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 foot-pounds of peak torque at 4,700 rpm. Enhancements to this engine boost its fuel economy to projected EPA-estimated ratings of 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway, the best for any current V6 midsize sedan.
Weight reduction was crucial to improving the fuel economy in the new Camry. About 150 pounds were shaved off the LE model, and 220 pounds from the hybrid, according to Yurihiko Okane, the Camry's platform chief engineer.
The gas-engine LE, XLE and SE models come equipped exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission that offers a sequential manual-shift mode using the console shifter. Intelligent control adapts shifting strategy in response to driver input.
NEW EXTERIOR DESIGN
The 2012 Camry employs an elegantly simple but modern form, emphasizing a wider, lower stance than previous models. The design conveys an "architectural statement" through crisp, precise character lines, while a more strongly curved door cross-section and more defined rocker-panel molding (chrome accented on LE and XLE) result in a more expressive appearance.
Headlights show a more dynamic shape, with a pronounced curvature of the main-beam unit merging into the bumper cover. Fog lights are standard on the XLE and SE grades. The rear lamp clusters wrap tightly into the body sides, with their top sections extending into the trunk panel.
While featuring nearly the same external dimensions as the previous generation, the new Camry offers a more inviting and spacious interior. A new dashboard design, modified seat locations, redesigned seats and leaner door, pillar and headliner trim all combine to add both real and perceptual space while enhancing outward visibility.
Soft textures used on the upper instrument panel, upper door trim, door armrests and center console armrest contribute to greater comfort in the Camry. Stitching on the instrument panel's soft padding and matching stitching-style trim elsewhere helps to create a sense of luxury. Aluminum-color and chrome trim are used judiciously.
Seamlessly integrated into the Camry are state-of-the-art electronics and enhanced connectivity features. A Bluetooth wireless connection for compatible hands-free phone calls is standard, now improved by an available automatic phonebook-transfer function.
Also standard is a USB port that allows the playing of music and video from portable audio devices using the vehicle sound system and available in-dash display screen, including full iPod integration.
The standard audio system on LE, XLE and SE has a 6.1-inch screen and six speakers.
The screen also offers a new value-driven navigation system and serves as a portal for Entune, Toyota's innovative new multimedia system, to be available for Puerto Rico consumers next year.
An available HD Radio system enables CD sound quality from digital FM broadcasts, and has features that maximize analog and AM broadcast sound quality. The system will include HD Radio with iTunes tagging for future purchase and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
ALL-NEW CAMRY HYBRID
The all-new Camry Hybrid is powered by a highly revised version of the brand's Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, including a new 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine.
The 2012 Camry Hybrid LE, with EPA-estimated 43 mpg city/39 mpg highway and 41 mpg combined, yields a more than 30% boost in fuel economy in the EPA city and combined driving cycles, compared to the previous generation, thanks largely to the new hybrid powertrain, but also due to lighter vehicle weight and optimized aerodynamics.
Through its unique transaxle, the Hybrid Synergy Drive system produces a combined 200 horsepower and varies power between the gas engine and electric motor, or combines both, as needed.
Exclusive exterior and interior design touches and badging differentiate the 2012 Hybrid from other Camry models. Inside, Hybrid-exclusive trim is found on the instrument panel and door-switch bases, upper-console panels and shift knob.