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2012 Toyota Camry SE

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On: Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 3:03PM | By: Peter C Sessler

2012 Toyota Camry SE

The Toyota Camry appeals to a certain kind of buyer - and that kind of buyer isn’t into cars. Their extent of liking cars is exemplified by saying things like “this car has lots of power” and “sure rides quiet” or “sure is smooth over bumps.” That’s about the extent of it – sort of reminds me of my parents. That’s what my father would say when he got in his Lincoln. He had no concept of power or what a performance car could do. In fact, that kind of car would bring fear out.

Still, the Camry is the most popular car in America and there’s bound to exist a very small number of performance Camry drivers out there, who value a performance-oriented Camry - you know, big wheels (17 or 18”) and tires, custom bodywork, spoilers, silver trim, 3-spoke steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls and the like. I don’t think I’ll ever see one, but Toyota thinks so - and thus makes available the 2012 Toyota Camry SE.

The Camry SE follows the typical formula towards “performance.” The front strut suspension is stiffened and lowered slightly, while in the rear, a longer, solid stabilizer bar replaces the smaller standard bar. At the same time, Toyota removed some of the suspension slack by replacing the fluid-filled bushing with a more rigid design. The result is noticeable; the suspension is sharper and tighter.

Engine-wise, the Camry SE gets whatever the regular Camry’s get: either a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 178 hp and 170 lb.-ft. of torque or an optional 3.5-liter V-6 with 268hp with 248 lb.-ft. of torque. The four-cylinder gets 215/55/17 tires on 17-inch wheels while the V-6 is shod with 225/45/18 on 18-inch wheels of the same design– and dual chrome exhaust outlets instead of one on the V-6.

The result is pretty good performance, if you don’t do a lot of highway driving with the four-cylinder. That’s where the engine begins to lose some oomph. The V-6, however, has no such problems, but does lose some mpg – it’s rated at 21/30 mpg while the four-cylinder gets 25/35 mpg. There’s no substitute for cubic inches, the saying goes, and so the tradeoff is worth it, in my mind at least.

The car does handle better - tighter perhaps, but definitely not a street scorcher. With the sportier look, the owner may think he’s got something hot, but not really. He (or she) does get more stuff with the SE: SE-only options include a convenience package with a rear-view camera, heated seats and auto-dimming rearview mirrors, leather and faux-suede seating, and a power moonroof. Toyota’s Entune audio system, also standard, comes with a 6.1-inch touch-screen display and in the V-6 models, it also features a navigation feature.

On the other hand, Toyota has addressed one major problem it’s had, and that’s value. The four-cylinder SE starts at $23,000, the V-6 at $26,640 - which is basically the same price as before, but without the increase in standard equipment. And of-course, you’ll now be able to blow the doors of some other car….



Stephy21 | 9:33AM (Wed, Dec 7, 2011)

Cant wait to see this new Camry come out.

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