2012 Camry may have a shot at the COTY “roomiest interior” awardBy Jason Ang
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Like every great automotive nameplate, the Toyota Camry has had to adapt to changing customer tastes to stay on top. The first Camry introduced in the Philippines took over the Crown as Toyota’s flagship-indeed, “Camry” sounds like the Japanese word for “crown.” Yet it was somehow lacking in excitement and features when compared to its then rivals Honda Accord and Nissan Cefiro. The Camry then was sufficient to satisfy North American customers, but was wanting in creature features for Asian tastes. For the second round, Toyota came out swinging with a Camry loaded with more upscale appointments. It was larger and more comfortable, felt more expensive, and just as importantly, looked more luxurious as well. It soon grabbed the top spot and for two model generations, the Camry has stayed as the leader.
The all-new 2012 Camry continues in the mold of its two predecessors, and now it gains a hint of sportiness as well. It gains 20 mm in length and height, yet looks slimmer and sportier thanks to its new design. The Camry’s new lines are clean and angular, in the spirit of its upmarket Lexus cousins. The sides of the front bumpers feature a vertical section, and the doors feature sculpted lower portions as well. This helps the aerodynamics, according to Toyota, while making the car look more dynamic.
Inside, the design is more modern, too. The dark plastic and leather trim merge well with the wood and matte-metal accents. As is de rigueur these days, the instruments-in the trademark luminescent format-include a fuel-efficiency gauge with corresponding green indicator lights. There’s plenty of shoulder and legroom to stretch out in. This may have a shot at the COTY/Victoria Court “roomiest interior” award. Front seats with up to eight-way power actuation, power-folding mirrors, and power-adjust steering wheel are available in the higher variants. The business-class features like reclining rear seats and rear audio controls will no doubt entice many a would-be taipan. The long list of features goes on to include power rear sunshade, rear door sunshades, triple-zone auto air conditioning, cruise control, and transponder key with Engine Start-Stop button.
The base engine has been upgraded from 2.4 to 2.5 liters, and now features dual VVTi variable-valve timing. Power goes up to 176 hp and 231 Nm, while reportedly giving up to 20-percent better fuel efficiency. The 3.5-liter V6 pumps out 276 hp and 346 Nm, all channeled to the front wheels. The transmission has been upgraded to six-speed automatics for all variants, with a manual shift gate. What about the hybrid model, now being assembled in Thailand? TMP’s first vice president for marketing Raymond Rodriguez said that this is possible if the government agrees to tax cuts for hybrid models, making them more affordable.
We surmise that as a younger set of buyers are ready to move into the executive class of car, the Camry needs to be sportier in its presentation, if not its character. These will mean European models, or one Korean brand, against which the Camry is now better positioned thanks to its new looks. We asked a couple of buyers who we know have replaced their previous-generation Camrys with Hyundai Sonatas if this new model would have kept them in the Toyota fold. Both responded with “would have seriously considered.” With competition stronger than ever, the new Camry couldn’t have come sooner for Toyota.
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