2012 Camry 1-year review

Messages
555
Location
MN
I got this Camry last spring with 30,000 miles. I've put on 26,000 miles in the past year and few months, so I seem to drive it about 20,000 miles per year. It's been great for that time; I just wanted to share a review with you all. I found it at a Toyota dealer in central Minnesota about an hour from my home. It was priced at the high end of the other '12 Camrys (~$11,500), but was positively mint and, the kicker, had just 30,000 miles on it, about half of average. After looking at it, and driving it, it would've been hard to pass on it. For example, it still had the factory plastic covering all the carpet, and the factory window sticker was in the glovebox. And, after getting it home (this is perhaps the best part!) I checked the Toyota website and found that it had gotten 9 oil changes in its first 30,000 miles of life, including one at 2,000 miles. All maintenance was performed at the selling dealer (it returned to its original dealer to be sold the second time, where I bought it) with TGMO 0w20 to boot! This was better than I could have expected! The body was practically mint and so was the interior, save for a few scratches. It's been quite disappointing to see it get rock chips and scratches from careless parkers, but it's still in very good shape a year later. The car is a LE trim in Toyota's "Magnetic Gray Metallic." I've always liked this generation since it came out, and this dark gray is probably my favorite color. The gray looks fantastic when clean and hides dirt better than expected. It's a near-base trim but is quite well-equipped - 10 airbags, Bluetooth/USB, 6.1" touchscreen, automatic lights, stitched dash, power drivers seat, tilt/telescoping wheel, split-folding rear seat, etc, outside thermometer, etc. in addition to the expected a/c, remote entry, power windows/locks/mirrors. It feels rather upmarket for a near-base model, though it does have steel wheels. (I also have added an auto-dimming mirror and compass, plus a factory backup camera.) The Good- -Fuel economy. The Camry constantly blows me away with its economy. (And mine isn't even the hybrid.) It's rated 25/35 and those numbers are completely achievable. I have had about 7 tanks in the 39-41 mpg range, all hand calculated (which agrees with the computer's calculations quite closely). Mixed driving typically returns low 30s. On the highway, if I set the cruise to 70 mph, I can net 40+ mpg, even with the a/c on, barring strong headwinds. My all-time best tank was hand-calculated at 40.8 mpg, on over 500 miles of highway driving with a bit of city thrown in! Of course, the Camry uses regular fuel. My trips to home from college, which are just shy of 300 miles, can be consistently completed on just under a half tank, which is less than 8 gallons. The 17 gallon tank gives it a long range (500+ miles). I generally get 37+ on highway runs. I particularly like the radio's fuel economy display, which gives you your instant economy plus a bar graph of the economy over the past 15 minutes. My hand-calculated lifetime average is 31.4 mpg. -The power. My Camry is equipped with the base 2.5 liter rated at just shy of 180 hp. It is coupled to a 6-speed automatic. RPMs on the highway are quite low, taking over 70 mph to get to 2,000 rpms. Power is more than adequate in most any situation (think 0-60 in under 8 seconds). It honestly feels like a small V-6. I don't drive it hard, but the tires have no problem breaking loose in heavy acceleration, which I found somewhat surprising for a naturally aspirated 4-banger. I read that only about 10% of buyers in this generation opted for the V6 (2GR-FE), which makes sense. We have that in the Sienna, where it is fantastic, but the Camry is light enough that it doesn't need more power. The 4-cylinder rocks! -The space. The trunk is quite large, but the really surprising thing is the size of the backseat. The car fits four adults quite comfortably. There is far more rear-seat legroom than I would've expected. In this generation, they made an emphasis on maximizing space by better-shaping trim pieces, thinning the front seat seatbacks, and such things. It worked well; the car feels considerably more spacious than the previous generation. Storage is quite plentiful. -Standard equipment. As I mentioned above, for a near-base model, this is very well-equipped. It doesn't feel stripped down or decontented. -Oil consumption. I've done several long (9k+) runs with 0w20, as called for in the manual, and the oil level has not dropped appreciably in that time. (Perhaps 4 ounces?) -Ride comfort and quiet. The LE is not the "sporty" trim, so it has a softer ride. The car is quite quiet at highway speeds, and the suspension is comfortable over rougher road surfaces. I've driven it 500 miles + in one shot and been quite comfortable, with little fatigue. I really enjoy the sliding armrest on long trips. -Maintenance costs. It takes less than 5 quarts of 0w20, and only every 10k miles. Air filters are cheap and easily replaced. It hasn't needed much, only rear pads due to a stuck slide pin, and is even on its original factory battery. Tires are pretty cheap and steel wheels are durable. -Design. The car has some really nice touches, like the sliding armrest, all of the MPG gauges/info, an 8-speed fan, lots of storage compartments, and the stitched dash/dash design. I really like the instrument cluster. It's clean and simple, meaning that it's easy to read at a glance, and it dims nicely at night. The speedometer is placed front and center. Driving position feels good, and I immediately felt at home in the car. I'm a big fan of Toyota's cruise control switch, as well. Just like the rest of the car, it is intuitive and well-thought-out. The Okay- -Winter stability. The Camry is fairly light, and it feels it. It's not bad on snow by any means, but it's no tank. -Paint quality. I have gotten several rock chips in the past year, though I do drive mostly highway. I can't say this is the car's fault, but it may just have to do with where I drive. 
-Interior materials. These trim pieces had a few scratches when I got the car; again, I can't be sure how resistant they are as I wasn't the one who scratched them. Everything looks pretty upmarket though. -Audio quality. This is pretty good, though not "premium." Bass can be a bit lacking but, altogether, it's a pretty good base system. It has 6 speakers, touchscreen, CD, Bluetooth, USB, AUX, etc. For what it is, not bad at all. -Coolant temp gauge. It's a sliding bar graph, meaning that it lacks precision. (C _ _ _ I _ _ _ H). I still prefer this to the blue/red lights some cars use, or no gauge at all. The Bad- (I can't honestly come up with any real detriments for the Camry. The chime is really a "beep" and sounds cheap, but that's a very minor concern. And interior lighting leaves something to be desired, as the map lights are manually switched; only the dome light comes on when the doors are open.) All in all, it's a hard car to beat on the aggregate. It may not be the sportiest or the fastest, nor is it too exciting, but a Camry is good at most things and bad at nothing. Mine has proven to be a capable and economical mostly-highway car. I don't think that they can be easily be beaten when all factors are considered (economy, quality, reliability, comfort, features, value). I'd definitely purchase mine again, but I hope to not need to anytime soon (I'm shooting for 250,000 miles).

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Messages
10,359
Location
Colorado Springs
Originally Posted by TmanP
It honestly feels like a small V-6. I don't drive it hard, but the tires have no problem breaking loose in heavy acceleration, which I found somewhat surprising for a naturally aspirated 4-banger.
It is not power, it is suspension and general design of the drivetrain. You have much stronger (turbo=more torque) engines on FWD platforms that do not break loose as easy as Camry and similar vehicles. I drove them numerous times as rentals. They are good point A to point B vehicles. Bcs. of suspension V6 is really not good option for this vehicle, nor it is design for that.
 
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Messages
16,717
Location
NH
Toyota has been using heavy tip-in for a while. I haven't noticed it on my older non-drive-by-wire Camry but I might just be used to it now. It really bothered me when I got my first pair of Toyota's though and still had my Jetta--that Jetta had a "proper" tip in I thought (although as a turbo-diesel it arguably was a bit slow to rev).
 

NO2

Messages
941
Location
Michigan
Thanks for the review! We leased an LE Camry of this generation , except in green. I especially loved the huge trunk which was big enough for a family to take serious road trips. All it needed was an audio upgrade and it would have been perfect.
 
Messages
1,449
Location
iowa
I also have a 12 Camry 4cyl SE, and it has been perfect transportation, and handles much better than previous generations. Bought it off-lease with 30kmi and it is currently running up on 140kmi. Other than oil changes every 10k with Mobil 1, 3 sets of summer tires, 2 sets of winter tires, and an air filter, I haven't done anything to it yet. Still has original brakes with plenty left, but starting to pulsate occasionally now. My wife drives it like a taxi 6 days a week all day long, and the inside looks like it usually. Never got over 35mpg out of it though, and for the past few months it has developed a shudder when the transmission is in 5th, or 6th gear at light throttle, and I am really concerned what's up with that. I would hate to put a transmission in it that cost more than what the car is worth at this point.

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Messages
12,043
Location
OH
Originally Posted by TmanP
The Okay- -Winter stability. The Camry is fairly light, and it feels it. It's not bad on snow by any means, but it's no tank. -Paint quality. I have gotten several rock chips in the past year, though I do drive mostly highway. I can't say this is the car's fault, but it may just have to do with where I drive. 
-Interior materials. These trim pieces had a few scratches when I got the car; again, I can't be sure how resistant they are as I wasn't the one who scratched them. Everything looks pretty upmarket though.
Thank you for the great write-up. Agree with everything you mention. Have a white 2012 Camry LE with 79,500 purchased new. Only issue it's had was the rear brakes dragging with the stuck slide pin like you mention. Have to agree with some of the rock chips on the front end which I recently touched up. Looks much better. The front bumper cover is even worse for rock chips. Tires were replaced with General RT43s T rated which do excellent in the snow. No complaints there. The other car I drive is the 05 Matrix so the Camry feels much heavier and better planted than the smaller Matrix. Camry is great on long highway trips where the Matrix is more fun to zip around town in. This Camry was built in October or November of 2011 so one of the first of the new generation. Made in Georgetown like most of them. Car still feels and drives like new. Agree that it feels like a small V6 under the hood.
 
Messages
12,043
Location
OH
Originally Posted by Traction
and for the past few months it has developed a shudder when the transmission is in 5th, or 6th gear at light throttle, and I am really concerned what's up with that. I would hate to put a transmission in it that cost more than what the car is worth at this point.
There has been a warranty extension to 8 years/120k miles on the transmission for the exact condition you mention. Not sure if you have to be the original owner or not but I remember receiving something in the mail from Toyota corp about this. They replace the torque converter, drop the pan, clean it and some additional magnets, new fluid, etc. Seems to be more common with the SE model with the sport shifters. I'd get it looked at asap since the 8 year mark is probably close. I see it's over on the miles but maybe they will still do something for you. Never hurts to ask. Even if they try to charge a diagnostic fee it's prob still worth it. Maybe take it in for an oil change then mention the trans issue.
 
Messages
1,253
Location
USA
Interesting you like very much the 5 k oil changes from the first owner, but do 9-10. The Toyota filters for 30k did not cause the engine to wear out by factors of 10.. laugh
 

TmanP

Thread starter
Messages
555
Location
MN
Originally Posted by Farnsworth
Interesting you like very much the 5 k oil changes from the first owner, but do 9-10. The Toyota filters for 30k did not cause the engine to wear out by factors of 10.. laugh
It's something that gave me the warm fuzzies about the purchase, but I don't see it as necessary. Now I use M1 EP for $27 at Walmart and a Toyota filter. I'm confident about running it for 9-10k because I drive primarily highway (this is still twice a year for me).
 
Messages
5,442
Location
MTL, CANADA
Good review. Having driven the Camry as a rental (exact same 4 cyl engine) its a great engine. It moves the car sufficiently and the mpgs are just great. The new 4 cyl Camry has 206 hp...no reason in my view to opt for the 6.
 
Originally Posted by Traction
and for the past few months it has developed a shudder when the transmission is in 5th, or 6th gear at light throttle,
Might this have been prevented with some attention to the transmission in those 140k miles? It's been acting up for months, what are you waiting for before you have it looked at?
 
Messages
1,449
Location
iowa
Originally Posted by AZjeff
Originally Posted by Traction
and for the past few months it has developed a shudder when the transmission is in 5th, or 6th gear at light throttle,
Might this have been prevented with some attention to the transmission in those 140k miles? It's been acting up for months, what are you waiting for before you have it looked at?
I'll be taking it in Monday. Had no idea until this thread that it was a common issue. Hopefully since I complained about a problem a year ago they will help me since I've been a long time customer since 1985. The car was acting very strange where it would abruptly stall the engine, like maybe the torque converter locked up at a standstill. Of course after driving it all day by the courtesy driver it never acted up. I'm short of the 150kmi limit, but I don't know what the in service date limit of 8 years, but I do have a little past record to stand by.
 
Messages
2,984
Location
Florida
Thanks for the review! I have a 2014.5 Camry that I enjoy. So far it has been a fun car to drive and it is extremely easy to maintain. I have to avoid looking at the new Camry as it is scratching my itch to get it.
 
Messages
1,897
Location
Somewhere in time
Originally Posted by AZjeff
Originally Posted by Traction
and for the past few months it has developed a shudder when the transmission is in 5th, or 6th gear at light throttle,
Might this have been prevented with some attention to the transmission in those 140k miles? It's been acting up for months, what are you waiting for before you have it looked at?
Try a spill and fill with some Maxlife atf. It's amazing what a few hours of new fluid will do. cheers
 
Messages
1,449
Location
iowa
Originally Posted by SatinSilver
Originally Posted by Traction
and for the past few months it has developed a shudder when the transmission is in 5th, or 6th gear at light throttle, and I am really concerned what's up with that. I would hate to put a transmission in it that cost more than what the car is worth at this point.
There has been a warranty extension to 8 years/120k miles on the transmission for the exact condition you mention. Not sure if you have to be the original owner or not but I remember receiving something in the mail from Toyota corp about this. They replace the torque converter, drop the pan, clean it and some additional magnets, new fluid, etc. Seems to be more common with the SE model with the sport shifters. I'd get it looked at asap since the 8 year mark is probably close. I see it's over on the miles but maybe they will still do something for you. Never hurts to ask. Even if they try to charge a diagnostic fee it's prob still worth it. Maybe take it in for an oil change then mention the trans issue.
I can't thank you enough for the tip. Toyota is going to cover it, plus give me a loaner! My wife would have run it over the 150k miles a couple months before the in-service expiration in October. WOW! My 5th Camry, and I will be getting another one.
 
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