2012 Toyota Camry SE road test: Comfortable, well equipped, easy on fuel

Based on previous experience, I prefer the smoother and more enthusiastic V-6 but I’m guessing most buyers will opt for the frugal 4-cylinder model. In any case, I was not dissatisfied with the four-banger.

Both engines are teamed with six-speed automatic transmissions. The transmission in all but the entry-level L model allows manual gear changes with the console-mounted shifter, but the SE shifter does even more.

It incorporates steering-wheel-mounted paddles that allow manual shifting in the “D” mode. There also is an “S” mode, which provides faster gear changes and features rev-matching downshifts.

Toyota Camry SE rear seat

Toyota Camry SE rear seat

I appreciated the application but, to be honest, the paddles did not really enhance my driving experience. Other than just to try them out I mostly let them alone and allowed the car to shift for itself.

The revised exterior, with redesigned front and back ends, gives the 2012 Toyota Camry a different, updated look, but nobody will mistake the new model for something else.

While the 2012 Camry’s exterior is essentially the same size as the 2011 model, the Toyota engineers and designers have made numerous changes to the interior to add some room for back-seat passengers and to give the car an overall sense of increased spaciousness.

Nevertheless, the Camry remains mostly a four-passenger car with room for an occasional fifth (person).

The well quipped 2012 Toyota Camry SE has numerous standard amenities  and a long list of options.

Toyota Camry SE

The 2012 Toyota Camry SE has a revised grille.

Included in the base $23,000 price are a full complement of safety features plus a 6-speaker sound system, Ipod connectivity, Bluetooth hands-free controls, fog lamps, paddle shifters, sport seats with leather-like SofTex trim, automatic on/off headlights and folding and heated outside mirrors.

Primary among the options is the  Entune system, which allows access to a variety of mobile “apps” and data services by teaming with a smart phone. Included are three years of free access to Bing, iHeart Radio, Pandora and more. Data services can provide sports, traffic, stocks, weather and fuel price information.

Entune is part of a $1,050 package that includes navigation, a 6.1-inch touch screen, premium audio system with HD radio, satellite radio capability,  and a lot more.

The $1,195 convenience package includes keyless entry and ignition, backup camera, and automatic-dimming rear-view mirror.

Add $440 for an 8-way adjustable power driver’s seat, $915 for a sunroof, and $208 for mats, net and and first-aid kit. Combine all that with the $760 delivery fee and the total comes to $27,568.

The end result is a comfortable, feature laden, reasonably priced sedan that my friend would agree has everything he needs.