Interior of the Day: 2012 Toyota Camry

By Joel Arellano | September 15, 2011
First impressions. The sayings are you only have them once, and they can last a lifetime. Toyota found itself in that awkward position last month as it unveiled the 2012 Toyota Camry not only to us journalists, but as it televised the debut across the U.S. from a set at Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California. The company had some justification to be concerned. The venerable Camry has been taking a beating of late among the media and consumers as competitors like Chevrolet, Ford, Hyundai, and Kia matched — and in some cases, exceeded — the former segment leader in quality and fit and finish in their vehicles. Especially targeted was the previous Camry's interior, which even our own informal poll echoed dissatisfaction. Well, we can safely say Toyota heard all these concerns and promptly acted. As we mentioned in our first impressions post, we found the interior of the 2012 Toyota Camry a step above the 2011 model. The upper dash now is covered by a long swath of premium-looking soft-touch plastic with stitching to give it character. This is in sharp contrast to the dull, non-stitched piece currently uses in the 2011 Toyota Camry. Faux-metal rings on the climate control knobs replace the previous translucent ones, while the center stack is revamped with a more European design. While we still find the Hyundai Sonata's center stack and controls more avante garde, the 2012 Toyota Camry's controls continue to be easy to see and use: they just look and feel more premium now. Toyota also uses more contrasting colors in the 2012 Camry, with the dark upper dash and the deep but lighter plastics below in the center stack and wheel. Judicious use of faux wood like the base of the shifter adds to the makeover.
Toyota also updated the cloth and leather on the seats with, again, richer fibers and premium-looking leather. We did feel, though, both were thinner than in the prior model, but an extended trip in the 2012 Toyota Camry will answer that conundrum. The trip will also give us a chance to thoroughly test Toyota's all-new Entune system. First unveiled at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in January, the Toyota Entune joins Ford MyFord Touch, Kia UVO, and the Hyundai Blue Link to offer connectivity between today's smartphones and the vehicle infotainment systems. We didn't have a chance to test Entune during our brief ride and drive except listen to the music system. Overall, we find the 2012 Toyota Camry's revamped interior, while not ground-breaking, once again competitive with the rest of the vehicles in this segment. The legions of Camry buyers will remain happy with America's number one sedan. Toyota, though, may have to work a little harder buyers dazzled by the Korean automaker's offerings.