First drive: Toyota Camry 2012 in the UAE

First drive: Toyota Camry 2012 in the UAE

The 2012 Toyota Camry is indeed the most anticipated midsize sedan to be launched this year. Between this, the Yaris, the Prado and the Land Cruiser, Toyota dominates a huge chunk of the GCC market. Does that make the new Toyota Camry the best family car in the market? Not by a long shot, although if you asked us, we wouldn’t be sure which one among the competition is better in every aspect.

At the media event held in the Dubai Autodrome, we were surprised to learn that there are four trim levels, but no less than three of those will get a sporty body kit with dual exhaust tips and alloy wheels. That should pretty much separate the “S” base-model taxi cabs from the nicer customer cars, namely the “SE”, “SE Plus” and “Sport”, so that’s one good move. We’ve always stated that the Toyota Camry, for decades, has always been a handsome attractively-proportioned front-wheel-drive sedan, and while a rabid bunch will always disagree for the sake of disagreeing, most others have voted with their wallets.

Of course, the main reason enthusiasts love to hate the Camry is because of its sloppy driving dynamics, and Toyota has moved to address that. In fact, the launch event had a handling course set up on the racetrack. After that, we spent a couple of hours on the road, driving towards the deserts of Sharjah before doubling back into Dubai for a free lunch at the Bab Al Shams resort before heading back.

But first, a word on the interior — they claim its bigger, with more rear headroom. We wont disagree, as the cabin was already one of the biggest in its class to begin with. The materials are better for the most part. A stitched-leatherette soft-touch dashboard is standard on all models, while only the body-kitted models get the upholstered door inserts and additional trimmings in fake wood or fake aluminium. Upper door sills are padded up front and hard-plastic in the back, though all armrests are padded. All models get exposed cup-holders, while the higher models get a touchscreen stereo with wheel buttons.

Driving the basic Camry S around a coned course, the first-gear kick from idle caught us by surprise, as it takes off instantly, unhindered by junk such as delayed electronic throttles and lazy dual-clutch gearboxes, as found in other cars. Of course, as soon as we hit the first sharp turn, the front tyres squealed out loudly in protest. The steering is light enough at these lower speeds to turn quickly, and reasonably quick to respond. And while ultimate grip is limited, as it is on all midsize sedans, body roll was kept within controllable levels. We never felt like we were going to lose it at any time.

For another exercise where we had to bomb around more cones in a Camry Sport, we can say it is an easy car to man-handle, but we did notice the brakes were average, and the car’s tail likes to move sideways by a few millimetres under full-on emergency braking in a straight line. The Sport model possibly does appear to have stiffer suspension though, as it had no bouncy issues with the swerving manoeuvres we were made to do.

We then hit the road in a Camry SE model. On a long-winded trip through the UAE’s rural areas, where we dodged camels, navigated villages and even killed a bird, the Camry just reaffirmed that in terms of driving feel, it remains very similar to the old model. The ride feels a bit firmer, likely due to lower-profile tyres, while the electric power steering remains a bit lazy, but has a bit of feel. The steering does firm up at highway speeds though, and while the brake pedal doesn’t do much on partial application, the ABS-assisted brakes stop the car fine when pushed harder.

Wind noise is moderate at 140 kph, and the cabin is fairly quiet at speeds lower than that. The suspension still feels a bit floaty on uneven surfaces, the benefit being that the harshest potholes and speedbumps aren’t really felt. So it still isn’t close to the class leaders in handling, at least in non-Sport form, but the car is more composed than before.

The 2012 Camry should continue to satisfy those who want a car just to commute everywhere. With continuing high resale values, more economical performance and better overall packaging, we expect the Camry to lead the sales charts yet again.

What do you think?



  1. …………..I LIKE IT………!!!!!!!!

  2. toyota strikes bak….!

  3. Salam Mashfique.

    Any word on the prices especially SE PLUS and SPORT Grade?

  4. Is that a tiptronic gearbox or a standard auto?

  5. I liked the stitched-leatherette soft-touch dashboard thingy, neat looking.

  6. According to a review i read about the spec in Saudi Arabia, the sport version even has heads up display on the windscreen, is it coming here to UAE or not?

  7. Regarding the prices Mash, are you sure the difference between the SE plus and sport is only 1 thousand, according to your last article the SE plus is 101K and the Sport is at 102K, or maybe you meant 112K? just wanted to make sure coz the top trim in Oman is coming around 112K dhs after doing the calculation.

  8. wtf is this???? it looks like a mixture of blown up civics and corollas. what a HUGE disappointment..

  9. The is extreamly Spacious and luxurious but my Question is will the taxis around the UAE will buy this one or no

  10. some how i am not convinced this would be toyota’s those prices there are a number first rate alternatives

  11. What was the 0-100 like? any comments on speakers if any improvement on that part?

  12. Looks like a corolla….

  13. Camry will always remain a successful car even if the customers arent satisfied with its new look. Eventually you will see a camry in each garage, trust me.

  14. It is a nice car, nice lines and not over done as the Sonata.

    However, with prices around 100k one may go for other brands; the car is not well priced to compete as the previous version. I doubt that this new version will be a hit as the previous model.

    • You can’t compare the camry to the Sonata, let alone stating that the new camry looks better than the sonata? Sonata is anything but over done. Its a very beautiful car with an amazing exteriorand an an interior that is significantly better than the interior of this new camry. The new camry just looks like a stretched out corolla, its rather ugly.Yet again Toyota rides on the back of its name and commands a pathetically high price tag for a car that looks like it should have been launched years ago. Seriously, Toyota has to start being more creative or risk losing its way in the long term.

  15. agree with most of your comments. despite the super ugly corolla-like looks, it will be successful, billions of taxis, decent resale value, reliable, etc.

    still, i was shocked to see that it was that ugly

  16. I still believe that the only good Camry ever made was the V30 generation.

    Large, spacious, comfortable and very solid car..

  17. This is just an introduction model… after 2-3 years they will facelift the same model.. put in some LED’s & HID’s ,upgrade the look slightly…(like what Toyota did with the previous Camry model) put out some limited edition versions as well and sell it out on seasonal special offers…

    Even if people disagree with the looks or performance of this car…and if at all Toyota’s sales slightly slips for that reason.. they will get back up & recapture the market…

    Toyota always does that…they have never failed…!
    However, what i do not like about Toyota is the Dual Standard they follow in the make of the car…an upgraded set of features and specifications for cars to be sold in the U.S. & Europe… & a slightly lower grade for GCC & other Asian Countries…makes us Asians look like cheap & unworthy customers..not just Toyota most Japanese Auto companies do the same!!!)

  18. It looks like a mix between the new Corolla and the 2000 Camry, I Thought Toyota could of done butter. they should of take lessons from Kia.

  19. i saw one on the road today..the base model…not appealing at all when compared to the out going model..:(

  20. Can you please let me know the advantage of moving the handbrake to car’s footwell? Why does Camry and Altima don’t have a proper handbrake?


  21. Price will start from 88 k for the base S model and 102,000 for the sport.The car has 181 bhp and electric steering which helps alot for the handling,the suspension are harder than the previous model which is again a quality for better grip and finally the weight is 1475 kg which is 50 kg less than the previous model which helps for less fuel consumption.

  22. Concerning the comparison with sonata,let me tell you that sonata is far away from the new camry,ok the design is better than the previous camry simply because the car is old!Handling the camry is winner with better suspension,electric steering (which is not available in sonata),181 bhp for camry against 178 bhp in sonata,the new camry shape is far away better than sonata,the shape is more agressive for camry and the front remind us the previus shape of honda civic 2006-2011 which was the best cicic ever made.maybe the the tail lights of the camry created some confusion but still THIS CAR IS THE BEST IN IT’S CATEGORY.

    • dont fully agree yet.
      this is all just by the books

      hardly anyone has tested the car yet. hpw good it is, is still to be seen.

      lets not make early conclusion based on air!

  23. i tested the car in dubai autodrom ,belive me its great car eventhough i wasnt fan of this car but this model is really different, breaks,Gear box, stability, comfort , quite and no noise at all . i tetsted for more than 3 hrs from every espects it worth the value. the difference between the SE and Sport is only 1k which is nothing according to the differences between the two models.

  24. i tetsted for more than 3 hrs from every espects it worth the value. the ************

    RE: Worth the value? really?…

    gents we a AFM salesman on board here…. BEWARE!

  25. it is loke nice but still is so slow you have to make this car faster not to much but we need it faster

  26. Like a corolla!!! I have no clue whats fansy about the new Camry!?

  27. Practical car for its size and decent fuel economy, as well as its resale value.

    Joy ride? Nope, nope, and nope.

    102K for a 4 cylinder 180 bhp plain ride?


  28. if u can spend 102 k for camry, y cant u go for the audis/bmws/benzes

    • coz they dont have atleast an extra 60 grands to buy those, countless of extra cash in their accounts to maintain those, and the time and cash to take those for costly service, maintenance and repairs (if any).

  29. the funny thing…. all the camry haters (including myself) can spew what ever they want… but the fact this car is sold out, there is even a few months waiting list!

  30. It’s sold-out here because there are a lot of people whose monthly budget to be spent on a car is 25 dhs…

  31. Hi guys,
    I would like to go for camry. Anyone knows about its fuel efficiency (on road), coz fuel -efficiency matters for daily long route commuters.

    Your comments really matters..

  32. Anyone give me an idea to choose between camry 2013 or honda accord 2012 model?

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