Long-term update: 2012 Toyota Camry meets 2005 Toyota Camry
This would be our first update on the 2012 Toyota Camry SE Plus long-termer that we picked up from Al Futtaim Motors more than a week ago. When we sat down to figure out what to write about this car, we came to the conclusion that there isn’t much to be said about the Camry. After all, it is a Camry. It’ll sell by the sackful, and there will always be a rabid bunch who’ll keep hating it. So after contemplating for a while, we decided to do the updates for this car differently. From now on, we’ll pitch our Camry against a variety of random cars, and see if it really blows as much as vocal opponents claim it does. This week, we put it against, what else, one of its predecessors, the 2005 Toyota Camry.
The Toyota Camry has been revamped for the 2012 model year, still uses the platform that debuted with the 2007 model. However, there are some out there who contend that the Camry has lost its way since 2007. Are they full of it?
We’ll start off by comparing the mechanicals. And we’ll end there with only a few words. The new Camry’s 181 hp 2.5-litre engine far outclasses the 154 hp 2.4-litre in the 2003-2006 Camry. The new one is only 10 kilos heavier than the 2005 model. The new one has a 6-speed while the 2005 one had a 4-speed automatic. And let’s not even talk about handling. Aside from better suspension tuning, the new Camry is also 20 mm lower in height. The new Camry wins based on specs alone.
But while armchair-racers keep whining, real Camry buyers are looking for cabin space, which is why they didn’t just pick up a Corolla. And the 2012 Camry is at the top of the class now. While these two cars are exactly the same length, the 2012 has a 55 mm longer wheelbase than that old one. That means the front wheels are further away from the rear wheels, leaving more space in between. While the difference isn’t obvious from the front seats, we estimated at least 50 mm more space for the knees in the back seat. Arguably, the headroom is less by 20 mm, but you’d only notice that if you are almost 7 feet tall.
In terms of aesthetics, we feel both cars look good. Some call them boring, but they’re only boring because you see so many of them around. If you had Butter Chicken daily, you’d be sick of it too. That said, we like the look of the kitted 2012 one better, simply because it looks more aggressive.
Inside, the new Camry wins easily, but only to a certain extent. The 2012’s stitched leatherette dash, cushy upholstery and digital gadgets are excellent, bringing the car bang up-to-date with the competition. But some of the cost-cutting measures are obvious. There is more use of hard plastics on the door panels, especially at the rear; the boot does not have covers on the goose-neck hinges any more, so you have to be careful with your luggage; the front cup-holders don’t have a cover; and the knee “cushions” on either side of the centre console are just nearly-hard plastics with fake “stitches” moulded in. Still, from the driver’s seat, the new Camry offers a much better ambience; the fake wood looks more realistic than before; and back in the boot, the lining is more extensive, unlike the old model which had a lot of exposed metal showing.
And that’s about it really. Another thing Camry buyers look at is reliability. While the old one is proven, it is too soon to tell for the new one, but Toyota is now offering a 5-year unlimited mileage warranty anyway, so it’s no big deal.
The only issue remaining is that the Camry now costs Dhs 101,000 for this optioned-up 4-cylinder SE Plus model. Back in 2005, you could pick up a fully-kitted 4-cylinder for maybe Dhs 75,000 in the UAE. However, for that 35% premium, you now get a better engine, more space and more gadgets. Navigation, keyless start and Bluetooth were unheard of back then. Hopefully your salary has also gone up by 35% since then. If not, it’s time to get a better job. Because inflation is a killer.
Original Mileage When Borrowed: 5,883 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 7,100 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 12.5 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: Dhs 0
Cost of Latest Maintenance: Dhs 0
Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Borrowed: Dhs 0