The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in the country for 15 years in a row. It’s an impressive streak that includes a particularly strong six-year run for the seventh-generation lineup. The 2012-2017 Toyota Camry sold about 2.5 million units during its time as a new vehicle. There are a lot of reasons for that success.
Compared to the 2011 model, the seventh-generation Toyota Camry features higher levels of technology, improved driving dynamics, more cabin space and better fuel economy. For maximum efficiency, the 2012-2017 Camry Hybrid has EPA ratings of 40 mpg in combined driving. The seventh-generation Camry also offers an important advantage over the all-new 2018 model. Since the previous Camry now is reserved for the used-car market, it’s significantly less expensive.
Which one will check all the boxes on your list of requirements? We’ve detailed each model year below.
2012: Toyota Technology Takes Center Stage
The first model from the seventh generation, the 2012 Toyota Camry certainly has its share of practical benefits. For example, the Camry provides an extra 1.7 inches of rear-seat legroom over its archrival, the 2012 Honda Accord. The Camry also has nearly 5 percent more trunk space. But the bigger news for the 2012 model year was the influx of new technology.
From a safety standpoint, the seventh-generation Camry offers a rearview camera for all model years. Of course, many cars were offering backup cameras in 2012. A key difference with the Camry is that it’s also available with a blind-spot system beginning in the same model year. The 2012 Camry introduces new infotainment technology as well. Even the entry-level L grade comes with standard Bluetooth for hands-free calling and an iPod-compatible USB port. A display audio system is standard for the uplevel models, with a 6.1-inch screen, Bluetooth for streaming audio, access to mobile apps and six speakers. The top infotainment option is a navigation-based system that includes a 7-inch touch screen that can be configured to show both navigation and audio information. The range-topping audio setup relies on JBL GreenEdge technology. It was engineered No combine premium sound performance with low weight and high efficiency.
That takes us to the Camry’s high-efficiency powertrain. The Camry Hybrid reached the marketplace two years ahead of its Honda rival. What’s better, the Toyota sedan brings along EPA grades of 42/38 mpg city/highway. The gasoline-only Camry earns fuel-economy grades of 24/34 mpg city/highway with its standard engine. This is an increase of 2/3 mpg city/highway versus the previous-generation 2011 Camry.
If you prefer more performance, the seventh-generation Camry is available with a 3.5-liter V6. This unit delivers 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. The SE trim level can pair that engine with a sport-tuned suspension and the first 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels for a Camry.
2013: Fine-tuning a Proven Winner
Putting the 2013 Toyota Camry on your shopping list provides access to a few more notable advantages. The display audio system becomes standard this year, while the LE and SE trim levels swap out hard-plastic door-panel trim for soft-touch surfaces. On the technology front, the 2013 Camry is the first to add rear cross-traffic alert to its blind-spot system. That can alert you to traffic behind the car when you’re trying to back up.
2014: Everything Carries Over, Including High Safety Ratings
Models from 2014 continue to offer all the content that makes the 2012 and 2013 Camrys so attractive to used-car shoppers. Further, beyond what we’ve already mentioned, that includes luxury cues such as heated leather front seats and push-button start.
Yet although the 2014 Toyota Camry remains unchanged, that doesn’t affect its performance in National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) safety testing. In fact, 2014 marked the third consecutive year that the seventh-generation Camry was honored by both groups. The seventh-gen Camry would go on to receive a five-star overall safety score from NHTSA for every year it was in production. According to the IIHS, the Camry was certified as a Top Safety Pick for 2012-2014. It was recognized with a Top Safety Pick+ award for 2015-2017.
2015: A New Design and a New Dedication to Driver Assistance
If you’re looking for more advanced safety technologies, look for a pre-owned Camry from the 2015 model year or newer. The roster enjoyed an extensive round of updates back then, and driver-assistance features were a key priority. As a result, seventh-generation Toyota Camrys are available with a standard backup camera and plenty of safety options. Among them are adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, a blind-spot system, forward-collision warning, lane-departure alert and rear cross-traffic alert.
The seventh-generation Camry also gets a more athletic appearance starting with the 2015 models. Highlights include longer dimensions and more side-to-side distance between the wheels, which work together to create a sportier stance. Next, to complement that look, optional LED headlights and daytime running lights make their debut. So do some extra performance enhancers.
Right off the bat, the aggressive 2015 SE model benefits from a revised suspension and a dedicated “S” transmission mode for quicker shifts. But Toyota also tightens handling further in the new-for-2015 XSE trim level. This model builds on the SE package with its own exclusive suspension components and a sport-tuned steering system.
Separately, you can combine efficiency and driving excitement into one package with the Camry’s first SE Hybrid model.
2016: More Helpful Technologies Make Their Premiere
The 2016 Toyota Camry supplies two additional technologies to the pre-owned marketplace. Perhaps the coolest is a dedicated navigation app that’s part of the midlevel infotainment system. This is an affordable way to get the benefits of navigation in your car by leveraging your smartphone’s connectivity capability. (To be clear, an integrated navigation system also is still available for uplevel Camry trims.) The seventh-gen Camry also gains the option of Qi wireless charging with the 2016 models.
You can find those features and more bundled into a value-priced package for the 2016 Camry Special Edition.
2017: The Seventh-generation Camry Signs Off with Increased Tech Availability
With Toyota hard at work on the eighth-generation 2018 Camry, the seventh-generation roster entered its final year pretty much unchanged. That said, it did offer more infotainment technology on more models. Here’s something to remember when negotiating, though. When the 2017 Camry XLE and XSE were upgraded with standard premium audio, including the navigation app, Toyota didn’t raise the cars’ MSRPs. The same holds true for the standard wireless-charging technology for the XLE, XLE Hybrid and four-cylinder XSE. In a perfect world, the same value should be reflected in the Camry’s used-vehicle pricing.