You'll find few surprises in the 2012 Camry – and that's probably good

Toyota Camry

The question of the day: Do we always need to be surprised by something new?

This is an issue carmakers wrestle with every time they redesign a core, bread-and-butter product.

Just how much change will we accept and continue to buy a particular redesigned vehicle in the same or better numbers than we did the previous generation?

When do designers and engineers alter the character of a car and truck so much that we stop buying it?

I was reminded of this fine line auto manufacturers walk last week when driving the redesigned Toyota Camry at a media event in Charlotte, N.C.

The course we drove wasn't at all challenging. It was just 15 or 20 miles around suburban Charlotte.

As my driving partner and I returned to the staging area, we were met by several Toyota marketing types asking us what we thought of the redesigned car.

I told them the truth.

But it was also what I considered to be the best thing they could hear about the best-selling car in America for 13 of the last 14 years.

I wasn't surprised.

The 2012 Camry is exactly what Camry buyers -- and there are obviously a lot of them -- have come to expect.

Well, I can't say I was totally unsurprised. Toyota has lowered the price of every Camry trim level for 2012; from $200 for the entry-level LE to $2,760 for the top-of-the-line XLE.

It has also done a great job of refining the interior. Both the 4-cylinder and V-6 engines deliver more horsepower and better fuel economy.

It has more air bags and a wider range of available connectivity technology, such as iTunes Tagging, phonebook access, text-to-speech and music streaming.

Otherwise, the seventh-generation Camry delivers the same smooth, quiet passenger experience that has sold millions of Camrys for the past 28 years.

I'd say, in the case of the 2012 Camry, there are few surprises and they are pleasant ones.

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