Toyota’s mid-size five-passenger Camry has been the best-selling car in America for nine consecutive years. With the redesigned 2012 Camry due in showrooms in October, the Japanese automaker is looking to bolster its family-favorite status by securing top safety marks.
In order to do so, the seventh-generation Camry will need to ace tough testing by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This will be quite a departure from the ratings the current (2011) Toyota Camry earned from each. In NHTSA testing, the Camry only earned three stars in frontal and four stars in a repeat side impact test. Over at the IIHS, Camry got just “marginal” rear-seat impact scores.
Safety technology in the 2012 Camry
Toyota is equipping all 2012 Camry models with top-notch safety technology, including 10 standard airbags: dual-stage advanced SRS front airbags, front and rear seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags and driver and front passenger knee airbags. The automaker notes that the front passenger knee airbag and rear-seat side airbags are new to the Camry for 2012.
As compared with the 2011 model, the 2012 Camry benefits from significant structural improvements, including the use of high-strength steel in key areas. High-strength steel in the B-pillar and rocker-panel reinforcements help manage overall body crush in certain side collisions, and seat frames have also been designed to help absorb side impact loads.
The Camry also features the standard Toyota Star Safety System, as do all Toyota models. The system includes vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake-force distribution, and brake assist. An electronic tire pressure monitoring system is also standard.
New this year is Smart Stop technology brake-override system, provided as standard equipment. This system reduces engine power when both the brake and accelerator are simultaneously pressed, while still allowing the drive to use both feet when starting the vehicle on a steep hill. It's Toyota's direct response to its recalls from 2009 and 2010.
A blind-spot monitoring system is now available in the 2012 Camry. Using millimeter-wave radar, the system detects vehicles in the driver’s blind spots and warns the driver with a light in the corresponding side mirror. This is similar to the type of advanced blind spot monitoring system typically available in luxury vehicles and moving now into more affordable family vehicles.
Still another available safety system on the 2012 Camry is Toyota’s Safety Connect, which can access a live operator at a call center to dispatch police and emergency vehicles. The system combines both automatic collision notification and a stolen vehicle locator feature to help track location of the vehicle and help law enforcement recover it.
And in Camry models equipped with one of the available display audio systems and backup camera, when the car is in reverse, the audio display will show whatever the camera captures as well as an overlay of positioning lines that represent parking apace and distance to obstacles.
How will the 2012 Toyota Camry do in safety testing? Will it earn the coveted five-star overall rating from the NHTSA and Top Safety Pick from the IIHS? We’ll stay on top of the story and let you know all the details as they come out.
[Toyota via TheCarConnection]