Toyota gave the Camry a complete makeover in 2012, but in this case, it skewed on the conservative side of the spectrum. In fact, if you're not in tune with the subtle exterior changes that came in new models, you might not be able to tell the current generation Camry from the previous one.
Subtlety isn't a bad thing here, though, but one of the Camry's strong suits. The Camry maintained the same dimensions as the previous model, save for a few tweaks to the roofline and greenhouse. While it might be a stretch to call this car a "looker," what's immediately noticeable is its priorities on practicality and comfort over flowing form or characterful sheetmetal.
Compared to many of the more curvaceous alternatives in the mid-size sedan segment, the Camry looks a little more angular, a little more upright. It wears sharper corners than the previous model, giving it a little more curve appeal and a lot more points for style. Plus, there's added value for the trunk, which gains a little space thanks to the missing curves.
Toyota called this current Camry's design theme "Rational Tech-Dynamism," which "aims for a rational and advanced style with sporty exterior and a modern, luxurious interior."
Like most new models, the Camry gets a multi-layered dash appearance; Toyota says that the layered, stitched-leather look of the instrument panel was modeled after saddles, media players like the iPod played a role in the layout and tactile logic of the center gauge cluster as well as the audio and climate controls.
For the most part, Toyota holds true on that design promise inside. Thankfully, they replaced the former interior that we saw as a 'Corolla-plus' layout with one that draws from those models higher up the Toyota pecking order—looking influenced in part by Lexus sedans, accented with some of the dash details from Toyota's newest SUVs, like the new 4Runner. Yet oddly, we see the slightly larger 2013 Toyota Avalon as having taken off in an entirely different direction—one that we like better than the Camry's.
Within the Camry lineup, you'll find a few key appearance differences, and they're significant enough to affect your aesthetic appreciation. Sporty SE models get a split, winged air dam that we saw at times as Subaru-influenced; but XLE and hybrid trims come with a more wide-open (but louvered) air dam (with XLEs getting a little extra chrome in the upper grille).
To sum, the Camry doesn't push any boundaries; in fact, next to the Chevrolet Malibu it's now looking like the most conservative entry in its class, despite being one of the most recently updated. To some, it's a snooze, but we think it's refreshingly different for bucking a trend and taking function (and rear headroom and trunk space) over form.