By on September 5, 2011

Today, the 7th generation Camry was shown to the Japanese press in Tokyo. It was weeks after the new Camry had been shown in the U:S. and tested by the creme de la TTAC. Actually, it feels like Japan was the last country to get a Camry launch. And honestly, the country deserves short shrift: Less than one percent of the total worldwide Camry production (692,000 in 2010) is sold in Japan. With 14 million made up to date, the Camry is one of the world’s best selling cars, and the Japanese snub their noses at it. More than half of the production goes to the U.S., 22 percent are sold in China, the rest of the world takes the rest.

Frank Greve who had flogged manufacturer largesse with journalists would love Japanese car launches, especially those by Toyota. No business class flights to Scotland, no private planes to Sicily, no free iPads. The only thing you get for free at Toyota is an invitation and a bottle of water when it’s hot. They don’t need freebies: The A-list of the media, from the Nikkei to Dow Jones, from Reuters to NHK shows up, they report what they see and usually hit “send” before the event is over.

Today’s launch was a masterpiece of essentialism. It took place in a drab meeting room of the Japan Auto Manufacturers Association. Test drives?

Forget it: There was exactly one black Camry parked next to the building, and it wasn’t available for driving. Honestly, I like these frugal events. They are real press conferences, not a sales show.

And we could clear up something that had vexed the Best and Brightest for a while: The was a rumor going around that the U.S. would get a different Camry that “the Asians.” Let’s have a look, at least as far as a part of Asia is concerned that is called Japan.

From the front: Not so much difference:

From the side: Not so much difference.

Under the hood: Whoa. All new Camry models for the Japan market are propelled by the Toyota Hybrid System (THS) II. It uses a newly developed 2.5-liter Atkinson engine (2AR-FXE) with reduction gear. Hybrids account for 14 percent of all regular cars sold in Japan, so Toyota offers the Camry in Japan as hybrid only.

This is its battery.

“The Camry doesn’t sell as much here as it does in the States, so we decided to focus on fuel economy,” deputy chief engineer Keiichi Yoneda explained. The car gets 26.5 km/l under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) test cycle and 23.4 km/l under the JC08 test cycle. That would be 62.3 mpg and 55 mpg respectively – definitely non-EPA. Still, the JDM Camry is basically the USDM Camry Hybrid.

There is one thing Americans won’t get, and that’s Made in Japan Camrys. Most U.S. Camrys are made in Kentucky. However, in the past a few Japan-made Camrys found their way stateside. This will stop, as it was announced at the press conference.

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46 Comments on “The New 2012 Camry (Japanese Spec)...”

  • avatar

    So, looks like there are 3 different Camry in the world now, the U.S ones, the JDM ones and the Chinese ones? They’re all look different. I wonder what we’ll get. Probably the JDM ones, though without the Hybrid motor.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Are those pictures to the same scale and aspect ratio? The JDM model looks longer in the pictures.

  • avatar

    Maybe it is just the black color, but the back of the Japanese model looks more upscale than the US. I like the way the front of the US looks better though. I feel like it flows better, the JDM looks like 3 blocks in the front pieced together.

  • avatar

    “There is one thing Americans won’t get, and that’s Made in Japan Camrys. ”

    I thought all Toyota Hybrids were still manufactured in Japan. Has that changed? …and on that subject, what ever happened to the Prius plant they were building here in the states?

    • 0 avatar

      JDM looks more upscale, as others have said. The US version looks lighter I too thought Hybrids where a “Made in Japan” only.

    • 0 avatar

      They start building Corollas there soon. When NUMMI was closed, North American capacity for the Corolla was effectively halved. Thus, the Mississippi plant was converted to build Corolla instead of the Prius. I wouldn’t be shocked if the plant was designed to handle some Prius volume in the future, though.

      • 0 avatar

        Given the Toyota is in a distant last place in the C-Segment, I wouldn’t expect production volumes to be huge out of Blue Springs.

        Production has already started, although the line is not officially open.

        Original plan was to build Highlander SUVs, then the price of gas went to $3.50 a gallon and stayed there so the plan became to build Prii. Then the economy bottomed out and the value proposition of the Prii no longer added up as well against C-Segment vehicles so they switched to the Corolla. The Corolla line at NUMMI was closed and initially production was moved to Canada and Japan – US government and Mississippi state officials cried foul – Toyota then announced the shift was only temporary and has now fired up the Blue Springs plant.

    • 0 avatar
      Jonathan H.

      They’ve been producing hybrid Camrys at the Kentucky plant for at least four years. I began working for my current employer, a contractor with an office on site, five years ago and some of my earliest projects were designing/building equipment to specifically handle hybrid parts used in production.

    • 0 avatar


      How is Toyota in a distant last in C segment?

  • avatar

    The JDM Camry reminds me of the USDM Avalon. Perhaps Toyota watered down the USDM Camry design to distinguish it from the more upscale Avalon?

  • avatar

    Those cars look TERRIBLE.

    I guess Hyundai is gonna sell double the Sonatas this year.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with the “TERRIBLE” description, but would add “BLAND” right after it. I think playing it safe with styling is important in the midsize segment, but this is *too* safe. I think a bit more exterior detailing and flame surfacing could definitely spruce up the shape.

    • 0 avatar

      Hyundai was supposed to have done that already, weren’t they?

    • 0 avatar

      Funnily I mostly like the Sonata but am turned off by it’s over the top front end. Liked it enough to actually go to the dealership and everything but that front end just doesn’t really look right. Also the headroom was a lot worse in the back seats versus the Camry. Am hoping to get myself a new ride soon and it’s oddly boiled down to a Mustang versus a Camry Hybrid…yes, two cars that are not alike at all but the reason they’re both on the table is because they’re both in the right price range and I like both (for different reasons).

  • avatar

    Gotta say the front end on the JDM version looks a lot cleaner/more refined (except for the blue on the badge)

  • avatar

    Other than the blue badges, the JDM Camry looks better.

    Probably because of the extra shiny bits.

  • avatar

    US gets the ugliest Camry. I guess it’s becoming a more irrelevant market.

  • avatar

    Agree that the JDM Camry looks sharper and more upscale. Perhaps ironically, the JDM grille/headlights reminds me of the new VW front end, particularly in the one quarter shot.

  • avatar

    I like US market version more, black JDM car has this awful slab-o-tastic hood which is really similar to one on Chevy Cruze. Ugly.

  • avatar
    Toy Maker

    If the press don’t get to test drive debuting cars, where will the people read about the actual driving dynamics? Do they prefer to reserve that for the complete dealership experience?

  • avatar

    I was wondering how many of you prefer the U.S Camry vs the JDM Camry. Looks like there are people here on either camp. I wonder why Toyota would bother making so many version of the same car. They’re quite different too, not just different bumper and grilles. I suppose the U.S. version is probably have been subjected to considerable nickel and diming, given that it reside in a much lower position in the automotive totem pole vs the Camry in different parts of the world.

  • avatar

    Folks: Do I need to write in Braille? IT IS THE SAME CAR. The differences you see are differences in trim level and frankly camera angle. The Japanese get one trim level (3,040,000 yen), they can add a “G Package” (3,170,000 yen) and a “Leather Package” (3,800,000 yen) …that’s it.

    It is not unusual for different markets to get slightly different trims. It’s often a function of different regulations (especially the lights). Grille follows lights. Sometimes it’s a bow to different tastes. Did you know that Coca Cola is slightly different the world over, usually changes in sugar and carbonation?

    In make-to-order markets, the similarities usually drown in a myriad of options. We once calculated that there were 1.5 identical Golfs on the Autobahn.

    As far as the Chinese getting a different Camry, I would not put too much credence in these Chinese spy shots. If they indeed continue the old model (no unusual in China), then that car will look — like the old model.

    • 0 avatar

      Bertel, My understanding is the following.
      Base Camry: Japan, USA, Australia & Middle East.
      This is what your photo’s show (slight grill, tailight difference)
      Premium Camry: ASEAB region (China, Thailand, Taiwan), with it called the Aurion in Australia.
      This is same car, but with different front & rear fascia (headlights & tailights, grill, bumpers, & front quarter panels).
      The premium camry in Asian is marketed as Mercede’s like with a 2.0l & 2.5l Engine.

      Of course the proof will be when one of the Asean regions launches.
      Otherwise it is all speculation on whether the premium camry will be culled.

      Re: Braille, maybe it might help :-) Because I saw the same car..

      • 0 avatar

        Base Camry: Japan, USA, Australia & Middle East.

        There is a premium Camry for the US market. It’s called the Lexus ES 350.

        Lexus styling cues include a chrome grille. The US Camry would appear not to have any chrome on the grille.

        My guess is that the styling difference is largely a function of Toyota’s need to differentiate the ES 350 from the Camry, as well as an effort to maintain some styling consistencies with the rest of the Toyota lineup. (It’s all the rage these days to equip cars of the same brand with a shared “face”.) Safety regulations and taste probably explain the rest.

      • 0 avatar

        “The US Camry would appear not to have any chrome on the grille.”

        The USDM photo shows a Camry SE. The US LE and XLE models do have chrome grille.

    • 0 avatar

      As the WSJ points out, given the current exchange rates of 76 yen to the dollar, at 3.04 million yen for the base trim, it means that the Camry will start at a whopping $40k and tops out at $50k(3.90 million yen) in Japan. Nearly 2.5x the price of a Camry in the US.

      The cars may be the same, but boy, the US sure gets a good deal on the Camry…

    • 0 avatar

      BS “Did you know that Coca Cola is slightly different the world over, usually changes in sugar and carbonation?”

      Yes I did notice that. Coke sold in China tastes like sewage.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, they look plenty different to me. Not just a minor grille or bumper differences. The hood is completely different, the trunk and rear fender seems different. Not to mention the lights, not just the insides of the light but the light housing as well. The kind of difference that requires separate stampings. That must’ve cost quite a lot. It’s not like U.S. vs European Golf, sure the headlights and bumpers might be different (due to regulations) but have the same housing and probably had the same mounting points, and can share pretty much the same stampings. These Camrys look as different as VWs and Skodas of the same platform.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      “Did you know that Coca Cola is slightly different the world over, usually changes in sugar and carbonation?”

      Of course. Coke sells at least 3 different variations in the USA. You have the normal USA Coca Cola. In areas of the country with a large Jewish population they sell a special kosher version during the Passover season (I would bet that at least 75% of it is purchased by non-Jewish people since it tastes better than the regular USA version). They also sell Coca Cola imported from Mexico in some locations (my local Costco, for example). It is also different than the regular USA version.

      I also thought it was pretty clear that the JDM and USDM Camry were the same car. Toyota doesn’t seem to be the type of company that would make two different cars if they could avoid it. I would also imagine that exchange rates really make hybrid production in the USA important for profitability.

  • avatar

    I thought the RHD version was mainly built in Altona Melbourne

  • avatar

    I like the US Camry’s front better, the JDM Camry has a bit of VW in it.

  • avatar

    To me, they look different.

    I like Toyota’s dependability but it seems they’ve sacrificed excitement (as in handling). I drove a friend’s new car a while back, and I thought it was a nice car, but boring to drive.
    Mind you, that’s probably what a good percentage of the population want.

  • avatar

    I am in Yokohama looking at a Toyota BOAT. I talked to a TMC official, and he confirms:: “except for the usual cosmetic details, no change.”

  • avatar

    I think it would’ve made more sense to show a non-SE as the US version. The SE’s front end is pretty different from the more common trims’.

    My uncle works for a car company in Taiwan that spends a lot of time designing front fascias and interior door panels for localized versions of cars from the US or Japanese markets. I’m not convinced it’s all that necessary, other than adding ashtrays, but sometimes their designs look nicer than the USDM versions.

  • avatar

    JDM version is much better looking from the front. The USDM Camry front end looks exactly like the Mazda 6 of a generation ago. Is that just because it’s the SE version?

  • avatar

    I love the low-key debut there.

    I wish US elections could be conducted the same way, and last only 3 months.

  • avatar

    Pretty much looks like shit in any country/language. I like less plastichrome rather than more. Much less. So the SE looks better to my eye, ever so slightly. In fact, I can’t think of ANY mid-size that I like these days. The problem with reading car blogs all day is you know the faults of EVERYTHING.

  • avatar

    Pretty much looks like shit in any country/language. I like less plastichrome rather than more. Much less. So the SE looks better to my eye, ever so slightly. In fact, I can’t think of ANY mid-size that I like these days. The problem with reading car blogs all day is you know the faults of EVERYTHING. Maybe I’m just angry the Passat doesn’t have the 2.0T.

  • avatar

    I know what’s been bugging me about the looks of the Japanese market Camry… It looks like the previous generation Hyundai Sonata.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’m surprised at all the negative comments about the 2012 Toyota Camry. The Toyota Camry is simply the dominant mass market big sedan for the 21st century. It does the job that the Chevrolet Impala used to do. Both the 70s Impala and the current Camry LE have soft suspensions and over boosted power steering suitable for interstate driving. I’m glad that Toyota has found a way to give drivers around the world the option of the Impala experience, but with much better fuel economy.

  • avatar

    Man, looking at the naked battery like that I’m rather surprised they couldn’t find some way to sink it a little. Pretty clear that if they went with a run-flat they could have done it but I’m guessing the ride quality sacrifices turned them off from that. Still kinda surprising they didn’t sink the components up top sticking out.

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