Toyota Beefs Up Safety Features in 2012 Camry
Although the Toyota Camry has been the bestselling car in the U.S. for the last nine years, it has not done as well with safety ratings. Because of this, Toyota is beefing up the Camry’s safety features for its 2012 model. For Camry’s current, 2011 model, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Camry only three stars for frontal impact safety and four stars in a side impact test (a re-test after Camry got only three stars at first). And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2011 Camry only “marginal” rear-seat impact scores.
As The Car Connection‘s Deputy Editor Bengt Halvorson writes,
In a class of safety high achievers, that’s not so impressive. Toyota has both top five-star and Top Safety Pick results in its sights this time for the 2012 Camry. And while we can’t say yet whether that will really be the case, we can say that this all-new Camry ups the ante for safety equipment in an affordable mid-size sedan.
Although cars from Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz charge extra for side-torso airbags as an option, because they might not be compatible with all child seats, the 2012 Camry’s rear seat airbags are completely compatible with child seats because of a new design. These airbags do not require any deactivation through child locks, as some have in the past. The rear-seat side airbags, along with front passenger knee airbags, are new in the 2012 model, which will also have front-seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, and driver knee airbags — a total of 10 standard airbags.
Another 2012 improvement is the use of high-strength steel in the B-pillar and rocker-panel reinforcements, designed to help manage overall body crush in certain side collisions. Structural improvements include a redesign of seat frames to help absorb side impact loads. Roof strength has also been improved.
In response to its accelerator-related recalls from 2009 and 2010, Toyota has given the 2012 Camry as standard equipment a Smart Stop technology brake-override system, which reduces engine power when the brake and accelerator are pressed at the same time when starting the vehicle on a steep hill.
Safety equipment available as options on the 2012 model include a blind-spot monitoring system, Toyota’s Safety Connect, display audio systems, and backup camera.
The blind-spot monitoring system — similar to advanced blind-spot warning systems available in luxury vehicles and the Prius — detects vehicles in the driver’s blind spots, via millimeter-wave radar, and warns the driver with a light in the corresponding side mirror.
Toyota’s Safety Connect can connect the driver with a live operator at a call center to dispatch police and emergency vehicles. The system uses automatic collision notification and a stolen-vehicle locator feature to help track location of the vehicle so that law enforcement can recover it.
Suzanne Kane writes in family CAR GUIDE:
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 [space] and distance to obstacles.
Image by Toyota, used under Fair Use: Reporting.