Conventional wisdom dictates to hold off on buying a car in the first year of new generation due to potential reliability concerns. Now, we're seeing automakers like Toyota making improvements to popular models like the Camry sedan in just its second year, giving consumers more reason to hold off on buying the latest, greatest car.
The front door panels on the Hybrid LE, LE, and SE trim levels are now covered in a soft-touch material, replacing the previous hard plastics. LE trims now have armrests that match the interior color, rather than being black. And variations with leather upholstery have new stitching details on the doors.
Admittedly, these are rather low-impact upgrades, but they do address a weakness of the 2012 Camry. In our testing, we found the cabin materials disappointed, citing the hard headliner, some cheap-looking dash panels, and thin carpeting. Other pieces, including the map pockets and some dashboard panels, had visible mold flash, and some of the switchgear, like the climate knobs, felt insubstantial. Hopefully there was also more attention paid to general fit and finish.
Other changes include making the 6.1-inch audio display screen standard on the L and Hybrid LE trims. However, no mention has been made of simplifying the stereo interface, which we found frustrating, with small touch-screen buttons and the need to navigate through menus to make audio adjustments. This screen can also be used for the available back-up camera.
Augmenting the blind-spot monitoring system is the addition of a rear cross-traffic alert for 2013. This can warn of dangers when backing out of a parking spot.
Ultimately, these tweaks are not earth shattering, but even small improvements are always welcomed. It is clear that automakers are working hard to compete for your dollar. If this trend continues, it does give another reason to not be the first on your block to own the latest model.