Blind Spot Monitoring, Safety Connect, And The Backup Camera
Our 2012 Camry Hybrid XLE also came with Toyota’s Blind-Spot Monitoring (BSM) technology. BSM actively monitors the vehicle’s blind spots using radar, displaying a light in one of the side mirrors when it detects something. This would probably be an invaluable capability in a larger car, or a vehicle with less visibility, but we don't think it's necessary in something the size of a Camry (assuming you drive like you were taught to, and check your blind spots before changing lanes).
During our week with the 2012 Camry Hybrid XLE, we found its BSM technology to work quite well. The system had no trouble detecting cars, or even motorcycles.
As you're driving along, a solid light in the side mirror illuminates when a vehicle appears in the blind spot. If you hit your turn signal, the light flashes if the vehicle is still there. BSM turned out to be pretty conservative, warning us of vehicles even if they were about half of a car length behind our rear bumper, which you should be able to see with properly-adjusted mirrors.
Safety Connect Services
Toyota offers suite of telematics services that provides emergency assistance similar to GM’s OnStar and Hyundai’s Blue Link. Like the Blue Link implementation, Toyota's Safety Connect relies on Agero for monitoring and call center services. It operates on CDMA networks, which, in the U.S., narrows the providers down to Verizon and Sprint.
Available services include automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, emergency aid, and roadside assistance. Most of the features are pretty straightforward, just like the packages from Toyota's competition. The system employs an SOS button that you can use to hail the call center. Or, they'll contact you in the event of a crash. The stolen vehicle location services aren't as extensive as Hyundai's Blue Link solution, only enabling law enforcement to track the car using its GPS location after a police report gets filed.
Toyota provides a complimentary one-year subscription to Safety Connect with every new vehicle equipped with its telematics system. After the trial, you have to pay $139.95, which is less than OnStar’s $199 yearly fee, but costlier than Hyundai’s $79.99 subscription.
Toyota includes a backup camera as part of the 2012 Camry Hybrid XLE's convenience package. It's placed below the rear “beauty bar” and set off-center. It’s hidden pretty well, letting Toyota keep the trunk release in the middle.
The camera doesn't offer a particularly great-quality picture. But then again, the LCD isn't all that impressive, either. However, it does have useful red, yellow, and green lines drawn on the screen to help judge how far away you are from clobbering whatever is behind the car.