There are certain words that are almost never used in automotive reviews of the best-selling sedan in America, the Toyota Camry. Those words include sexy, sporty, dynamic, titillating or fun. Apparently no one cares - especially consumers - as Camry has led sedan sales here in the States for 14 out of the past 15 years and this past month Toyota sold its 10 millionth model since introducing Camry here some 30 years ago. Not bad Camry, not bad.
In May of 1988, Toyota brought production of the car to its plant in Georgetown, Kentucky and in 2006 it began producing hybrid models there as well. Highlighting Camry’s achievements is it being ranked No. 1 in the midsize passenger car segment in the J. D. Power 2013 Initial Quality Study.
So what is all the hubbub about? What is so special about this car?
Absolutely nothing. Except for the fact it is well built on a solid, comfortable chassis. It is easy to drive and offers a safe driving experience. This is a car most would recommend every member of the family drive. Camry offers affordability, value, quality, technology, comfort and convenience while being a vehicle that is very easy to operate.
Toyota moved Camry to its seventh-generation platform for the 2012 model year and for 2013 little has changed except for some interior upgrades and the addition of technologies such as Blind Spot Monitor system and rear cross traffic alert.
A trio of powertrain options are available in Camry including the aforementioned gasoline/electric Hybrid Synergy Drive system that offers up to 43 mpg city. Gasoline-only engines include the 2.5-liter four producing 178hp and returns 25 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. Also available is the peppier 268hp 3.5-liter V-6 offering 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. The gas engines are backed by a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential manual shift mode (and steering wheel paddle shifters on SE model Camrys). Hybrid cars utilize an electronic CVT gearbox.
Recently the 2.5-liter SE and Hybrid XLE Camrys each stopped by for a week of pleasant, safe, comfortable driving. Of course the fuel efficiency (and acceleration) boost of the hybrid powertrain was most welcome but even the four-cylinder of the SE proved to be more than adequate for everyday driving. Camry is also one of the most stable riding sedans tested lately.
On individual sales results, Toyota suffers the same fate as other foreign brands do here in North America where its passenger cars outsell its fullsize pickup, unlike results seen by the Detroit Three where fullsize trucks lead sales charts. Overall for the month of July, Toyota came in second overall, ahead of Ford and Honda but behind GM.
In keeping with tradition you won’t find words like sexy, sporty, dynamic or titillating in describing the Camry experience, but there must be something very alluring to this vehicle as more than 10 million buyers here and 15 million globally have shown.