(first posted 10/17/2014. I normally wouldn’t rerun a review, but reading through all the comments again made me chuckle; so much irrational Toyota/Prius/Camry hate. Where did it all go in the ensuing six years? And where did some of these commenters go? The answer to that is that probably some of them got tired of being called out for their emotion-laden comments. And now there’s generally fewer comments, which some may lament, as they made for amusing debates. I found them to be increasingly tedious, boring and tiring. But debate can be good, as long as it’s kept civil and intelligent. Oh, and I’ll try to post my shots from the B&O museum soon; better late than never.)
Today has turned out to be Camry day at CC, not by planning but through sheer coincidence. Since Mr. Shafer and I both ended up with Camrys as our rentals on recent trips, it only seems right that we each reflect on our respective experiences. Which do seem to be somewhat different; but then we’re rather different too. And since he’s obviously playing the comic in this little Camry burlesque duet, I get to be the straight man, for a change. Or is it the stooge?
To properly understand the Camry, one needs to put it in perspective and context. Quite simply, it’s a money making machine, for Toyota. Since 2001, Toyota has been building essentially the same Camry. And it will be for several more years, before the evergreen K-Platform gets finally retired after the latest generation that hasn’t even gone on sale yet. Yes, there’s been a few cosmetic and other changes along the way, like a new four cylinder engine (undoubtedly cheaper to build) and six-speed automatic. But who else is building essentially the same car for almost 15 years?
By keeping development costs low, and constantly reducing component costs and production efficiencies, the Camry is a substantial contributor to Toyota’s projected $20 billion profit this year. That’s head and shoulders above VW and GM. As Toyota has repeatedly said, it’s not about who is Number One in global sales, but who makes the most money. And Toyota does that by a huge margin, with profits about triple or more of those of GM, and double of VW.
Undoubtedly, the Camry is the lowest-cost car to build in its class, which is actually shrinking due to the relentless growth of the CUV segment. Toyota seems quite content to play it safe, and let others like the Accord and Mazda 6 be the segment leaders in terms of dynamic qualities. The competition in this segment, now that VW has entered it too with its US-specific Passat, means that margins will inevitably shrink to the extent incentives are required to keep volumes up.
Toyota’s strategy seems to almost be defensive, keeping the Camry “just good enough” while relentlessly reducing its costs so as to be prepared for a market segment shake-out, especially if/when the economy has the next case of the jitters. Just how that will all shake out, especially with the resurgence of the Accord, remains to be seen.
Well, the Camry can be a money making machine for its owners too, given its sterling reliability record and good resale values. On my recent trip to Baltimore to visit with my 91 year-old mother and my younger brother, I got a double dose of Camrys: my almost new 2014 SE rental, and my brother’s 2002 XLE, which he bought on my recommendation to replace his trouble-prone Taurus. It’s fully lived up to its reliability reputation, requiring nothing other than wear parts and a pair of struts. It just turned over 201,000 miles, looks almost-new inside and out, gets sterling mileage (mid 30s), and feels like it could do another 200k.
I got some back seat time since Mom called “shotgun!” when we took his car on some of our daily outings, like this one to Tilghman Island on the far side of Chesapeake Bay. The Camry’s back seat has always been one of its better assets, and I was very comfortable there.
When I arrived in Baltimore on that Saturday afternoon, my plane was running a bit late, and the plan to join my mom for dinner at her retirement community seemed iffy. The last time in Baltimore, Enterprise offered me a brand new 2014 Impala as an unexpected upgrade. That was a pleasant surprise, as it impressed me considerably (review here). This time, as we walked to where the larger sedans there, they offered me an Impala again…the old W-Body version. Well, maybe I should have taken one, for comparison purposes.
But when I spotted this lone Camry SE, I bit, because I’ve been curious as to how different the sportier SE version is from the…ah…decidedly non-sporty regular Camry. So I hopped in and tore off, eager to make the dinner appointment.
I have this odd habit of goosing a rental car as soon as I get in it, perhaps after spending time at 550 mph, 65 just seems like standing still. Sure enough, as soon as I got on the uncrowded (Saturday) I-95, I had to arrest myself as the needle swung past 95. Whoa! Down boy; you’re not in Eastern Oregon.
Although Jason complained about the abysmal lack of performance in his Camry rental, I found this one to be adequately sprightly, the six-speed automatic clicking off quick shifts which kept the 178 hp 2.5 four in the sweet spot of its power curve. I was curious as to just how this naturally-aspirated Camry compared to Jason’s hot new 2014 turbocharged VW Passat. Motor Trend’s test of the Camry SE four timed it from 0-60 in 8.1 seconds, a whopping 3/10th of a second behind the turbo Passat. And the turbo Passat shut it down at the drag strip with another whopping 3/10th of a second quicker run. Which one will most likely make it to 200k miles without any engine issues?
Well, the turbo Passat takes the crown, but it hardly makes the Camry a slug. Back in the sixties, a 16.2 second run in the 1/4 mile would have been brisk for a stock car with a healthier than average V8. In any case, the SE was more than fast enough for my purposes on the Baltimore Beltway, and I did make it to dinner with Mom.
The SE’s suspension clearly is firmer, and that adds control at higher speeds, which is to my preference. But it’s a bit like American cars in the way old days: firming up the springs and shocks alone does not make a splendid handler. The Camry’s aged and cost-effective underpinnings result in a car that is not as refined and dynamic in its handling as the class leaders, or our own Acura TSX, despite the extra firmness.
The steering is number than average, and the more aggressive 17″ tires were inordinately loud on concrete, although ok on asphalt. The engine pulls well, but doesn’t sound as refined in doing so as the best in class Honda four. Just good enough, but still a more fun car to drive on the winding two-lane back roads we took to visit my other brother in Harrisburg, PA. than some rentals I’ve driven.
Lots of folks hate on the Camry’s styling. Whatever…I’m neither attracted or repelled, although I think the current version is the best of the bunch, as its angularity make it look a bit less pouffey and feminine than some of the previous ones. Hey, if Cadillac chose to ape the Camry for its ATS, it can’t be all that bad, eh?
I obviously abstained from whatever Jason was ingesting when his Camry’s upholstery reminded him of the 1976 Chrysler wild green and yellow Castillion fabric. Mine looked…like generic upholstery fabric of the times. The seats were comfortable, but no one is going to accuse Toyota of spending a dime more on its interiors than they deem necessary. It’s not as bad as some of their cars a few years back (prior gen Corolla, Venza, etc.), but it screams what it is: the cheapest to build car in its class. And that seems to be working for Toyota’s bottom line.
The back seat is like all Camrys: quite roomy. What else is there to say? In some ways, it’s the best seat in the house.
Yes, there’s lots of buttons, but I just ignored them all except the cruise control. And having a leather-wrapped wheel makes a surprisingly big difference in how I react to a steering wheel. The rest of the interior design? I don’t spend a lot of time in new cars to really compare properly, but most of them do very little for me these days. They all look too much like boom boxes, if those things even still exist.
We went on outings every day, and my mom kept saying “I didn’t expect to see this again”. Well, thanks to the miracle of the automobile, it’s not that hard. But I did leave her behind for a quick trip on Friday morning to the B&O train museum, perhaps the most comprehensive in the world, certainly in terms of really old locomotives and rolling stock from the earliest days of the railroad. The Baltimore and Ohio was the very first common-carrier railroad in the US, and soon became a pioneering powerhouse during the great industrialization of the area as well as a large segment of the East Coast. I should be writing it up instead of the Camry.
The restored roundhouse just barely visible in the back is chock-full of engines, including some of the oldest steam engines anywhere, and a fine number of Civil War locos. I’ll try to get to it soon. I also took a twenty minute train ride along the area where the B&O once had the world’s largest train-building shops, warehouses, etc. It’s easy to forget that the railroad is almost 200 years old, and still rolling along on essentially the same technology, now at 200+ mph. Was the railroad a more important invention than the car?
Let’s just say I got a bit more carried away shooting the Camry than I would typically with a rental car.
The truth is, I started out with some enthusiasm about writing up this Camry, but now my interest has switched to trains. Camrys and ADD will do that. All aboard!!
Nice car, but I think I prefer the classic GM product in the background of the first picture!
The Baltimore & Ohio was the first common-carrier in North America, but the first in the world was the Surrey Iron Railway in 1803, though they didn’t carry passengers, that honour going to the Oystermouth Railway (later Swansea & Mumbles) in 1807. All three started with horse power (though possibly less than a Camry can mange).
Thanks; I should have said US.
Wow Paul I was just finishing a write up called “In Defense Of The Refrigerator” I was going to submit it to you next week. It was to be about my complete turn around from owning an MB S420 to my first Camry SE in 2002 to my current 2013 Camry XLE and I’ve owned 2008 LE & 2011 SE. I was also going to mention as a side note the Misses Highlanders 03 SE, 2008 V6 and the 2013 Limited. She was Diving a Range Rover before she bought her first Toyota the then new 2002 Corolla. Talk about the curbside effect.
I’d like to see that. The Camry is always good for a bit of lively interest around here, just below the Prius 🙂 Bring it on!
My BILs favourite Camry rental is the Hybrid similar performance to the 2.4 but it refuses to use any fuel he seems to think they handle ok but personally I wouldnt put them in the 406 class dynamically Ive watched their stability control at work while following one being driven briskly on a twisty road facsinating watching the attitude of it alter mid corner but my Pug was completely unruffled behind him at well past the recommended curve speeds.
Reliability of the Hybrid version? When Ford NZ attempted to regain the Taxi market Toyota responded with 300,000km warranties for cars in Taxi service plenty of Hybrid Camry cabs roaming the roads here.
I have had this exact same car as a rental many times. They are a good car for the money, and a very safe bet. They do not drive or handle as well as my TL, but they cost a lot less, too. I have never seen them as short on power, either, even at high altitude around the Grand Canyon.
I can see why the Camry sells in such volumes. It is a good $3000 less than a comparable Accord and most drivers could care less that the Accord drives better.
$3000 difference? Maybe in Canada, but comparably equipped cars in the US are pretty similarly priced…Granted the Camry SE has nav and heated seats, but that’s not $3000 difference….In fact an Accord Sport is quite a bargain.
And the Accord Sport is one of the few cars in its class that can be equipped with a manual tranny…
And the take rate is less than 1% on them, hurry, get them while the are hot.
So what you are saying is that you started off kind of excited about the Camry, but after thinking it over, the feeling dissipated. Something like that? 🙂
Overall, your experience seems to mimic mine from 1991. Nothing really wrong with the Camry, but if you want something to really make driving enjoyable, go with the Honda product.
Something like that. But good luck finding an Accord at the rental counter. Anyway, my love for trains is every bit as strong as for cars.
comparing the modern car interior style to that of a boom box is sheer genius….that’s perfect. lol
The Toyota looks pretty nice in black with the SE trim. And it seems to have decent sized windows for good visability. Your Mom looks great at 91 years young. 4 cylinder automatic cars have come a long way in terms of performance and economy. Now that you mention it, the interior does resemble one of those oversize boom boxes from the 80-90’s.
Nice license plates on those Camries.
Camrys aren’t very interesting cars, but if the new ones are as reliable as my current 2001, that’s a good reason to get one. I don’t care much for newer cars (and by that, I mean newer than 20-30 years old!) but I have to admit they don’t need a lot of maintenance and they last much longer than they used to! Mine is the Canadian CE V6 model (something that wasn’t available in the US in 2001) so it really lacks interior appointments just like the 4cyl CE model. Strangely, there were just 4 Camry models available here that year, the cheapest was the 4cyl CE, the 4 cyl LE, then there was the CE V6 and the XLE V6. When ordering parts online for this car, I can’t select the correct model as it just doesn’t exist on any website!
It does have 4 wheel disc brakes which the 4 cylinder models (even some newer ones) lacked but I miss having more seat adjustments, automatic a/c and even just having map lights. But it still feels almost like a new car and I prefer driving it than my father’s loaded 2013 Accord (one of the very few new cars I drove recently!).
There’s two things I replaced on the Camry which I think should last much longer and one is the gas tank. Apparently, they often rust on this model. I don’t understand why they were still making metal gas tanks in 2001! I remember my father’s 1986 Jetta GL TD having a plastic gas tank (that was replaced under a recall if I remember well) and when I saw that, I thought that all cars would get plastic gas tanks soon but Camrys made 15 years later still didn’t! I had to replace fuel tanks on a few old vehicles but it’s the first time I have a car that needs one after just 13 years and with the rest of it’s body still mostly rust-free!
The other thing that neeed to be replaced a bit too often is the a/c condenser. It’s on it’s third replacement and the original didn’t last 10 years. I hate spending on a/c repairs but I just can’t live without it! When I see the quantity of old Camrys like mine with the windows opened on hot days, it seems that most of them had issues with their air conditioners too!
So, the summary is that the Camry has become the ’82-’96 GM A body of the current times. Granted, Toyota has been updating it a bit more aggressively than GM did with the A, but it still seems a flawed strategy for the long term.
I’ve been eying a return to a sedan and since the rear seat is important to me, the Camry seems to be the easy winner. But, for style and dynamic qualities, Impala, Fusion, Passat and Accord appear to beat it handily. With a family to account for that is quite vocal against some cars, I doubt the Camry will make it into our garage.
At the rental counter I was offered a Nissan Versa, a Focus, or a Camry. It was going to be a 500 mile day so I chose the Camry.
Was it horrible? No. And I think the one I had was showing its 18 months and 36,000 ms’s in the rental fleet. And I admit it wasn’t pokey! 🙂
When I read abou the age of he platform, I immediately thought Panther. However I give Toyota credit for updating the veneer on a solid platform, something Ford did not do with any semblance of regularity.
Overall what I did not understand (and still don’t) is why these are held in such high regard. Like I stated about the Corolla, it gets a B or C in everything; this does not make into being valedictorian.
Who exactly holds them in such high regard? Seriously?
Well, maybe those that have gotten 200-300k mostly trouble free miles, but that’s just one (but important to some) criteria. So yes, there probably a lot of repeat Camry buyers who are happy with them for that exact reason: predictability of the likelihood of non-issues.
But I don’t think most Camry buyers fool themselves into thinking their car is generally superior in other criteria. Let’s face it, the Camry’s success can be credited to a considerable extent to its reviews and rankings at CR, going back to the 80s. And although it still does well there in the reliability rankings, it’s reviews there have placed it mid-pack (at best) for many years.
So those buyers apparently accept that reality/compromise readily.
Also, the Camry sells on price, just like lots of GM cars did for decades. Toyota can afford to do so, and probably those that buy it on price are also not the kind likely to be unhappy with it.
But the Camry’s general reputation as a reliable but not a class-leading car has been firmly established for years now. Yes, it’s a car enthusiasts like to hate on, but often with ample exaggeration. It performs competitively with the others in its class, if not at the top of the field in certain aspects.
I guess it’s a very polarizing car, not unlike the Prius. FWIW, I think that’s because in both cases these cars represent the overwhelming success of Toyota at the expense of American brands. Some celebrate that, others denigrate that. So a lack of objectivity should not be surprising, one way or another. The Camry is a symbol and more than just a mere car.
“I guess it’s a very polarizing car, not unlike the Prius. FWIW, I think that’s because in both cases these cars represent the overwhelming success of Toyota at the expense of American brands. ”
Youre on the right track with this, Paul. But what youre missing is that the Big 3 are getting their clocks cleaned not because Japanese cars are ‘better’. Its because theyre constantly chasing cars like those. Building soul less transportation devices that only appeal to steering wheel attendants isn’t what we do here in America. Theres no way we are going to beat the Japanese at their own game. When people think of an ‘American car’, a beige fwd midsize sedan isn’t what comes to mind. Its either a big long Cadillac, a 440 6 pak Charger, a hard as nails Jeep CJ, or a pickup truck. Those are vehicles that we know how to do and better than anyone. Detroit might as well get into the fried chicken business as try to knock off cammacords. Hell, why not adult diapers, electric can openers or any other widget that someone else has had dialed in for 100 years. Perception is reality on some level, and even Detroit doesn’t hold these types of cars in ‘high regard’ as it was put…otherwise theyd be putting their heart and soul into them. Rather, when we make REAL American cars, people line up cash in hand while they last. See the LX cars, Mustang, Jeep Wrangler etc. When passionate gearheads in America put their mind to making something great, you get the Challenger/Charger Hellcat. Im sure you know what that thing can do and for a relative bargain. Yes, that’s an apples to atom bombs comparison, but that’s what we do here in the states.
Any real ‘hate’ towards cars like the camry and prius is more likely from the fear that some federal beauracrat will continue to crank out laws forcing us ‘little people’ who cant afford a $100K Audi R8 or a $80 K Viper into some crappy electric pod that we will surely hate. On some level its a very rational fear, considering that we in America spout off being a ‘free country’ and yet we have no problem imposing luxury and gas guzzler taxes on our ‘free choices’ that don’t toe the line with whats politically correct. Youre about my dad’s age and I know good and well that you remember when any 20 year old kid with a fulltime job could afford any muscle car he wanted. Nowadays, youd better have a DAMN good job to afford anything better than a Kia. I make just under $50K a year and I cant afford even a base Challenger R/T without really strapping myself into a tough spot. The choice to buy an interesting car isn’t completely removed (yet) but theres plenty to discourage us to buy bottom feeder cars instead. Its like watching our auto industry commit suicide with the same gun the feds pointed at their heads. Insane.
This is very well put, MoparRocker74.
just add to the ranks or fear inducing bureaucrats those that call themselves “actuaries” and work in the insurance industry.
Nonsense. For ever “real” 426 Hemi Coronet, there were 50,000 with a 2 barrel 318.
For every SRT8 that goes out the door, there are 10,000 Darts.
For every Challenger or Hellcat, there are 100,000 half ton trucks.
For every Corvette, there are 50,000 Cruzes.
If you make $50k a year, buying a Challenger is not a particularly good move. If you want a job that pays better, invest in an education rather than blame the government.
“Foreign” car makes face exactly the same regulations as “US” makers.It’s bad, and short sighted, policy that caused them to lose market share.
Whats your point, Canuck?
I never claimed that the hi-po versions of ANY car are the biggest sellers. I never even brought that up. Its pure common sense that the base variants of ‘muscle cars’ are going to sell more. Traditionally that’s been the case all along. Those halo cars and aspirational versions are what appeal to car people and get buyers excited about your product line. How many of those Darts and V6 chargers/challengers are being sold as they ride on the coat tails of the Hellcats, R/T’s and Scat Packs. If you don’t believe that, then why do V6 versions of the Mustang and Camaro always sell, whereas cars like the Probe, Beretta, and 1st Gen Avenger have been fads or outright flops? they dont have the street creds. These days, Dodge is trying to sprinkle a bit of its performance heritage on ALL the cars it sells. That’s the right move. The Stratus/Avenger were basically Camry knock offs that weren’t really competitive. Why buy a 2nd rate Camry from Dodge when you can get the real thing?
Toyota, Honda, etc don’t really go with high performance halo cars because gearheads aren’t their target market. Their ‘image car’ is the prius. That oughtta tell you a HELL of a lot about who theyre marketing to.
“If you make $50k a year, buying a Challenger is not a particularly good move. If you want a job that pays better, invest in an education rather than blame the government.”
Youre making a lot of assumptions here. I hold a bachelors degree. Ive made the right moves in life. I can absolutely hand government its ‘fair share’ as they like to say, of the blame for why our cost of living is out of control. It doesn’t matter if I hit Powerball tomorrow…A gallon of gas will NEVER be worth $3+, and gas guzzler taxes never benefit whoever pays them. Just because you can comfortably afford to line some beuracrat’s pocket doesn’t mean its justified.
““Foreign” car makes face exactly the same regulations as “US” makers.It’s bad, and short sighted, policy that caused them to lose market share.”
You have a strong point with management making dumb moves. I agree 100% there, and all of the Big 3 have done it. But I disagree about those regulations having equal effects. Hamstringing a pedestrian people mover with tighter emissions, safety, and fuel economy standards doesn’t really piss off the target buyer. But when you kill off muscle cars, pickups and sports utilities, you force buyers into something they don’t really want. Perception is reality. ‘Foreign’ carmakers have ALWAYS done a better job at making appliances. We make the ‘good stuff’ here in the States. That’s been my point all along.
I rode in Jason’s car from the restaurant back to the hotel. At night. In the dark the locks disengaged, the doors opened and closed just fine, the car started, it drove back to the hotel silently and comfortably. The console wasn’t overly intrusive, Jason not once mistook my knee for the shift lever and it seemed to stop just fine in the parking lot. I didn’t note any rattles either and all the lights seemed to work. This is exactly what much of America is satisfied with and if it can continue to do the same for 200k+ miles, then I assume mission accomplished for Toyota HQ. Many other cars do the same these days, it was not always so. The Camry has been more or less consistently doing it for longer than most. It may be resting on its laurels but it has assuredly deserved them.
Jason’s negative article makes more sense in light of the information that he recently bought a Passat. He’s probably trying to convince himself that he didn’t make a horrible mistake going with the VW instead of the Camry. Good luck with that.
Haha nice try CJ. Earlier today I was thinking how the VW and Toyota situations are the exact opposite — VW makes emotionally rewarding cars that are a pain to own and Toyota makes boring cars that you don’t have to think about.
As a car guy I’m always going to root for VW. I think their boring styling (Passat way worse than new Camry) is holding them back more than the quality woes. So easy to fix you wonder why they haven’t.
The TDI from VW versus the HEV from Toyota is maybe the best way to understand the differences. Both are efficient but one is warm blooded the other cold. It’s nice to see the Jetta TDI catching on with young folks.
The difference is, the Camry is the best of what Toyota will do these days. The Passat may be a boring family car too, but it has better driving dynamics. If you want sporty, fun, stylish then see the GTI or Beetle. VW at least gives you somewhere to go. Id rather pay for my fun with a little wrenching and tinkering than have a nothing car that is as disposable as a bic cigarette lighter. But that’s the difference in a car person vs a steering wheel attendant.
Ahhhh, the Camry is “the best Toyota will do these days?”
Hmm, the Lexus LFA is pretty sporty.
It is the boring Camry and Cruze that allow cars like the LFA and Corvette.
90% of the motoring public couldn’t care less about a “scooting along with aplomb in the twisties.”
Nice try, Canuck
Lexus is a separate division. Yes the LFA is a great car, as is the Rc coupe. Neither shares much with ‘regular’ Toyotas. At one time, the Lexus SC was a more refined Supra, to grossly simplify it. The Celica wasn’t a ‘hardcore’ car, but it looked good, was fun, quick, and affordable. And as reliable and efficient as any camarolla.
Before you bring up Scion…different division, different ‘flavor’, like Lexus.
And yes, the ‘boring’ stuff finances the ‘good stuff’. No one is arguing that. Ive never said the boring stuff needs to go away. What I am saying is lets stop pretending the boring stuff is ‘the car to have’.
I have never been a huge Toyota Camry fan, but I think they are good cars for the majority of the public that does not really care about cars but cares about reliability and getting from point A to B in comfort. This current 2014 model is the best looking of all Camry’s IMO. The new 2015 I have seen on tv looks absolutely hideous! The Camry has always been like a reliable appliance – get in, drive, and it does what it is supposed to do. For me, there is no excitement, and the interior is CHEAP looking to say the least. I will take an Accord any day over the Camry. Just my opinion.
That diesel locomotive and RDC- rail diesel car are far more interesting than that Camry.Car may be reliable and well built,but they are boring as hell
” I should be writing it [the B&O] up instead of the Camry. <—- Please?!
Its Camry Friday!
Lol. What would Al drive today? I say ’02 Galant.
Daewoo Leganza or maybe a nice Intrepid SE
Al might be driving a Prius-but look at his new wife!
Please do a write up on some of those locomotives!
Do I spy an RS-3 and a GE 70-tonner in the lineup?
Was your mother riding that bike?? At 91, amazing if so.
I enjoyed the family story more than the Camry.
I really like the looks of the SE model, but don’t like the 2015 refresh that is already out on dealer lots. Yuck! I haven’t read any person mention that it looks like the 2007 model but it does, as evidenced by your collage (except for the ugly fish mouth).
Was your mother riding that bike??
She wishes. That’s her walker. She has post-polio syndrome, from a rather moderate case of polio when she was 16, but that has now left one leg quite impaired.
She does look pretty active however! That’s great she was able to go on a getaway.
I knew a man who was wheelchair-bound since ~1950 from polio, he sure made the most of what he was dealt also.
My grandmother is a few years younger and comes from a bicycle-loving country. She manages running machinery but couldn’t picture her back on a bicycle, I was mystified for a moment is all..
She was a very active walker and hiker for as long as she could, but that declined in more recent years.
My mom uses a walker too. She calls it her “Mercedes Benz”.
The current Camry SE is okay (I hate the front end styling on the new XSE though), but springing the extra cash for the Avalon or ES is WAY worth it.
Oh, thank god — it looks like they got rid of the frustrating rear door armrest loops from the previous sub-generation, which as I’ve moaned about before, made the back seat a needless exercise in discomfort.
It’s worth noting that the Camry is now almost exclusively a U.S. phenomenon. Even the first SV10 Camry was really aimed at the U.S. market (although it was also sold in Japan and other export markets) and at this point any non-U.S. sales are pretty negligible. So, this is what Toyota figures American buyers want and the sales figures suggest the company is not wrong.
I said all of this about Toyota earlier today in a comment. They put juggernauts like Google and Apple to shame, they really do. No one dominates an industry like Toyota.
What kills me is that Toyota doesn’t have to work at it like Google and Apple do. Instead of calling them on that we see praise for their products and that needs to be called out. Praise for their business success yes, praise for the products no.
Even their hits were accidental. When you are as big as Toyota and make so many things you can trial-and-error your way to a bullseye every time. Take the RX300 and Prius, neither of which was planned for the US or even wanted by local management. Two segment defining smash hits. A home grown idea like the Venza does nothing, which would be a devastating blow to most companies, but for Toyota it’s just a write-off.
There are profound effects on the industry when a product as mediocre as the Prius sells so well. The millennials who grew up on this crap end up not digging cars. Competitors die off and leave it all to the guys who won the war… back in 1985!
It’s not fair but incredibly awe inspiring and yes I’m jealous.
PS — At least Toyota is trying harder on the styling. The new Camry (red car) looks pretty darn good and so does the new Corolla. No surprise really good styling is cheap!
What specifically is so mediocre about the Prius that isn’t explained by the need to get the most mpg possible? And who has so far made a vehicle that eclipses it in ALL aspects including price that really deserves the success more?
“What specifically is so mediocre about the Prius that isn’t explained by the need to get the most mpg possible? And who has so far made a vehicle that eclipses it in ALL aspects including price that really deserves the success more?”
Ever hear of the law of diminishing returns? Real world mpgs on the prius are as low as 40 mpg. Claims of 50-60 mpg in a lab on rollers does NOT equal real world. And the kool aid drinkers who claim they can drive from Portland to Seattle and back on $3 worth of gas (yes, some tool at my work tried HARD to sell me on this) are no more credible than some of my fellow Jeep nuts who claim they can take an un-modified CJ-5 and ford a 10 foot stream with it. Look at the driving dynamics of the prius…one of the slowest, worst handling cars money can buy. And those few extra mpgs aren’t cheap…you can spend upwards of $30K on the thing. Using two drive systems to get mpgs that are barely competitive with a CRX HF or Geo Metro from 1991 and costing a HELL of a lot more would need 5 promotions just to even get to mediocre. The end result of high mpgs is to save money. When I can get a mechanically solid 20 year old corolla for under $5K that gets in the high 30s on mpgs with none of the complexity or battery life issues….explain to me again whats the point?
Truth is, only a handful of hybrids are actually selling in large numbers, and its because its become an ‘image car’ for the far left environmentalists. Its a regurgitation of what happened with yuppies and Bimmers in the 80s. The difference is, if you got the right BMW it had plenty of its own merits to make it a great and memorable car for those who actually LIKE to drive.
You didn’t answer the question though. Throwing out a bunch of oranges vs apples comparisons doesn’t do it. If real world mpgs of the Prius are “as low as 40” that implies that 40 is the bottom and much higher results are and have been achieved. Not too shabby. Obviously low-rolling resistance tires help (and take away from handling), conservative gearing helps (and takes away from acceleration), low weight and lightweight materials help (and take away from a feeling of rock-solidness). All tradeoffs done in the quest for mileage whcih is the whole point of the car.
And before you mistake me for some eco-weenie, that hardly describes me as regards automobiles, our current fleet includes two 6-cylinders and a V-8, none of which could be described as particularly frugal. I have tried some of these hybrid cars and they are impressive in their own way in the same way that a Jeep CJ5 is impressive over raw country but as a logical daily transportation appliance would appear to make little sense.
I don’t know about you, but around here Priuses regularly are cruising in the fast lane at 90+, they rarely hold me up. I doubt they are getting their optimum mpg at that speed, maybe that’s when they only get 40, but when they are stuck in traffic alongside me and crawling on battery power alone, they aren’t using ANY gas.
The Prius is also socially acceptable in many situations that a CRX HF, a Geo Metro, and a 20-year old Corolla aren’t and in many situations for many folks where it is as acceptable as a much MORE expensive car… Nothing wrong with any of those other cars you mention but it’s not 1991 anymore. The Prius is not a two-seater as the CRX is, it’s not the deathtrap that a Metro realistically is, it’s also far and away more composed and refined than a 20-year old $5K Corolla which I will admit/agree is likely the best car of the three choices.
On top of all that it seems to hold its value pretty well. Prius starts at well under $30k, closer to $20k actually and even at the base price is much better equipped than any of the others you mention could have been equipped at the top of their range. Take a look at new car prices, $20k-$30k is not a particularly huge sum of money for a new car anymore. It’s probably a much better value, all things considered, than to drop $5k on a 20-year old Corolla. I’m sure I don’t have to argue that much of the weight increases of the last 20+ years in cars are due to people demanding larger cars with more tech and safety items – The Prius is larger than any of your comparables and quite a bit safer as well. If the tech and safety requirements of 20+ years ago were acceptable on a Prius it would make sense that the price would drop a lot as well as weight, resulting in a yet even better mpg figure.
I do get it though, incremental mpg gains are increasingly diminishing returns. On a gallon for gallon basis, if Toyota spent the money and time to get 2mpg more out of a 5.7l Tundra, the average buyer would probably save more money than if they got 10mpg more out of a Prius (I didn’t actually do the math but I think we understand the concept the same way).
Back on topic though, in any case, why buy new? Nothing stopping anyone from buying a used Prius, they’ve been around for over a decade now and guess what – the price for a used one is lower than a new one as well. And I agree it is not going to make it from Portland to Seattle and back on $3 worth of gas at today’s prices.
I’m also not aware of statistically relevant faults related to complexity or battery life issues. All the doomsayers spouting garbage about how the batteries would need to be replaced constantly were shown to be wrong, in fact the battery itself is warranted for a minimum of 8 years / 100k miles in every state and I believe it is 10 years / 150k years in California and that is without any prorating. The battery in every instance I believe is warranted for longer than anything else on the car.
At the end of the day, a lot of people are interested in buying less gas. There are only so many 20year old Corolla’s to go around, so some people either elect or prefer to buy new. In 20 years, today’s 20-30k Prius will be on the used market, probably for around that same $5k.
In any case it is simply NOT a mediocre car as far as the basic definition of a car is concerned. Compared to a Jeep it’s not good off-road. Compared to a Charger Hellcat it’s not good on the dragstrip. Compared to a Lotus it’s not good around Laguna Seca. But as far as getting 4 normal sized people from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of comfort at a reasonable cost in a reasonable amount of time, it does pretty darn well. And I am guessing that’s one of the main reasons why taxi fleets all over the country are incorporating more and more of them into their fleets, replacing the B-Bodys and Panthers that have gone the way of the dinosaur, not that there aren’t equally large and comfortable vehicles available to replace them instead. And please don’t try to tell me that the average Manhattan cabbie is a far left environmentalist that desires an image car. Leonardo DiCaprio maybe, but not the dude that took me into midtown a few months back.
Jim, I used some pretty far reaching scenarios to prove a point. And you helped make many of them for me: When you have so many compromises in order to eke out a few mpgs, its a diminishing return. The fact that so much technology has been dumped into this car to get such small gains makes the whole thing not worth it. Again, here’s a far reaching comparison, but I think you’ll get my point:
A few years back, Guns N Roses FINALLY released the Chinese Democracy album that Axel has been harping on for 15 years. It sucked. But I think it was Adam Carolla (I could be wrong) who said that even if its the greatest album ever made, if it takes 15 years to make then it sucks just on that alone.
The point is, its all fluff and hype. You yourself are trying to burn the candle on both ends: On one hand, the goal is maximum mpgs. BUT, we still have an ‘image’ to maintain and we have to be ‘socially acceptable’. Which is what the whole hybrid thing is REALLY about. Its about impressing a bunch of tree huggers in order to brown nose the right corporate suits or some such. Or being able to claim some sense of moral superiority over those who don’t care about the environment as ‘We, the enlightened prius drivers”.
In my area (Portland, OR) you sure as hell don’t see any Priuses doin 90 mph…more like 10-15 under the limit and in the fast lane so everyone has to swerve around them. Even if–big IF–they can get out of their own way, the elderly hippies that are usually driving them are no different than the Q-tips you see wallowing around in buicks in the Midwest.
My point with the Jeep is that people love the smell of their own shit. Ive heard all these tall tales about how hybrids are so great and if you do the math, some stories work out to 300 mpg. Its crap. Im a die hard Jeep fanatic. So hardcore that from the time I was 17 to about a year ago when I broke down and bought a truck, Ive commuted in Jeeps. From old CJs to Wranglers. Ive driven on 2- 4 day roadtrips in them. No it isn’t ‘ideal’, and yes, Im probably out of my mind but it can be done. I love the things for their faults and virtues, like many others, however Ive heard all sorts of B.S. from other fans that is so far flung as to be laughable. Like you can run the AMC 6 cyl on urine. Or the guy that supposedly chained 2 F-150s to his Scrambler and he dragged them across a field in a tug of war. The list goes on. I believe little I hear, and half of what I see.
I see your post too, Yanns. And I don’t believe for a second that a hybrid with its flimsy structure and sitting on top of a bank of toxic corrosive chemicals just waiting to explode and melt your face off is somehow safer than that POS Geo. Yes, those are deathtraps…but like anything else in life, you make a choice. Sometimes you pick mpgs, sometimes you pick safety. A Sonata is NOT a prius. A motorcycle is less protection than either. And a semi truck would crush all of the above….simultaneously. You can put all the gub-mint approved 5 star crash warnings on anything you want…NO ONE is guaranteed anything. You take what info you have, weigh it and you make whatever choice works best for you and you roll the dice.
You mention Priuses in 20-30 years…with all the made-to-fail electronics and doo dads as well as being partially dependent on batteries…that’s wishful thinking. These things are nothing but an iPhone that you can drive…and those are obsolete within a year or 2. Replacing all that wizardry is cost prohibitive. This isn’t a Barracuda or a Camaro. Its not easily serviced by shadetree mechanics, and it certainly doesn’t inspire the passion that it takes to keep an old car going.
One thing you did get right tho, was in the case of the taxicab, especially in congested areas. There, that’s the ONLY place I can see a benefit to the technology…when the car is at a crawl or damn near at a stop for hours on end.
Lastly, Jim I don’t mistake you for an ‘eco-weenie’. First off I don’t know you personally, but Ive caught your posts on cars. You are likely a car guy if youre here at all…eco weenies are posting on savetheglutenfreetofuwhales.com or some such. Obviously, you have some fascination with what makes hybrids tick and I ‘get’ that. But ultimately, this car is put on a pedestal because its being pushed by a political agenda. That’s a HUGE problem for me, especially knowing my tax dollars are being used to bribe people to buy them. Sorry for riding the ‘no politics’ line, but that’s about 90% of my hate for these things.
More utter nonsense.
The Prius can, and does, get fantastic fuel economy in heavy urban traffic. Taxi operators here tell me 6.0 L/100 km is normal in Vancouver traffic. Try to beat that with anything. The streets are thick with them here. Taxi operators, and I used to be one, will always go for the lowest $/km. The battery lasts the life of the car, 800,00 km or more. I doubt you’ve ever been in one.
The Prius sells in huge volumes and makes Toyota and its shareholders (me included) make bucket loads of money. That’s what the car business is all about.
The Prius wins the highest MPG in city conditions and that’s one reason why it found (some) favor with cab operators here in Vienna. Take it on a cross-country run and the advantage disappears (of course, here we have Eurodiesels capable of returning 45, and more, MPG). I had some experience with my BIL’s Prius in Israel and to maintain progress outside town – particularly if you need to overtake anything – you must thrash its internal combustion engine, which obviously means higher fuel consumption. Of course, Israel’s weather being similar to south Cali’s or Arizona’s, your aircon is continually switched on – another factor in the Prius not having THAT good overall fuel economy…
Finally a breath of fresh air. Thanks for chiming in T. Turtle.
Canuck, whats nonsense is that you didn’t read my last post. I told you right there, that the only way a hybrid makes sense is in congested area. In short, you ONLY get those gee-whiz mpg figures under controlled conditions. Taxis can reap the benefits of the technology. But someone with a 100 mile freeway commute will not.
Turtle nailed it. For longer runs, a diesel is the way to go, for max mpgs. But with the added complexity and higher buy in that’s being shoved onto VWs newest ones (in North America) its a marginal advantage.
When a manual trans 5 door Focus can get mpg in the high 30s for considerably less money, less complexity and a lot better driving dynamics…hybrids don’t make much sense. AND talk to me in 10-15 years when all the electronics are frying and the batteries don’t hold a charge.
What it does well… One of those Viennese cabs I mentioned above.
Mopar – The points you’re making about hybrid drivetrains being overly fragile and complex is out of the handbook from 10 years ago. It’s typical for a hybrid taxi in NYC, in some of the shittiest driving conditions in America, to last 300,000 miles or more on its original battery pack. When they do need to be replaced, I believe it costs ~$2,500. Not much more than replacing a transmission in a new car, and that’s not a common occurrence anyway. When hybrid cabs were first being pushed by the city, the T&LC fought tooth and nail using all the same arguments. 6 years later, hybrid cabs account for roughly half of the entire fleet and the T&LC is fighting even harder to keep them in light of the pending “Taxi of Tomorrow” (Nissan NV200) takeover.
A modern diesel engine can get hybrid-like economy, but only at constant highway speeds. The majority of driving that most people do is not a 100-mile commute at a constant 60MPH, it’s actually much closer to that which a taxicab does. Most Americans live in cities or densely packed suburbs and drive under 40 miles a day. That’s why Chevy can get away with the Volt commercials where people say they only put in gas once a month – because for most drivers, that would be accurate. Maybe not 300-mpg exactly, but in the hundreds of MPGe once electricity cost is factored in.
There’s no reason “hybrid” has to equate with “boring to drive” either. The Porsche 918, McLaren P1, LaFerrari and BMW i8 are all hybrids – as are the KERS-equipped F1 cars and the Audi R18 e-tron that has won LeMans the last two years. Electric motors generate massive amounts of torque, and although the batteries add weight, they can be placed strategically to create a more optimal center of gravity and front-rear weight distribution. The power delivery is all about what the car is designed to do. The Toyota power-split device in the Prius and Camry Hybrid creates a CVT-like drone under hard acceleration, but that isn’t necessarily an inherent characteristic of hybrids; it’s just the optimal method of achieving high fuel economy. Acura has a really interesting system in the RLX Sport Hybrid (unfortunately wrapped in the world’s most boring sheetmetal) where the electric motor in front is connected after the DCT and there’s two motors independently driving each rear wheel. That means it’ll bang through each gear and shift at redline like any normal car, and the rear motors can provide additional power OR function like the world’s greatest LSD via torque vectoring. Even Toyota’s system can be set up with a “manumatic” program simulating stepped gears, as it is in the CT200h and GS/LS hybrids.
Pictured below is a 90s Geo vs. newer Sonata. Two individuals died tonight riding in that POS Geo. I’m surely not one to defend Toyota, but I knew I wouldn’t have to get too far into reading comments (like 3) without reading some Geo-crap pop up and it’d be beneficial to show the advancement of auto safety. Then…..now. (I’d take a Prius over this any day).
Not to get into the whole Prius thing too much, but my wife’s 2010 has a lifetime MPG average of 47 US MPG. That is with our crappy E10 gas, my wife’s non-eco friendly driving and includes long cold winters that see temperatures as cold as 30 below. The best we’ve seen with it was 60 MPG highway, but it is typically in the low 50’s.
It’s not a perfect car, but ours has been ultra reliable, cheap to run, and has far more interior and cargo than our previous Civic. I do get annoyed with the ICE droning on the hills on the highway but it will climb any hill around here without losing speed. It’s handling isn’t as sharp as the old Civic, but it’s not nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be. As for performance, is more than adequate for normal driving and it certainly will easily out run one of my old 307 Olds powered V8 cars. This is coming from a V8-aholic and someone who generally doesn’t have much passion for modern cars. My wife, loves the car, and wants another one when we trade this one.
You can get a new car that gets mileage close to a Prius without the complexity, driving dynamics and battery issues, here’s a screen shot of my average mileage for my stock 2013 Versa from my economodder fuel log. $12,999. That thing’s a whole lot safer than a Metro and more reliable, a lot cheaper than a Prius.
Efficiency log for: 2013Versa – 2013 Nissan Versa S
Lifetime Fuel Economy: 37.1 mpg (US), 6.3 L/100 km, 44.5 mpg (Imp)
90-day Fuel Economy: 37.1 mpg (US), 6.3 L/100 km, 44.6 mpg (Imp)
3-tank Fuel Economy: 36.3 mpg (US), 6.5 L/100 km, 43.6 mpg (Imp)
EPA Combined Rating / % over rating: 30 mpg (US) / 23.7% (based on 90-day fuel economy)
Total fills: 29
Average cost per gal/L: $3.54 per gal (US); $0.00 per L (price data entered for 29 fill/s)
Average cost per fill: $33.94
Average distance cost: $0.10 per mi. / $0.06 per km
Total fuel used: 278.34 gal (US), 1053.6 L
Total distance traveled: 10321 mi. / 16610 km
Total cost: $984.27
Total fuel saved vs. EPA: 65.7 gal. (US) / 248.7 L
Total saved: $232.58 (based on avg. cost per gal./L)
Average tank distance: 355.9 mi. / 572.8 km
That one red line was from an 80-85 mph trip across Wyoming, Utah and Idaho 🙂 The highest one was a trip from Vancouver to Tacoma and back.
When it comes to cost per mile when factoring the original car price, yes you can beat a Prius. I have yet to see anything that rivals it for real world MPG’s though. When we were shopping, the Prius was the only car in it’s class that I sat in and had decent amount of leg room. Plus, it also has a large rear seat (for leg room) and a excellent cargo area. We basically needed something with more leg room than our old Civic, better seats and much more cargo area, without losing MPG’s. I also wanted something with a stellar long term reliability record, good resale and it needed to log a lot of miles for low cost. That’s why we bought it. So far with almost 84K miles we’ve only had to replace the brakes, nothing else.
As far as the driving dynamics, they aren’t that bad. Honestly, if you aren’t “rallying” the car or driving aggressively, the car does everything as good as our old Civic did. If I drive it aggressively in the corners (enough to get the attention of the police), sure it understeers a lot more than the old Civic and isn’t nearly as fun, but I have no issue making it do things that would easily get me pulled over.
The MPG’s you got in your Versa are pretty close to what we used to get in our Old Civic. Driving on the 400 and 401 in Ontario in the fast lane our car typically averages 4.6 – 4.7L/100 kms without issue.
“What specifically is so mediocre about the Prius that isn’t explained by the need to get the most mpg possible?”
My BIL has one and I’ve driven it. Rock hard seats, horrible ride, engine drone going up even the slightest grade, the most artificial steering feel I’ve ever experienced, jerky transition from electric to gas and Corolla-level interior material quality. Those are the bad things from memory. The mediocre ones are fewer but include important things like the styling and price.
“And who has so far made a vehicle that eclipses it in ALL aspects including price that really deserves the success more?”
No one yet but a diesel Mazda 3 or 2 would beat the Prius in efficiency and be a lot more fun to look at, drive and ride in. Too bad they wasted so much time trying to make the 2.2L work without urea injection. They should be working on a smaller one for the 2 and 3 by now.
It wouldn’t be cheap but a diesel ATS would really rock my boat. Unfortunately Cadillac sold off the engine to Fiat as part of the bankruptcy and so there will be a delay while they work on a new one. That diesel on the RAM 1500 is selling so well that they’ve just upped the mix from 10% to 20%.
Point is that when you get the right diesel on the right model at the right price point it will do better than the HEV. Does anyone still make a hybrid pickup?
Well, styling is pretty subjective. Plenty of people thought the last Mazda 3 had a hideous front end as far as that’s concerned. You can get a Hybrid in conventional form factors as well (Camry, Avalon, Prius C, and Highlander, right?). And no, I am not at all arguing that any of these Toyota’s is the most interesting or fun car to drive in its respective class.
Maybe the one you’ve driven isn’t representative of the breed, I don’t know, or maybe it is a case of misplaced expectations. The ones I’ve driven and been in were not bad when they transitioned, the drone uphill is probably explained by the CVT, a small gasoline engine and relatively low level of sound insulation (all explained by the quest for light weight = higher mpg), electric steering (same thing, and what electric steering system has as good as or better feel than conventional?), Corolla level interior material quality – sure, it’s not a luxury car, what do you expect for a car that currently starts around $24k and has a lot more tech than a Corolla? I’m guessing your BIL finds the trade-off acceptable for getting pretty good gas mileage and excellent resale value and reliability, just like all those people buying Camry’s, which is another car that probably neither you nor I would drop $20-30k on, right?
As far as bringing up diesel, well, nothing is stopping Toyota from making a diesel Corolla either. Except maybe the fact that it adds its own level of cost and complexity. I’m guessing Mazda is considering diesel largely because they don’t have the budget/resources to go electric.
But bringing up a potential diesel ATS really shows your stripes though. You appear to be trying to compare a Prius to a car that costs about twice(?) as much and is not even available in the desired form (diesel ATS). I totally agree that a diesel BMW 3-series for example is a MUCH more desirable car from a “driver’s” perspective than a Prius. Of course it is, but it’s also not available anywhere near the same price point, is likely to be less reliable, and at the end of the day may still not get the same mileage.
What may be of interest to you (and I cannot figure out why we have not seen it yet over here besides probably cost) is a Diesel Hybrid – I was in one over the summer (a Peugeot 2008 of all things, with AWD, automatic, hatchback (CUV) and it was brown for the double bonus points)! It was great and achieved significantly higher gas mileage than the diesel-only car that I was driving at the same time over the same roads with the same load in the same conditions – Two families of five vacationing together. A very neat car and not what I thought the French would bring to market first – At least I think they brought it to market first, is there another maker who has?
Jim regarding the diesel hybrid I’ve brought that up several times here at CC. I’m the one who made the point that a diesel hybrid would have lower “well-to-wheel” CO2 emissions than an electric car. No one else has made that point.
Though I like to exaggerate that Toyota can do/make anything it wants the reality is that an OE has to pick a strategy, invest accordingly and then stay the course. You pick state-of-the-art diesel or HEV, not both; CVT or 8-speed auto, not both; cylinder deactivation or DIG, not both. There are of course a few exceptions but you catch my drift.
Eventually someone will be able to make a great diesel hybrid but it won’t be cheap. What I worry about the most though is that convention wisdom will place the more costly, less fuel-efficient, range-limited EV on a higher pedestal than the diesel hybrid and delay its introduction.
As for your comment about me showing my stripes by mentioning the ATS Diesel please note that was in a separate paragraph from the Prius alternative paragraph, where I mentioned a Mazda 2 diesel. Also you missed the first few worlds in the lead sentence which were “It wouldn’t be cheap but a diesel ATS would really rock my boat”.
Here I am bemoaning the extraordinary hurdles diesels have to go through to make it to market in America, including GM’s unfortunate bankruptcy. The Prius lovers, who tend to be diesel haters, have said here and in other places “the ship has sailed” and “I wrote the article in TTAC about this, it’s done”.
Despite all of these headwinds both real and in the form of internet buzzkill, Chrysler had the balls to do a light duty diesel in the RAM pickup and it is kicking ass. That is enormously satisfying to me.
Funny is that the diesel engine in the Ram 1500 was meant for Cadillac. Instead the VM Motori 3.0 V6 ended up in the Jeep GC, the Ram 1500, the Lancia Thema (=Chrysler 300C) and in the Maserati Ghibli and Quattroporte.
Once GM owned 50% of the VM Motori shares. And now Fiat fully owns the place.
Mother Mopar and VM Motori diesels. Nothing new under the sun, since they go back almost 25 years.
There is no 2008 diesel hybrid. Could it have been a 3008?
2008 hybrid is in a prototype stage and is very very innovative, using compressed air to store energy instead of a battery pack but ICE in it is a small petrol engine. However it is not close to production yet.
Could it have been a simple start-stop diesel 2008?
Jim – The new Mercedes S-Class has regular, plug-in and diesel hybrid models. Pretty cool, but not as cool as the Peugeot!
cali – Most of the big companies are all building diesels, hybrids and EVs – not that we get all three in the US in every case: BMW, Mercedes-Benz, GM, Ford, Volkswagen-Audi, Honda, Nissan/Renault… even Mitsubishi. Toyota is for the moment, but they’re taking the very bold move of switching to hydrogen next year when the RAV4 EV is dropped.
Honda actually does all four and is coming out with a successor to the hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity next year.
None of them really conflict with each other. Hybrids clearly aren’t going anywhere, and they can use either diesel or gas engines. I imagine that in the future, we’ll see even more series hybrid/”range extended EVs” like the BMW i3 where you can have it with or without the gas engine. And hydrogen fuel cell cars use the same kind of propulsion as EVs. The motor in the FCX Clarity was the same as was used in Honda’s EV Plus model from the ’90s.
Having the technology in small scale and tooling up for it in high production are two different things Sean. The tooling up part is expensive and you can’t have it all in production as a choice (or standard equipment) for customers in every segment. You pick one way to go in each segment, generally speaking.
Also you typically tool up to do those things you can do better than anyone else, and not the things you can do only at an average level.
Oops, yes Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4, sorry.
I would imagine some will have more success than others, and most will probably find their niche offering only two. VW, for instance, I could see dropping hybrids eventually – but they’re way into EVs and fuel cell vehicles, which incorporate the same drivetrain components. They’re all relational in some way. A hybrid is an EV with an engine, a fuel cell vehicle is an EV that’s powered by hydrogen; not really conflicting technologies, nor are cylinder deactivation and direct injection for that matter. Those things each took a long time to develop, but eventually every engine will have them when patents expire or they can be licensed cheaply enough.
No offense, but if you think Toyota didn’t have to consistently work hard to get where it’s gotten and try to stay there, your rant here is borderline delusional. Ask the Toyota engineers and other white-collar employees in Japan what kind of hours they keep. Your understanding of Toyota and the car business is quite off base.
Calibrick, you know a lot about the Olds 307 engine, and your very persuasive arguments brought me around on the issue of its low-speed acceleration vs. the Caddy 425. But I suggest you stick to what you really know, because you’re not exactly helping your credibility and reputation with these rants about how you perceive the car industry and Toyota works. I say this with the best intentions.
Oh they busted their asses back in the 80s to create the best line-up in the history of cars. That effort, combined with the mind-numbing weaknesses of its competitors, gave Toyota an advantage for eternity! They are so far ahead now that anyone who can make something as good as an ’86 Taurus had better think twice. Or be tiny like Tesla. I consider that a sad state, if you don’t that’s fine.
It doesn’t help your credibility to be praiseful of Toyota’s products, even saying they are what the market wants is too much. It shows a lack of imagination and critical thought. I’m trying to help you by showing another perspective, with solid arguments.
The level of hostility toward Toyota that I keep seeing here (and elsewhere) is really kind of ridiculous. I don’t say this as a Toyota fanboy, which I’m not — I find a lot of their offerings of the past 15 years disappointing or underwhelming — but most of the complaints and condemnation could be levied with equal justice against most big automakers and, really, most large modern corporations. They chase whatever seems to be selling in the biggest numbers and look to cut corners wherever possible. I’m not defending Toyota in doing that, but why single them out? Because they’re Japanese? That seems very dubious to me.
And to blame Toyota for young people somehow not being interested in cars would be ludicrous even if there weren’t a serious Toyota-specific tuner scene.
“And to blame Toyota for young people somehow not being interested in cars would be ludicrous even if there weren’t a serious Toyota-specific tuner scene.”
Ate I was exaggerating to make a point. It isn’t just the Prius that’s to blame, it’s how generic all the cars have become and due to the popularity of crossovers. Those have rounded-off all the charm that sport sedans/coupes and true trucks once offered. Thank God Jeep is still around.
Manufacturers read the blogs. There is software designed to capture the buzz and it doesn’t help the future generations to get all dewy eyed about a car as mediocre as the Prius. As car guys we need to challenge conventional wisdom, to do our part so to speak.
The tuner scene is largely dead here in Calif. where it all started. How could it not be when we look at where cars like the Civic, Integra and SE-R have gone? Sure there are BRZ and FR-S fanboys out there and plenty of tuner parts. But let’s be honest that car would have never happened if it wasn’t for Subaru, one of those companies like Mazda that is trying harder.
They deserve more support from us and part of that comes from being more honest about the weaknesses of the Prius. Do you disagree with me that something like a Mazda 2 diesel would do more to keep young folks interested in cars than the Prius?
Actually I think young folks wouldn’t give a crap about a Mazda2 diesel any more than they do a Prius. Young folks want the same things you and I did when were their age. Something fun, exciting, and hopefully attractive to whichever sex they are attracted to.
i.e. cars like the WRX, Mustang, MazdaSpeed3, maybe the Scion/Subaru BRZ, VW GTI etc. along with an iPhone 6.
There are plenty of cars out there for those interested. The problem is the same as it ever was, new they are still expensive and out of reach for many/most, and the insurance costs are high as well for obvious reasons.
The average gearhead kid would MUCH rather have a 5-year old example of everything I mentioned as compared to a diesel version of the bottom rung of an automaker’s range. I’m not sure how old you are but when I got my license in 1985 I would much rather have had a 1980 RX-7 than a brand new Mazda GLC. Or a 1980 Supra over a new Tercel etc. As you know I ended up with a ’79 Mazda 626 which I hooned the hell out of.
In the end I think kids are still interested in cars and Toyota is interested in making cars that sell. Currently kids seem to prefer cell phones to convey their social status but I see plenty of kids driving all manner of interesting machinery at the high school down the street. So cars are not dead and interesting cars will continue to be built. Heck, today’s tech-savvy kids WILL be one day able to reprogram the i-Drives and MyTouch systems of today better than the people that programmed them in the first place. They’ll have to if they want to use the darn thing. But watching my 5-year old on my iPad I have no doubt that he will be able to do that as easily or better than I can change the brakepads on my car.
The new Mazda 2 is hardly some cheap entry level car. Do you really see no difference between a Mazda CX5 and RAV4, or Mazda 3 and Corolla? In case you think it’s just crazy calibrick you might want to check Edmunds for the Mazda transaction prices. These are premium products that fetch premium prices.
Today’s kids want premium goods and “green” more than youngsters did in the past. They want high-style and fun-to-drive just like they always have, witness the success of cars like the Kia Soul. When I put these new and carryover sensibilities together I get a big screaming win for a Mazda 2 diesel. They would give a huge crap about it.
Toyota stock is $109 and has a dividend of $1.96 a share. It’s hideously over-valued, yet there are 3.17 BILLION shares out.
The company is worth almost $400,000,000,000. They posted record profits of $17,000,000,000. Last year.
Yet posters on the internet know more about doing business than Toyota.
I think you meant to reply to a different poster. I said this about Toyota yesterday in Jason’s Camry post before the discussion got diverted on to Priuses…
“I’ve heard that underneath, despite what Toyota tells you about the car being “all-new”, is at least two generations old. That sure keeps the development costs down, no wonder they are making so much money.”
I was the first person to make a point about Toyota’s high earnings, you were about the 20th.
Too many people look at all the money Toyota makes and see how well the cars sell and conclude, simplemindedly, that’s because the cars are so good. You guys don’t get or care about the carryover part and if you do you don’t have the guts to talk about it. I do.
I agree with you about the Prius though, it makes a great taxi. I always get a chuckle when folks lament the fact that young people aren’t into cars, rack their brains trying to figure out why, and never make the connection that so many had to grow up in the back seat of the world’s best taxi.
Trust me I would not be into cars as much as I am if my parents didn’t drive those ancient Volvo and Mercedes all those years.
Think about that.
The idea that kids are somehow uninterested in cars has to be considered in view of the overwhelming economic reality, which for a lot of young people (and quite a few older ones) puts a new car — any new car — into the same realm as the mansions you see on the lifestyle porn shows. Kids are socked with student loan payments that 20 years ago would have been a starter mortgage, so except for a handful of rich kids or the few who’ve found some lucrative niche in the tech industry, a lot of younger people either do without (especially if you live in a city where public transportation is decent and/or traffic and parking are just prohibitive) or if they have a car, scrape together a few grand for a well-used one. That’s the reality, which really makes it difficult to make ANY credible statement about younger buyers’ tastes in cars (except as something to occasionally ooh over if they stumble across a car show or see something in a TV show).
The other consideration is that the ever-more-extreme child seat rules have really had a lot to do with driving the popularity of SUVs and crossovers. In the pre-child-seat era, you could get away with keeping your 2+2 coupe when your kids were small. Now, I don’t think they’ll even let you discharge the kid from the hospital if you don’t have the requisite module. So, that increasingly limits coupes (much less sports cars like the Miata) to people who are either moderately affluent and determinedly childless or really affluent (which usually means older). You see the effects of the latter on a lot of more expensive European coupes — they’re clearly being tailored for older, wealthier buyers who like the style but don’t want a harsh ride or the other visceral cues that enthusiasts tend to like.
The Prius is a car optimized for a specific mission: It’s an urban transportation module for heavy gridlocked traffic (which increasingly is the norm in any kind of urban area). For that kind of use, no car is any fun — most of the time, it’s not about cut-and-thrust, but rather sit-and-wait. So, the Prius (and other hybrids) are optimized to be as efficient and painless as possible in that situation, and it does that very well. It would certainly not be my first choice for mountain driving and if I did mostly highway cruising it would probably seem pointless, but if I had to commute every day from here to Burbank or downtown Los Angeles, it would have a definite appeal. As a piece of engineering, it’s impressive, as is the fact that it works as reliably as it does. Is it fun to drive? No, but the same could be said of all manner of cars beloved of writers and commenters here, and when Honda tried to do an enthusiast’s cheap hybrid, enthusiasts turned up their noses at it. Given the purpose and mission of the Prius, my biggest criticism is that the interior materials are still awfully grim, although I recognize that the principal reason for that is that is a desire to accommodate the frightening complexity of the drivetrain without costing a fortune.
Something I had to get over to have any hope of being a decent historian or observer was getting morally offended at things that don’t fit my personal tastes. People buy cars for all kinds of reasons, some of them rational (cost, reliability, resale value), some of them really not (snob appeal, looks, ego). The ironic thing about when enthusiasts get up in arms about cars they consider boring is that what they’re railing against is the idea that some people either don’t care enough about the irrational aspects to let them outweigh the rational ones (or have to out of practical or economic necessity) or embrace different irrational values.
Cars are much like restaurant food. There are always going to be gourmands who only want the best and can afford to pay for it, who will always be in the minority, and some people who just want some familiar known quantity, particularly if it’s cheap. The existence of fast food chains doesn’t make four-star restaurants magically explode. Even within the fast food realm, there are always going to be a few who make a point of offering a little higher-quality ingredients or something with a bit more flavor, if only to help them stand out from the herd. A lot of it is still going to be bland and dull and unsatisfying to the foodie, but that’s always been the case and probably always will.
The point is, if you don’t find any of Toyota’s current lineup to your tastes, that’s fine — I feel much the same way. On the other hand, I feel the same way about everything GM and Chrysler have offered recently and it’s been years since Nissan had anything especially compelling that I could ever remotely afford. I could (and do) criticize that and I find it disappointing. On the other hand, the bulk of the auto industry at any given time, particularly anything mainstream, has ALWAYS been kind of dull, and the few times it wasn’t, there was a lot of backlash. (Much as we might like the cars of the late ’50s, if only for their kitsch value, a lot of people at the time thought them too much.)
Again, different people approach cars with different priorities. For a lot of people who really like big, plush, luxurious cruisers (y’all know who you are), any smaller car — even something as big as today’s C-segment compacts — tends to be dismissed as a “little shitbox.” For people who grew up with small cars, something like a Lincoln Continental Mark is a ludicrous, inefficient barge. If you really like little sporty cars, most any minivan or SUV is likely to be a thing of horror, and even if you find a better-than-average example,
To your other point, when I was growing up, I can’t say anyone in my immediate family owned anything you would define as an interesting enthusiast car, unless you want to count a thoroughly spartan and never especially reliable Volkswagen Rabbit or a late-70s Cutlass Salon Aeroback — now there was a car that was no fun to drive or even ride in. (Some of my father’s cousins were apparently 240Z enthusiasts years ago, but that was before Jimmy Carter was president and I wasn’t even aware of it until I was in college.)
I like plenty of Toyotas and sure as heck don’t hate the company, frankly I am in awe of it. The recent, and very quiet, improvement of the Lexus line warms my heart. The spindle grille works great on the new models and also when applied to carryover cars like the CT.
For my next running around car I’m thinking of a first gen IS250 6-speed. I love how unapologetically Japanese it is and how Toyota used it to set the design direction for Lexus, ten years later. They are trying hard and not copying anyone these days.
As for the youth market I remember those first articles about how kids don’t like cars anymore because they are into their iPhones and social media. Everyone ran with that and it made great headlines for years, not just in auto press but everywhere.
Then there was that famous rebuttal in HUGE headlines about how, surprise!, kids still love cars they just can’t afford them because of the economy and student loans. Everyone fell for that, never mind that new cars are cheaper than ever as a % of income, interest rates are lower and of course running costs are much lower. Good used cars are way more plentiful (and cheaper) than when we were kids but no one mentioned that either.
Both reasons made for great headlines but missed the real cause of falling interest in the youth market — growing up with too many generic cars, too many dull crossovers and too many Priuses.
You make it sound like the Prius was brilliantly planned for child safety seats and efficiency. The truth is it was an accidental hit for Toyota. The right car at the right time with absolutely nothing in the market available as an alternative. There is a reason you don’t see much Prius love in Europe, they have, and have had, great alternatives. Also the European automotive press has been more critical of the car.
The same bashlash that swept the Prius to victory will ultimately be its undoing. People get sick of things. Space food sticks and all-electric homes at one time seemed like an inevitable future. But people got sick of overly processed and the tide swung over to no artificial ingredients, then to natural, then to organic.
Good food didn’t become less important, it became more important. Back in the space food days it was freeze-dried coffee, not $4 Lattes at Starbucks.
The point here is that Starbuck didn’t take off until there was a Starbuck. Now that is pretty played out with more and more young folks preferring small independent and chain coffeehouses like Urth Caffe and Intelligentsia.
Bringing a car to market is a lot different than opening up a coffee bar. It’s a really, really big bet. As a journalist it would be nice if you could be a little more critical of the Prius to give companies that want to challenge it more hope that the investment will pay off.
Kids don’t know what they don’t know and never will if the Prius continues to get a free pass.
Someone on here once made a great comparison between classic American luxobarges and the Prius, something like: “soft suspension, poor handling, lots of torque”. I thought that was really clever, wish I remembered their name…
I can’t imagine how the Prius is making young people uninterested in cars. If anything, I think kids actually are interested in hybrids, and the Prius is largely to thank for that. So it’s not that they’re uninterested, they’re just interested in different kinds of cars than you.
I don’t even really get this argument… is it something like “young people are interested in green technology->diesels get high MPG->therefore young people would be better off interested in diesels”?
A diesel Mazda2 would be great, but I can’t see it being a hit, especially with younger drivers. I’ve always thought diesel hybrids would be a match made in heaven, too – but I think they might get a lukewarm reception in the U.S. for the same reasons regular diesels generally do.
Actually Sean I shouldn’t have been so hard on the ’87 Camry. It had a major flaw in its dangerously slow acceleration from a stop but other than that it offered an appealing and unique choice in the marketplace. It was like a modern day Big 3 product from the 60s — incredibly quiet, smooth riding and with excellent quality. What it lacked in aesthetic appeal compared to the 60s domestics it made up for with great fuel economy.
The new Camry has nothing going for it other than its name. It’s not particularly luxurious or quiet any more. The other choices I mentioned — Accord, Altima, etc. — are just as reliable and many more fuel efficient than the ’14 Camry.
As T. Turtle and Johannes have pointed out the US market is the only place Toyota can get away with offering mediocre cars that sell in high volume. Their big win back in 80s America has allowed this to be the case here and only here.
It doesn’t seem fair but it’s working OK because competitors are around to offer choice. However I have to draw the line with the Prius where there are no good alternatives. Toyota controls the market and one bad result of that is young people can get turned off to cars. That’s the diff between the ’14 Camry, which I don’t care about, and the Prius. Make sense?
We know young people don’t get excited about a green choice like the Prius, that’s undeniable — it’s too Boomer and too boring. They need a fresh choice in the Prius segment, one to call their own, like they do with emotional products such as the Soul.
Calibrick, I can’t remember when and where I said that Toyota offers mediocre (as in qualitywise I guess ?) cars in the US. And I do have a good memory. Hell, I don’t even know Toyota’s lineup in the US.
Sorry I forgot to comment on why a Mazda 2 diesel would do well. There is no denying people young and old want a car with extraordinary MPG at an affordable price. The Mazda 2 diesel would get better MPG than a Prius and it would be more affordable. It would have the good looks, fun-to-drive and cache of cars that young people like in other segments. It would come in the all-important 4-doors. I mean come on is this not the car that Ed would have bought if he were in the market????? Does he not have the same taste in cars that young people do?
Johannes you or someone else made the point that Toyotas do not sell extraordinarily well where you live. That’s what I was talking about. If it was someone else sorry!
In the Mazda2’s best sales year in the U.S., they sold 19k copies. A diesel version, which would cost more up front and be only marginally cheaper (if at all) in actual pump savings would have extremely limited appeal. I know you’re thinking “but the same could be said of the Prius!” yes – that’s true, but I don’t think anyone ever bought a Prius solely because of the fuel savings. People like the technology, and kids especially (I dunno if you missed this, but I was saying young people ARE interested in the Prius) like that it’s “like an iPod”. That’s why I like them, too. It’s new, it’s interesting, it’s a different experience. So are diesels, but not quite in the same way. That’s not to say I like them less, just that I don’t see them having the same mass appeal (in this country).
The new Camry – I actually agree on some level. Not that I think it’s a bad car in any way, but the strategy of cautious updates and building to a price is so close to how GM lost their shirt back in the ’80s. There’s a difference, because I don’t think GM was ever building such a high-quality product back then, but the logic behind it is identical.
And there’s definitely people who want a car exactly like the current Toyota Camry, but there were also plenty of people who really wanted a car exactly like the 1986 Celebrity; it’s what they know, and it’s good enough.
That’s all speculation, though. Maybe this is actually their sweet spot. It’s not what I would do if I were in charge, but I’m sure I would bankrupt any auto company within months if I were in charge. Styling-wise, I agree with Paul that this is the best one out of recent generations – although I do mistake it for the Corolla often and vice-versa now. I ride in the Hybrid models as taxis all the time and they seem remarkably well put-together for cars that usually have crazy mileage and tons of accumulated abuse.
The new Mazda 2 Skyactive-D (1.5L turbo diesel) has outstanding fuel economy — 69 miles per US gallon. That’s 40% better than the Prius.
The “2” is CX5-level gorgeous and the torque from the 1.5L diesel is the same as the 2.5 gas in the CX5. I’ve driven those several times and they scoot. Imagine that torque in the 2 which would weigh 1,000 lbs less. It would be the perfect anti-Prius green car for young buyers and cost maybe $7,000 less than the Toyota.
The Mazda Skyactive cars are much better to drive and look at than their predecessors. I don’t care for the looks of the new 6 (too big) and haven’t made up my mind on the new 3, which has odd proportions from some angles. But the CX5 is a knock-out.
As you know it replaced the CX7, another compact-to-mid 2-row crossover. Sales of the CX7 averaged around 2,500 a month. In September 2014 the CX5 sold 9,000 units, more than triple what the CX7 was selling.
69mpg US (combined) on the Euro test, which the Prius is rated 60mpg US (combined) on, so not much difference when cost of fuel is factored in, especially in city driving. The Mazda2 is also much closer to the size and price of the Prius c, which returns the same fuel economy.
Still, that’s amazing and the car looks great! I didn’t realize a new one was out and I hope they sell it here with the diesel. Maybe if Mazda advertised that engine heavily they could make a big splash with it, since it would be entirely unique in that segment… but an anti-Prius savior? I wouldn’t hold my breath.
“There are profound effects on the industry when a product as mediocre as the Prius sells so well. The millennials who grew up on this crap end up not digging cars”
I agree with this! But it got started before gen Y. As a gen Xer, when I was in high school, a lot of my classmates idea of a ‘hot ride’ was a lowered Iron Duke powered S-10 with neon pink splatter graphics. Luckily, my dad is a gearhead and got me into REAL cars and trucks. Toyotas are good for what they are: appliances. As long as someone will pay money for them, then they should be built…. But a camry wont inspire passion any more than a Kenmore washer will.
Me personally, I buy a vehicle for the experience. I want it to thrill me, make me smile like a loon, and make me feel like whoever designed it really earned my purchase. And I want it to have potential to be tweaked and modded until its truly MINE.
Nothing really has changed MoparRocker, kids today want the same things you did except they care more about good fuel economy and low emissions. Unfortunately there is no car like that out there that is affordable for kids.
So we simplemindedly conclude that kids don’t like new cars because they don’t clamor for them the way they used to. Even the used car ranks have been depleted of anything interesting, fuel efficient and reliable. Integras are long gone.
My point is that the industry has done this to itself, and the Prius supporters have been the enablers.
We as consumers are to blame too, Cali. We can sit here and moan and groan all day about how the industry doesn’t cater to enthusiasts but at the end of the day we still settle for what they deem ‘good enough’. The internet is on fire with people complaining about the Charger being a 4 door or the Ram non offering a manual trans on the 1500 and so on and so forth.
What I would ask is are they driving the point home where it will do the most good? Bitching online might feel good, and get people on your band wagon, but why not rake the sales staff at the dealership over the coals? If the demand is there and lack of offering something starts costing sales, they’ll HAVE to wake up. The Mustang avoided going FWD, the Challenger exists, and the Wrangler still has solid axles because people who buy them spoke up and vote with their wallets.
You are so right about the Mustang, RAM, Challenger and Jeep products. There are plenty of people out there who want “the genuine article” and willing to pay a premium to get it.
Not just in the niche segments either. With the new Fusion Ford has shown there is huge demand for a mid-size sedan with emotional appeal. The conventional wisdom types would have you believe vanilla sells and never done a Fusion. They are as wrong as they are about diesels.
I worry about GM though. Their new guy doesn’t get the genuine article appeal of Cadillac and the new Malibu won’t be able to compete on anything other than price. They need someone like Sergio running the place, Mary Barra would make a good #2.
“Was the railroad a more important invention than the car?”
It’s a tough one; in one sense the railroads-to-cars camparo is a bit like the the television-to-internet one. On the other hand, my limited reading of history is that the introduction of railroads into the US (being privatised from day one with many parallel lines being built) seems to be the most common historical analogy to our current interwebby period.
I was being a little snarky here. Phrasing the question differently would get different responses, but I’ll take the steam engine as the more “important invention,” in that it enabled the industrial revolution itself. Life in 1900 would have been recognizable to us in many ways; life in 1800 wasn’t too far removed from the middle ages for most of humanity.
Watt’s steam engine was invented to pump water out of a coal mine. The coal was needed to produce steel……rails……steam engines…..ag implements …..bridges…..highrise buildings…..oil rigs……
feel free to add on.
Yep, I spent more time ruminating on this one yesterday and I agree with you, Wolfgang and (I suspect) Paul.
Quick guess is that for the growth of the US as we know it now, probably yes.
For sustaining that and the US’s global influence, probably not
An Economist article stated that US freight railroads are the most efficient in the world, thanks to the Staggers Rail Act signed by Malaise Era prez Jimmy Carter. Railroads, like the Camry, may be dull, but they continue to be an important backplane to our transportation system. They are how all that Chinese stuff makes it to your local WalMart.
BTW, I say that’s an EMD SW8 in the background, powered by a 567B. Remember that EMD was sold off by GM; GE locos rule now.
I would love to see a write-up on that beautiful Budd RDC in the background of a few of these pictures…
Wait a minute, there’s supposed to be a Camry in each of those pictures? I never noticed…being a die hard train guy, I was admiring all the lovely railway equipment visible!
Paul, glad you got to visit the B&O. I always stop by when I’m visiting my sister.
The Budd RDC car you shot was the baggage-cafe car on the Speedliner, 3 car RDC day train between Pittsburgh and Washington from 1958 into the early 60s. The other 2 cars were regular RDC-1 coaches — whose sisters I used to ride on the B&O commuter train from McKeesport to Pittsburgh in the early 70s. Often in the cab, in the less security-conscious days…
As for the Camry, You nailed it. It is what it is. And if nothing else, I admire it’s lack of pretense.
The RDC would be an interesting topic for an article. It’s basically a Budd-built rail bus, and I believe its drive system is related to that of an Army tank.
Once upon a time, diesels like the ones in the photos were the Camrys of the railroad world; “boring,” “soul-less,” “ugly,” etc., but compared to steamers they (especially the Geeps and Alcos,) were reliable, easier to run and maintain and saved railroads carloads of money. Fans hated them, but it’s possible that changing to diesels may have saved the industry.
The B&O Museum has just been added to my short list of places to visit, and that’s just based on your photos for this article. Let’s hear more about those trackside classics!
I’ve driven and ridden in one of these Camrys, and I can attest that the back seat “is the best seat in the house”. My mom’s best friend drives a 2012 XLE (a shame, since she used to drive Mustangs and Thunderbirds in the ’80s and ’90s), and I’ve ridden in the back several times. Very roomy and comfortable enough, though nothing special or high quality. I also test drove (at the auto show) a 2012 SE. It handled well enough at low speeds, though again, nothing special.
The Camry is a reliable machine. Like most Toyotas, not much more to say. I would never dissuade anyone from buying one. It doesn’t fit my tastes, but, no sedan currently on the market does! I don’t expect them to change it, unless competition for non descript, highly reliable 4 doors increases to the extent that they really aren’t making money on it.
The trains are much more interesting, but that was a good review. I’m glad to see some things are still the same in this turbulent world.
I don’t know about the rest of the country, but Toyota has been over-advertising it’s BOLD, new 2015 Camry for a week or two. (BOLD seems to be THE word Toyota has seized upon for describing it’s 2015 products.)
I don’t know if it’s a continuation of the 2014, or an “all-new” car. It looks way too much like a Corolla to me.
I realize folks in this market segment buy the name and not the car, but to me it’s kind of sad that a company as large as Toyota rarely takes chances. Ford had it’s OVAL series Taurus, Mercury had the original Sable….Toyota?
And Ford never made money on its oval Taurus, either.
This isn’t a class that is particularly tolerant of styling innovation. At any given moment, a lot of D-segment cars look pretty much the same. Likewise the C-segment.
Toyota’s fits of whimsy or aggression tend to be confined, predictably, to specialty cars or smaller models like the bB (first-generation Scion xB). Recent generations of their small cars have also looked rather same-y (the latest Yaris is a lot less cute than its predecessor and pretty much just looks like a shrunken Auris). Probably the most unusual current design they’ve got is the new Aygo, which looks very much like a cartoon character (although in profile the greenhouse looks awfully Toyota Matrix-like).
But that’s pretty typical. Look at the Volkswagen Golf — I can’t say I can easily tell the last three generations apart and all are extremely conservative evolutions of their predecessors — or the Polo, which is (sorry) miniature Golf. The last I checked, the Golf was still the best-selling car in Europe, so…
Hmmm…the latest Yaris looks more like a big Aygo to me. Available with gasoline engines, as a gasoline-hybrid (for crowded cities) and as a diesel (for countryside driving). Isn’t it great to have choices ?
About the Golf not changing much throughout its generations. That has been exactly its strongest point for the past 40 years, you don’t screw up a winner. Just like you don’t screw up a Porsche 911.
This is all very confusing – I have a feeling the US Camry is more or less the same as the European Avensis. You can say what you like but the (UK-built) Avensis is very reliable (and utterly dull). My father had two: a 1998 model which was sold with something like 350,000 Km on the clock and was still going and a 2008 one which was his last car and gave absolutely no troubles until sold last year after he died.
As far as I know the D-segment Avensis is Europe only and is an entirely different car than the Camry. The E-segment Camry left Europe 10 years ago. It was sold (or better: not sold) alongside the Avensis back then.
You are probably right – they just have the same anodyne “Toyota-ish” appearance. I find it hard to distinguish between them all, it’s like they have one template which they stretch or sink according to their needs (not that the other manufacturers are much better – check out VW for example…).
Hmmmm… See here: http://www.toyota.at/new-cars/avensis/index.json Same floorpan?
So, you went to a remarkable, amazing, train museum, and wrote up the rental car? 🙁
Please write up the trains soon! 🙂
Wow! The subject of “Toyota” always elicits such passion around here! Anyway, I have a Gen 2 Camry and a Gen 3 Camry and they are both good cars, the Gen 3 being so much smoother and quicker than the Gen 2 (both are 4 cylinder cars). Yes, there are differences between generations, but IMHO they are all reliable cars. I will admit certain generation Camrys (92-96) are way more fun to drive and have a superior build quality than others!
Forget the Camry; I want the SW900.
The amount and intensity of “Camry Hate” here this week is astounding.
Why SO much vitriol slung at a car that goes about it’s assigned duty so quietly and competently?
Automotive jealousy is an ugly condition.
I’m new to this place but I guess the people around here all possess, errr, very strong individualistic tendencies and abhor the utterly conventional. I have to confess the Camry phenomenon (and the Toyota one in general) in the US is somewhat lost on me – but I live in a country where Toyota sells less cars than Hyundai, indeed even less than such brands as Fiat, Mazda, KIA and… Dacia (Renault’s Romanian “poverty” brand).
I wonder if the US has some sort of love-hate relationship with Toyota…
I have to give them credit for being the only Japanese (or Korean) brand that offers a full line of cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles in Europe. Certainly if you include Lexus. Gasoline, hybrids (Yaris, Auris, Prius) and diesels. They have it all, including factories and the design studio in France.
Although I see their model lineup slipping away a bit. The future of the D-segment Avensis is uncertain in the long run. No B- and C-segment hot hatches. The successor of the famous HiAce, the ProAce, is a rebadged Euro-van. No more Dyna trucks. And diesel engines from BMW.
It these people are going to hate, they should save their hate for the junk that Detroit tried to fob off on Americans that ended up driving them into the arms of Toyota, Datsun, BMW, etc.
but was it grounded to the ground?
Interesting to see how long lived the car really is, and your second photo shows it.
As for matching this age, I think the Renault Scenic, originally from 1997 and built on the 1987 Renault 19 platform, is there underneath the 2003 car, and still there under the latest 2013 version.Certainly the 1987 platform lasted to 2003.
They are what they are. I love Camrys – I don’t own one, nor most likely will I, but I easily recommend them to scores of folks who want simple, reliable, comfortable transportation from A to B. My sister is one of those folks. She and her husband are on their 4th and 5th Camrys, and I doubt they’ll stray too far next go round. I still miss my wife’s 2003 base Highlander – with the exception of desperately needing a power driver’s seat, it was the perfect size, had adequate power and excellent mileage, and highly reliable.
Toyota is adventurous in certain segments – the Scion FR-S, a handful of Lexi, hybrid technology, and now fuel cells – sorry, but no one else is leading like they are on a number of fronts.
Using a highly competent platform for several generations but is being updated frequently? Money in the bank. Camry has never been adventuresome – rarely does that happen in this segment (last gen Hyundai Sonata excepted – however I don’t think the styling will age well…).
Wow! Saying “Toyota” on CC is like Igor saying “Frau Blucher” to the horses. Everyone sure rears up.
It is really funny to read the comments here in regards to Toyota. They are long and must have taken a long time to write. It all kinds of boils down to this:
-If you don’t like Toyota cars, don’t buy them.
I had a 2019 as a rental and compared to my Golf, which is an absolute scream to drive, it was kind of meh. It did have lots of glass area, comfortable seats, good power, a smooth drive train and good fuel consumption. I like my Golf more because it has the German built like a tank feeling but I truly understand why the Camry and all the TNGA cars. They literally sell millions of them and make loads of profit on them, too.
My Toyota stock has appreciated 30% since this article was written and the dividend is double. In fiscal 2019 they had a $272,000,000,000 net, after tax, profit, the best in the business. Whatever the hate is for Toyota, shareholders and car shoppers have got a really good deal.
The really good thing about Toyota cars is you don’t have to buy one.
Len, I believe you are mistaken. That 272Billion number is Revenue. Revenue is obviously not the same as Profit. Net Income in 2019 was more like 17Billion,still tremendous but hardly 272B.
131 comments and counting! This must be one of the most commented upon article on CC.
I had the pleasure of driving a 2011 Camry that year, as a work trip rental in Puerto Rico. I distinctly recall easily getting in the car at the rental centre, well after midnight after several hours of travel to get there, and finding it a pleasure for my tired eyes to operate. The drive from San Juan to Aguadilla takes a couple of hours, and there is traffic, but the car handled nicely, and provided the needed roominess for my luggage and stuff. With my Garmin atop the dash, I easily found my hotel. The Camry was an upgrade from the usual lower models, which I appreciated.
The next time I was there, I asked for a Camry, but they claimed premium pricing at the Enterprise counter so I begged off. I drove alot of rentals on frequent trips to the island, but only the Camry got photographed and appreciated.
Liked re-reading your review Paul, as well as seeing the photos again of the B&O train museum. So your mother must now be 97, wow!
I didn’t have time yet to read all of the comments again, but I just wanted to say we’ve been very pleased with our Camrys over the years. Top photo from last spring is of our former 2004 LE 4-cylinder that was purchased new, now owned by our younger son in upstate New York (about 80 miles north of Ed Snitkoff’s place) and still going strong at 206,000 miles. Bottom photo is of our 2015 XLE Hybrid, nearly 60,000 miles, 41 mpg lifetime average, and zero problems.
Sadly she passed away this past August…on her 97th birthday. No more trips to Baltimore; she was the last Niedermeyer there.
Tragically, my younger brother in the picture with her passed away from colon cancer almost exactly two years ago. A lot of change in my family in the past two years.
I am very sorry to hear this, Paul. It’s one of the painful parts of getting old.
I am so sorry to learn about your mother and brother. I have always enjoyed reading your articles that included your family as certain things reminded me of my family while growing up.
Please accept my deepest condolences on the passing of both your mother and younger brother; I just noticed your comment right now. My mother will turn 92 next month, but she has dementia and had to move into a nursing home two years ago.