By on April 24, 2014

Toyota_Camry_--_Cockspur_Island_(GA)_July_2012

We treat the physical results of capitalism as though they were an inevitability. In 1955, no captain of industry, prince, or potentate could buy a car as good as a Toyota Camry, to say nothing of a 2014 Mustang, the quintessential American Everyman’s car. But who notices the marvel that is a Toyota Camry? 

-Kevin Williamson, The National Review

TTAC is not like most car blogs – and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Last week, the introduction of the newly refreshed Toyota Camry was the most popular article on the site. I couldn’t be happier.

Before we delve in to the Camry, it’s worth discussing one of Williamson’s major points – which will undoubtedly be too politically charged for some – that the average consumer has never had it better in terms of the kinds of goods they can afford, even with a relatively modest salary. These goods, in turn, increase their quality of life, and are not just frivolous expenditures.

The enthusiast press loves to discuss how the new Mustang is the equal of the 370Z or the M3, but for most Americans, the delta between a Camry and a Lexus ES350 – or some European luxury cars – has never been narrower.  The Camry is definitely not the car I’d buy if I was looking for a mid-size sedan (it would be a Honda Accord or a Mazda6 with a manual, if you care). But I can appreciate it in the same way as Kevin Williamson, in that building and selling such an outstanding car for $25,000 is a Herculian task.

WARNING: Tangential missive below

Even if the National Review might strike you as too far from your political leanings, I feel privileged to be able to write for a site that is open to these sorts of discussions, even when politics – and the Camry itself – are “hot button” issues. The internet offers a lot of places to discuss the typical car guy things: statistical urination contests (also known as bench racing), race-to-the-bottom displays of status signalling (whereby contestants aim to profess their undying love for increasingly obscure variants of automobiles) and corporate strategy as dictated by the holder of an Associates Degree with 7 years experiences as a consumer electronics Sales Consultant (inevitably, lots of rear-drive sports cars, body-on-frame SUVs etc).

As far as I know, this is the only place where we can discuss things like incentives, inventory,fuel economy and safety regulations and other topics that would put most Forza-addicted controller-clutchers to sleep, even though they literally dictate the way automobiles are engineered, designed, marketed and sold.

In most corners of the enthusiast world, the Camry is symbolic for what “car enthusiasts” despise; a basic appliance, uninteresting to look at or drive, using relatively simple, proven technology, available with only two pedals, often being sold in some shade of taupe. Only at TTAC could this car attract a following precisely because of those attributes. Then again, it’s really not that bad to drive.

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

296 Comments on “QOTD: In Defense Of The Toyota Camry...”


  • avatar

    I agree it is interesting. The Camry I guess is the “working class hero” of the US. A car that most can buy, usually doesn’t offer too much of a headache and is so seen that it remains unseen.

    Living in Brazil, this role here is filled by Unos, Palios, Gols, Corsas. Small hatchbacks that do what the Camry does: take the kids to school, go on vacation, go to work.

    I’m of course biased, but I think our cars are more interesting. They’re smaller, less powerful yet have to do all the same. They also break a bit more (as we all know the Camry never does). The design is to me more interesting, too, than the Camry’s. All in all, I’m happy that here we have to make do with these cars as they teach you a thing or two about having cars. That might be the Camry’s downfall. It is so good, so boring, so competent at everything, you don’t even have to think about it.

    • 0 avatar

      Working class hero. Great term.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Just remember what Lennon says about being a working class hero:

        “And you think you’re so clever and classless and free
        But you’re still f@&king peasants as far as I can see”

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          It’s about as ironic as “best and brightest.”

        • 0 avatar
          gtrslngr

          … an even better one bball40dtw !

          To my mind and despite the respect I have for the Camry I find it to be much more Pollyanna White Bread Boring Middle Class Consumer Goods rather than Working Class hero .

          That designation [ working class hero ] IMO being withheld for older Pickup Trucks and the like . Seeing as how todays Working Class Hero most likely cannot afford a new Camry .

          • 0 avatar

            I thought about that too, gtrslngr. I guess the Corolla, Civic or even Versa or Rio could fill the role of working class hero in America yet the working class rejects them. I believe the term comes from Europe. A few decades back, in Paris one would see rows of R4s, in Italy 500s would surround you in traffic, in England Minis and others like it were everywhere. Probably driven by working class and middle class. Maybe that’s where it come from in terms of cars. It was something to aspire too for the working class while the middle classes always pretended they had those cars only until they were a little better. That could be where the aurea for the term comes from.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            ” I find it to be much more Pollyanna White Bread Boring Middle Class Consumer Goods rather than Working Class hero.”

            - This.

            There’s a reason why the Camry has a lower ATP than even the Chrysler 200 (but it does beat out the Dodge Avenger) – Camry buyers overall just want cheap, reliable transportation with room.

            Nothing particularly exciting about the Camry so unlike for many other models in the segment, Camry buyers tend not to purchase the top/higher trims or load up on options.

        • 0 avatar

          Yep, it’s true. I believe the term fits in a certain place and time, which are both going away. A time when the working class was seen as heroic in their efforts to improve their lot. I think John Lennon came exactly from such class. So, he got to see its inner contradictions and was probably none to happy abouth them.

          Anyway, the prevalent view today is not so hopeful as to the working class. Few see their efforts, few recognize the good that can and does exist in such environments. Yes, the prevalent culture is not kind to the working class anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Parts of “Working Class Hero” have always hit close to home. Having been in the US Army, the line, “There’s room at the top they’re telling you still,
            But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,” sums up being enlisted quite well. I’ve listened to that song on my iPod while decompressing from a day of fighting one of America’s lesser known overseas wars.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            bball40dtw,
            I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking/expressing this, but thank you from the bottom of my cold shitty heart. Thank you for your service.

          • 0 avatar
            romanjetfighter

            Toyota Camry is very America, very Protestant. It’s all about dignified poverty, withholding yourself from the tempting, sexy, yet expensive sports car.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Tres-

            Thank you.

            I did my 3 years and got out with no real scars (physical or mental). I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve never been to the VA, I’m not an alcoholic, I don’t have flashbacks, and I don’t have a service related disability. Thats rare for someone who was in the infantry.

            The military life wasn’t for me and I am happy the inactive reserve portion of my contract is over. Those guys that do three, five, ten tours are another breed.

          • 0 avatar
            wsn

            @romanjetfighter: “Toyota Camry is very America, very Protestant. It’s all about dignified poverty, withholding yourself from the tempting, sexy, yet expensive sports car.”

            Actually no. It’s there to withhold yourself from the equally boring but less reliable GM junks.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            +1 tres,

            Thanks bball

        • 0 avatar

          A much better song than the lightweight nihilism of Imagine.

          • 0 avatar
            MPAVictoria

            Way to miss the point of the song.

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            I find something endearing about the Camry.

            While yes, it has a very “I like my shirt tucked neatly into my pants” image right off the bat, it also relays the following words to me:

            *value
            *quality
            *intelligence
            *conservative

            Three cheers for the Camry.

            It’s like a very humble, but one of the better, baseball players on the team. You love it. It does its job well, but tones itself down constantly.

            It does everything well and refuses to talk about it. It’s very polite and well-mannered and doesn’t make a ruckus like a domestic.

            “Did you see my chrome? Did you SEE my chrome? Look at my wheels!!! CHROME!”

            Its like the honor student at school that isn’t weird- he just keeps to himself, is all.

            I think I will take my Camry in beige, please.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            @raresleeper:

            Humble? This is the next Camry:

            http://tinyurl.com/lcp7upa

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        How about, “Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Cam-er-ray”

    • 0 avatar
      gtrslngr

      Spoiler Alert – Off Topic comment ….. But don’t you agree it is a crying shame that VW – Brazil closed down production of the VW Micro Bus this year ?

      I know I for one shed a tear or two when the final day came about . Hoping against all hope either VW would start sending them up here [ US ] or the Feds would make an exception for them to be personally imported

      Many a fine memory having been had in a multitude of VW Micro Buses … specifically the Westfalia conversions . ” What a Long Strange Trip its Been ” summing my Micro Bus experiences up quite nicely !

      As to the rest of the cars [ excluding the air cooled Beetle as well ] Brazil ” makes due with ” though Marcello de V .. I respectfully and without insult intended disagree . Having spent more than a fair amount of time down your way I found most of the cars there to be more of a ” Challenge ” and a major league annoyance to deal with rather than cars one is able to make due with . As far as their designs . I’ll withhold comment in order to avoid potential insult

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        What I don’t understand is why nobody seems to offer a Type 2 as a *kit car*.

      • 0 avatar

        Nah, if you search out my name on TTAC and put Kombi next to it, you’ll see what I thought of the topic (2 or 3 articles on that). The Kombi outlived its welcome, in my opinion of course. Had they hanged on until the early 90s, many would lament their going away. Being that they stayed on until 2013 (!), basically unchanged…it’s quite a testament to our incompetence.

        However, their legend will live on. To me though, they’re tarnished with the image of poverty. In my social surroundings, and coming of age in the late 80s, the Kombi and Beetle (not to mention Brasilia and other air-cooled VWs) were just so old that when the new FWD, longitudinally mounted engines, crumpled zones equipped Fiat 147s and Unos came out, that’s what marked the entrance of Brazil into the modern age. Those 2 brought the others along, kicking and screaming, into the modern age of motoring (and for the Uno, killed for many of the same reasons as the Kombi, I did shed a tear, you can also read about it on TTAC).

        As to our cars, I don’t expect most North Americans to understand. Most Europeans, even Western Europeans, especially over the age of 30 can relate. As to the design I find the European ones pleasing, the Brazilian designed ones hit-or-miss and the Asians ones ugly.

        To opine on design is just that, opinion. No insult meant, none taken.

        • 0 avatar
          gtrslngr

          @ Marcelo de V – For me …being of a certain age and coming of age at a certain point in time the Micro Bus will always represent the most absolute freedom on the road any vehicle can possibly afford its owner . Simple . Reliable . Utilitarian as all get out . Able to transport a band and its equipment in a single bound . Camper ,Transportation , portable bordello etc it did it all . The very epitome of letting ones Freak Flag Fly . Or at the very least showing you were one of the US’s liberal intellectual elite [ Ivy league professor types gravitating to them in droves ]

          Nope . Loved em . Still do . Wish to hell VW would drop all their pretentious bs plans [ Phaeton Golf R etc ] and focus on making that 21st century Micro Bus concept they did into reality . Hell .. I’d even consider trading my Benz in for one if they did . Thinking maybe that Freak Flags needing a little airing out

          As to my insult comment . Just my way of saying I over stepped it a bit in a previous conversation and being a little more cautious as penance

          • 0 avatar

            Good times to be sure, but I came a bit later than that, so, like I said, the Kombi or Bus had lived out its relationship to those times and was rather just a white thing, puttering along (loudly), spewing (copious) amounts of noxious fumes, in (varied) states of disrepair, always slowing down the traffic.

            Most of what you did in the Kombi, my friends and I did in an Uno or some such. Even I could see though that the Uno had been hopelessly outclassed here by the early 00s. The Kombi for you, the Uno for me, will always live on as memories of days gone by, more careless days. But I do hope the best is yet to come.

            As to our altercation, don’t worry about it. You were right on the specific, I still believe I’m right in the main. But ours are just divergent opinions, arising from our different backgrounds and experiences. No need to be hurt by that.

          • 0 avatar
            siuol11.2

            When were those days? I remember my dad’s fascination with them in the late 80′s and early 90′s, any my memories are not fond. Ivariably the first thing to fail was the starter, and me and my siblings would often start the day by pushing it up and down the driveway to get it to start.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff Waingrow

            “a bit”? You’re too kind.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        No need mourning the end of production of the VW bus. Believe it or not, there are over 29,000 on ebay.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      You nail it.

    • 0 avatar
      scrappy17

      On the same lines of the “Working class hero” quote, Here is something I saved to my onenote notebook a while ago.

      “As John Phillips of Car and Driver once wrote, “There is more fine engineering in a single Camry than in all the Berlinettas Enzo Ferrari ever conjured up while lying next to mistresses.”

      I’ve said this before, and I’ll stand by it– the genuine auto enthusiast is not someone who likes interesting cars. The genuine auto enthusiast is someone who finds something interesting in every car.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        i tend to like certain kinds of cars (“enthusiast”) however I do really like clever engineering

        i will never like panameras or cayennes or macans because they arent clever

        they are designed to fill a marketing niche

        i like the Tata Nano, the Cruze, the Chrysler 200 and pretty much all the Fiat Chrysler range and many of the Korean cars

        there’s some evident engineering and culture change there

        i dont see that in the Camry

        • 0 avatar

          Great point. I wrote an article about it once and specifically pointed out that enthusiasm can be about anything. From 2CV to a Corolla, whatever floats your boat is good and just and enthusiasm-worthy as a Ferrari.

          Some cars interest me for what they try to do, others for what they actually do. The Tata Nano is a good point. I was very interested in that car and read it all up. It was an interesting and revolutionizing idea and ideal. Sadly, from everything you read, it became quite evident that it’s just not a good enough car. Later, the Dacia line did this idea good. The whole development of the car was fascinating and the end result more than satisfactory. No, it’s not as good as a Focus, but at a fraction of the price it doesn’t matter. It does what it’s meant to do well (aesthetics and plastics aside). It surprises you in this and that’s why it’s so good.

          Other cars do this in other ways. They break the mold, they push the envelope, or they are just plain beautiful.

          The Camry like you said, has not done any of this in a long while. To be fair, it doesn’t need to as its sales (in the US and some other markets) well proves. Its success in the US and its relative failure elsewhere shows that it’s a car very well tuned to Americans’ needs and tastes. But it really doesn’t break the mold, push the envelope or take your breath away. It’s a fine car, I respect it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      i.e. “I like my home country better” don’t we all??

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    Nobody is disputing that the Camry is a good car as far as basic reliable transportation goes, evan Jack liked the SE. We enthusiasts tend to forget that most people are not car nuts and what they want/need in a car is radically different from us. You see the way they drive, slow, hesitant and not quite in tune with the vehicle. The Camry is perfect for these people but for me I need a car with soul and preferably a stick and I am a happy man:)

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      My DD is a 2005 Corolla.

      And frankly it’s a *blast* to drive.

      It doesn’t grip quite as well as my old w115 (that thing took corners amazingly after the suspension was rebuilt), but in every other respect it’s a superior vehicle … and 130 hp in 2500 pounds is *plenty* of zip.

      (The only negative of the transition was that I could drive that 300D at 100% every day, because otherwise it never got anywhere. Well, and RWD is nicer in terms of “feel”.

      I can’t floor the Corolla from a stop because the wheels will just spin or I’ll get a citation.)

      I’d enjoy a Camry just fine (even more with the V6).

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        I ask this in earnest, and mean no offense: Did you try other cars in the class before you chose the Corolla? If so, what did you dislike about them which caused you to choose as you did?

        I ask owning an ’08 Civic, and having rented many a Corolla (and had some strong words about their relative dynamic shortcomings,) I’d like to try understanding the other side of the coin.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          brenschluss: “I ask this in earnest and mean no offense”

          I have an ’08 Corolla. It’s actually quite a nice car to drive. I like the steering, the stick transmission works very well and it communicates enough about the road without having a harsh ride.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            You actually like the steering?

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            LOL the steering on a rental Camry SE and Corolla LE were one of the main reasons I couldn’t wait to turn them back in to the agency!

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            The steering was an issue I had as well. This is why I want a little comparative analysis from someone who’s driven Civic and Corolla and chose Corolla, or Accord v Camry since the difference between the driving experiences hit most of the same points from what I remember. Haven’t driven Camry in a while though.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            Yes, I like the steering.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          brenschluss,
          Given what Toyota did to the Corolla in 2008, I can understand your question, but I think you are forgetting that the 2003-2007 Corolla was a nice little car.

          At some time or another I’ve driven most compacts from that timeframe and the Corolla makes a strong case for itself. It had class leading interior quality, and I’m not kidding about that. Check out an 07 Focus, Civic, Sentra, etc. The steering was still hydraulic and lacked the video game numbness of the next car. The engine was competitive for its time. It was reasonably quiet. The front seats sucked, but that more from designing them for shorties than from incompetence.

          The Focus was an immediately more satisfying drivers car, but was loud, coarse, and incredibly cheap feeling in comparison. I was not impressed with the spaceship Civic’s powertrain or steering, despite Car and Driver’s continual gushing. It’s a bland car. Sentra and Cobalt were no competition. Hyundai was aping Toyota pretty hard those years, so the Elantra gave you 90% of the Corolla for 90% of the price.

          The wildcard was the Mazda3. But the road noise and tight backseat made it a car for those with a different set of priorities.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            I’m really not trying to crap on anyone’s choices.

            It’s difficult to inoffensively ask why someone made a certain decision when you chose the other door in the same situation, so I’m trying to walk on eggshells here. I really don’t care if people like different things, I just want to hear why they like it, because I don’t understand, and I would like to. I can elucidate why I chose as I did, and I’ll admit I do get frustrated when people will explain their preferences with “I dunno, I like it.” Introspection and understanding your own desires and motivations is worth something if you’re asking me. Besides, anyone accusing me of “snobbery” is projecting, to be polite about it. I drive a f*cking Civic and have no right to look down on anyone.

            My tastes are nebulous. I can be convinced that something I like is crap and my opinion can change.

            I owned a ’95 Corolla wagon 5MT until it turned into rust, and am actually not sure if I’ve driven a Corolla made after ’08. The bulk of my rental Corolla experience is with ’03-’07 models.

            My car has its share of negatives: the interior is made out of the world’s flimsiest plastic, and I can easily break most of the center console off or crush the door card by pressing with my knees. It also has less torque than I do below 2500RPM, and not much more above. The dashboard is stupid, the exterior panels are thin, it’s as loud as anything ever. I can complain about a lot of things.

            But, the steering is much quicker than the Corolla’s; the ride does not wallow and sway to excess and it settles more gracefully changing direction; throttle tip-in is more progressive; the manual trans is the best I’ve experienced outside of an actual sports car, and I found it less staid looking.

            I’m coming from a place where having your priorities questioned isn’t an excuse to become defensive, but a chance to evaluate what you may have accepted without enough consideration. I’m not saying that caring about a soft, quiet highway ride is an inferior moral position to wanting a more dynamic drive, but Sigivald said his(?) ’08 Corolla was “a blast” so I’m wondering what frame of reference led him to that conclusion.

      • 0 avatar
        WaftableTorque

        Sigivald, of course these cars are fun. I have a hoot when I drive my dad’s 1998 Camry LE. The problem isn’t the car, it’s that you’re in a community of enthusiasts who use snobbery as a weapon.

        First they question your standards. You can’t be a member of their club if your standards don’t match their standards.

        Then they question your tastes. You can’t be a member of their club if you don’t hold the same brands and attributes in esteem.

        Finally, they question your man card. Without going into an essay, the tactics call into question your agreeableness personality trait. Low agreeableness correlates into automotive displays of dominance, in which the worse thing in the world is to be vanilla or boring. You see those two words often in Marcelo and Derek’s posts, which to me tells a lot about their value in this trait.

        You’ll see it in other enthusiast communities, such as wrist watches, hi-fi, sartorial journals, and team sports.

        Just a thought.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          LOL I agree! There is something ‘pure’ about the Camry and Corolla…like going to McDonald’s in Seattle or Philly – you know exactly what you’re going to get and how it will taste. There’s comfort in predictability.

          My BIL has a ’97 LE, 300k, 4 cyl auto – I’m impressed with how solid it still drives and loves to be tossed around.

          2 years ago I rented a ’11 Corolla…drove it nearly 2500 miles in 10 days, several mountain ranges…all over. Sure it wasn’t exactly cutting edge with driving dynamics or even mpgs….but it was tossable, predicable, and highly reliable while returning 34-35 mpgs.

          Again, as a daily, reliable driver, I can see the Camry and Corollas’ value to many.

          Ain’t no shame in that.

          • 0 avatar

            LOL! Absolutely agree Dave M. But that’s sort of the point. What you’re calling “purity” others think of as “boring”. A BigMac is the same in New York, Seattle, Tokyo, Rio or Moscow. It’s not really good, but it’s not that bad either. There is value in that familiarity.

            I too understand the value in these cars to many and absolutely agree that there is no shame.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          Thanks for summing that up! I drive an old ES300 right now and it is a nice driving car, but absolutely detested by self appointed enthusiasts!

          • 0 avatar

            Detested by a certain kind of enthusiast. I like many cars that enthusiasts supposedly don’t like, while disliking many that enthusiasts are not supposed to like. What matters is that you like what you drive.

        • 0 avatar

          WaftableToruqe, I think group think is for losers. I think we should strive to learn what works for us and act accordingly. Calling certain cars boring or interesting is a wholly personal matter that deserves absolute respect.

          Now the article asked what we thought of the Camry. I just put together a series of my thoughts on the matter. I absolutely respect the car and the service it has provided to millions of buyers. Unfortunately, when thinking of Camry or Corolla, boring inevitably comes to my mind, and I stress the “me” part.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I’m going to exercise all my willpower to resist the political bait just this once, and restrain myself to talking about the Camry as a car.

      There’s no question technological progress has made the Camry, and virtually all today’s cars, absolutely better in several ways than yesterday’s. Engines deliver more power per gallon of gas, knowledge of crash safety has advanced, cheap stereos sound better and do more tricks for the same cost.

      Beyond that, I’ve ridden in several Camrys the last couple weeks (they’re used heavily as taxis in my town), and the assault of cheesy plastics throughout is borderline unendurable. It’s struck me that the car has all the technology any mainline buyer could ask for, and you can see EXACTLY where they saved the money to include it. It feels less like an “improved” car than one whose priorities have simply been re-allocated. Which set of priorities you value more is a matter of opinion, but you don’t get to choose unless you’re willing and able to ante up for ES350 prices.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I think it’s unfair to stereotype the Camry driver and then ascribe those performance characteristics to the vehicle. While the typical Camry owner tends to skew older and Camry drivers prioritize things like not having the car in the shop for unscheduled repairs much higher than driving enjoyment, the current Camry itself isn’t some totally uncommunicative living room sofa with wheels. I prefer the hydraulic power steering feel and suspension setup of the 2010 and 2011 SE, but the current Camry isn’t inherently slow and hesitant.

      A couple year ago I helped a neighbor who managed to get her 4×4 Ford Explorer stuck sideways on ice, totally blocking the street. The truck itself was fairly well suited to winter driving, but the driver hadn’t engaged four wheel drive. Sat there with rear tires spinning uselessly. It’s not the Explorer’s fault that the driver just wanted vehicular high heels so she could have a higher vantage point in traffic. Today Ford sells car-based CUVs that provide height combined with the benign driving characteristics of a FWD car.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The Camry buyer is a dieing breed for the Gen- X/Y’ers. At Easter in a half hour outside of Cleveland in a nice suburb where my GF’s relatives live was a parking half packed with 2007 era Camry’s, one earlier generation Camry, two domestics, and two Honda’s. Granted this crowd were your typical urbanites with some class envy after conversing with a few but mainly 55-70 year olds were her aunts and uncles. Their kids(mostly south on vacation) of post college age would not be seen in any 2007 era Camry’s. My GF’s family drove Toyota growing up but none of the kids in their 40′s today drive Toyota/Honda brand autos.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Wait until these present day Gen X/Y’ers get married, get middle class jobs, and have a couple of kids. The equivalent of the current Camry will be in many of their driveways too. Middle class people paying for a house and kids usually have to forgo prestige automobiles.

        Every generation says they won’t be like their parents. Somehow that never works out :)

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Buzz,buzz,buzz – wrong! CUVs and SUVs to haul the kiddies around that range up to college age.

          So maybe if cars are still around they like sedans and wagons again?!

        • 0 avatar
          Car Ramrod

          Toad-
          I agree completely. When you get to busy to worry about not turning into your parents, it almost inevitably happens.

          In the same vein, I have to laugh at an article fortune magazine published, titled “Will Millenials Kill Costco”. As you’d expect, the thesis was that Millenials live in small places with no storage and don’t have cars. I assume the author expects Millenials to be able to afford 2000+ square feet in the city or put their kids on the living room couch.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            I don’t agree especially when the families today are overlooking the best people/cargo mover today…the minivan!

  • avatar
    gtrslngr

    The Toyota Camry in reality needs no defense .

    Simply stated , it does everything its rather huge customer base demands of it ; e.g. It is eliable , functional , a reasonably good performer , comfortable , decent if not sporty handling , utilitarian [ as far as a sedan is concerned ] , reasonably good looking , quiet , decent mpg and pretty much unobtrusive [ not drawing attention to itself ]

    Which is to say … though no enthusiasts car by a long shot : the car does everything it IS designed to do as well as for those it is designed for exceedingly well .

    Do I or will I ever want a Camry in my garage ? Hell no ! Do I completely understand those who do ? Hell yes .

    So the Defense rests . Mainly because no defense was needed to begin with .

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      “The Toyota Camry in reality needs no defense.”

      Evidently Toyota disagrees. Seeing the alarming slippage in its once-unchallenged sales lead, they just defended it – pouring more cost into it on an emergency basis in a host of key areas where it obviously lagged its competition, including frame rigidity, interior materials and sound insulation.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        And the over 60K units that went to rental – more than doubling their sales to rental fleets in five years.

        And the lowest ATP in class, even below the woeful Chrysler 200.

        And incentive spending that equals the Ford Fusion.

        And give away leases that are going to completely bite Toyota in the arse when all those rentals and lease returns flood the market in a couple of years.

        But hey – we be number one. This strategy worked out sooooooooooo well for Detroit…

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Yep – in certain ways, Toyota has become the “old GM.”

          The Camry, along with the Accord, used to be undisputed leaders in the mainstream, midsize segment.

          Not just leading in (retail) sales but in ATP.

          While the Accord has kept that up, the Camry has slipped tremendously and is basically selling on price and its history for reliability (along with rental fleet sales).

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Camry is still among the most reliable cars in its class by an appreciable margin- look it up.

            At worst, Camry is middle of the class in various metrics, but the idea that it’s the absolute worst is a complete internet creation. Sure the Fusion, 6, Passat and Accord are (marginally) more fun to drive, but the Altima, Sonata/Optima, Malibu, Galant etc aren’t. Barring the Fusion and 6 none of the cars in the segment have a huge, if any, advantage in build quality. All the cars are within 1-2 MPG for rated and real fuel economy. Etc. And the Camry manages to do all this with relatively old, reliable, proven tech- i.e. no DI systems that crud up the back of intake valves, clunky DSGs or ticking time bomb turbos. So the idea that the Camry is somehow way off the mark is just false… as a full package for ownership it’s closer to the top than the bottom of the segment for sure.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @sportyaccordy

            A true statement. But the gap between worst to first is very narrow compared to 20 years ago.

            What was my Iron Duke blew up after 45K miles this car sucks, 25 years ago, is now I can’t figure out my infotainment system – this car sucks.

            The margin isn’t that wide anymore. Remember, the people who make the reports with the red and black dots, have to move the goal posts – there is nothing worth reviewing if everything is a white dot or above.

            The key word in that methodology is “average” over the range of all vehicles.

            The just plain old average car you could buy today is about as good as the best car you could buy 25 years ago (give or take).

          • 0 avatar
            alsorl

            Toyota the “old GM” great point. I think Toyoda understand s they are building lower quality Autos when they recall such a large percentage of cars sold.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            The Optima in SX trim is more fun to drive than the Camry.

            Where the Camry really falls short is the interior – way too much cheap plastics and oddly fitting panels.

            And the only car in the segment that may rival the Camry for worst steering feel is the Sonata.

            The one thing that the Camry had was a compliant ride, but in an effort to make it more “sporty” – Toyota ruined it (along with that for the ES, Avalon and Corolla).

      • 0 avatar
        nels2727

        The Camry didn’t get worse; everything else got better, which highlights the point of the article.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Williamson’s piece should have stopped with the Camry. What he’s really attempting to do is to claim that income inequality is either virtuous or not a problem at all because poor people can be poor and still watch TV.

    “the delta between a Camry and a Lexus ES350 – or some European luxury cars – has never been narrower.”

    The very best cars still have features and/or performance characteristics that are well out of reach to the average person.

    But cars have improved enormously over the last several decades in ways that have helped everyone. And it’s not entirely bad that many people are able to access enough credit that they can (sort of) afford to own it. I just hope that Kevin isn’t too upset when he has to pay for their retirement (which may be the case, since the odds are good that I’ll be paying for his.)

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      Do not fall into the trap of being “against” one demographic or another. You exist in a world my 45% taxes paid for back in the 1970′s, 80′s and 90′s. Think of it as a past due bill that finally needs paying. It seems our political class has decided kicking everything downstream is the only palatable way. I would gladly pay even more today if it would guarantee my grandchildren a decent education and affordable college instead of corporate subsidies for businesses who do not need it. Unfortunately, the only reliable thing is disagreement. However. I will agree that the Camry seems to represent the current apogee of transportation by car.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Williamson is the type who wants a class war that ends in the poor surrendering unconditionally to the rich.

        On the other hand, I accept that the current American economy is oriented around promoting low inflation, which necessarily requires that wages stay low, that trade deficits and household debt levels stay high, and that the average person will be close to broke when he retires.

        There’s a lot of denial in this society about the tradeoffs that are inherent to the priorities that we have chosen. You can’t have low inflation and high wages and relatively low taxes (yes, the net tax burden is relatively low in the US compared to other industrialized nations) and no deficits and great material prosperity and low levels of household debt and 3-4% GDP growth all at the same time. But in a culture that equates poverty with low moral character, this wrongheadedness is inevitable.

        At the same time, Americans tend to be blind to the fact that there is more than one way to skin the economic cat, and that there are other western countries that do quite nicely without copying the American model. None of them are perfect, but neither are we.

        • 0 avatar
          Don Mynack

          Wages aren’t low because of some kind of policy, they are low because there is less demand for many types of labor.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            B/c those jobs can be shipped overseas (or across the border).

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Not everyone understands this stuff, I know.

            The primary driver of inflation is wage growth.

            We don’t want inflation.

            So guess what we do to fight inflation, and guess what happens when the effort is successful as it has been?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Pch101
            “Not everyone understands this stuff, I know.

            The primary driver of inflation is wage growth.

            We don’t want inflation.”

            …………………………………..

            It’s quite apparent least of all you.

            Don’t want inflation????

            You claim to be an economist??? ;)

            Not a very bright comment Pch101, rather lame as a matter of fact.

            Who are the we don’t want inflation people, can you please provide a link.

          • 0 avatar
            56BelAire

            Many who used to have middle class blue collar wages 20 years ago are now struggling due to the mass invasion of undocumented immigrants while the government turned a blind eye. Wages in the construction industry have been decimated…..Laborers, framers,roofers sheetrockers, painters, etc. Add in landscapers and restaurant workers and we have millions upon millions of workers working for depressed wages or not working at all(90,000,000) and now on the dole.

            The double whammy is that many in the above industries are paid in cash and the income goes largely unreported and Uncle Sammy and well as local govts are not getting their “fair share”(taxes).

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Aside from all the manufacturing jobs that have been shipped overseas, the ones that have returned have done so only due to the rising wages in China and the high fuel/transport costs in conjunction with considerably lower wages with few if any benefits.

            Basically, the US economy has become ever increasingly reliant on low-paying service/retail jobs.

            As the middle class has shrunk/along with their purchasing power – the top corporate execs, their investors and the finance sector have taken a much bigger share of the income/wealth.

            We haven’t seen this kind of disparity since prior to the Great Depression (we’re basically back to the days of the “Robber Barons”).

            Even the tech giants have fought to keep wages low with a gentleman’s agreement to not poach employees with better offers as well as lobbying for more H-1B visas.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          No Pch101, the point that Kevin Williamson is making is that markets do a reasonably good job of delivering goods and services people want while governments are spectacularly incompetent at delivering goods and services at the individual consumer level. Governments can respond to the aggregate need for a road, but they really suck at building cars.

          I totally disagree that you can’t have low inflation, high wages, relatively low taxes, no deficits, low-levels of household debt, and 3-4% GDP growth all at the same time. Just cut the size and role of the federal government, cold turkey, to late 90s levels and quit trying to use monetary policy to stimulate the economy. I’d cut further, but surely we can agree that the US economy performed pretty well with the significantly lower levels of federal government spending and general meddling that existed as recently as 15 years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            I’m not knowledgable enough to say whether you’re right, but I could get on-board with you if you’re willing to equally wield the axe on domestic spending, defense spending and corporate welfare by way of tax write-offs, and repeal the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 to take us back to the good ol’ 90s.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Actually, markets in their end form – monopolies or near monopolies do a bad job of delivering goods and services at the correct price-point and in order to have the market forces act properly, it needs proper regulation and oversight.

            Otherwise, we end up with the dotcom bubble/crash the subprime bubble/crash, not to mention Enron manipulating energy markets.

          • 0 avatar

            > Just cut the size and role of the federal government, cold turkey, to late 90s levels and quit trying to use monetary policy to stimulate the economy.

            The “spending” is meant to be countercyclic, even if monetary policy is a spectacularly inefficient way of doing it.

            Frankly the mass marketed “common sense” explanations have zero clue what’s going on. Nobody ever bothers to look under the hood to see how this car works and just parrots the marketing PR.

            The Fed and their counterparts elsewhere (and all their fiscal partners) has basically been doing the same thing with reasonable success for quite a while, and though there are potentially many points to be critical about it’s not by those with no idea what they or any other actors actually do.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Unfortunately, macroecon is largely counterintuitive for the average person. The folksy “common sense” approaches are more likely to kick you in the face than reveal any truths.

            Hint: If you believe that government is like a household, then you’re already careening down the wrong track.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @PCH101

            Sure the government is like a household – as long as that is a household with their own money printing press!

            This is one of those occasions where I am 100% in agreement with you. The whole “Government can do no right” meme is completely lost on me.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @George B
            What you described sound sort of like Australia over the past 20 years or so.

        • 0 avatar
          olddavid

          I have gathered that everyone who either writes or reads the Review assumes this surrender inevitable. The 1% also assumed FDR to be one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “Williamson’s piece should have stopped with the Camry. What he’s really attempting to do is to claim that income inequality is either virtuous or not a problem at all because poor people can be poor and still watch TV.”

      You just saved me AT least 15 minutes in attempting to structure a response to Williamson’s tripe & Derek apparently eagerly taking of this extremely loaded bait that Williamson set out.

      Thank you for cutting through the political & economic falsehoods & propaganda spouted by Williamson (& regurgitated by Derek) so efficiently & accurately.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Where I live, new cars are usually indicators that the owner is a slave. I live in the part of the country where Dollar Generals are popping up to serve those who have to walk to get sustenance. It’s why you see these goddamned stores having liquor licenses for beer.

        A paid off car that is less than 5 years old indicates you are the 1% in my geographic region. I am a spoiled piece of sh1t.

        But who is really happy? I’m such a narcissistic asshole that I’ll die 20 years before my impoverished neighbors. Being blind to the unbalanced nature of mankind is a blessing. When I am wracking my brain and losing sleep over my life decision, everyone else sleeps soundly with their enormous debt and new car in the driveway. I’m trying to adapt the mental picture I’ve painted to a brighter spectrum rather than the dark landscape that it currently is.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Tres, I am a minimalist by all relative measures.

          I live so far below my means that it’s rare, not because I am cheap, but because working more to acquire more quantities of “things” would do nothing to improve my happiness (just the opposite).

          I have significant savings, yet live way below the debt-fueled lifestyles of friends and family members who literally have 2% to 5% of my net worth (many of these people essentially have no net savings, because their liabilities exceed their assets).

          I drive an 8 year old car with 92,000 miles on the odomoter that is paid off, and that I maintain zealously. I have test driven approx 15 new cars in the last 4 years (via rental or at dealerships), and can honestly say that almost all offered me a less enjoyable driving experience, and none significantly improved on my current car, despite costing as much as 100% more than I paid for my current car.

          I splurge on healthy food, QUALITY things that relate to my passions (I own $1,200 speakers that I will own forever, and a high end bike that the same can be said for – I’ll actually pass both down), health care by competent doctors & chiropractors, a nice home (that I built) with a big yard where we grow vegetables, our family can exercise/play with the two dogs and have barbeques, and other such
          things.

          Quality over Quantity, because when junk is useless junk no matter how inexpensive, yet quality yields
          returns far greater than the cost of acquisition.

          • 0 avatar
            56BelAire

            @Deadweight…+100

          • 0 avatar

            Good for you DeadWeight. Agreed x1000! For those who understand that, and live that, and are able to pull it off, I think you reached the best life can offer.

          • 0 avatar
            EquipmentJunkie

            Nice. I agree with you on so many points, DeadWeight.

            Why keep up with the Jones’…they’re self-centered jerks who just pretend that they’re happy. Their therapists know the truth.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            I am the same way. I drove a 12 year old penalty box cavalier into the ground. I bought a new truck (regretted it later) with cash. I max out my 401(k) and Roth contributions.

            I work out, I eat healthy, but I have been miserable. I wrote a car review (that maybe Derek may publish) that will shed light on my messed up head. I can’t help but look around and just admire people’s happiness with what they have, whether it be real or fake. What good does my choices make if I would have ended up dead in a patch of dirt outside of Mexico City? If I had family, those choices would certainly be beneficial.

            You and I would certainly get along over a ice cold Michigan craft brew. I like your style.

          • 0 avatar
            WaftableTorque

            Your philosophy is pretty close to mine, Deadweight. It’s always more sane to pursue absolute quality of life over relative quality of life.

            Your loudspeakers are probably pretty good; I wrote a review 9 years ago on a loudspeaker forum in which I kept my Nuance 330′s from 1995 rather than keep something new. My Mark Levinson system in my car is just as good, probably because I reached the sweet spot early on where everything else is similarly good.

            http://www.axiomaudio.com/boards/ubbthreads.php/topics/110085/Re_M22ti_vs_Paradigm_Phantom_T

          • 0 avatar
            kvndoom

            What speakers? In he 1990′s I got some JBL L7′sAND Infinity Kappas that I foolishly sold. I regret that to this day, because I know they would have lasted. These KEF’s I have now may sound a little better, but they are so lacking when I don’t have the sub turned on.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            kv – Paradigm Reference Signature S8s.

            I got them as cheaply as I did by helping my brother in some major ways when he wanted to build his own house. I probably saved him well over 85 grand just in the added costs he was being over-quoted for on things like windows, lumber & concrete, and he ended up with superior products/trades ON TOP of that, in the end.

            On the minimalism lifestyle, 100 Things or Less influenced my change in direction, but I was already on that path before it came out, and I never viewed the number 100 as a hard and fast “rule,” but more as a symbol to demonstrate the concept of quality over quantity.

            Many people mistakenly believe minimalism is about deprivation when it’s the opposite in many ways. As one example, you can be a minimalist and own a Porsche 911 (even one customized by Magnus Walker) if you really, truly have a passion for that make/model of car.

            Think about it; most people really only have a handful of true, core passions of the deep type that last a lifetime. Some people may only have 2 or 3 such passions.

            It makes a lot of sense to focus on fewer things, even if they are expensive financially, as long as they really relate in a fundamental and lasting way to a life passion, than many more less expensive things where the majority of those things end up collecting dust or being stored in a yard, dry dock, or storage unit.

            And many things in life that relate to peoples’ core passions aren’t expensive at all. I have friends who are really into fishing, and it’s really not that expensive to get set up with quality gear that will outlive them.

            Other things relating to passions are free or even generate income. We have a friend who raises livestock in Holland – all organic, free range, free of chemicals in the genuine sense, and there are restaurants in Rochester, Birmingham, Charlevoix, etc, that beg him for product.

            All I know is that I am far happier now with fewer things of high quality that relate to my hobbies and passions than I was when I was mindlessly consuming & accumulating “things,” as it has freed up more time to spend on passions and with my young one, freed up mental and physical clutter, reduced my anxiety,

          • 0 avatar
            WaftableTorque

            The S8′s are a great speaker. Assuming WordPress doesn’t truncate my comment again, you can even peruse the family of curves measurements:

            http://www.soundstagemagazine.com/measurements/paradigm_signature_s8/

            For fun, check out how a well measuring loudspeaker like yours compares to something far more expensive like Wilson Audio or Verity Audio on those same pages. There’s crap at every price point.

            And an article for context on why good measuring speakers sound good:
            http://www.harman.com/EN-US/OurCompany/Innovation/Documents/White%20Papers/LoudspeakersandRoomsPt2.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            kvndoom

            Wow I just looked those up.. they are friggin BEAUTIFUL. $1200 is the steal of the century. DAMN!

            Good speakers (any quality audio components, really) are definitely an investment, because they can last for decades, little maintenance (none if you don’t abuse them), and you can sell them for only a minor loss even after enjoying them every day for decades.

            I don’t have a lot of cash, but I’ve lived a rather simplistic life too. I’m not big on clothes (jeans any given day, and only my job keeps me from wearing t-shirts 365 days a year), not much on food… I lived off chicken patties and PBJ’s before we bought the house because eating was just something I had to do (like driving for a lot of people, hence the Camry). But I have always, always, had a nice computer, good (or at least decent) home audio equipment, and a fun car.

            In fact, by far my biggest debt-based weakness is cars. I’d have a hundred of the things if I were rich. And I’d be pretty well off cash-wise if I had just kept my 2004 TDI after I paid it off, and driven it into the ground. But I’m just addicted to “the next car.”

      • 0 avatar

        Williamson’s argument re: inequality was irrelevant to me when I wrote this. This is about the Camry, not politics.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          I understand that you were trying to limit it to cars. But this notion of using power steering as a sort of defense for poverty is integral to his argument.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            “Williamson’s argument re: inequality was irrelevant to me when I wrote this. This is about the Camry, not politics.”

            That’s precisely why I said you took the juicy bait.

            Do you really believe Williamson was REALLY commenting on the status/tangible qualities of the Camry for anything other than an incredibly partisan, dogmatic & broad sweeping commentary/moral judgment on the state of socioeconomics in America?

            You regurgitated his impressions of the Camry without giving any indication to your audience that you realized how he was merely using the object that is a modern Toyota Camry to further his much broader and very dogmatic view of the state of politics, economics & social issues in modern America.

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            Meh. Just tried to read the poorly written Williamson piece. Typical National Review point of view – free markets uber alles.

            I think he was trying to make the point that quality improvements do not show up in comparisons of ‘real’ incomes between two points in time – say, 1990 and 2014. This is surely true, and it is likely why political discontent over stagnant ‘real’ incomes for the US middle class is no worse than it is. However, it was enough to get a center-left Democrat elected and re-elected president.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Derek, I realize you were focusing on the Camry, and not supporting Williamson’s broader point, AMD upon further reflection, my comments towards you come across as very glib & prickish.

            My apologies for misplacing my frustration over Williamson’s article onto you & getting so uptight.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Isn’t the ES350 built on the Avalon anyway, and the Camry – that’s a wide gulf right there.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I don’t know about the ES350, but the Avalon is a seriously superior product to the Camry these days.

        In fact, other than maybe a diesel Land Cruiser or something, the Avalon is the best thing Toyota makes right now.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Apparently Toyota doesn’t find the current Camry good enough to sell for the next several years hence the emergency quick re-dux right after the 2014.5 update to improve mediocre interior build/plastics etc, poor steering and average handling, dull looks etc.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Well at least they responded. Could’ve foisted a Sebring on us, which was a POS on day one, a badly aging POS on day two, refreshed and renamed 4 years later, and still badly uncompetitive by its death.

        You love to obsessively comment on the Camry SE you rented, but Jack tested the thing and had a very different take. Pardon me if I find his opinion more credible than yours.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Williamson’s point is that policy-makers are only focusing on shifting wealth around for economic reasons, but economics views wealth/utility distribution as a sort of minor policy tool. It’s an economic adjustment to improve societal utility and economic output, but it’s not central to economic planning…….unless you live in Bhutan.

      Furthermore, the source of income inequality is not macroeconomic policy, it’s relationship culture and the US tax code. The only demographic that beats the system in the US is dual-income married couples. Maybe that explains why SSM is such a big deal?

      Dual income married couples are not a troubling development until you look at the IRS code and you see that their tax rates are roughly 50% lower than for a single person with the same household income. Dual income families don’t hit trouble until household income exceeds $113K, at which point they continue paying social security tax, while a single-income married couple does not.

      Wealth redistribution is not going to alleviate the situation. The system needs to treat people fairly.

      • 0 avatar

        > Furthermore, the source of income inequality is not macroeconomic policy, it’s relationship culture and the US tax code.

        So I guess in the days of capitalism before all these pesky rules came into play, the massive socio-econ stratification was just a matter of not getting relationship culture right (tax code largely didn’t exist so that can’t be it).

        Well, I’m glad our relationships are so much better today.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Apparently, everybody in the world was affluent until 1964. Bread lines, soup kitchens, poor houses, tenement housing, unsafe working conditions, indentured servitude and the rest were all just figments of the imagination.

        The welfare state was created just for kicks, as everyone had been doing just great. The bread lines were just a form of entertainment, like waiting for rides at Disneyland.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    I’m not sure what the point of the quote is at all. Progress is good. Is anyone trying to argue that? You could be the richest person alive in the early part of the 20th century, and yet you could still get Polio. Now, at least if you live in the industrialized world, you’re probably not going to get Polio. Or Bubonic plague. Is anyone pro Polio or black plague?

    However, if you’re a regular National Review reader and a free market zealot, you may have to put up with things like water that occasionally smells like liquorice and puts you in the hospital. That’s the price of freedom (industries) being allowed to do whatever they want. I love the smell of freedom in the morning. Smells like liquorice.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      His point is that capitalism drives the innovation.

      In a broader sense, he’s correct: Societies that attempt to eradicate the profit motive fare badly, because there isn’t much incentive to perform.

      But given his political inclinations, I’ll bet that he’s not smart enough to figure out that the Camry is a byproduct of a relatively closed economy with a passive-aggressive system of trade barriers, and that the benchmarks for what car enthusiasts crave are set by the heavily unionized, state-owned and highly regulated Germans, while the very highest regard goes to the work of the highly inefficient Italians.

      • 0 avatar
        Davekaybsc

        Very true. The Russians and East Germans never made great cars, though the T-34 could kill anything that got in its way, and the MiG-25 Foxbat scared the hell out of F-4 pilots the first time they saw one.

        VAG, BMW, and M-B though don’t seem to have much of a problem making plenty of money even though they have to deal with big government tyranny, pay their workers a living wage, and provide them with SOCIALIZED MEDICINE.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          It seems odd that you basically stated why this happened without seeing it. We provide their national defense so they can allocate their resources for other purposes. National defense isn’t free, but it is far more necessary than statists will admit, as Europe is about to learn again thanks to the ignoramuses that carried our last two presidential elections.

          • 0 avatar
            MPAVictoria

            Defense against who? In the age of Nuclear weapons no one is insane enough to invade a developed country like Germany. We continue to pour money down the military industrial rathole while they have figured out there are better ways to spend it.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Wow. Tell it to Georgia and the Ukraine. Thanks for the education though. I had no idea there were still people so completely deluded about the end of historical events.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Since when are Georgia and the Ukraine a threat to our national security?
            Not Russia–I realize their importance on our list. But Georgia and the Ukraine.

          • 0 avatar
            MPAVictoria

            Since when is Germany the Ukraine? If you think that anyone is going to invade Germany you are even more deluded than I thought.

            Let us make this interesting. I am happy to give you 5 to 1 odds on a ten thousand dollar bet that no one invades Germany this year.

          • 0 avatar
            YellowDuck

            Wait…what? The reason the US suffers the lack of a proper single-payer healthcare system is….that it has to spend too much money providing military protection to Europe?

            Seriously? And you call people who question this analysis “deluded”???

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            US military spending exceeds that of the Russians by a factor of more than 7:1.

            Collectively, the Germans, Brits and French also outspend the Russians.

            Combine the US, UK, France and Germany, and the Russians are outspent by more than 9:1.

            Obviously, all of that spending didn’t keep the Russians out of Georgia or Ukraine. Some of you ought to step back, and ask yourself why that is.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “Obviously, all of that spending didn’t keep the Russians out of Georgia or Ukraine. Some of you ought to step back, and ask yourself why that is.”

            Well, that’s pretty easy – no one wants a nuclear war with Russia over Ukraine. Putin knows that’s not our line in the sand…just like George W. Bush knew that Iraq wouldn’t be Putin’s line in the sand.

            Let’s face it – Putin isn’t the only one invading countries for no good reason. We’re guilty as charged on that one. And would the world go to war if, for example, we decided to annex Tijuana? Probably not.

            Poland, though, would be a different story.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            When I was referring to those who should step back, you weren’t the one who I had in mind…

            Obviously, neither the US nor the EU want to go to war over Ukraine.

            Similarly, nobody wants a nuke war with the Russians.

            On the other hand, Russia sees Ukraine and Georgia as being within its sphere of influence, and wants to control what happens there.

            Just as the Soviets didn’t keep us from invading Granada, there’s not a damned thing that we could have done to help Crimea, short of putting troops on the ground before the fact. But there is no popular will in the US to support such an action; the country is burned out on war, and the Russians know it.

            The Russians took advantage of a Ukrainian power vacuum, which was not of our creation. American power has its limits, as much as some people would like to believe otherwise.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I believe its very possible the West was behind or at least assisted the Ukrainian “revolution” as Washington was found to be behind the original “Orange Revolution” which thrust Yushchenko/Tymoshenko into power in 2004. This was done I believe to provoke Moscow, and in a move I believe was unforseen by the West, Putin annexed the Crimea. I will quote myself on March 3:

            “The Ukraine adventure actually makes total sense because of the Black Seas Fleet. In 2010 a deal was struck with Yanukovych to extend the lease of the naval base at Sevastopol to the 2040s from the previous 2017. If Ukraine gets a puppet leader controlled by the West, this deal may be revoked. I believe the Soviets were considering using the naval base at Tartus as an alternate port, but this is also probably off the table. Annexing the Crimea solves the Black Seas Fleet issue entirely, gives the people of Russia a morale boost, furthers Putin’s popularity and power, while demonstrating to the world how spineless the West has really become. Cold War II is fast approaching folks.”

            The other part I left out on March 3 and will add now is control of the natural gas pipelines to Europe. Soviet strategy in the 80s was to attempt to isolate or neutralize Europe because the believe was on War Day if NATO could be fractured Moscow would be free to annihilate US targets without risk of a European counter attack. Controlling natural gas is a way to keep a strangle hold over Europe. The West I believe chose to challenge the Soviets in their own back yard, possibly as payback for Syria. I like to think the West is not pursuing a war but then recently ATF banned importation of Soviet 5.45×39 ammunition on bogus grounds:

            “When ATF tested the 7N6 samples provided by CBP, they were found to contain a steel core. ATF’s analysis also concluded that the ammunition could be used in a commercially available handgun, the Fabryka Bronie Radom, Model Onyks 89S, 5.45×39 caliber semi-automatic pistol, which was approved for importation into the United States in November 2011. Accordingly, the ammunition is “armor piercing” under the section 921(a)(17)(B)(i) and is therefore not importable. ATF’s determination applies only to the Russian-made 7N6 ammunition analyzed, not to all 5.45×39 ammunition. Ammunition of that caliber using projectiles without a steel core would have to be independently examined to determine their importability.”

            The caliber 5.45×39 is only used by the Red Army and its former satellites… like Ukraine. This in my mind means only one thing, a proxy war *planned by the West* in Ukraine is coming soon to a TV near you. This proxy war will also help keep oil artificially high as I alluded to in March, which is something all of the major players want to happen for reasons I stated in my reference. If oil were to dramatically drop it could implode the Soviet economy as it did in the mid 80s. We can only hope and pray this coming Ukrainian conflict stays a conventional war.

            http://bearingarms.com/atf-kills-importation-of-russian-5-45×39-steel-core-ammunition/

            http://www.globalresearch.ca/ukraine-orange-revolution-2-0/5360517

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Revolution

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/cadillac-elr-sells-just-99-units-in-february/#comment-2893793

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “I believe its very possible the West was behind or at least assisted the Ukrainian ‘revolution’”

            I’ve read similar comments. Unfortunately, they’ve been in Pravda.

            I feel just as warm and fuzzy about GlobalResearch.ca aka the Centre for Research on Globalization. It’s some far-left conspiracy theorists masquerading as a think tank.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m open to all ideas given the limited facts we have but its certainly true the West has interests in Ukraine and the other former satellites which Moscow views as being in their sphere of influence. What happens next may be critical as Ukraine, unlike Iraq/Syria/Libya, is filled with all sorts of significant assets such as natural gas pipelines and three active nuclear power plants (all in western Ukraine though). Maybe nothing will come of it and its all a show to keep things priced high, but that ATF move is very telling, IMO. Evidently there is one US mfg for the round (which I was personally unaware of) but its mostly made in Russia and ATF ban is centered on the surplus military grade variety. I know from talking to munitions experts over the years the 5.45×39 was considered inferior to the NATO 5.56×45 round and as you can see from Wikipedia it never caught on like the NATO or Soviet 7.62×39 round did. So I doubt this was another gov’t move to dry up the round’s US ammunition supply, and if it was just that I don’t see why it took them until 2014. If this ban were hidden better (i.e. in “sanctions”) or triggered by Putin’s gov’t I wouldn’t have noticed or been suspicious. However I do wonder if pallets of the stuff are being bought up now through shell companies and being shipped to the Western backed new Ukrainian gov’t.

            “The US ammunition manufacturer Hornady produces commercial polymer-coated steel case 5.45×39mm ammunition loaded with 3.89 g (60.0 gr) polymer tipped V-MAX bullets with a stated ballistic coefficient (G1 BC) of 0.285.[15][16] WOLF Performance Ammunition offers several Berdan primed commercial 5.45×39mm loads.[17] The Russian ammunition manufacturer Barnaul Cartridge Plant also offers several Berdan primed commercial sporting and hunting 5.45×39mm cartridges. Barnaul states that their 5.45×39mm cartridges produce a maximal pressure of 294,2 MPa (41,054 psi) and have a bullet dispersion R100 of 25 mm (1.0 in) at a range of 100 m (109 yd), meaning every shot of a shot group will be within a circle of the mentioned diameter at 100 m (109 yd)”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_Ukraine

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5.45%C3%9739mm

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Just the scale of Euro Maidan alone makes it clear that it was a popular uprising. Not all of the participants were even politically aligned, but they all agreed that they wanted to give the boot to Yanukovych.

            I think what you’re seeing are Russians and Russian sympathizers who are quick to blame western elements because they don’t want to concede the obvious, namely that the west offers more to Ukraine than does Russia. Ukraine’s GDP is much lower than it should be, and its Ukraine’s lack of integration with Europe that’s to blame.

          • 0 avatar

            > Annexing the Crimea solves the Black Seas Fleet issue entirely, gives the people of Russia a morale boost, furthers Putin’s popularity and power, while demonstrating to the world how spineless the West has really become.

            I haven’t really followed the Russian thing as of late since trying to read through media reports evidently written for morons is tiresome, but it’s worth pointing out that the Crimea is actually Russia and only Ukrainian due to a bureaucratic/symbolic technically.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_transfer_of_Crimea

            However over some drinks with eastern european friends we had a good laugh about western propaganda.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          “provide them with SOCIALIZED MEDICINE”

          We already pay for socialized medicine, but the government refuses to give the benefits to everyone because Uncle Sam has seniors and poor people to buy-off first. This is perhaps the biggest socioeconomic calamity in the US. I don’t prefer single-payer catastrophic insurance or nationalized healthcare, but technically, it would be superior to what we have now, if administered by competent bureaucrats (lol?).

      • 0 avatar
        gtrslngr

        Heres an experience i had a few years ago directly relating to the Japanese mindset of design ;

        Several years ago I had the pleasure of breaking bread with the then CEO of Sony Home Stereo electronics . During the course of pleasant evenings conversation I asked him what kind of stereo set up he had in his home [ I\'m a confirmed Audiophile btw ]

        His response quickly rattled off a list of High End British , US and CH made products . Not a single one being Japanese or Asian . When I asked why no Japanese or Asian in light of his being the CEO of a Japanese company he responded ;

        ” When it comes to stereo equipment the US , UK and Europe in general make Art . We Japanese and the rest of Asia make utility at a price point . And when it comes to my listening preferences I prefer Art ”

        Same goes for Japanese and Asian cars as well in my not so humble opinion . Utility .

        • 0 avatar
          Davekaybsc

          gtrslngr: If you’re an audiophile, you should probably know of Accuphase, a very high-end Japanese brand started by some former Kenwood guys. Their stuff can go up against any US, UK, or EU brand at similar price points.

          Probably the finest Japanese brand is Bridge Audio Laboratory, aka BAlabo. Their stuff is in the ultra echelon, only a VERY select few like Vitus and Gryphon can play in that league. When it comes to electronics at least, Japan can easily do art if they want to.

          Loudspeakers are a bit of a different matter, for whatever reason, aside from TAD, the ultra high-end arm of Pioneer, Japan hasn’t done much there. It may be an architectural thing, Japanese architecture and woodworking doesn’t translate to loudspeaker construction in the way that it does in say, Denmark.

          • 0 avatar

            > If you’re an audiophile, you should probably know of Accuphase, a very high-end Japanese brand started by some former Kenwood guys. Their stuff can go up against any US, UK, or EU brand at similar price points.

            Everything in audio up to the speakers (and in practice incl them) is a trivially solved problem.

            For example, audio processing chips that surpass human hearing ability are all <$1. Everything on top is just how much consumers are willing to pay for marketing/status.

            The moral of this story is that these "connesiours" are easily manipulated clueless dumbasses.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            u mad scientist: what would you say if I extended your analogy to automobiles? in the context of this article, it would go something like this, “Everything automotive transporation-wise is a trivially solved problem. For example, today’s Toyota Camry easily surpasses in most metrics most cars that were available as few as ten years ago and at a lower cost in terms of real buying power. Anything more than a Camry is just how much consumers are willing to pay for marketing and status. Are we easily manipulated clueless dumbasses?” forgive me if this was your intended point.

          • 0 avatar

            The commoditization of the auto industry is gradually approaching but not quite at the point of technical equivalence in audio equipment, even if the base price point is still much higher.

            This isn’t really controversial. All the big players can build efficient/safe/etc that lasts 100k+ miles if they wanted to. What’s being sold is “german engineering/luxury” whatever that means, “sportiness” even though nobody pushes their cars anyway, etc. That should ring a bell.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            Agreed. My play is a stretch and while I’m no audiophile, I’m aware of the culture and the marketing and I agree with what you’ve said there, as well.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “His point is that capitalism drives the innovation.”

        Ah, but that’s not the only thing behind it.

        Capitalism means doing what’s most profitable, period. Sometimes you can make more money off less innovative product, and as long as that’s the standard in the marketplace, everyone profits.

        Let’s face it: innovation is expensive. It takes R & D, and there’s no guarantee the market will accept it. I remember reading Lee Iacocca’s book, and in it he recounts how Ford made a huge push to sell safety in the mid-’50s, and included all kinds of safety equipment that the competition didn’t have. The strategy flopped. But today, we EXPECT all the latest safety equipment on new cars.

        What changed? Pretty simple – the market was heavily influenced by regulations. First the government required better safety, less pollution and more efficiency from cars, and 40 years later, car buyers EXPECT that cars that are as good as the Camry. I don’t think a 1970′s barge, with its lousy handling, poor fuel economy, and marginal safety, would even sell today, even if it could be legally offered. But 40 years ago, that was what the market expected, and anyone who tried offering something different was taking a huge risk. Ask GM – it tried selling airbags in the mid-’70s, and that bombed. Today, could you even imagine selling a new car without airbags?

        In large part, regulations drove the marketplace where it is now. But if these regulations never existed, would automakers have improved cars to the point they are at now? I don’t think so. Maybe the market would have caught up eventually, but as stated earlier, if a business has no reason to be innovative, and its’ competitors aren’t innovative either, then the most likely outcome is lack of innovation. That is the most expedient course. Regulations forced automakers to abandon that, and the market followed.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          You give entirely too much credit to the regulators and basically none to the competitive demands of consumers. Ask why the regulation passed in the first place. Did the demands of the populace have nothing to do with it? Without regulations specifying mandatory features on smart phones, how did we ever get from Motorola flip phones to the iPhone5 in a such a short time?

          Consumers were demanding better fuel economy and safety standards BEFORE the regulations were put in place and were already changing the vehiclular landscape with their choices based on those demands. Like we’re seeing today with backup camera legislation, people have already been choosing these items of marginal safety value en masse for a while, and moreso every day. Again, regulation shows up a day late. I suppose in 10 years when every car as a b/u camera the legislators will be given credit for gifting us those as well.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “You give entirely too much credit to the regulators and basically none to the competitive demands of consumers.”

            You’re right, I should probably qualify my argument a bit more here (and I did in the post I made below).

            But in the absence of these regulations that hit in the 1970s, US automakers could have essentially sat on their hands en masse, and kept on making the same old junk for a LONG time (let’s face it – tacit or actual collusion is entirely possible under an unfettered “capitalist” system).

            Consumers may have not liked it, but none of the foreign brands they were becoming more fond had any manufacturing base here, so it would have taken them a LONG time to force the US automakers to become more competitive with them through “unfettered market forces.” And given the clout of the American manufacturers in Congress, those foreign companies could have been pretty easy to “fetter.”

            Clearly regulations weren’t the only factor at work here, but I believe they were key in making cars as good as they are today; at a minimum, they certainly accelerated the process.

          • 0 avatar

            > Consumers may have not liked it,

            The reason why most consumer-facing companies spend so much on PR is tell people what to want.

            For example, a 300hp v6 is completely pointless for average drivers, but that’s what “people want”.

          • 0 avatar
            Frankie the Hollywood Scum

            Danio, Good point–it is not that simple. A lot problems are found by the government (and others) keeping records, doing research, etc. Then regulations are made.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The thing is that Toyota is usually what’s called a “fast follower.” It doesn’t usually innovate per se, but it quickly figures out the innovations of others, improves upon them, and makes them reliable and affordable. (Hybrids are an exception to the usual Toyota approach, and the lean production model was certainly near-revolutionary in its own way.) Innovation often comes from the fringes.

          “But if these regulations never existed, would automakers have improved cars to the point they are at now?”

          It depends. Performance, comfort, NVH, etc. have virtually nothing to do with government. Government has forced the safety issue, and fuel economy regulations certainly forced some technological improvements along the way. (For example, we can thank displacement taxes abroad for the incentive to create high performance smaller engines.)

      • 0 avatar

        > Societies that attempt to eradicate the profit motive fare badly, because there isn’t much incentive to perform.

        This is misleading because it’s competition which matters, and a profit metric is merely one thing people compete over. Orthogonally, the value of “the market” is to create timely/efficient price signals. Both are just tools with appropriate applications.

        For example, state-”socialism” mostly failed due to heavily prescribed tall-poppy/crab syndrome, and predictably incompetent signalling by committee in micro markets.

        > But given his political inclinations, I’ll bet that he’s not smart enough to figure out that the Camry is a byproduct of a relatively closed economy with a passive-aggressive system of trade barriers, and that the benchmarks for what car enthusiasts crave are set by the heavily unionized, state-owned and highly regulated Germans, while the very highest regard goes to the work of the highly inefficient Italians.

        Gold.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “This is misleading because it’s competition which matters”

          That depends. Competition can promote or stiffle innovation, depending upon the circumstances.

          In the case of cars, I would say that competition has mostly been a benefit. But competition still needs to have a profit motive in order to encourage at least some of the participants to participate.

          • 0 avatar

            I meant the sort of competitive drive to do better, not the ruinous kind, but fair enough.

            > But competition still needs to have a profit motive in order to encourage at least some of the participants to participate.

            Personally I find the sort to do it for money aren’t vanguards of innovation anyway.

            I suppose at the low end there’ll be value in motivating people to work so they won’t starve, but once it gets significantly above sustenance levels money is just a crude way to drive productivity.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Actually, we have never had cleaner water than we do today; most tap water in 2014 is cleaner than a Vermont babbling brook prior to the arrival of European settlers (there is a fair amount of nastiness in most untreated water).

      I have not seen an area of the US where industry can do “whatever they want.” China, maybe. Try setting up an industry yourself and let us know how doing it however you want turns out.

      BTW the Camry is to cars what the Olive Garden is to Italian food: perfectly fine for a huge number of people. And Olive Garden food is consistently better than most Italian food you could get in most of the country 20 years ago. That is progress, for both cars and food.

      • 0 avatar
        gtrslngr

        Actually having had the distinct displeasure of living in VT let me assure you the brooks rivers and streams [ and especially the lakes ] are anything BUT clean or babbling . Also if you wish to see an area of the US where damn near everyone does exactly what ever in the ____ they want to to the local waterways and lakes . Spend a little time in rural VT as well as the Mid West and in fact anywhere today where agriculture and especially Agribusiness is present . Dump a few hundred gallons of manure into the river ? Fine ! Let tons of chemical fertilizers leach into the lake ? Fine and Dandy ! etc etc etc . e.g. The Truth About US Waterways and Lakes

        As to the Olive Garden comment though . Two thumbs up !

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          “prior to the arrival of European settlers” he said.

          Not now.

          Reading is not hard.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          State AGs are fighting to let Agribusiness dump more runoff into lakes and rivers, Canada wants to put a nuclear waste facility on Lake Huron, Lake Erie is about to go back to an ecological disaster, and we let Chinese/Russian/Turkish/Whatever ships dump their bilge water in the Great Lakes. Its enough to make me want a Greenpeace membership.

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          Not too much Agriculture left in most of Vermont. You sure you have been there? When my dad was a kid in the 50′s in Vermont i imagine it was like that. But, now no way.

          I’ll take offense as coming from a Long line of Vermonters going back to the 1700′s and 7 generations. Though I am not one myself.

          It is rural that’s what people do. It’s on of the great things about living in rural areas. No one bothers you and the environment is wonderful. Vermonters tend to be very environmentally conscious.

          The Connecticut River used to be super polluted. The states cleaned it up when the feds almost took control away from the states.

      • 0 avatar
        Davekaybsc

        You’re so right! I love the clean, crisp taste of trihalomethanes, arsenic, lead, manganese, atrazine, tetrachloroethylene, and in some cities, uranium and cyanide. Oh industrial and fertilizer run off, how come you taste so good?

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        I’ve lived in rural MN all my life, drank both city water and well water, and I’d like to think I turned out just fine. Drinking pure distilled water is a good way to weaken your immune system. It’s not like we have pumps going directly from our lakes and rivers right into our taps.

        And don’t poop on agriculture and agribusiness if you’re not willing to make your own food. Or the truckers who bring it to your supermarket, for that matter.

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          Soft water is horrible for your body as bottled water is! It much better to drink hard water.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            [Citation needed.] I’m not calling you out on your opinion/fact, because it may very well be true, but I’d like to see a source.

            Depending on where I am, I’ll be drinking hard water, soft water or a combination of both. If I’m going to make mistakes, it’s better that I do them now while I’m young and stupid.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Distilled with natural lemon juice is best IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Hey, that sounds pretty good. Anywhere I can get it when I go out, I get ice water with lemon rather than pop. It’s light, but not insubstantial.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I want mine with bacon.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          You’re lucky that you could drink well water. There are places today where it’s patently unsafe due to pollution (West Virginia, for example).

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            As much as my forefathers would hate to admit it, it’s probably because of all those “terrible government regs” that the water here is still good.

            Too bad the places that need to be drinking water the most have the worst sources.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @Drzhivago138

            It goes a bit beyond that in West Virginia – a great deal of the well water in the state is basically toxic due to runoffs from coal mining.

            Coal companies are basically destroying the state. They’ve had floods caused by the failure of slurry dams, and entire communities have been swallowed up in toxic sludge. And now they’re actually REMOVING the tops of mountains to excavate coal – the remains look like something from a science fiction movie.

            And because the coal companies have bought off the state government, it keeps happening.

            People told me about all this stuff, and I didn’t believe it until I started looking it up. It is horrifying. In essence, we’ve sacrificed a whole state so that we can have cheap coal.

            Be glad you live in Minnesota.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I’m not against coal. What I am against is companies destroying their own workers’ homes and health in the name of increased profits, and then those same workers defending their employer out of either fear or a blind adherence to tradition.

            And then sometimes I feel/I’m told that my opinion is irrelevant because the power in our corner of the state comes from the Oahe Dam. It’s a lose-lose situation.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Unfortunately, when you’re talking coal, the kind of enviromental side effects you’re talking about are pretty much unavoidable. And while people can debate endlessly about global warming, the effects of coal mining are inarguably toxic, and they’re glaringly obvious. We need to replace this power source post haste.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      The term he’s exploring is one called “consumer surplus”, which explains how dollar income may be stagnant, but the standard of living is much higher. You can’t quantify all the benefits of having Wikipedia in your palm, but it undoubtedly makes your life richer.

      The difference between the purchase price of a good, and the max you’re willing to pay, is the consumer surplus. What is now available for 50% of the median wage (the Camry) was once priced at 100% or 150% the median wage. That’s an extremely beneficial thing we’re just learning to quantify. Especially now that a growing portion of our happiness is derived from “free” goods like Facebook which allow us to spend more time communing with our friends and less time commuting to see them.

      Don’t poop on economists; they’re only studying human behavior.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “Especially now that a growing portion of our happiness is derived from “free” goods like Facebook which allow us to spend more time communing with our friends and less time commuting to see them.”

        This is such a warped & selective (mentioning potential benefits while negating mention of potential adverse consequences) statement that I need time to compose a counterfactual.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          You’re saying that he’s presenting all the benefits of social media while disregarding their potential drawbacks? Then yeah, I’d need time to compose myself too.

        • 0 avatar
          bryanska

          Go ahead and compose!

          Social networks took a HUGE chunk of expense & time out of social interactions… therefore making more AND better socialization possible. Just like making cars more worry-free so you can drive more and in greater comfort. Further, given that socializing is our species’ purpose we reap more health benefits of communing & sharing with others but in a vastly cheaper form. Not only does social media reduce the cost of telling 400 people you just had a baby to nearly zero, but it also enables keeping a network of 400 acquaintances in the first place (albeit at a smaller level of interaction). Facebook will never replace actual face-to-face communication, for sure. There are costs, but they pale in comparison to the benefits: Tyrants have fallen. Inefficient and costly long distance service is a thing of the past. There is nearly zero cost to keeping our loved ones informed. All this with stagnant wages!

          The 1970 cash value of all these interactions would have been huge. Now they’re nearly free: thus “consumer surplus”.

          On the cost side, any “costs” of social media can be nearly eliminated with a few privacy settings. Further, as the industry matures, costs will fall even more so that privacy is no longer an issue. Social media doesn’t want our SSN anyway; it wants our holiday wish list.

          Anyway, the theory goes: one cannot simply complain about wage stagnation since the 70′s (or pick your decade) without accounting for the vastly cheaper (or free) goods that have appeared in the same time. Our quality of life is many times better by nearly any measure. There is immense value in the countless “free” tools that didn’t exist in 1970.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I agree about the uniqueness of this site. The articles are generally strong and often written in such a way to spark a debate, but that is fine because the commentariat is strong, knowledgeable, opinionated and generally civil. And that last point is pretty rare for the internet at large.

    I still get MT and C&D newsletters in my inbox monthly, and I don’t even bother reading them. Their opinions and analysis are of those who pick the tiniest nits on every car, because they drive every car and only new cars. Its not relevant to someone coming out of a 12 year old beater and buying something new or gently used, or really used! TTAC is a lot closer to the ground and the input of its contributors and commentators is a great deal more useful.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    The moral of the story was that the whole Camry thing was a smokescreen to figure out a legitimate way to use the word “taupe” in an article.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I like tan cars and I cannot lie.

      (Seriously, though, I love the resurgence of “not black/white/red/silver/grey”. My old Mercedes was brown-over-tan two-tone and looked *great* with it.

      Sky blue is also pretty good. Brown. Green.

      We have a whole palette! We should use it.)

  • avatar
    cargogh

    I was just talking about this yesterday with a friend who is trying to get sober. He was switching sponsors and thinking about asking a mutual friend that had helped so many guys over the years. He asked what I thought. I said he was the Toyota Camry of sponsors. Boring, dull; I would have never asked for help from him personally, but he must know what he’s doing. Others love him and have stayed sober since getting him. It is principal before personality, so give him a call.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    I see competing arguments at work here.

    Are we looking at the Camry, vehicle, lineage, model specific?

    Are we looking at the Camry as the poster child for Toyota’s production model and the change it has brought to the industry?

    Both of these perspectives are open for debate but I find it easier to align with the second. The former is flawed and does great disservice to other vehicles that have have been equal competitors to the Camry. Why Camry and not Corolla? Or Civic, or Accord, or Cortina, or Beetle or, or, or …

    Camry is just one of many vehicles that take their place in the march towards the modern state of the vehicle industry. The singular contribution that we have to thank is not the Camry, its the Toyota production method.

  • avatar
    ggbox69

    I appreciate the Camry pictured at the start of the page. It’s honest about what it is. No sporty wheels or aggressive trim but still somewhat proud looking, like it’s saying “just doing my job sir”. Good, do your job, thanks for your humility. I don’t find many new cars as purposeful, just a mishmash of design, saying “hey look what I can do”. That’s cool, have fun with that identity crisis.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I have to give props where it is due. Toyota has achieved what the Chevy Impala used to be – the sales king. The refreshed Camry is rather attractive, and I almost looked at one in person before I bought my car almost 2 years ago.

    In reality, I’m not certain that Toyotas are as good as they used to be, for I know a few owners in the neighborhood who have had trouble. In fact, our next-door neighbor wanted a different make of car when her lease was up, but Toyota basically bought her off.

    I’m not complaining, but it works for them.

    I’m only sad that an Impala, or at least a Malibu can’t re-take the sales crown, but that’s just me.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The mistake Williamson – and most conservatives – makes is to assume that everyone who criticizes capitalism as it exists today must be anti capitalist. That’s baloney.

    One can be pro-capitalism, but recognize that so much wealth in the hands of so few has massive implications for our political system, and most of them aren’t good.

    Oh, and by the way…yes, a Camry is probably light years better than the finest car made in 1955. And much of the Camry’s superiority comes from the fact that safety, pollution and mileage regulations have required automakers to produce cars that incorporate all kinds of superior technology, engineering and design that would not have been possible in 1955. Would the average car be as good as it is today WITHOUT these regulations? I don’t think so – these laws, combined with market forces, gave automakers no choice but to up their game, or die.

    Therefore, the Camry is, in fact, a poster child for the success of a “mixed” economy.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      +1. Well put FreedMike!

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      +1.

      Well put FreedMike!

    • 0 avatar
      shipping96

      Great post FreedMike.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The only problem here is that you’re fundamentally wrong. Safety and emissions regulations didn’t invent computers or drive tire development. You are seeing what you want to see. Otherwise you’d realize that the problem with capitalism today is a government that sells its power grabs to the insipid through class warfare rhetoric. Their puppets are so stupid that the meddling only serves the elite anyway, making statists all things to all bad people.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Got a better way of doing it? Tell us. Don’t hide behind vitriol.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Sure he does. Just read some Ayn Rand. It’s all in there. For starters, you can read how it’s the government who is trying to squash Taggart’s ultra high speed railroad…’cause they hate capitalists.

          Except, of course, that in today’s ACTUAL world (you know, one that isn’t an objectivist cirle-jerk) it’s not the brave capitalists funding the ultra high speed railroads – it’s the evil STATISTS doing it, because the brave, oppressed capitalists who run the railroads don’t want to spend money to do it. And the objectivist cirle jerkers are up in arms about it. Guess they never read “Atlas Shrugged.” And it wasn’t the brave, oppressed capitalists who bankrolled high-tech ventures like atomic power, supersonic flight, space travel, or even the Internet – it was the bad old statists, which either bankrolled the capitalists who developed the technology, or gave the technology away so capitalists could make money on it.

          But read Rand anyway. It’s a hoot.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I’m a pro-free-market conservative libertarian (at least, I think), and even “Atlas Shrugged” scared me a little–at least, the idea that someone could look at it and think it was such a good idea that an entire way of life should be based around it.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Yep, here it is…rejection of the concept of unfettered capitalism makes you a “statist”.

        Except that it doesn’t. But it does make you a pretty hopeless ideologue.

        By the way, if you knew anything about the history of computers, you’d know that the market for them was largely created by “the statists,” who bought them to use in the military and space programs. In fact, the first modern microcomputer was the guidance system in the Apollo spacecraft, and last I checked, it wasn’t “the capitalists” who decided to land a man on the moon. Why would they? There was no money in it.

        But I digress.

        In the 1950′s and 1960′s, the main customer for leading-edge computer tech was “the statists”. They bought hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of the best and newest stuff from companies like Intel and TI, and that funding allowed the companies to amortize their R/D costs, and invest in newer, better, cheaper products that were more affordable for non-government commercial use.

        You also might recall that the government also subsidized the introduction of computers by giving huge tax breaks to companies that bought them. My dad was one of the early adopters, and the reason his business bought a $12,000 (yep, they were that expensive) IBM PC back in the early ’80s was for the tax break. Ditto for a lot of other businesses. And those sales allowed IBM to amortize their development costs, and reinvest the profits in newer, better machines that they could sell for less money.

        You’ll also recall that that little item called the “Internet” had its start as a DARPA project. That’s right, “the statists” started that too. And guess who sponsored the bill to allow commercialization of this technology? Dare I say the name “Al Gore”?

        Summing up, then…all the tech you’re using to call anyone who disagrees with you a statist was, in fact, mainly bankrolled by the actual statists. I’ll let the irony sink in on that one.

        Now, maybe private companies would have developed all that stuff in time, but would it all have happened so quickly without those big bad “statists” funding the development of the technology? Not a chance. Our info tech today is an almost direct result of a mixed economy.

        • 0 avatar

          Most of the R&D you’re speaking of is still only the redzone/last-mile effort to commercialize (ie cost optimization) stuff that is already known to work.

          Pretty much all blue skies research doing the heavy lifting that tries to figure out what works is entirely bankrolled by gubmint statists; for good reason since the rewards actually trickle down to everyone since they’re not zero sum unlike money.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          “Yep, here it is…rejection of the concept of unfettered capitalism makes you a “statist”.

          Except that it doesn’t. But it does make you a pretty hopeless ideologue.”

          FreedMike accidentally spoke the truth. It’s a start. You missed that I said the point of eroding the building blocks of freedom was to serve the elite. Established actors have little to fear from the statists. They work towards the same goal, which is slavery of the common man. Regulations are barriers to competition and shared prosperity. Don’t expect Bill Gates, Larry Ellison or the Monsanto board to care if their market becomes a single payer with a bunch of dependents that offer little hindrance to unbridled avarice at the top. Freedom may be distasteful to people so deranged that they think they know what’s better for people than the people themselves do, but the price of its absence is measured in mass graves, as it will be again thanks to you.

          • 0 avatar

            > Don’t expect Bill Gates, Larry Ellison or the Monsanto board to care if their market becomes a single payer with a bunch of dependents that offer little hindrance to unbridled avarice at the top.

            Consider the basic fact that it’s more profitable for major players in a market to collude into a monopoly rather than compete in a race to the bottom. No gubmint is necessary, and coincidentally that’s exactly what eventually with black markets and such by definition outside their purview.

            While it’s true serfs are sometimes evidently too dumb to realize this, the kind of people making real money usually aren’t.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The average American consumer should be glad they could at least claim some benefit of the trillions spent on military projects during the cold war era.

          The fact that free-market entrepreneurs where able to develop some of these ideas into things that average people could use is purely coincidental. It pales in comparison to the resources spent on things that consumers will never see a shred of value from. Again, giving too much credit where little is due.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I don’t think it was coincidental at all. Set your mind for circa 1960, and imagine a world in which everyone has a computer that allows instantaneous information sharing with anyone in the world. The implications for commerce, entertainment and business productivity are almost unreal. The problem is, computers in 1960 were crude and took up entire rooms, and users had to basically have a degree to use them to begin with. And developing the technology to change all that was going to be murderously expensive.

            And that’s where the big bad gummint came in. It subsidized the development of almost all the technology we take for granted today by buying the latest tech from the computer industry. In turn, they used that money to amortize their costs, and develop the next generation of machines. Would technology have eventually caught up without this pump-priming? Yes. But it’d clearly have taken a LOT longer to do.

            This, I think, is where the government can be most useful economically – it has the resources to spur the development of new technologies that can eventually be commercialized. In the end, this helps everyone – it creates jobs, wealth, and tax revenue for the government. Think of it this way: how much wealth and employment was created by all the technologies the government spurred the development of during the Cold War? It’s almost incalculable, and radically exceeds the initial investment of tax dollars.

            There are many industries the government could have a similar effect with today – energy and biotech are the two that come to mind first. If we invested, say, $500 million to develop a workable fusion reactor, imagine how much wealth that technology would generate.

          • 0 avatar

            danio3834 is correct that indirect gubmint investment through military expenditure is inefficient for direct r&d. This is trivially true by definition.

            However, it doesn’t really matter since the real stuff of value being developed is human resources, and not any particular project per se. The alternative is doing minimal r&d as the private sector does, and get nothing. Inefficient trumps nothing.

            For example, the US massively industrialized for WWII and manufactured epic loads of war machinery to be largely junked. The long term effects are obvious; apparently you can make the worse investment ever and still come out ahead of doing nothing.

            The same thing except done more directly and efficiently has been going on in asia for a while, but the US still leads in high tech because of the money sunk into blue skies research here (where nobody knows what practical project might come out of it by definition).

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I’m guessing the S in your name stands for “Strawmen”

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    In ’86 I bought a Camry LE for $13,500 in ’98 I bought a base Corolla for the same amount, now what can I buy for that amount? nothing new, yet my income has not gone up very much since ’86, such is the American reality folks.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      That truly sucks. I hope it gets better for you.

      I have been very fortunate in my 31-year career. But as I head for the exit (next year or two), I’m frantically trying to pay off the house and car. Not much more to go, but then again I’ll have one hitting college in 5 years.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Versa…and it is probably better in every way than both of those cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      If your income hasn’t gone up much since 1986 you are doing something wrong, had a really high income at your first job, or have had really, really bad luck. Just by virtue of inflation you should be making more than twice as much as you were in 1986.

      Most people would have to make a conscious effort to get no promotions or raises with 30 additional years of experience.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      $13,500 in 1986 dollars is about $29,000 today. $13,500 in 1998 dollars is about $20,000 today. I am pretty sure you can get a new Camry or Corolla for $20-30K.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Funny: my salary went up 70% since 2008, and I don’t even have a degree, nor have I been particularly ambitious. I’m with the others: either you were making excellent money before, or something wacky is going on.

      Not to mention that today’s Corolla is bigger and has far more content than your ’86 Camry did.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    It’s like a recent MBA grad. It’s a bit smug, it’s a dime a dozen, it’s not really good at anything in particular, we hate it, but deep down we know it’s a good kid, probably better than our own. That makes us resent it even more.

  • avatar
    daviel

    I liked what Marcelo said about Brazilian cars. I have always been drawn to smaller cars. The car I have now is a Kia Sportage, big enough to haul band equipment around. I’m too old to be fooling around with that stuff, but I still do it. Biggest car I ever owned. VW Bug, New Beetle, Scirocco, Fiat 128, 124, Focus svt. I liked a rental Yaris I drove for a day. I’m considering a Mazda2 hatchback when and if the Sportage croaks. Roll-up windows, 4 or 5 speed stick, AC and an AM/FM radio and I’m ready to roll. Camry is too big for my taste.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      I agree with you 100% recently I had a Sentra rental for a week and found it too big for a compact car, it was the same size as my 86 Camry

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Kia Sportage–a lot better car than I thought it would be. I knew reliability wasn’t going to be much of an issue when my mother bought it to replace the legion of minivans that had occupied our garage since the end of the Reagan administration. But I thought it would be that kind of “cheap” reliability–the interior would be sub-par and eventually go to pot while the mechanicals kept on ticking. No–the interior by 2008 was nice. Not luxurious by any means, but enough brushed finish to offset the hard plastics.
      Then my sister’s Focus conked out (a consequence of one college student buying a car already used by another college student) and the Sportage suddenly became hers. Now she’s going to school in Spain, and the Kia became Dad’s runabout vehicle for winter. Not actually useful for any farm work, and the MPGs went down to “ogre” levels (say, 16 or so) due to the Arctic winter and all-town driving, but still a better choice 95% of the time than either farm pickup. (Ford 6.8L V10: The only modern engine I can think of that can potentially get the same MPGs as its displacement. 4.30 rear axle doesn’t help.)

      I don’t mind the little Kia at all, except I don’t care for driving it or sitting in the front seat due to lack of armrests/high enough center console. Sorry, Kia, but if you’re gonna put buckets up front, you can’t expect me to hold my arms in my lap as I drive.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Are U the one and only CK? Holy crap what a pleasure to read your wise words again, mi amigo. That place sucks since you departed.

    • 0 avatar
      gtrslngr

      Molto grazie mi amigo . Glad I remembered your moniker here . And si . Se moi . In the Digital if you will . Been back here now around a month or so . Things here being much better than they used to be .

      Say hey to HtG for me . Give Bejma [ who had me removed along with his minders ] a good swift kick in the ___ . And do come around here more often !

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        Mi amigo, I think Sybil got HtG upset with one of his insulting comments and neither one has made any comments since yesterday, maybe Htg quit and Sybil got banned again for the millionth time only to return with another name down the road, How is Franz doing? my old lady almost died in an accident and the other insurer wanted to put her out to pasture but I fought hard and got her fixed to her former glorious self.

  • avatar
    210delray

    Zackman nailed it — today’s Camry is the equivalent of the 1965 Chevy Impala. My recollection though is that no one bitched so much about the Impala back when it ruled American roads.

    You have to admit the pictured car is a beautiful shade of blue, so refreshing compared to the sea of white, silver, gray, and black common today.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      You couldn’t bitch about it–there was no other way to go. GM, Ford and Chrysler almost literally owned the road.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        But lots of people started driving Hondas and Toyotas the first chance they got.

        Other people drove obsolete inefficient unreliable crap out of patriotism and habit.

        At least according to my dad. Most of this happened before I was born, though he made the jump around 1990ish (when I was 10), and he never looked back.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      No one bitched about the 1965 Chevy Impala because it was available with ten engine choices (ranging from the 230ci straight six to the fire-breathing 409), and five transmission choices (three manual, two automatic), and more than a dozen colors, and could be had as a coupe, sedan, convertible, or wagon, and with that canted-forward grille and six round taillamps and coke-bottle flared rear fenders, they were beautiful from any angle.

      Like the Camry, it was reliable and sold like hotcakes. Other than that, I think they have as much in common as Halle Berry and Dave Barry.

  • avatar
    ajla

    A 1955 Mercury Montclair is also impressive next to a 1896 Ford Quadricycle. Did people in ’55 walk around in constant awe of what they could purchase?

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      In a way, they did. The U.S. experienced a long run of exceptional prosperity in the 50s and into the 60s as a result of WWII. All other major powers’ industries had been bombed into near-oblivion, and we were the only one still standing. Consumers, eager to spend their newly acquired wealth and shake off the specter of the Great Depression, went on a buying spree. 1955 was a record-breaking sales year, with almost all major makes offering splashy new designs. Optimism was brimming; about the only major concern was the “Red Threat” of atomic destruction. We even discovered a vaccine for polio that year.

  • avatar
    Short Bus

    We needed a family truckster to haul kids around in and we needed to keep the cost as low as possible. We bought a used Camry, and for the task it is meant to perform it is an excellent car.

    I don’t understand the hate. Toyota’s slogan of “Let’s go places!” pretty much sums up the car nicely.

    No, you don’t buy one if you desire an interesting driving experience. But if you’re trying to fill the need of hauling multiple fleshy bags of meat from one place to another, it is perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I think the hate stems from the insufferability of the advertising, promoting an appliance as cool, hip, froody, etc. (Jan comes to mind.) But the hate comes from people who don’t understand marketing. You have to promote your vehicle as cool, hip, froody, etc. You can never call it an appliance, a here-to-there vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Short Bus

        Agreed on that one. What’s funny about how they’re pushing the ’15 model is that it’s basically the same as the ’07 model, that they’re focusing on making the car “fun” and “exciting.” While I do think that while it may be possible to feel that the SE models are fun and exciting (I was surprisingly impressed by the V-6 SE I drove), the other flavors are anything but “fun” or “exciting.”

        I do my best to insulate my brain from marketing and just evaluate the product based on its own merits. So I suppose the annoyance it may cause other people can be somewhat lost on me.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “(Jan comes to mind.)”

        I love Jan. I’d pleasure her and cook for her and give her the 30 more lbs. she so desperately needs.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    Toyota: Defending the indefensible.

  • avatar
    George B

    To me the Toyota Camry represents good engineering focused on what the American consumer wants. The reputation for reliability comes from thousands of engineering decisions where not inconveniencing the end customer was given higher priority than marginally better performance or insignificant fuel economy improvements. It would be interesting to see what Toyota engineers could come up with if they had the opportunity to take the Camry and make a more performance oriented version. It would also be nice if Toyota put some effort into making their cars more attractive.

    The Toyota reputation for a no-hassle ownership experience extends to their key suppliers too. While I’m not so sure that the new Volvo Drive-E engines will hold up well, I have no concerns with the Aisin 8 speed automatic transmission. If it’s good enough for Lexus it’s good enough for me.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Also comes from keeping the same basic powertrain for years and years.

      When Buick did that, it was at/near the top of the reliability surveys.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        When the basic powertrain is extremely competent and near the top of the class for smoothness, power, and efficiency, why change it? The current 2.5L I4 and 6A debuted in the 2010 Camry. EPA 25 City, 35 highway mpg, which it very realistically achieves. Transmission is very smooth shifting and responsive, motor is torquey enough to loaf along at 2000 rpm at close to 80 mph. Peppy off the line too, 0-60 is right up there with anything else midsize with the ‘budget’ motor option. The fact that they accomplished all of this without a CVT, DI, or a turbo is impressive to me. By all accounts, a 1.6 Ecoboost Fusion is slower, thirstier, and more complex. Altima has some wonky CVT tuning to achieve the impressive 27/38 EPA number.

        The ubiquitous Toyota 3.5L V6 is an extremely powerful and creamy-smooth motor, with a record of reliability. The one in my parents’ RX350 is a gem, and gets 25 mpg highway (73mph cruise, auto AC) even with the ‘archaic’ 5spd automatic. In the Camry, it’s a rocket. I don’t think any of the turbo-4 midsize sedans are quicker (correct me if I’m wrong).

        Now I’m not saying they should use these motors forever, but given the current competition, they are perfectly strong contenders. I’m sure DI is inevitable, as are turbos perhaps. Hopefully they will introduce it en-mass once it is a mature and developed technology inside the company, like Honda did with their roll out of CVTs and DI in the Accord.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          The Camry is about 1 second faster to 60/through the quarter mile than the turbo 4 cars, and it gets the same gas mileage within 1-2 MPG. The whole turbo 4 thing is a myth; none of them are better than Honda/Toyota’s NA engines to where they are worth the added complexity/lost reliability.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The I-4 Camry is a 16 second 1/4 mile car. No turbo-4 2.0l is that slow:

            http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1403_entry_level_luxury_sedan

            The Camry finishes at the back oof the pack compared to it’s peers.

            http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1305_2013_honda_accord_sport_toyota_camry_se_2014_mazda6_grand_touring/?fullsite=true

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “The Camry finishes at the back oof the pack compared to it’s peers.”

            The only oof a Camry needs is to safely merge from an on-ramp. Quarter-mile times are as relevant to us owners as are advances in nail polish technology.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Norm I was comparing the V6 camry to the 2.0L turbos (Malibu, Fusion, H/K twins), and the Camry 2.5 NA I4 to the Fusion 1.6.

            2013 Camry SE V6: 5.8 (C/D, MT) 0-60, 14.3@101mph

            2011 Sonata SE 2/0T: 6.6-7.0(MT,Edmunds), 14.6-15.4@99mph

            2013 Fusion 2.0T AWD: 6.8 (MT), 15.1@92mph

            2013 malibu 2.0T: 6.3 (C/D), 14.8@97 mph

            2013 Accord v6: 6.1, 14.3@ 98.1mph (edmunds)

            2013 Altima v6: 6.2, 14.4@100.1mph (edmunds)

            2013 Fusion 1.6EB 6A: 8.2 0-60, 16.2 1/4 (MT)
            2012 camry LE 2.5 6A: 7.8 0-60, 15.9 1/4 (MT)

            Where is your turbo-4 god now?

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            SportyAccordy was writing about the V6, Norm. Not the I-4.

            The Fusion 1.6 turbo is slower & thirstier than the Camry I-4.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Like others said I was speaking on the V6.

            I look forward to seeing the resale market on the turbo cars in 4-5 years.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            For 40% more displacement over the turbo-4 I’d expect better results sometime in forward progress(I.e. Accelerating, fuel economy…)

            http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-ats-technical-discussion-forum/341425-ran-my-2013-ats4-automatic-napierville.html

            If you drive at anything more than sea level the normally aspirated engine slowly loose power output the higher you climb, not so with turbos. So when not in the higher elevations you can run with V8′s and then leave them on your way up.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            For 40% more displacement over a turbo-4 I expect to see better results during forward progress(i.e. Accelerating, fuel economy…

            http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-ats-technical-discussion-forum/341425-ran-my-2013-ats4-automatic-napierville.html

            Unless you are driving at sea level all the time, your normally aspirated engine loose efficiency as the elevation increases. Not so with turbo engines today as they are looking for a specific air mass and will increase boost until it is met. Today’s turbo-4′s can run with V8′s and leave them going up the hill.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Yes, the V6s have 40% more displacement, and make significantly more real horsepower as demonstrated by their second faster 0-60 and quarter mile times, all while having less moving parts and making about the same gas mileage

            Your point about elevation is valid but not really relevant to the average American who lives and generally travels around sea level.

            Not sure what relevance your link has either- that ATS is modified, AWD, running on a custom fuel mix and water/meth injection. Here’s a naturally aspirated 6 cylinder car that runs 11s stock

            http://www.caranddriver.com/features/dissected-2014-porsche-911-gt3-feature

            See how silly that looks?

            Stock for stock mainstream turbo engines are not making good on their promises. And tuned engines don’t count because there’s no way those tunes will pass emissions.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            “It’ll pass emissions just fine as long as it doesn’t have any CEL’s, and as long as the emissions monitors are set. Not a problem since it does not change any emissions related items.”

            http://www.cruzetalk.com/forum/34-1-4l-turbo/5940-2-hypotheticals-re-trifecta-tune.html

            Anything else you want to speculate upon with turbo-4′s?

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Lol, way to hone in on the one point where you had any kind of wiggle room. Fine, a tune might not kill emissions, but I’m sure there are some very good reasons why these engines don’t come so aggressively tuned from the factory. Stock for stock though; i.e., how 99% of the people who buy these cars will leave them, turbo engines have no advantages

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            It is not all about the engine with turbo-4′s, the transmission is tuned also. The transmission tuning has nothing to do with emissions.

            Your comments are so off the cuff that I cannot critique are of your falisies and misinformation. Your at best a notch above gtsinger in spewing junk.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Mainstream turbo 4s making “the same HP” as V6s seem to fall short when the rubber hits the road. Posting a tuned, high performance luxury sedan doesn’t change that.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Turbo-4 power prevails on the street:

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            All fun and games until someone blows out their turbo charger.

            Incidentally does the turbo Verano or Encore use the same automatic as the NA motor? if so, was said transmission spec’d for the additional torque over time?

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            A quick google search;

            http://www.gminsidenews.com/index.php?page=trans_guide

  • avatar
    carguy

    I don’t think the Camry needs any defending – it is selling by the boatload.

    For those who do not want an emotional experience from driving it is a marvel of engineering, offering reliability, space, frugality that most folks want in a car.

    To those folks who see cars as emotional objects (most people on this site), the Camry makes no sense and we’d rather drive something that thirstier, more expensive and less reliable in order to get our fix of good car emotions.

    To each their own I guess.

    However, it is kind of sad that car forums have become so inward looking that editorials have to written about Camry tolerance.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Why are you unable to realize that some may have emotions just as intense as you derive from a cushier car or one capable of more violent changes in direction, from the value/performance equation of a more practical car, or from the mileage capability of an efficient one?

      Do you think that the emotions of hypermilers are any less valid than the emotions of a 4 sec. 0-60 car owner?

      I think car forums are becoming more open, and THAT’s the reason why such editorials are appearing. Some car websites even have discussion areas for bicycles. Egad, run for the trenches!

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Not selling as well as it once did and it is now selling at a much lower ATP.

      Toyota is very lucky that they can be aggressive on pricing due to the Japanese govt. weakening the Yen.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I’m a big fan of Williamson’s writing in general, and I agree with the basic premise stated in this article.

    Even the most basic modern car is a spectacular piece of engineering.

    Take the matter of reliability, first and foremost. We here about how one type of modern car is more reliable than another type of modern car, but the truth is that ALL modern cars are insanely reliable. You literally CANNOT BUY A BAD NEW CAR these days.

    When a reliability complaint arises in a modern car, it’s never anything substantial like axles spontaneously breaking due to poor metallurgy or engines seizing up due to shitty oil, as it would’ve been in the past. It’s never anything related to actual design or manufacturing flaws.

    Complaints about reliability in modern cars are always bullshit nitpicking about interior trim peeling and fading, or infotainment systems with sketchy, complicated interfaces.

    A particular modern car will run for half a million miles with minimal care, and people will call it a piece of shit because its electrical switches “don’t feel substantial.”

    Tell you what – let me go get my little violin, and you can tell me all about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Agreed. When people look at my ’02 Mazda Tribute–that’s 12 years and 130K+ miles, BTW–and see a few peeling pieces of upholstery and an electrical gremlin that just cannot be found, they might call it unreliable. But not to me–unreliable is my mother’s ’77 Matador which, after maybe 75K miles, developed something with the throttle body and could not be driven without a foot on the gas pedal at all times, including while braking and turning. That’s “unreliable.”

  • avatar
    TW5

    “In 1955, no captain of industry, prince, or potentate could buy a car as good as a Toyota Camry”

    Criticism against the Camry is based on subjective value theory, not macroeconomics or anti-capitalism. Taking Williamson’s quote out of its original context creates a derp-effect. In the world of subjective-value, Williamson’s observation can be applied to any modern vehicle.

    Politically-speaking, Williamson is in the right. Most liberal policy is based on Archimedian paradigms that have no basis in reality. At any given moment, we are getting richer or poorer as a species. Any presumption of static wealth is dangerous to society, and liberal policies in the United States have badly damaged our own populace as well as innocent bystanders around the globe. Subprime lending crisis?

    • 0 avatar

      : Any presumption of static wealth is dangerous to society, and ***liberal*** policies in the United States have badly damaged our own populace as well as innocent bystanders around the globe. Subprime lending crisis?

      You might want to clarify that economically-”liberal” here doesn’t mean what the word does politically in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Yes, thanks for pointing out the discrepancy. I’m using liberal in the American political context.

        • 0 avatar

          > liberal in the American political context

          Unfortunately that makes the statement wrong whereas it was correct in the “economically-liberal” sense.

          For example, “sub-prime” here by definition means beneath the prime used by the GSE (Fannie,etc) lenders that conservatism in this country likes to blame.

          Econ-liberal means lend to anyone and everyone for securitization profit motives, thus sub-prime.

          • 0 avatar

            Agreed.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            Your perspective is limited to the Zeitgeist of our times, an era when virtually all politicians understand that free-market banking leads to under-investment. Furthermore, the GSE’s were required to make subprime loans. Those loans were not the ultimate cause of underlying instability in the mortgage market, but that doesn’t mean regulation was not central to the collapse.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The subprime lending crisis happened because of liberalism?

      Thanks for the laugh!

      No, it didn’t. It happened because there was no regulation of the credit default swaps, derivatives, and other financial nonsense (and let’s add outright fraud) that eventually caused the crisis.

      (Cue the bit about affordable housing…and go right ahead)

      • 0 avatar

        FreedMike, read u mad scientist above. I agree with his assessment. TW was using liberal is the conception that is used the world over, to wit: Liberal = free market, less regulation etc. Outside the US liberal is akin to conservative in the US. In other words, in most places “liberal” is the opposite of US usage.

      • 0 avatar

        Oooppps. After TW’s clarification, I stand by what you said. You read it right. In more ways than one!

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        When have you ever known bankers to make too many bad loans at interest rates that were well below market? For millenniums, society has damned bankers for making too few loans at interest rates that only wealthy individuals could afford. Many societies adopted usury laws, which, according to ancient socioeconomics, forbade interest charges. Even during the Great Depression, bankers were goaded into excessive lending by Smoot-Hawley protectionism.

        Subprime lending crises are not caused by lack of regulation, but by regulations that bait financial institutions into taking unnecessary risks or that require financial institutions to find a place to store excess liquidity, caused by frivolous “money printing”. To protect against risk, they use hedging strategies and financial instruments. Furthermore, by 2006 the “unregulated banking sector” had already abandoned most derivative trading strategies and mortgage-backed securities after the Federal Reserve Bank raised rates. It was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who continued buying mortgage-backed securities at unprecedented rates because government-sponsored entities are expected to pursue political objectives.

        The data is more depressing than the narrative. Housing costs have doubled in 30 years as a function of median household income, and the banking regulations of the mid-1990s (anti-redlining ruse) only increased homeownership from 64% to 69% before the subprime collapse. Home equity has dipped sharply as well.

        This is not a free-market rant. It’s an anti-dumb-regulation rant.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Good post. Thanks for making the effort to explain this issue as concisely as possible.

          • 0 avatar

            > Good post. Thanks for making the effort to explain this issue as concisely as possible.

            TW5′s explanation is the one proffered by the folks who magically made their fortunes via the crisis. The interesting observations here is who mindlessly accepts the laughable excuse that they “had no choice” while all that money serendipitously poured into their pockets.

            On the contrary what actually happened with the numbers underneath isn’t controversial, any more than for example the physical fact a banker ran over your neighbor. He’s blaming gubmint OBD electronics, black people/helicopters, and whole 9 yards, while trying to distract away from the life insurance policy he’s taken out on the guy.

            Again, the controversy is only over how to interpret the mens rea behind what happened, and how much water some are willing to carry for the guy driving the car.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            @ u mad scientist

            People have blamed bankers since we invented money. It’s so trite, I’m shocked people still feel passionately about it. The Federal Government and the Federal Reserve Bank pull the the monetary policy levers. They are ultimately responsible for what happens. The Fed pressed the brake pedal by raising rates. Congress stood on the accelerator. I’m not sure why people try to deny it.

            It’s not uncommon for industries to have bad eggs, like Countrywide. But when an entire industry fails simultaneously, it’s time to look at macro-policy.

            Free market banking isn’t optimal. Is that admission enough for you to stop alleging conspiratorial anarchism?

          • 0 avatar

            > People have blamed bankers since we invented money. It’s so trite, I’m shocked people still feel passionately about it.

            It’s always surprisingly ironic how much the “free market” crowd concerns itself with money, but can never figure out where it actually goes.

            The officers at the bank making these loans aren’t risking their own money. Their homes/cars aren’t the collateral if things don’t work out and none of their current income (nor future time) is on the line. Their only connection/leverage is the large amount of bonuses they stand to make simply getting as many loans as possible and fudging the math a bit to sell off to naturally greedy “investors”. Let’s make this very simple: the risks go elsewhere, a good chunk of the rewards go to them.

            This is why it’s called control fraud: skimming off the top while directing large institutional forces, with quite plausibly deniable roles in the aftermath. That’s why the real contention between power brokers is for the control spots. It’s pretty easy to see for those with minimal understanding of how the money flows instead of pretending to know anything about it.

            The worst part is the mass market dummies who believe the secret is to “work hard” for that $. Their complete ignorance of how the game works at the top is indisputable proof owners & serfs aren’t the same *class* of people.

          • 0 avatar

            ^ To clarify, the only reason why it doesn’t happened *all* the time *everywhere* is that those smart enough to grasp the game but don’t wish to partake themselves (perhaps out of moral aesthetics) sometimes manage to pass rules to prevent this behavior.

            That is why for example the retail insurance business where this fraud would be trivial is highly regulated. Unfortunately there’s too much money in high finance for things like rules, as the apologists here abundantly demonstrate.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I’m sorry, but this isn’t even close to correct. it’s not about interest rates or forcing banks to make risky loans – the government can’t force anyone to do that. Interest rates are what they are and banks lend accordingly.

          RISK is the central issue. For a long time, subprime loans were rare because they were too risky. The reasons why are pretty obvious (borrowers with bad credit or low assets, weird collateral, etc). But all the sudden, it became possible for these loans to become acceptable in terms of risk. What changed?

          1) Financial instruments like credit default swaps made it possible to make money on a bad loan by first MAKING the loan and then basically betting it would go bad. Why the hell would anyone allow this? It’s an incentive to make bad loans.

          2) Lenders and credit rating agencies began to actively defraud the buyers of mortgage loan “bundles” as to the quality of the loans they were buying. The investors thought they were buying investment grade loans; but they were junk instead.

          3) The most single important factor was housing prices. This is the single most important piece of insulation a bank has against default – if that happens, they take the real estate. If a bank lends someone $200,000 for a $200,000 house, and the loan ends up in default, and they sell the house for $100,000, they take a $100,000 loss. And in normal circumstances, with appreciation being modest, that’s the kind of loss they could expose themselves to, so being conservative makes sense.

          But what if that $200,000 house would appreciate to $350,000 in a year or so? All the sudden, instead of losing $100,000, they’re looking at MAKING $150,000 on a default. That makes the deal far less risky. In fact, some lenders PLANNED on the defaults so they could make money on the front end with the interest and fees, and on the back end by selling the defaulted property. It was a perfect scam.

          And that’s the main reason why these lenders did so much subprime – the huge spike in housing prices mitigated the risk. Add in the financial instruments they used to insulate themselves against a bad bet, and being able to sell the loan as “investment grade,” and you have a real good recipe for lenders throwing risk aside. And that’s exactly what happened.

          And with risk set aside, all the sudden you had HUGE numbers of borrowers who couldn’t get arrested with mortgage lenders before, who were now not only getting loans, but getting loans for WAY more house than they could afford, and in many instances, they didn’t even have to give the lender a freakin’ paystub or bank statement. to get the loan. If you had a credit score over 740 and a pulse, you were approved.

          And with all these new buyers in the market, housing prices SKYROCKETED. The system was self sustaining…as long as prices kept going up. And the minute they stopped going up, the whole system imploded. And that makes sense – housing prices were the great equalizer, so once that mitigation was gone, the risk level went up. And then after the decline in prices began (2007-2008), all the subprime junk peddlers – WaMu, Countrywide, New Century, and the outfits bankrolled by Wall Street firms like Lehman and Bear Stearns – blew up in VERY short order. Why? Because all the sudden, those defaults weren’t losing money or breaking even due to increasing housing prices – they were costing BIG money in a market where housing prices were dropping badly. This put all the junk peddlers out of business almost immediately.

          Notice how none of this has to do with liberalism…or conservatism, or any other “ism”. It was about pure greed. Proper regulation could have at least slowed down the growth of the funny-money finances.

          • 0 avatar
            bryanska

            I like this sentence: Notice how none of this has to do with liberalism…or conservatism, or any other “ism”.

            I agree it was greed, but I also agree that we should be assuming greed. After all the entire field of economics is based on economic acting. We’re perfectly aware that money is an incentive; I’m continually surprised that we legislate without taking that into account.

          • 0 avatar

            > RISK is the central issue. ..And that’s the main reason why these lenders did so much subprime – the huge spike in housing prices mitigated the risk.

            The key aspect of risk which bootstraps this process is slightly more technical: risks can be generally placed on a spectrum as individual, or systemic, and you shift one to another using math.

            The way much of this securization worked is by selling the greedy investors on favorable individual risks (it’s cheap AAA!), while hiding the fact that this wasn’t provided through fundamentals but rather using math tools to make it look good while ignoring the systemic risks (incl those to society when it comes crashing down).

            Another industry where this sort of math is common is insurance, where you can sell a bunch of questionable earthquake policies, and just walk away when the big one hits. The insurance company might go under, the bonus checks for selling so much insurance stay. Note that’s the reason why it’s very heavily regulated to prevent this sort of fraud, whereas the “free market” crowd supports lack of any such limits.

            “Buyer beware” sort of works when only the greedy are being punished, but clear don’t when everyone else pays, too.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff Weimer

            Housing prices didn’t go up in a vacuum, that was caused by too much money chasing a limited (although rising) supply of homes, money that was regulated into that sector. There were a lot of little things – anti-redlining laws and regulations, Fannie and Freddie essentially underwriting risky loans by promising to buy them from the mortgager, etc. Even the mortgage interest deduction is part of that. And don’t dismiss or underestimate the buyer’s greed either- home prices are rising, let’s get a jumbo/ARM/interest only loan for a bigger/better house – it’ll appreciate and we won’t have any worries! Until the carousel stopped anyway.

            It all started with the idea that home ownership should be encouraged, a noble idea that ran off the rails because few wanted to see far enough ahead to acknowledge it would stop. And it was bipartisan – Bush’s “ownership society” and Carter’s “Community Reinvestment Act”.

          • 0 avatar

            > that was caused by too much money chasing a limited (although rising) supply of homes, money that was regulated into that sector

            Just to be clear, it’s technically true that money was “regulated into that sector” in the same way that gubmint mandatory ethanol changes the price of gas by a few cents at most while commodity market speculation swings it by dollars.

            This is the classic patsy-blaming move because most people are poor at grasping the statistics of attributing factors. Ignore the folks making money hand over fist by giving loans to anyone with a pulse with every reason to keep the fraud going for as long as possible, and pin it on incidental hapstance some black folks got those loans, too.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Lenders make subprime loans because they’re profitable.

          In any case, subprime loans were merely the tip of the iceberg of the financial crisis.

          Let’s all remember that the subprime loan meme began during the early days of the recession, when we were being assured by the powers and lenders that be that there would be no major downturn because the problems were isolated to a substrata of the lending market, i.e. Negroes. Of course, that turned out to be completely false, but the meme machine kept churning it out and some of you wanted to believe such nonsense.

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            “subprime loans were merely the tip of the iceberg of the financial crisis”

            And the bulk of the iceberg consisted of synthetic collateralized debt obligations (SCDOs) and credit default swaps (CDSs), completely unregulated financial instruments invented by Wall St to let themselves make enormous bets without holding capitol to back up the bets. The secretive nature of these instruments meant that no one could be sure who was holding gold and who was holding garbage. As a result, all markets based on financial trust seized up like an engine that has blown a gasket and lost its oil. Thanks, Phil Gramm!

        • 0 avatar

          > When have you ever known bankers to make too many bad loans at interest rates that were well below market?

          FreedMike’s marginally technical explanation is correct (but slightly incomplete in a way I’ll reply separately to). I’m going to make the key insight even simpler:

          There’s no need to ensure survival of the institution to make money for yourself. For instance, if you can rent a car and fence half the parts in it for personal profit, it doesn’t really matter if the car then becomes unrentable.

          Here, the people near the top simply conducted control fraud to raise short term returns which their compensation packs are tied to, and they don’t have to give a damn what happens after they sail out on golden parachutes.

          Now, in the world of serfs, this sort of looting is an illegal heavily punishable offense. But in the world of serf-owners it gets a whole party of aspirational underlings to vouch for the resulting wealth.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        The second couldn’t have happened without the first. The people who created the first didn’t forsee the second, and therefore didn’t regulate it in time. But you can’t have all that lending NOT cause a bubble without putting regulation in beforehand. Money follows opportunity. Too much money always collapses in on itself.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    @OneAlpha Not to mention “panel gap” and “soft touch surface” excuses for incompetent car review skills.

    100% with the sentiment of this article.

    Car “enthusiasts” have no choice but to expand their tent to include those who appreciate typical modern cars as the engineering wonders that they are. Partly because many of their peers are getting old and there is a low recruitment of young people to car fan mentality.

    Today’s Camry outperforms the best cars from, say, the 50′s. Yet car enthusiasts were more than pleased with the best performing cars then. Or any other era of cars. Which proves that car fandom is based on comparisons between what’s currently available as opposed to what constitutes a performance or good car. Which in turn makes car fandom arbitrary and so causes the vast disagreements.

    A Camry can have more impressive engineering than the fanciest performance car or most expensive luxury vehicle, and probably the engineering in “superior” cars follows more from work done for Camry’s etc. than from high end cars.

    The grip of “motorhead” car fans on automotive websites thankfully is weakening, and with it the snobby comments about cheap/simple/ordinary cars and their owners are going away. And not a moment too soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Absolutely. I never understood the logic of, “we’re not getting any new blood into our hobby–so let’s become more and more insular and ingrained and bitch about how easy everyone else has it now, and how much better we are because we had to do it the hard way.”

      With that said, I’d drive an early 60′s compact every nice day of the year if I could afford it and had somewhere to put it. They just look so neat!

  • avatar
    stingray65

    In 1955, a Chevrolet Belair started at $2,025 WITHOUT V-8, automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, seat belts, padded dash, radio, or heater. Add in those options and your Belair would be well over $3,000. This meant that a someone earning the minimum wage of 75 cents per hour would need to work more than 4,000 hours to pay for a well equipped Chevy. Today a Camry starts at $22,235 and even the base model has more equipment than a loaded 1955 Chevy. The $7.25 per hour minimum wage earner today needs less than 3100 hours to buy a Camry, which can be expected to last 15-20 years and over 200,000 miles, which is about double what could be expected of a 1955 car. And of course the Camry is more comfortable, requires less maintenance, handles better, uses much less fuel and emits fewer pollutants, is quicker accelerating, stops faster, and is much, much safer in a crash than a 1955 anything. The same type of progress has also occurred with consumer electronics, housing, medicine, air travel, restaurants, etc. This is what capitalism and competition brings, and why even the poorest citizens of today are far better off today than they were in 1955 or 1975 or 1935, or 1855.

    • 0 avatar
      Short Bus

      ….and that’s just MSRP. In reality you can get a Camry for $19k after destination fees.

      Perhaps that’s not a fair comparison though, I don’t know what kind of deals you could get on those Chevys back then.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        There was much less competition in 1955, so I expect there was much less discounting. And of course today you can lease, get a loan for 7+ years – even with iffy credit ratings, or even buy a car with your credit card, while in 1955 loans were reserved for the wealthy and limited to 24 months. The Chevrolet was also about the cheapest car you could buy in 1955, while today you can still get a well equipped new car for about half the price of a Camry. More and better choices today than ever.

  • avatar
    Dan

    The reason we hate the Camry is that normal people buy them. Driving the same car as your girlfriend’s plump and dimwitted mother would put the lie to you being a smarter and more unique snowflake, and all that jazz.

    Put a Mazda badge on it and close 95% of the dealerships that sell it and that exact same Camry would, overnight, be on a pedestal to rival Panther Love.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    The Camry is hard to defend when the Accord does everything better with the same reliability.

  • avatar
    Prado

    While I don’t hate the Camry, I sure do hate that perticular shade of blue on it (in the photo). I think they discontinued it for 2014. For me, light blues work best with a metalic finish, like the ‘Breakwater Blue’ Lexus used to use on the IS.

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    Love the Camry. Will probably own another real soon, but I have to test drive a 300 & Charger first.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Huh? What changed is that government moved to stable monetary policy with low target interest rates. Naturally, the home ownership rate began slipping because low-interest rates don’t put banks in the mood to shell out mortgages. By the mid-90s, Congress had seen enough, and they stepped in by requiring banks to make subprime loans. They used racial allegations (anti-redlining) to rally the public to their cause.

    But then the economy boomed and the banking sector ran out of subprime loans as the government continued to raise mandatory lending requirements. Countrywide hatched this diabolical scheme to make people look poor by lending them too much money. At first, the strategy was dismissed, but ultimately the secondary market figured out how to bundle and swap their way to AAA ratings. A rational person would be appalled, but Congress though it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Just think of all the poor people we’re helping by allowing Countrywide to lend them too much money!! Congress continued raising volume requirements.

    After scathing rebukes from the St Louis Fed, the Federal Reserve Bank tried to put an end to the shenanigans by raising the funds rate throughout 2004-2005. Private banks fled the mortgage-backed securities market, and that’s when Congress went to the their new best friend in the whole world, Franklin Raines. Hey, Frank, buddy, pal, we’ve got a favor to ask. We need you to buy up all of the excess mortgage backed securities. In 2006 and 2007, government-sponsored entities WERE the mortgaged-backed securities market. Light the fuse with a 200% oil price increase in 2008, and let the fireworks begin.

    There are unscrupulous people in every industry, but when an entire industry collapses at once, look to macro policy.

    • 0 avatar

      > What changed is that government moved to stable monetary policy with low target interest rates. Naturally, the home ownership rate began slipping because low-interest rates don’t put banks in the mood to shell out mortgages.

      Before this turns into a treatise of what the common man doesn’t know about econ (and we really don’t have time for a course nevermind degree), how exactly does stability and presumably attendant low inflation make for a bad lending environment? Once we clear this up, maybe we’ll onto the TW5 low-interest rate trick for stability.

      Btw, as a completely obvious point of history, if you’re interested in factual knowledge instead of regurgitating PR for people with money, consider looking into how often banks or insurance schemes “failed” before the feds stepped in. The common man often seems to assume that when it comes to money nobody ever does anything bad as long as the market is free enough.

      Or if history isn’t your thing, look into how many of these new bitcoin banking institutions have been mysteriously hacked of all their treasure (I’ll save you some time: it’s about half) with no culprits ever to be found.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Hmm. I see the reply button went AWOL for my post.

        If you plan to give an econ seminar, it’s best not to deny historical macroeconomic data. Target interest was held below market and creditors were leery of deficit spending. Liquidity left the credit markets. The home ownership rate dipped. Let’s go look at the historical performance and market-cap of US equities after stagflation. I wonder what we will find! Congress eventually intervened in the US mortgage market, after a decade of slump.

        I think you responded to one of my posts about the viability of automobile subsidies. I’m not particularly interested in free markets. However, I’m not interested in trading market-induced failure for government-induced failure, either. Only political ideologues perceive benefit in that trade. If not for the phantom menace of laissez-faire illuminati or totalitarian socialists, the ideologues would come to their senses eventually.

        • 0 avatar

          > it’s best not to deny historical macroeconomic data. Target interest was held below market

          To save you some time figuring out what this “target interest” is, it’s the overnight inter-bank rate.

          Given that large banks in an anywhere near stable econ by definition shouldn’t be going bankrupt overnight, what exactly do you think this rate should be?

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            The Federal Reserve Bank is better qualified than I am; however, interest rate policy is not set to optimize mortgage markets.

            It’s not difficult to see what’s going on. Deficit spending raises aggregate consumption. Money demand increases, rates rise, and the positive economic effects of deficit spending are crowded out. Reagan admin thought tax reform and low inflation would restore the savings rate and boost loanable funds to suppress interest rates in the credit markets.

            Didn’t happen. The money went into equities. After a decade of sagging home onwership rates, Congress decided to stimulate the credit market.

            I’m not against using government policy to stimulate credit markets, if interest rate policy is causing credit shortage. However, the government is responsible for the policies it creates. The housing boom/bust cycle between 1994 and 2008 was some of the worst macroeconomic policy our country has ever created. We definitely need new regulations, perhaps more regulations in some instances. However, the people who claim we need more regulations to stop “free market” chicanery are clueless common men.

  • avatar
    Hemi

    The Camry will sell because it offers people the following:
    Reliability
    Familiarity
    Cheap

    Majority of drivers give 2 craps about driving dynamics, suspension and steering, as long as they have back up cameras and Bluetooth.

    Even non enthusiasts, who have ventured and driven other cars aren’t aren’t fond of the Camry. Most just don’t think there’s better alternatives because they have only driven Camrys and are upgrading from their 2003 to a 2013…

  • avatar
    TomHend

    @CJinSD

    Love you like a brother and agree with everything you say, but my advice is to ignore the Obamalovers, you are wasting your time, you will never change their mind or even get them to admit one fault of Obama- no matter really-they are going down with us.

  • avatar
    CaseyLE82

    I’ve had several “fun” enthusiast cars in my life. I had a beautiful 1995 Mustang GT the last 5.0 when I was a teenager. I had a 1980′s Nissan Z, and a 2003 Toyota MR2. I’ve also had some pretty nifty body on frame SUV’s like a 1996 Jeep Cherokee and a really, really awesome 2006 Explorer.

    I now have a 2013 Toyota Camry with 10,000 miles on it. I bought it because I’m getting married at 31, planning a family, all of that. My fiancee has a Nissan Z and I thought when we got engaged that we should have a family car. I traded in my MR2 on the Camry and I have to say that I LOVE my Camry.

    It’s totally an appliance, but for what I need right now it can’t be beat. It’s comfortable, big, roomy, smooth, polished and awesome. I even opted for the LE version. I bought some OEM alloy wheels, got the windows tinted, and pretty much feel as though it’s the best car I’ve ever had.

    So…there’s that.

    I’m still shopping, however, for a nice mid 2000′s model Mustang GT convertible to drive on the weekends.

    • 0 avatar
      Hemi

      Casey, that’s the problem you still have an itch for another car. I was in a similar situation, but older wih kids on the way. Of course I wanted a fun sporty car, but wanted to be realistic. I figured I didn’t want to deal with the headaches of a Euro car anymore so my contenders were the obvious Camry, Accord, Fusion and Masda 6. The Camry was automatically off the list and the other 2 just made me feel like I was settling. It was hard being an enthusiat to be “excited” by these sedans. At the end of the day, the V6 versions were quick, but still lacked something. Surprisingly my wife didn’t like any of the above and she is a former Accord owner. In the end bought a 2013 Charger RT which we love and don’t regret at all. It’s quick, big, comfy and loveeeeee that Hemi sound and torque. Its kept my itch away for a scone sporty car.

      There was nothing wrong with all the cars I listed, they did a lot of things, but did nothing very well. Which is great for everyone who buys a car as a commuter vehicle, not for fun.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    A friend of mine bought hers because she likes the way it handles. I always thought they were exciting in the same way as a large magazine with blank pages in it.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    My $0.02 (if anyone gets down the 20 miles of comments….)

    I have never understood why someone would choose the Camry over the Accord. All the best attributes of a Camry are equaled in the Honda, but the Honda adds at least a little bit of soul and spunk to the package.

    For me, this is why the Camry fails… The Accord is the better car, even if all you’re looking for is don’t break, value, haul the family goodness. It’s just better enough to get out of that “I drive a Camry zone”

  • avatar
    r129

    If I were in the market for a boring mid-size sedan, I would never want to spend as much as people are willing to spend on a Camry. Yes, I know, reliability and resale value, but I’d rather take my chances. Not many people share my opinion, obviously. I’m attracted to the unloved, unpopular, high-incentive cars. I can go out right now and buy a brand new 2014 Chrysler 200 with the 283-hp Pentastar V-6 for $16,000, and to me, that’s a far more appealing prospect.

  • avatar
    CAMeyer

    There’s no doubt about it–free market competition has resulted in some remarkable innovations and other improvements in cars.

    However, for the Camry and its peers in the US mid-size sedan segment, competition promises to become all the more cut-throat. These cars are aimed squarely at middle-class families, and thanks to the unfettered capitalism the Wall St Journal extols, the middle class is shrinking. Fewer and fewer of these families will be able to afford a $25,000 car (or decide it’s worthwhile). With younger people, interest in home ownership is in decline, and a nice new car may be the next middle-class signifier to go.

    Perhaps WSJ should have highlighted improvements in luxury SUVs, exotics, and other vehicles with which the people whom capitalism rewards reward themselves.

  • avatar
    mechaman

    Odd. This is the first Camry I like the looks of, outside anyway. But that soon-to-come Lexus hourglass/spindle? No. And if I owned a Lexus, I’d be ticked .. I also agree that this years Accord is a better looking model. That last year grill looked like a parts car made up from spare pieces left from customizing plastic models .. but this is all academic, if someone offered me either one, I’d take it and run, I’m not in a position to be picky!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States