By on January 14, 2013

Here in Colorado, the self-service wrecking yards tend to be museums of four-wheel-drive cars that disappeared into obscurity a couple of decades back. When it comes to Toyota, everyone knows about the Celica All-Trac, and of course you still see the occasional mid-80s Tercel 4WD wagon. Go to a Denver junkyard, though, and you’ll see lots of Corolla All-Tracs. But a Camry All-Trac? We’ve all heard of them, but this may be the first four-wheel-drive Camry I’ve ever seen in person. It was fitting that I found this one during my freezing-cold Half Price Sale adventure on Saturday. (Read More…)

By on December 20, 2012

I’ve loved high-turnover self-service wrecking yards since I used to hang out at U-Pull Auto Wrecking in Oakland as a teenager in the early 1980s, and so it makes sense that junkyard-related stuff became so central to the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™. During the last year, as my Junkyard Find series has evolved into a near-daily thing, I became increasingly curious about the life-cycle of the vehicles in these yards. A new row of fresh cars appears one day, replacing one that was put out a few months before, and that’s all I knew. Then, earlier this year, I was able to convince the brass at U-Pull-&-Pay Self Serve Used Auto Parts to give me a behind-the-scenes look at their operation, and I chose to follow the trajectories of two cars I thought would be typical junkyard inmates: a 1991 Honda Civic Si and a 1994 Toyota Camry XLE. I visited the auction at which they were purchased, I documented the pre-yard preparations, and I visited both cars every week for their three-month stint as parts donors. After that, I watched them get fed into the cold steel jaws of The Crusher. Here’s how our Civic and Camry spent the final months of their lives. (Read More…)

By on September 21, 2012

My first couple days at TTAC weren’t so much a baptismal by fire, but a surprise dunk in the ice bath by the Best & Brightest. My now-infamous post, where I dubbed the unseen-at-the-time  2013 Ford Fusion as a “gamechanger” based on my embargoed preview of the car in Dearborn, became a punchline for the first month of my tenure. But now I get to gloat. Sort of.

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By on July 2, 2012

Hybrid or diesel? For peak fuel economy in a $30,000 midsize sedan you need one or the other. The Toyota Camry is the most efficient of the five available hybrids (until the 2013 Ford Fusion arrives). If you live in Europe, the diesel world is your oyster. In North America, you have one option for an oil-burning mid-size sedan, the Volkswagen Passat. Which would you pick?

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By on June 13, 2012

The Camry first appeared in North America for the 1983 model year and gathered sales momentum in a gradual manner. By 1986, Camrys were not uncommon, but it seemed as though you saw 20 Tauruses and 15 Accords for every example of Toyota’s front-drive sedan. It was the next generation of Camry (starting in 1988) that unleashed the armies of unkillable, bland Toyota midsize sedans that conquered the country. First-gen Camrys are still out there, but sightings are increasingly rare. Here’s one I spotted last week in a Denver junkyard. (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2012

Old-timers will tell you that the Golden Age of the Sleeper ran from the end of World War II through the late 1960s, when you could take, say, a Grandma-spec ’61 Lancer wagon and stuff the engine compartment full of Max Wedge 413 power. I think the old-timers are as wrong about that as they are about the superiority of film cameras over digital cameras; the current era of computerized engine controls, big turbochargers, and tougher drivetrain components means you can get ridiculous power (and handling) out of quotidian transportation appliances. So, looking at the current lineup of snore-inducing machinery that nobody would ever in a million years suspect of being quick, which new car would provide the best balance of potential performance and invisibility? A Kia Rio with a huge turbocharger and the finest suspension upgrades that cubic yards of cash can buy? (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2012

The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord were once bitter rivals for the title of “America’s Best-Selling Car”. The Camry is still top dog year-to-date, but the number two spot has changed. Meanwhile, Honda’s two core products rank third and fourth.

(Read More…)

By on May 25, 2012

Although Michael briefly touched on this in his review of the 2013 Altima, the 2002 Altima was a watershed vehicle in our market, albeit one that doesn’t get enough credit. Without it, there would never be a Toyota Camry with a sub 6-second 0-60 time.

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By on May 8, 2012

A leaked spec sheet (from Temple of VTEC)  for the 2013 Honda Accord shows that manuals aren’t dead yet, but CVTs are also in – at least for 4 cylinder models.

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By on April 25, 2012

The last time TTAC took a look at the Camry Hybrid was back in 2006. For 2012 Toyota has completely redesigned the Camry from the “sporty” SE model to the refrigerator-white base model Michael Karesh took for a spin. The base model’s  low price appeals to dealers while the SE allows Toyota to believe the Camry is something other than basic transportation. So what about the hybrid? The gasoline/electric Camry is aimed squarely at shoppers that want more green cred than a regular Camry can deliver and Prius shoppers looking for something more powerful and more traditional. One out of every seven Camrys sold in 2011 was a hybrid, with those numbers expected to grow it is imperative Toyota gets their baby-boomer hybrid just right.

(Read More…)

By on January 31, 2012

David Mulroney, Canada’s ambassador to China, was mocked on a Chinese social networking site for committing a major social faux pas – according to commenters on Weibo, a Chinese social networking site, Mulroney’s Toyota Camry, his official car, lacked sufficient prestige for a man of his station.

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By on November 17, 2011

A hooptie is a once-semi-luxurious car that’s depreciated down to just-above-scrap value and is getting its final owner some quality, low-buck miles before being crushed. The Buick Electra 225 was the archetypal hooptie of the 1980s and 1990s, but how about today? More importantly, which current models will be the hoopties of 2025? (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2010

So just how exactly does one become the best selling car in America? The only reliable way one becomes number one in just about anything: doing your homework and practicing every day. And it really does helps if the competition has forgotten that formula. (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2010

When in Baltimore, do as the Baltimorons rent a Camry

We stumble into the BWI car rental center at 1:30 AM. All the counters are closed; not a soul in sight. I call the Alamo 800 number: “go walk out into the parking garage, someone’s there”. “What are you looking for?” asks the droll lot attendant. “A comfortable bed, actually”. “Well, the nearest car is a Camry; might as well take that”. Good call. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2010

The Mazda 6 is an enigma. It’s a fine automobile, at least the equal of any car in its segment, as close to a driver’s car as you’ll find in a midsize family sedan. Comfortable, not bad looking, nicely appointed, good fit and finish, great performance, decent economy. There is no question that the Mazda 6 stacks up well in phylum Camcordata yet it sits no higher than 10th place in the family sedan sales race, averaging about 2,400 units a month in the US since the all new 2010 model got up to speed last summer. The midsize segment in North America is the automotive big leagues. The 6 should be fighting for first place, not mired deep in the second division. Product may be everything, but sometimes it’s not enough.
(Read More…)

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