By on August 25, 2011

Apparently, this is Camry week. TTAC has already thrown two of its most feared and revered auto testers, Michael “Hard  Plastic Killer” Karesh and Alex “Yellow Fever” Dykes, into the battle – with similar, yet finely nuanced results. Yours truly has arrived in Tokyo, where he cools his heels (as much as a thermostat set to electricity-saving 82F allows,) until the JDM Camry is unveiled on Sept. 5 to by then totally Camry-numb members of the media.

Alas, your correspondent of the car wars has left China too early, because the global Camry conflict has shifted to the Middle Kingdom, which finds itself in search of the core Camry character.

Our MrWhopee (which I hope is a riff on “making whoopee” and not on the same-named cushion) opined that the reviewed Camry is “sold in U.S. only, the rest of the world (well, at least Asians) got different look Camry.” After the admonition to use “Asians” a bit more sparingly (they are – sometimes fiercely – proud of their differences, and despite alluring alliterations, one rarely sees Camrys created for Caucasians) – it seems that Whopee is right! At least in a large part of “Asia” called China.

Chinacartimes reports that “it seems that the Chinese Camry and the US Camry will have some minor differences when they both make it to dealerships.” Says CCT:

“The Chinese one seems to have minor changes around the front fog lights that has turned them from diagonal into sweet little round buttons, on the inside the two Camry’s look quite similar, but look closely at the central area and you will see that the GPS buttons are different and the Chinese version doesn’t have any drinks holders. The Communists stole our drinks holders!”

(The writer – I can attest to that – loves his drinks, so I will not editorially touch his “drinks holders.”) Now are these the only items that are different? TTAC’s image analysts have provided side-by-side views of official Toyota Camry (U.S. spec) and utterly unofficial Toyota Camry (Chinese spec) imagery, and in the wise words of Fox News: We report, you deride.

But whoa, that’s not the only difference! If Chinacartimes is correctly informed, “Two Camry’s will also be sold side by side in the Chinese market, the older Camry will become known as the Camry Classical.” That would not be unusual. In this part of “Asia,” people are prudent, and they just hate to throw away perfectly serviceable stuff, such as previous gen platforms.

In ten days, we’ll know what Camry-incaration will be sold in that other part of “Asia,” called Japan. There, they absolutely despise anything that is “boro-boro” (tired, worn out, old) and they always go for the latest “hayari” (craze, fad, fashion).

I never thought I’d have to look whether buttons are round or on the egg side of things, but I guess this is how it – shapes up.

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31 Comments on “A Tale Of Two (Three, More) Camrys...”


  • avatar
    redliner

    Yes, but will “Asia” get a stretched version?

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    China version has a better front splitter. What’s with the silver triangles for foglights, anyway? Ford is doing it too, and it’s ugly.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    The easy access tow loop on the China market model lends an ominous undertone to the styling.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I wonder if the Japanese Camry will be tsundere or moe…

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    There’s nothing earth-shattering in this article, but I still feel myself thinking “THIS is exactly the sort of thing I only find on TTAC”.

    kudos and keep up the good work!

  • avatar
    mike978

    The Chinese version looks better inside and out (front and back). I wonder why they make such changes and not just try to make a true global car like a Ford Focus or Fiesta or even the upcoming Chevy Malibu. I know there will always be engine differences but bumper changes?

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Ford has different front and rear fascia for the Fiesta/Focus in the US market and the EU market. Something about different standards, but I suspect part of it is that they wanted the US version to be at least a little consistent with the silly Gillete design language the Fusion and other US-market cars were using.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        The Focus is pretty close to identical between UK and US.

        http://www.ford.co.uk/Cars/Focus/Exteriordesign
        http://www.ford.com/cars/focus/

        The Fiesta there is some difference, but the same headlights. Still closer in appearance than the Chinese and US Camry’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I wonder why they make such changes and not just try to make a true global car like a Ford Focus or Fiesta or even the upcoming Chevy Malibu

      High-volume world cars usually fail in the US, particularly in the mid-sized sedan segment.

      Americans (a) want their mid-size sedans to have larger back seats and (b) don’t want to pay much for what they get.

      Hence, Ford sells a Fusion, not a Mondeo (the latter of which was a flop in its earlier US iterations.)

      Honda sells an Accord made primarily for the US, and sells its standard European and JDM equivalent branded as a low-volume niche car (Acura TSX.)

      Mazda lost ground because it spent years trying to sell a sedan with a smaller back seat when their competition did not.

      The Nissan Altima is a US-oriented vehicle, built in the US for an American audience.

      Of course, GM has built its business model on regional differentiation, hence the US-oriented Malibu.

      The Hyundai Sonata is a world car of sorts, but like the Camry, is pretty large by global standards. Unlike what it is here, it does not serve as a bread-and-product in markets such as Europe.

      Mulally wants the next Fusion to be on a global Mondeo-derived platform. That’s a good theory, I just hope that he knows that Ford has played that game before, and lost badly.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Mulally wants the next Fusion to be on a global Mondeo-derived platform. That’s a good theory, I just hope that he knows that Ford has played that game before, and lost badly.

        What might help is that the Mondeo is a much bigger car than when it did Contour duty, and the Focus has stepped up into the old Mondeo’s class there. It’s marginally narrower and about as long as the Fusion. I’d expect the next iteration to be bigger yet.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        What might help is that the Mondeo is a much bigger car than when it did Contour duty

        That’s true. The wheelbase of the Mondeo is actually longer than the Fusion, which suggests that either the next Mondeo is going to get smaller or else the next Fusion is going to take cues from the US Accord and get larger.

        the Focus has stepped up into the old Mondeo’s class there

        To clarify, the current focus is shorter and has a shorter wheelbase than did the old Contour. In this case, it’s mostly a matter of the Mondeo growing over the generations.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        That’s true. The wheelbase of the Mondeo is actually longer than the Fusion, which suggests that either the next Mondeo is going to get smaller or else the next Fusion is going to take cues from the US Accord and get larger.

        I’d suspect the latter. European cars aren’t getting smaller, as a rule. Unless the Passat shrinks (unlikely), the Mondeo won’t, either.

        To clarify, the current focus is shorter and has a shorter wheelbase than did the old Contour. In this case, it’s mostly a matter of the Mondeo growing over the generations.

        Possibly, but the Focus is a taller car with a different seating position than the Contour/Mondeo. Useful people space isn’t much different versus the old low-roofer.

        Either way, what will probably happen in Europe is a continuing MPV-ization, with sedans and wagons replaced by taller, shorter cars, and in North America the same, but with crossovers. The Mondeo showing up in North America won’t be as important as what happens with the next Escape.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    I wonder if the China version tail lights are to give the car some resemblance to Audi?

    Naw…not in China.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    To be fair, Camry has never been big in Japan. Quite the opposite, actually. It is JDM Mark II (RWD) and derivatives which make the full-size volume sales for Toyota in its domestic market.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Ummmmmmmmmmm am I the ONLY one who thinks that the Chinese Camry bears a striking resemblance to the US market Chevy Cruze?

  • avatar
    Monty

    It’s only good if more high strength steel was used, though. Can anybody confirm? Or is it just crappy carbon steel like Detroitites use?

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Camrypalooza @ TTAC!

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    My use of “Asian Camry” is not intended to be derogatory or anything, I simply use the phrase “Asian Camry” to differentiate it from the “North American Camry”. Maybe my use of “Asian Camry” is not accurate, maybe “JDM Camry” is a better description, or “Thai Camry”, as ours do came from Thailand. I suppose I shouldn’t say “Asian Camry” as I don’t know if all of Asia got the same Camry. It looks like India got American-style Camry (poor sod!) But the fact is there are two versions of the thing, and they’re quite different (at least as far as looks), yet they are both called Camry. I’m just trying to differentiate between the two. Anyway, looking forward to see what our Camry might look like. Hopefully not like the Chinese Camry, these actually look more downscale vs the North American Camry.

    PS: Upon further research, it looks like our Camry (Thai-made) is actually the Toyota Aurion, but badged and sold as Camry. Confusing, ain’t it? In other market, like in Japan and Australia the Aurion and the Camry are sold side by side as different model. No wonder they look different. Sorry for the confusion.

    • 0 avatar
      outback_ute

      I was wondering about that as I was aware the previous Aurion styling had previously gone into some Asian markets alongside or instead of the standard Camry. I don’t pay enough attention to Camrys to remember the details (would you believe it?). I’m not so familiar with the current Aurion but I’m pretty sure that this might be a preview of the new generation Aurion styling, as I don’t believe the car has been launched yet.

      The Aurion was developed (locally styled in Australia) to achieve a more prestigious image for the V6 Camry after the previous Avalon didn’t do very well. They sold pretty well the first year but have been in decline ever since with approx 10k sold last year. In a strange move the local car sales stats body puts the Camry in the medium size class and the Aurion in the large, despite both cars being the same size.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Just FYI, many Japanese do not consider themselves Asian and resent being called Asian. Japan and China are 2 of the top 3 or 4 largest car markets in the world. They are distinct and we would be wise to recognize the difference.

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      Is this true? Wow, learned something new every day. Bertel, you have more experience with regard to the Japanese, maybe you can shed some light on this? I know that in WWII they do consider themselves the pinnacle of the “Asian race” and consider all other Asians inferior, but that was a different time and eons ago…

      • 0 avatar

        Sample of one:

        I asked my Japanese wife:

        “Do you consider yourself Asian?”

        “Sure.”

        “Would you be insulted if someone calls you Asian?”

        “No, they do that all the time.”

        However, there is no “Asian” Camry, just as there is no “Caucasian” or “African American Camry.”

        As for the various master races, those times are long over, and we’d be better off if we’d forget about this.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’m just trying to differentiate between the two.

    Here’s one difference – a 2.4 liter Camry in Thailand carries a sticker price of about $48,000.

    For an American to spend that kind of money on a sedan, it would have to carry a three-pointed star, a Munich-styled propeller or four interlocking rings on the front grille and rear trunk lid. For what a Thai would pay for a single Camry, an American would get a pair of them.

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      Exactly why the North American (current gen) Camry wouldn’t cut it. Camrys in these market is a luxury car, even more given the price vs the average living wages. These are truly a car for the rich, maybe closer to the E-class and 5-series BMW as far as ‘how hard it is to afford’ comparison.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The China Camry front clip lends itself to front license plates while the North American Camry front clip does not. Aren’t there still a few states that require front license plates, like California? Why doesn’t Toyota show the new N.A. Camry with the plastic plate holder that will have to be affixed to the front clip in those states?

    • 0 avatar
      CRConrad

      What — you people really don’t have front license plats in most states?!? (How the heck does that work, say, with speed cameras?)

      Or were you just kidding?

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        Nope. Many states indeed did not require front license plates. Speed cameras simply photograph the back of the car instead, where there (better be) be a plate somewhere. A great boon for owners of cars which are simply not designed for a front license plate, like many pontiacs.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The majority of states, plus DC, do require front plates. About 20 of them don’t.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Speaking of Camrys, TTAC just posted a picture of a version of Camry (From Ukraine) that I would predict is what our future Camry (and the Aurion) will look like.

  • avatar
    eldard

    Looks like they didn’t even bother trying on the US Camry.

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