By on August 23, 2011

As Camry-fest rolls on, we found an interesting little chart over at Edmunds Autoobserver, which shows that this latest Camry has the lowest inflation-adjusted MSRP in the model’s history. Amid all the talk of record-high transaction prices, Toyota obviously thinks MSRP still matters, as Autoobserver reports

The current-generation Camry has a theoretical build of 1,246 combinations. The 2012 Camry will be available in a startlingly meager 36 combinations, because consumers have told Toyota they want a simpler ordering process… There will be four trim packages from which to choose, and despite the significant improvements in the model, any 2012 Camry will be priced close to or less than a comparably-equipped 2011.

The 2011 Camry L, the base model produced in very low volume and sold almost exclusively to fleets, starts at $20,195. The new 2012 Camry L will start at $21,995 (plus $760 for destination), the core 2012 Camry LE package for comfort and value will be priced at $22,500. The sportier Camry SE, currently priced at $22,965, will start at $23,000. The premium trim package Camry XLE ($26,725 for MY 2011), will start at $24,725, a $2,000 reduction. Toyota notes that comparably equipped, prices for all trim levels have dropped.

So, even though you need fewer inflation-adjusted dollars than ever before to buy a base Camry, very few of those models will be built. Toyota may be talking value, but in this market you need to shout it…

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67 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: The Toyota Camry Index...”


  • avatar
    SP

    Consumers told Toyota that they want fewer options? Hmm.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      The current-generation Chicken McNuggets has a theoretical build of 46 combinations. The 2012 McNuggets will be available in a startlingly meager 6 combinations, because consumers have told McDonalds they want a simpler ordering process… Minivan and Camry driving Moms have repeatedly told focus groups that their children do not need sauce combinations until they reach seven years of age. So, there will be four dipping sauces from which to choose, and despite the significant improvements in the model, any 2012 McNuggets will be priced close to or less than a comparably-equipped 2011.

      The 2011 McNuggets without ketchup, the 10 piece base model produced in very low volume and sold almost exclusively to the Amish, starts at $3.99. The new 2012 McNuggets 4 pack will start at $4.50 (plus drink for swallowing ease), the core 2012 McNuggets 4 pack for speed and value will be priced at $4.99. The spicier 6 piece McNuggets with Sweet Chili sauce, currently priced at $4.50, will start at $4.99. The premium 20 piece McNuggets package ($8.99 for MY 2011), will start at $9.99. McDonalds notes that comparably equipped, prices for all McNuggets levels have dropped.

      See?
      Camry – McNuggets – its the same thing, bland beige products satisfying millions!

      • 0 avatar
        Canucknucklehead

        Yup, pretty bad, eh? But you know the people who will buy a Camry, 47 year olds like my self, are looking for a comfortable, reliable, easy to drive sedan that the wife will like and will not cost the farm to buy and run.

        People such as yourself are looking for a car with 400 hp and soft touch everything. The problem here is the most such people do not have the money to buy said cars and only dream of them. So therefore, Toyota prices their volume sedan for the people who can pay cash for them or walk in a qualify for a loan in about three seconds. Said 400 hp sports cars cannot move a family and cost too much to buy, insure and run, meaning only a handful of people can actually buy them, let alone run them.

        Were I in the market for a new sedan (and I am not) I would be completely happy with a Camry SE. I don’t want an manual transmission because the traffic is murder here nor do I need a V-6 because I never get a chance to go fast, nor do I want to lose my licence.

        And I would pay cash for it and get a nice discount, too.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Not a fan of stripper duty fleet models from any manufacturer. They send the wrong impression to those unlucky enough to climb behind the wheel.

    Car makers need to address fleet sales, if no one sold fleet we’d be renting bicycles at Avis, but the fleet spec sleds made by everyone are pretty freakin’ awful.

    • 0 avatar
      kowsnofskia

      Actually, they sound a-ok to me as long as the general interior quality of the base models is ok (and it usually is because the interiors on most cars varies very little by trim package). The only 2 options I care about when buying cars are cruise control and a CD player. I have very little use for most of the pointless junk “options” that most manufacturers are now cramming into cars at every trim level.

      And the two options that I care about the very least (which everyone else seems to love, of course): leather seats and sunroofs.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        Just out of curiosity, what is a pointless junk option to you? Navigation, perhaps? I do enjoy a good sunroof but I can live without leather.

      • 0 avatar
        kowsnofskia

        Examples:

        Navigation – GPS is great…having one preinstalled in the dash for $1k+ (with absurd charges to update the map) is not. I’ll by a unit and stick it to my dash, thank you.

        Heated seats – stupid.

        Automatic/”dual zone”/fancy climate control – stupid. Never had any trouble with a standard climate control setup.

        HID lights – stupid. Worth having maybe if you’re a Fast/Furious wannabe.

        16-17+ inch wheels – stupid. Alloy wheels of this size are expensive, fragile and the “low-profile” tires they sport are also grossly overpriced. Spending $1k+ to replace tires shouldn’t be necessary unless you’re driving a Corvette or something similar.

        The list goes on and on. I don’t get very excited about most of what the automakers are trying to push nowadays in the options department (and I’m 24, so it’s not like I’m a clueless old fogie). Bluetooth and the MyTouch-esque nonsense also falls into this category for me too.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        I’m all for decontenting as long as the MSRP reflects it. Give me manual windows and locks, no cruise, no cd player or speakers (I’ll install my own audio system). I might even consider a car without AC or power steering. The problem with some of these latest Hondas is that they cheapen out the interior materials and then they continue to ratchet up the price.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Examples: of Stupid options:

        …….Navigation – GPS is great…having one preinstalled in the dash for $1k+ (with absurd charges to update the map) is not. I’ll by a unit and stick it to my dash, thank you……

        Costly yes, but would I like the choice of no rings on the dash and no wires? Yep, but agree it is an expensive option.

        …..Heated seats – stupid…..

        I guess that depends on the climate you live in. Start a few 5 degree mornings with heated seats and you might pipe a different tune.

        …Automatic/”dual zone”/fancy climate control – stupid. Never had any trouble with a standard climate control setup….

        Not married are you?

        …HID lights – stupid. Worth having maybe if you’re a Fast/Furious wannabe….

        Now, I agree with that

        …..16-17+ inch wheels – stupid. Alloy wheels of this size are expensive, fragile and the “low-profile” tires they sport are also grossly overpriced. Spending $1k+ to replace tires shouldn’t be necessary unless you’re driving a Corvette or something similar….

        Agreed

        The point? That’s why they are called options. Take ’em or lave ’em. I am far more annoyed by packaging. I don’t usually want a sunroof, yet plenty of car makers require you to buy the sunroof to get other, completely unrelated items.

      • 0 avatar
        Canucknucklehead

        Heated seats are not stupid if you live in a cold climate, especially if the car has leather seats.

        Nav is silly since an Android phone has it for free. Save yourself a thousand bucks.

        The base Camry has a/c, keyless entry, cruise, a good stereo, abs, traction control, power windows, mirrors and probably a whole lot more. Good enough for this guy and a great value at this price and not what I would call a “stripper.”

        Want toys? Go buy them.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    It’s pretty easy to spot the ‘fat engineering’ Camry, and how Toyota put it on a steady diet of Stacker 2 to get the costs down.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Hard times. This reminds me of the 1998 Corolla which wasn’t very different from the previous generation and they barely changed it to save money.

    Interestingly, the best quality Camry (from my view) was also the most expensive, adjusted for inflation. The 1992-1996 Camry was a masterpiece! I’m not convinced about the new one. Pictures show the seat vinyl doesn’t fit perfectly with the underlying foam, leaving ripples.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      The 1992-1996 Camry was a masterpiece!

      True, but it was 30% more expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        Yep, which is precisely why after a Corona and two early Camrys, my folks skipped the third gen car and switched to Accords for a decade. Great cars, but too friggin’ expensive.

        Same thing with VW, save for the whole reliability thing. Of course, the complaint now is that the cheaper appointments haven’t actually translated to lower prices on anything but the loss-leaders. But Volkswagen couldn’t make a dime on those junior Audis, either – selling those cars here at any price made zero business sense.

        People who whine about decontenting don’t have a clue about the economics that drive automobile manufacturing and sales.

    • 0 avatar
      marc

      Yes, it’s nice to see the 92 Gen3 lately getting its due as the exceptional car it was. But it was priced too high for its segment, and didn’t sell in the numbers the new one does. The Gen3 was a consistent also ran in sales to the Accord and Taurus. I feel like this is the first Camry since Gen3 to be class leading, yet it finally does so without the high cost.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        But it was also 30% better built with better materials it was more expensive than Taurus because while most Taurus are rusting in junkyards, most Camry are still running find and dandy.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        That’s what Toyota would like you to believe. Many a Camry of that vintage grenaded it’s head gasket long ago, or lost too much compression to be driveable. The local Pick-N-Pull has at least 10 at any given time, and a roughly equivalent number of Tauruses. Not saying that the Taurus of that era was perfect, but the quality gap was far closer than is commonly perceived.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Read the book Car by Mary Walton. Initially Ford targeted the 1992 Camry when it was developing the 1996 Taurus.

        Ford had to admit that it simply could not match the quality of the Camry and still sell the Taurus at a competitive price with its then-current cost structure. The company switched targets – the new target was the Chevrolet Lumina.

        No doubt a few domestic boosters believe that a Taurus (or a Lumina or an Intrepid) was just as good as the contemporary Accord or Camry. But then, some people still believe that the world is flat.

      • 0 avatar
        Canucknucklehead

        Given the number of Camrys that were built, it is not surprising your local pick-a-part has lots of them sitting around.

        The Gen 2 was a great car but more in the Lexus range to sell in volume. If you want that quality at a similar (inflation adjusted) price, see your local Lexus dealer for an ES350.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Agreed, I think the golden age is 95 to 97, it goes downhill from there.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        There are far more Gen 1 Camrys on the road than any of the comparable Taurus, and need I remind Pintofan the Camry came out 3 years before the Taurus. My friend’s 94 Taurus with less than 100K was the biggest pile of shit short of the Dodge Stratus that I’ve ever driven. A ’94 Camry was a better car in literally every way imagineable and it shows since tons of Gen 3 Camrys rule the roads still while the Taurus continues its disappearance act. The quality gap that you domestic fanboys like to play down as a myth was very real. Wide enough to drive an 1,000,000 Excursions through, and it has nothing to do with the “biased media” or Consumer Reports, like I’m sure you’ll use as an excuse next.

        BTW, none of the S series engines or MZ series engines in the Gen 3 Camry ever had head gasket problems or compression engines like you so ignorantly claim. And the Camrys you do see in junkyards typically have north of 200 & even 300K on them and served their owners well.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        I’ve heard that alot from Toyota owners and here on TTAC, the Pre-99s were the best of the crop. Here’s proof, its the equivalent of a 28K-30K car in terms of materials and build quality.

        It would be interesting to see a chart of the Accord and Maxima of the vintage to see how they stacked up.

      • 0 avatar
        Canucknucklehead

        Yup and they cost more, too.

  • avatar
    mike978

    The base L has had a big price increase ($20,195 goes to 21,995), is there a commensurate equipment increase? I had read the manual transmission has gone, maybe that explain a large part of the near $2K price increase.

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      That’s exactly it.

      The current Camry Base (it’s not called ‘L’, just ‘Camry’) is $22,005 w/ a slushbox and destination. The 2012 L model is $22,715 with the same, so it’s actually a $710 net increase.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I think the “less options” issue says more about the type of buyer than anything else. This goes right in line with “appliance buyer” syndrome. Though I am loathe to concede it, I’m nearly 100% convinced that this will be the final car my mother decides to buy, and like most Corolla/Camry buyers, less hassle and thought into the process, the better. She isn’t buying it to make a personal statement, and doesn’t want/need to have 1400 permutations of colors/options to go through. So in the end, greatly reducing the options list plays right along with the demographics of the Camry buyer. This ain’t no Fiat 500 with 14 color options alone…

    As for value, they’ll most likely talk “hey, look…we reduced the price of the new 2012 by “up to” $2000!” You’ll need to read the fine print stating it’s for the top-dog XLE model only…YMMV…

  • avatar
    jimble

    To my way of thinking, lumping all of the options into a few packages makes ordering much harder, because you have to decide between packages that include things you really want, things you don’t need, and things you don’t want at all. On the other hand, reducing the number of permutations almost certainly cuts manufacturing costs. Sounds like Toyota is simply spinning yet another cost-cutting tactic as a customer-driven move when it’s anything but.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Too many choices lead to consumer confusion and fewer sales. Offering too many variations also raises production costs.

      http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/16/health/he-choices16

      It makes perfect sense to offer a few basic bundles to accompany each trim level. I was surprised to see above that there were 1,246 variants available; that’s far too many to make much sense for either producer or consumer.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      For a high-volume price sensitive car like the Camry, having fewer permutations on dealer lots makes it much easier for the retail customer to beat up the dealer on price. Identical car = identical price. Just hope “importer” Gulf States Toyota doesn’t add extra profit accessories on the journey from Georgetown, KY to Dallas, TX.

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

      • 0 avatar
        musiccitymafia

        Just pondering, is Toyota referring to the car-buying public or the dealers when they talk about the confusing ordering process? I imagine if a dealer makes his/her ordering decisions and a buyer comes in wanting a combination he doesn’t have (pretend they took the time to play “pick-your-car” or whatever on the internet) then the buyer sort of has the negotiating upper hand.

  • avatar
    Tifighter

    Just sounds to me like Toyota is doing what Honda has done for years. No options on most trim levels. Only recently has Honda given you an option on the EX-L; Nav or no Nav.

    All those option packages that Toyota did on the Sienna for years? Beyond confusing. The LE trim could be had with something like 8 option packages alone…

  • avatar
    carguy

    The reductions in option combination is all about price. Sure buyers like options, but not nearly as much as they like a good deal.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      We used to option cars exactly as we wanted. One problem with doing so is that you then get to wait for it to be built, which took months. You also get to pay list. What is the car makers’ incentive to custom build a car for a discount? The sales people don’t think 90 days down the road. They want you leaving in a car today, so they aren’t motivated to do anything but coerce you into what is in stock. The cars we ordered showed up with paint flaws, with body panel fit issues, with loose trim, with pinging engines, and other details we’d have walked from if we hadn’t ordered them. One exception was my mother’s Porsche, which didn’t have flaws but did have a different color interior than we ordered, a sunroof she didn’t order, and a radio head unit three times as expensive as it should have been. After waiting 4 months. The other exception was my girlfriend’s Mini Cooper, which showed up exactly as ordered and started falling apart after 4 months. Not that is had anything to do with special ordering. The Mini Cooper process was actually pretty good for a car in strong demand. It was right when they were released in the US, and we wouldn’t have been able to get one any faster than by special order anyway. I suppose it makes sense for the Mini Cooper, which isn’t a particularly rational puchase.

      Resale value is crummy on special orders. Options are priced off scale and then they are worthless come time to sell. Meanwhile, an EX is an EX, an XLE is an XLE. The new Camry having a less than $3K spread between base and top of the line indicates that you might as well take a few options you might not care about instead of potentially spending much more so that you can get leather seats without heat, or a sunroof without fog lights, or whatever. When you sell your car, it will have whatever the next guy is looking for, and you’ll have paid less for it because of the cheaper production processes and because you didn’t get gouged on option prices.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Hogwash. I ordered my BMW and got exactly the same pricing I would have gotten off the dealer lot – possibly better, as I could have ordered it at ANY dealer. In fact, BMW is strongly pushing build-to-order. In Europe, which is JUST as big a car market as the US, hardly anyone buys off the lot for any cars, nearly everything is BTO. Why would you settle when spending what a car costs these days?

        As for how long it takes, do you really NEED a car TODAY? On the East Coast, BMW can have a car in your hands in less than six weeks from order to delivery. Not a long wait to “have it your way”.

        Afterall, why not just go back to the Model T era of any color you want as long as it is black! THAT would sure simplify production.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        BMW’s are not value propositions, as are no cars at european prices. Sure, BMW is happy to build it your way. $4,000 in options on a 3 series gets you most of what is standard on a Corolla XLE. Ask a European if they’d like to be able to buy 270 hp sedans with leather, power everything, and navigation for $30K. BMWNA would close their doors without leasing.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        European cars are priced the way they are (in Europe) because the governments tax the bejeezus out of them, and those taxes are included in the price. Unlike here in the US. BMW makes roughly the same amount on a car sold there as they do on a car sold here.

        Of course Europeans also get things like decent schools, roads, public transport and healthcare not tied to thier jobs, so I think it is a fair tradeoff myself. Even if I could not afford a “big engine” 328i over there, I would still buy a stripper 318i or 320D over a similarly priced Camry.

        I really could care less how many toys a Camry has, it still drives like a Camry. I.e., like a Buick from 20 years ago. I get the miserable things all the time as rentals. My BMW drives like a BMW, and that is well worth the extra $15-20K to me. If it isn’t to you, that is fine, that is why Toyota makes Camrys.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Maybe your BMW drives like any other BMW, but that isn’t a patch on how BMWs drove when they were sold about three different ways. Back when they were built for driving enthusiasts instead of fashionistas; a base model had vinyl, a simple sound system, and A/C. An i/is badge added leather sports seats, gas shocks, a trip computer, and double the speakers. The options list was a limited slip differential, something no longer offered or needed for leasing posers who must express how they’re unique from every other leasing poser by choosing from 100 different interior trim combinations, 8 different rim designs, and 8 distinct shades of grey for the paint. Whatever.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        krhodes1: Of course Europeans also get things like decent schools, roads, public transport and healthcare not tied to thier jobs, so I think it is a fair tradeoff myself.

        We do in our town, as well, except for the public transportation part. That is because we live in an area with a much lower population density than that of any European nation. Paying more for the same car isn’t going to change the population density of our area, or the population density of the nation as a whole (which is currently less than 1/6 of the population density of Germany, thus making widespread mass transit less feasible).

        And we pay less for our cars, too.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @CJinSD

        A base 328i still technically has vinyl inside if you really want it, though they currently toss the leather in for free. The stereo is pretty basic too. If you want the sport seats and sport suspension you tick the box for “sport package”. Sorry, no “S” on the back these days with that. If you want a fancy stereo there is a tick box for that as well. So I don’t get your point, you can get a 3-series as fancy or as plain as you want. And adjusted for inflation, they are cheaper than they were 20 years ago. So I can forgive a little cost-cutting here and there.

        I ordered mine fairly plain. No Xenons, no i-Drive, six speed manual transmission, RWD. Lighter, handles better. Oh, and Toyota won’t even sell me a station wagon, but BMW did. And I bought it, I did not lease it. I would have bought this car if it had a Wartburg badge on it, so who is the brand snob?

        And having owned numerous BMWs from the past 25 years of production, the current 3-series is just as nice to drive as any of them, and better than most. My ’91 318is was certainly more of a pure driver’s car, but it was nowhere near as comfortable. If I want to drive something just for the sake of driving, I have a pair of Alfa Romeos and a Triumph in the garage. The 328i Touring is a nice blend of drive and comfort for daily-driver duty, at a pretty reasonable cost considering the technology under it. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Now we need a Camaro SS/IROC/Z28 or Mustang GT index.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Oh yeah, now your beige, white, or silver Camry is EXACTLY like everyone elses beige, white, or silver Camry. And who actually ORDERS a Camry anyway? People just buy the things off the lot without even test driving them.

    I’d rather walk, regardless of how cheap the thing is.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      What a snit. Everyone on public transit would rather you walk too, rather than put up with the smell of your pointless brand snobbery.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        It’s not brand snobbery – I would buy a Toyota product in a heartbeat if they could manage to make one that drives properly.

        I get Camrys as rentals about once a month, I have 10’s of thousands of miles of seat time in them going back to the late 90’s. They all suck to drive compared to anything European. *I* do not value thier added theoretical reliability over thier sucktastic driving experience and lower initial cost. Most Americans evidently do. Then again, most Americans seem to prefer lumbering SUVs with the driving dynamics of the average living room sofa.

      • 0 avatar
        Canucknucklehead

        Have you actually ever driven a late model Camry?

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        You know, the driving dynamics is pretty bad, but for a 14 year-old car, my fiancee’s Camry is pretty rock-solid and comfortable-enough for a decent-sized road trip with four adults.

        And I’m fairly certain, with minimal love/maintenance, it will outlive mankind. The Camry is to automobiles what styrofoam is to decomposition.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      I’d rather drive a Camry than get gouged to the high heavens for a fragile German car with a vinyl interior, just so I can brag to my “friends” about the propeller badge on the hood or how precise the Active Steering is when the car’s not in the shop.

    • 0 avatar
      Canucknucklehead

      Nobody orders a Camry. They buy them off the lot. But then again like 99% of people buy cars off the lot, like I do.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You can still get a Camry that’s as “good” as the high-water marks noted above.

    The problem is, it’s badged as a Lexus now and you need to pay Lexus dollars for it.

    If Toyota could get away with selling a Camry for US$30K+, I’m sure they’d recontent appropriately. But they can’t, so they won’t, and our complaining about it really doesn’t help much. Considering that decontented Camries hit all the marks with buyers and the near-lux/semi-premium segment is noted by it’s total failure these days, it would be insane to try.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      Or we could stop rewarding Toyota’s cost-cutting and buy cars that have, you know, features. Fortunately, that seems to be happening already, much to the chagrin of the Japanese. Because of what you mentioned, Lexus is pretty much a dead brand walking now. It’s becoming increasingly hard to get Americans to spend European money on a car that drives like every other Japanese econobox, but now has the same level of interior quality and appointment as a much cheaper American or Korean car, with equal reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Lexus is pretty much a dead brand walking now.

        You must have confused Lincoln with Lexus. I know that you’re a diehard fan for your team, but you can’t possibly believe that.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        LOL, Lexus is a dead brand walking? If that’s true, then Lincoln & Cadillac must be comatose. Lexus sales and production were severely hampered by the natural disaster happening in Japan last March, and yet, they still outsell the domestic “luxury” brands. With production ramping up and 9 new & updated models coming out next year, the “dead brand walking” will be coming out alive in full force.

        And where can I buy one of those Malibu’s full of features with a navigation and 10 airbags? Thought so.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Or we could stop rewarding Toyota’s cost-cutting and buy cars that have, you know, features

        The Japanese aren’t really that far behind on features. They are on interior quality, but the different is really not as striking as reviewers imply.

        Now, that said, the problem with cost cutting is that, well, everyone does it. It’s all well to say Toyota ought not to, but if they did try and bring net content up to early-90s equivalent levels, a) they’d be competing with Lexus, and b) they’d get eaten alive by competitors who do cost cut and know that consumer don’t really care about triple door seals, dual-overhead cams or a multilink rear suspension.

        Toyota, like most successful car companies, knows that most people want basic transportation that’s reliable, comfortable, and has a reasonable number of frills. They also know that the people who want better will pay for it, hence why Lexus exists.** With very few exceptions***, you cannot survive trying to sell a in the mass-market at a premium on intangibles. Toyota does not exist in a vacuum, and giving up margin to push up content would be slitting their throat.

        ** It’s the same story at Honda/Acura (or was, until Honda started to forget what Acura was for), VW/Audi and a few others.
        *** Apple comes to mind, and it remains to be seen how sustainable they are.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Cost cutting can be hidden for many things, yet glaringly obvious elsewhere. Older Japanese cars had some pretty nice details that only the guy who fixed them ever saw. Door panels that could be removed without a pile of broken “Christmas trees” or an access hatch in the floor that enabled the fuel pump to be reached without dropping the tank. This level of design detail is gone. Now, cost of assembly is more important. It’s much cheaper to make sure the dealer has plenty of Christmas trees in stock instead of designing removable panels. Like it or not, Detroit most always cut here.

        Where cost cutting is really foolish is in the interior where the driver touches the items every day. Cheap steering wheels, switchgear, etc. is just foolish. Just look at the interior of a Camaro. The exterior is built very well, yet the Kmart grade dash and steering wheel disappoint. Nissan does this much better; my Altima has a very nice tiller and primary controls, but look around and the cost cutting pops up. I know I am not typical, but I would pay an extra $1K for all the items to be high quality. I get the “if you want a Lexus for Camry dollars it ain’t gonna happen” thing but sometimes some of the material choices boggle my mind. Years ago older people bought Cadillacs by rote and I guess the slide in quality was less noticeable as the buyer got older. Now it seems it is Toyota’s turn at the decontenting trough.

        pasar: If anybody is behind on features, it is BMW. They gouge you for things that are standard on a Malibu. Now, I could accept that if that meant the base car was vastly superior and your buy-in paid for that killer starting point. Few will argue about the vehicle engine and dynamics – BMW’s strong point – but what about basic materials and construction? Take a close look at a 3 series…a really close look…I do this at every car show. Now go look at a Buick and try to put personal bias aside. You will find that the BMW does not sport better quality paint, nor does it offer superior exterior fit and finish. Even the interior material choices – with a few exceptions – are not appreciably better. So what is BMW doing? Well, they are gouging their customers and the snobbery of the brand allows them to do it…for now…

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    One word… LEXUS

  • avatar
    happycamper

    When Dodge released the new 2010 Caravan, they were bragging that they reduced the number of combinations from 36,000 to 8500 (don’t remember the exact numbers).

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    But it was also 30% better built with better materials

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      Nope. It was a 30% premium so that you could feel better than your plebian neighbors with a Taurus.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        No, it was 100% a better car that could be had for just 30% above the price of the Taurus.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Sorry, PintoFan, but I owned a 96 Camry and if you were OK with the price difference it was money well spent. It wasn’t a driver’s car (neither was the Taurus), but everything about it was refined and well built, from the drivetrain to the interior to the switchgear to the almost German car solidity of the doors opening and closing. It felt like a cut above. Plus they seem to be durable, I see a lot more of them on the road than Tauruses from the same vintage.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        More like a 30% premium so that the paint didn’t fall off after two years, like our neighbor’s Lumina.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Pintofan: I still have a 92 Sable as a station car. I can attest to the durability of the design. Most here don’t run cars this long, and if I didn’t need to park at a train station, I wouldn’t either. I agree that the car is just as durable as the Camry, and unlike the Camry, I am just starting to get a bit of rust-through on one rear quarter panel. But interior materials? Sorry, the materials of a mid 90’s Camry blows away the Taurus/Sable. The Ford product is probably better than the anti-Detroit posters will ever admit to but the Camry is much nicer car overall.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The durability of the early 1990s Taurus/Sable depends heavily on which engine is in the car.

        The 3.8 V-6 offered more power and refinement, but owners were hit with a double whammy – the head gaskets were guaranteed to blow, and the extra power pushed the fragile transmissions over the edge. EVERYONE I know who owned one of these with the 3.8 V-6 experienced both problems.

        The 3.0 V-6 didn’t suffer from head gasket problems, and the transmission had no problem handling the engine. I know of people who were able to get 200,000 miles out of this drivetrain without any serious problems. Only problem was that its refinement and performance could charitably be described as “adequate.”

        Sad part is that the Taurus and Sable were otherwise attractive, well-designed cars – particularly the wagons.

  • avatar
    Wagen

    I hope the reworking of the options packages will end the gouging of port-installed “options” (e.g., weather sealant, rustproofing, non-factory alloy wheels, non-factory leather interiors, etc.) that Gulf States Toyota and South East Toyota force on the buyers that are unlucky enough to live in the states they service.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Who says cars are getting more expensive?! The 2012 has a base price that is essentially the same as the 1996, and much less in inflation adjusted terms? While we have given up some of the quality of the interiors over the last 15 years, we have more than made up for it in technology, safety, size etc.. Impressive.

    Love the inflation adjusted price charge. Make some more!

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I hope the reworking of the options packages will end the gouging of port-installed “options” (e.g., weather sealant, rustproofing, non-factory alloy wheels, non-factory leather interiors, etc.) that Gulf States Toyota and South East Toyota force on the buyers that are unlucky enough to live in the states they service.

    It has to do with education of the buyer. I’ve directly bought four Gulf States Toyotas, and as an advisor have helped many others buy them as well. Not once did I or anyone pay for the ‘pad-ons’. The deal starts at the real Monroney sticker price, not the realisitc fake one.

    Once I figure out invoice and deduct holdback, I add $550. They do need to make a profit so the service center is there for any warranty issues.

    That’s a reasonable deal.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Dave M, please tell us how you avoid Gulf States’ egregious price padding! Hereabouts, every car on the lot arrives with GS’ added price sticker, which makes the MSRP a sham. Do they have to special order a car from the distributor?

    Or is the $550 you allow the dealer sufficient for not only dealer profit but also pay Gulf States’ charge to the dealer for wax jobs?

  • avatar
    wsn

    People are forgetting about the added contents, like overall size and HP. Should have compared to an older Avalon or Maxima.

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