By on June 21, 2018

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

The Toyota Camry holds the remarkable distinction of being a midsize sedan with U.S. sales that actually increased over the first five months of 2018. Impossible, you say. It can’t be. You’d trade your kids for a crossover, but wouldn’t stoop to pick up a “free sedan” voucher if you passed one on the sidewalk.

Well, it’s true. Year to date, Camry sales are up 2.1 percent in the United States. Last year’s introduction of an eight-generation midsizer seemed to halt the sedan’s sales decline, though we’d be fools to think it’s anything other than a temporary lift. Camry volume sunk 7.9 percent in May. June could send the model into the negative.

Toyota seems aware of this, too. Maybe that’s behind the decision to send the Camry somewhere it hasn’t been in years.

According to Automotive News Europe, the fine citizens of the Old World will soon get a chance to do something their neighbors (including Russia) take for granted: Drive a Camry. Well, rent one, perhaps.

Toyota has announced plans to reintroduce the Camry in the European market, where its market space was occupied by the midsize, though slightly smaller, Avensis sedan. With that model ceasing production, Toyota sees an opportunity to expand the Camry’s reach, though not all trims will find their way to the continent.

2018 Toyota Camry, Image: Evan Williams

Given Europe’s stringent emissions laws, only the hybrid version — of which North Americans enjoy many flavors — will arrive to take the Avensis’ place. The automaker feels the model’s enlarged size and gas-sipping four-cylinder/electric motor/CVT combo should offer broader appeal than the outgoing Avensis, sales of which slipped severely in recent years. The Avensis never offered a hybrid.

“Its main purpose is for fleet customers,” a company spokesman told Automotive News Europe. “Its rivals will be the likes of the Ford Mondeo, Passat, but it also has the potential to compete a bit more in the premium market, for example against the Audi A4.”

Production won’t take place locally, however. While the Avensis called the UK its birthplace, European Camrys will now arrive from Japan. The model’s suspension settings reportedly stand to receive tweaks for high-speed motoring.

In Russia, where Toyota operates an assembly plant, the changeover to the current generation model has only just begun. North Americans saw their first new Camrys last September. The last new Camry sold in Europe left the showroom in 2004, when Toyota pulled the model due to declining sales.

[Image: Steph Willems/TTAC, Toyota]

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51 Comments on “America’s Favorite Sedan to Take a Boat Trip...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    “Year to date, Camry sales are up 2.1 percent in the United States.”

    Too bad that everyone knows the sales mix for the Camry is 90% fleet and 10% LEMMINGS!

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Unbelievable that the Camry has one of the most thermally-efficient engines in a production car and is still blocked by european emissions laws.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      IBx1,
      What scares the Europeans is Toyota’s reliability. If the population gets whiff of how reliable and low maintenance they are, VW, Renault, Opel, Citroen, Peugeot, Ford, etc will be in big trouble. So they will keep them out with emissions laws and high import taxes if not made in EU countries. All in the name of good health for the children.

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        @Carrera

        I remember an episode of Top Gear where Clarkson was talking about the Golf GTI and the BMW M hatch and he said something along the lines of “both are as reliable as anything out there” and I was wondering “do they only get Toyota factory seconds or something?”

      • 0 avatar
        Ce he sin

        Eh? Toyota have been selling cars in Europe, not with outstanding success it must be said, since the 1970s. Previous Camrys were sold in small numbers until 2004 by which time they had become too big and too Americanised to sell.

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        @ carrera

        Toyota has a factory in France and one in the UK. Their superior reliability, if it meant anything to the average schmuck, has had 40 years to sink in. But with a lacklustre range of diesels, some brought in from competitors, either bland or outre styling, only fair interiors, and the driving dynamics of wet spaghetti, buyers have stayed away in droves.

        Kind of like me. They just don’t appeal. People here go on about early to mid ’90s as being just wonderful. But around these parts they rusted as usual, so never hung around long enough for me to tell how reliable they were. I drove a few and promptly forgot them. There’s more to life than owning a cockroach which goes on for ever as its main selling point. I like some zest rather than pure dogged determination and no fun.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      “Termally efficient”

      Not a statistic anyone cares about.

    • 0 avatar
      Ce he sin

      Well, given that it’s not true it is unbelievable isn’t it? The only reason the Camry was withdrawn in 2004 was lack of sales. It had become too large, too bland and too Americanised. The current model is only being reintroduced because Toyota don’t have anything else suitable.

      It’ll sell in its tens.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      @IBx1

      I cannot find any reference that the EU is blocking the Dynamic Force engines, 2.0 and 2.5 litre, in either normal or hybrid Atkinson versions.

      So I’d appreciate knowing where you got this “information”. Otherwise, pfft.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        @ conundrum – Steph doesn’t make it clear, but I’m guessing that the hybrid has some advantages in some EU locales with regard to taxes and running costs – CO2 emissions and so forth, basically things that correlate to fuel economy. (And I realize you’re probably saying, “Duh, Featherston,” as you read this.) Given that, Toyota probably just is deciding to simplify its supply chain. I’m not sure how one infers that the EU is “blocking” the other powertrains from that scenario, however.

        What is interesting to me is how the EU apparently has leapfrogged the US in emissions requirements. (E.g., I believe that VW/Audi engines in the EU now get Toyota-esque dual injection to cut down on particulate emissions; US-market engines retain a simpler, and worse, DI-only set-up.) I recall getting headaches in 1980s central London and central Brussels because the exhaust fumes were rawer than what I was used to from Manhattan or downtown Chicago.

  • avatar
    someoldfool

    We were in Dubai recently and it seemed like every taxi was a Camry. IIRC the model name on the car itself was indeed Camry, not Avensis. My point is Camrys are not exactly for US & Russia only right now.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Rented a new Camry in DTW 3 weeks ago.
    Good looking – save the overwrought front styling in some trims.
    I was surprised to hear the engine so prominently at idle.
    Drove nicely. Sporty. 33 MPG. Gallons in / miles driven (trip computers always LIE on the high side.)

    Tiny Tiny lane departure idiot light. Makes lane departure worthless if you dont hear the beeper while rockin 1st Wave.
    Someone on TTAC mentioned weeks ago the ‘eco’ idiot light is always flashing/blinking on and off. True nuff – but it is so tiny you cant see it.

    Overall, I would never buy one. And the ACCORD is FUGLY. So, Get a Chrysler 300 for the same $.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I drove a 2018 SE last fall, while our Sienna was in for an instrument panel replacement (warranty enhancement). My main complaint was the the bright trim on the dash reflects on the side windows and the outside rearview mirrors (distracting). Also, the automatic emergency braking only operates above 23mph, not in low-speed situations. Also, the menus in the small display in front of the driver are confusing and not well thought out.

      And yeah, the 2.5l engine was loud and harsh, not very refined.

      • 0 avatar
        ddr777

        My neighbor is leasing an XLE V6 every 3 years, about a month ago, she brought home a 2018 XLE with the 2.5 liter, when I asked why not the V6 as usual, she said “way too expensive”, she also said the 4 cylinder sound like a tractor engine, now I understand what she was talking about because on every test drive, people say the same thing about this engine .

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          At redapple, duke, & ddr – I haven’t heard the new Camry up close, but I don’t doubt your takes on the engine noise. My parents downsized from an RX with the 2GR-FE (port-injected V6) to an NX with the 8AR-FTS (dual-injected I4 turbo). Lordy, is the latter clattery compared to the former. What’s key, though, is that Lexus did a great job with under-hood insulation. (Apparently engine covers aren’t totally pointless after all.) You really only notice the noisy injectors when you open the hood. I imagine the Camry, being more built to a price, gets fewer anti-noise goodies.

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      Where is DTW ?

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      That “ECO” light is goofy. I had a new RAV4 as a rental and found that it was possible to turn off the light. But you have to root around in the oddly structured trip computer menus to do so. Decent vehicle overall, however. Felt like it would last.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    They’re so ugly. Never mind the engines.

  • avatar
    John R

    “…suspension settings reportedly stand to receive tweaks for high-speed motoring”

    Yet sans the high-speed motor. I get there a real reasons for the Camry XSE with V6 not to make it over, but I can’t but feel there should be an allotment of full kill Camrys to help make a good impression.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I just got back from a three weeks trip from Europe. Sorry to say but Toyota will experience an uphill battle trying to sell these there. Even the cars made in the EU ( Honda CRV, Civic and some Toyotas) have a hard time selling. They don’t get charged import duty being made in EU but they are still very pricy when compared to European counterparts. For example, a decently equipped brand new European CRV ( US model 2016, not the one we have here) is about 31,000 dollars. The price goes up from there. Same for a Corolla. Their Corolla, which looks just like US Corolla in LE trim starts at $ 19,000 but more than likely ends up bein 22,000-23,000 USD.
    The town I was in has a population of about 250,000 people and has a very eclectic collection of cars, from cheap Dacia Logans to exotics such as Ford Raptors and brand new Maserati SUVs and Sedans. Mercedes S class and BMW 7 series are very common. AMG cars as well.
    I have seen very few Japanese cars, although a decent number of Koreans. I’ve seen two or three locally registered Toyota Rav4 Hybrid which makes them an extremely rare vehicle. The price for such a vehicle starts at 36-37,000 dollars. I have a very good friend trying to buy one but the way he has it equipped is higher than 40,000 USD. I think he will end up with a German SUV which will match or actually be lower than 40,000 USD.
    Contrary to popular belief and newfound diesel hate, a vast majority of cars sold are still diesel. No one is even remotely considering electric vehicles and an extreme small number of buyers are thinking of hybrids. The ban of diesel vehicles in major downtown European cities only apply to older diesel vehicles anyway.
    I wish Toyota Camry good luck but unless they sell at prices which match the European Passat or Ford Mondeo and offer a diesel version, they are not going to sell any. Very few will buy the hybrid if and only if they are offered at prices which match or are slightly higher (500-1000 dollars) than a Passat or Mondeo.
    The most common version of Toyota I’ve seen while I was visiting was the Hilux. I am not saying they are as common as of F150 in USA, but I’ve seen a fair amount of them, all diesel of course. I don’t even think Toyota offers any other version of Hilux. If they do, people only buy the diesel anyway.
    By the way, diesel prices are on par with gasoline now in Europe. The basic diesel has minimum 51 Cetane and costs about $1,50-$ 1,60 per liter. The premium diesel has 55 Cetane and is about $1.70 – %1.80/liter.
    In comparison, US diesel is federally mandated at 40 cetane minimum and I’ve heard of very good, top tier diesel being 47 Cetane. So basically, our best diesel is not quite as good as their basic diesel. I wonder if that had to do anything with the VW cheating…
    While there, I drove a 5 speed 2008 Hyundai Accent diesel which gave me anywhere between 55 to 60 mpg with AC on the whole time. It had 105 HP but must have had a lot of torque because that car flew. It pulled as strong as a gas V6. It blows my 138HP gas Corolla away that’s for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      “I wonder if that had to do anything with the VW cheating…”

      Well, they cheated there as well as here, so that’s doubtful.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      I believe new diesel sales are cratering because the gov policy has done a 180 on them. Diesel cars are increasingly BANNED in urban settings.

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        Thornmark, only diesels of certain vintage are banned in a few urban centers. From what I hear, only in the UK diesel sales have tanked. Everywhere else, they are alive and well. If the EU governments start a massive taxation spree on diesel cars, then yes, sales will tank.
        DK had a 0 value added tax on electric vehicles for 2-3 years as opposed to 30-40% on ICE cars. Sales have skyrocketed. After 2-3 years, the government stopped because they need money for other things (refugees?). No more electric car sales.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          wrong

          diesel sales are tanking in Europe and more and more cities are banning them

          • 0 avatar
            Carrera

            Well, I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree thornmark. May be you visited all the states in the EU, but I’ve only been in one. There, the sales of diesel are as strong as ever. I will admit that in some EU countries, due to heavy government intervention, diesel sales have fallen. ( UK)
            As for the ban in metro areas, if you read the news releases, only applies to older diesels and in some cases just diesel trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            Ce he sin

            Name one city that has actually banned diesels as opposed to threatening bans in the future.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          “‘Diesel cars are finished’, European Commissioner says, as Europe takes on the US and China”

          “”Diesel cars are finished,” Bienkowska said in an interview in Brussels on May 24. “I think in several years they will completely disappear. This is the technology of the past.”
          https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/world/europe/2018-05-28-diesel-cars-are-finished-european-commissioner-says-as-europe-takes-on-the-us-and-china/

          “Germany’s second biggest city is starting to ban diesel cars

          Dozens of German cities frequently exceed air pollution limits set by the European Union, and in February the country’s top court ruled that they could ban diesel vehicles.,,,,

          Sales of diesel cars are now plunging. Just 44% of all new cars sold in Western Europe last year were diesel powered, down from 56% in 2011.”
          http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/23/news/diesel-ban-hamburg-germany/index.html

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      I’m from Europe and live here. I also have been to nearly every european country and there’s differences, in taxation, in what people like or prefer etc. It’s big area, 30+ nations.
      Not everywhere are gas and diesel at the same level, every country has its own taxation. Also it’s wrong to compare prices with the US.
      What I’m saying is, Jap cars are competitive outside of Germany, where selling them is possible but sales is small, they buy German. All the other countries around Germany from the Med to Nordics are OK with Jap cars, in the past Toyotas have been high in sales top in BeNeLux and Scandinavia, some models like Corolla even having highest sales of all cars from time to time.
      Currently Nissan Qashqai is huge hit, and so are RAV4 and Hondas, so no problems, just offer something what people like for a reasonable price. Camry is not that, though. Avensis sold mainly in wagon form and Europeans are moving now also to CUV direction. That Camry looks kinda pointless here.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    That blue thing has styling by Origami.

    Wanna bet the Accord will outsell the Camry retail again this year? Even with all the KMart Blue light specials on the Camry?

    As you get older you recognize that discounts reflect the true value of a product, not the list price. For an extreme example, see anything Nissan.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I would say this is a mistake, but having driven the new Camry in Hybrid form, I’ve seen that it handles rather well. I think Europeans will be able to appreciate it.

  • avatar
    asphaltcowboy

    “The Toyota Camry holds the remarkable distinction of being a midsize sedan with U.S. sales that actually increased over the first five months of 2018. Impossible, you say. It can’t be….”

    Well, the entire US mid-size car segment is still down quite a bit YTD (may).

    The Camry is just holding on to sales by giving nice DISCOUNTS to the elderly, healthy fleet sales and stealing the odd buyer from Honda/Nissan/Ford (the other 3 that round out the top 4 in sales YTD)- whose mid-size sedan sales are tanking -14%, -18% & -20% YTD respectively – that’s coming off a poor 2017!

    IMHO 4 door sedans suck balls and don’t make sense anymore for the modern family – with all the CUV offerings. I mean what loser under 50 buys a Camry, Accord or any other boring 4 door car? Their customers are slowly dying off. They make good cabs tho – which most are I would assume.

    Camry sales peaked in 2007. 11 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Here’s a product which might help you get in and out of a sedan…

      https://drhonow.com/back-relief-decompression-belt

      Then you could enjoy the benefits of a car, which include better handling, fuel mileage and, usually, acceleration.

    • 0 avatar
      ddr777

      asphaltcowboy,
      I wonder what vehicle you drive?

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Four door sedans don’t make sense for the modern family any more because they’ve deliberately been designed to suck in favor of pushing people to higher margin crossovers. Ford finally blew the lid on this secret when they announced they’re dumping cars altogether.

      “Why should we sell you a Fiesta, when you’ll pay $8,000 more for an Ecosport?”

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Gross polluting diesel cars with fake emissions? NO problem!

    It’s a perfect example of EU radical protectionism. Yet they’re not afraid of a V8 Mustang I guess.

  • avatar

    Toyota beats Ford again.

    Bye, bye Fusion.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    The Camry has always been a sales flop in Europe. Why is Toyota ending production of the Avensis and re-introducing the Camry? The Avensis was specifically designed for the European market. I am not familiar with the sales figures but I am going to assume they sold rather well because they‘re a common sight. The Avensis can be purchased in both sedan and wagon form. Will there be a Camry wagon? I doubt it.

    Hybrids don‘t work for everyone. I do about 40,000 km or more per year. My engine of choice is a diesel because I can exploit the legal high speeds of the German Autobahns while still getting relatively excellent fuel economy. No gasoline or hybrid engine currently on the market can compete with a diesel engine in that regard.

    The ‘diesel bans’ in German cities are not serious. In Hamburg there are only two rather insignificant side roads with a total length of about 1.7 km which have been made unavailable to diesel-engined cars – except for local residents who own diesel cars; they can still use those roads.

  • avatar

    No one in Europe is going to buy such an ugly and boring car. There is a reason why Toyota stopped selling Camry in Europe. Cars like Camry are considered executive sedans and were supposed to compete with likes Audi, BMW, Opel Omega, Ford Scorpio and etc. Of course Camry could not compete. Cars like Avensis and Mondeo were European midsize cars while in US they would be considered a larger compacts. Carina and Avensis were based on Corolla E/MC platform. Ford Scorpio was cancelled exactly because was falling behind BMW/Audi. Even Mondeo which eventually replaced Scorpio does not sell well in EU. And it is considerably better car than Camry.

    BTW all Toyota cars are most reliable in Europe too.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Yeah Europeans hate boring cars. Then they have to figure out what to do with all their free time, not spent having around the repair shop lounge.

      And all the surplus funds they have to find where to spend or invest.

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        Denver Mike, why do you hate all things European? You strike me as a very narrow-minded person who has never left their little town and seen the world.

        Almost every post from you attacks Europe, attacks Europeans posters such as me and you have this untrue perception that all European cars are poor quality and unreliable and that we as a continent are naive and foolish preferring to buy ‘terrible’ cars instead of ‘reliable’ Japanese cars.

        The truth is that our cars are well-made and reliable. If they were not then we wouldn’t buy or continue to buy them. It is that simple! Nobody wants to own an unreliable car.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          I don’t hate, it’s comedy to me. Informed Europeans know they’ve been lead down a path, accepting crappy cars while rejecting clearly better cars.

          Occasionally a European like yourself comes along trumpeting the greatness of Euro cars, obviously not having a worldly view, so excuse my manners if I introduce a touch of reality, while trying not to laugh.

          While not terrible and definitely “reliable”, Euro cars are still much worse than Japanese, American, or Korean cars. It’s a statistical fact.

          Your market and buying habits are completely shaped by EU protectionism. It allows some of the crappiest cars known to man to flourish in Europe.

          We’ve been doing door to door comparisons for decades now. We have something called “Buy Here Pay Here” sales lots for crappy used cars and they’re always filled with Euro cars. Or the newer ones are usually Euro cars since their value torpedoes faster than any others.

          And Europe only sends us over the very best they have to offer.

          The Camry is one of the best cars the world has to offer and it’s been totally rejected in Europe, passed over for cars you darn well know are much crappier for the same price. Explain more about that.

          If you were better informed, you might consider suing Europe, just for the air quality alone!

          • 0 avatar
            ThomasSchiffer

            Denver Mike,

            The Camry failed because its size was too big for its niche, it offered the wrong engine options, the wrong body styles and because its competitors – those ‘crappy European cars’ which you adore so much – were designed to succeed in our market.

            The Toyota Avensis is the same size as a Passat and co. and has sold well in this market. See how that works? What works in one market does not work in another.

            In my decades-long experiences of owning European cars I cannot relate to these ‘quality and reliability issues’. My brother runs a taxi business and uses exclusively Mercedes and Volkswagen products, and a handful of Citroens. With simple maintenance these cars keep running and running, even the VWs with their DSGs.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Your “experience” has limiting factors. If all or most of what you’ve been exposed to is European cars, no matter how good or bad they are, it’s just what you consider “normal”.

            Some aren’t so bad, but clearly you have for sale in Europe some cars that are too crappy for the US market. Renault, Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen, and others I’m forgetting were laughed out of the US market.

            Mini is going down that road right now, in the US. The relative poor reliability of European cars is accepted to a great degree in the US, since they’re mostly luxury cars, niche, exotic or other.

            US consumers prefer to “lease” Euro cars, or own them only while under full warranty. Then you run away!

            But it’s highly possible those French/Italian/English/other brands during the early ’80s imports, seriously thought they would sell tremendously in the US (not unlike Japanese car sales), based on wildly protected/shielded European car market.

            Fiat: “Fix It Again Tony!”. That probably doesn’t translate well or resonate in your part of the world.

            The few Japanese, Korean or American cars you’ve been exposed to are too small a sample to draw any meaningful conclusions.

            And when you’re hung up on the anecdotal, you may distance yourself even further from finding the truth. But it’s clear you’re not interested in that.

            But why should there be cars specific for Europe only? Doesn’t that scream of protectionism?

            Most of what consumers expect is what they’re used to, right or wrong. An abused child will seek abuse as an adult often times.

            You’ve been done a disservice and you don’t even realize it. Or see it even though it’s right before you.

            It’s comical, but also a crime.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      Scorpio was axed because it was ugly. It sold well when it was the Granada.

      The Omega, it’s nearest competitor, sold reasonably well to fleets but it was too costly to fund a RWD competitor, so it was effectively replaced by the enlarged Vectra and that strange Vectra based Signum.

      The closest thing now to these is the Skoda Superb, which offers a practical liftback.

      • 0 avatar

        You mean Insignia a.k.a Buick Regal? I never liked Opels because of low rate interiors, but still Vectra as a car was better than corresponding Japanese cars. And cars like Audi were light years ahead of Japan Inc. I do not know what Toyota is thinking.

      • 0 avatar

        BTW that “ugly” Scorpio you are referring to was just a facelift of “good” Scorpio known as Merkur in US. In its usual manner Ford refused to invest in new Scorpio and it was behind times regardless of how it looked. Ford considered Lincoln LS as replacement but then decided to kill the whole executive RWD thing and not compete with Audi, BMW and etc.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I’d be all over a new Camry but I want Android Auto. I keep reading about horror stories about the Entune 3.0 infotainment system as well. Toyota ain’t getting my money.


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