America's Favorite Sedan to Take a Boat Trip

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
america s favorite sedan to take a boat trip

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.

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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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Jun 21, 2018

    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.

    • See 7 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Jun 22, 2018

      @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.

  • Daniel J Daniel J on Jun 22, 2018

    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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