Bark's Bites: This Is Not The One Lap of America FR-S, Per SE

Over its long and illustrious sales career, the Toyota Camry has been described in many ways by so-called automotive enthusiasts. Most of them, to be honest, haven’t been particularly flattering. Words like “appliance” tend to find themselves in close proximity to the Camry whenever it’s been discussed elsewhere.

But this is The Truth About Cars, dammit!, and we have never been ones to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid on any car. Our own Jack Baruth has proven time and time again that the Camry, particularly in SE trim, is a capable and dynamic car at the track. I have personally piloted a Camry SE around Nelson Ledges. While it wasn’t quite keeping the pace of my Boss 302, it was no slouch, either.

That’s all fine and good. But what about putting it in a real race, with a real professional driver? How would it do under those circumstances?

Well, the fine folks at Toyota Production Engineering got as close to that as they possibly could by running a four-cylinder Camry SE in the One Lap of America last week. That’s right. They really ran a bone-stock, off-the-lot Camry in a time trial. The story of how they got there is just as interesting as the decision to drive the Camry itself.

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Review: Toyota Camry SE 2.5L, Track Tested

When TTAC’s Mike Solowiow tested the Camry SE V-6, he didn’t spare the rod or spoil the child:

“…in situations where steering feel warns of problems (hydroplaning, ice, collision avoidance) the Camry SE gives lifeless to the point of useless. Beating at the steering column with a wiffle bat and screaming like Yvette Fielding in ‘Most Haunted’ are more entertaining than trying to make the Camry hustle. It doesn’t move, flow, or have chassis alacrity all its rivals exhibit.”

If the V-6 is that bad, the 178-horsepower four-cylinder must be terrible, right? I mean, if I took it to a racetrack and tooled it around in the advanced-driver groups with a bunch of people in it, we’d be miserable right? We’d never pass anybody, right? We’d never toss that bee-otch out of the Carousel with hands off the wheel and let it snake-oscillate up the hill running past the curbs in the dirt and putting that big-bird chrome grill right up the tailpipe of a Spec Miata, right?

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New or Used: "Affirmative Action" on a Lease Payout?

Luiz writes:

Dear Steve/Sajeev:

I am a 35 year old elementary school principal, married with 2 kids (5 and 9), and a certified car nut who thinks and reads about them way too much, and who is a walking contradiction when it comes to cars.

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New or Used: Fahrvergngen Incarnate?

Joana writes:

I am sure you get this all of the time…my apologies in advance. I am replacing my VW Passat 2003 GLS. It was fun to drive, but had its issues as we all know. No sludge thank goodness. Several leaks! I would like a car that is comparable in drivability, (I have a manual but will buy an auto this time), but better in reliability, and perhaps greener. Tell me what to buy please! I have read the reviews, but they are all over the place….I wish you had a favorites list! Thank you.

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  • Jim Holmgren Absolutely love my TR8. It's a thoroughly modern car by Triumph standards. Comfortable to drive and ride in. AC and power steering - plus power brakes. The Rover V8 is the perfect engine for the car. It pulls strong without being ridiculous and it makes "a proper noise". In convertible form, I see nothing controversial about the styling for the 1980s.
  • CaddyDaddy Most TR8s have a pair of side-draft Stromberg carbs. HUH? I do believe those are SU or British made Skinners Union Carbs. May want to fix the article before some British Car loyalist has a heart attack in his garage while reading the article in the Midlands.
  • Arthur Dailey The only TR-8 that I knew was a 'project' car that sat in the same driveway for many, many years. Did however have a friend with a TR-7. Can confirm that the instrument panel, interior materials such as fabric/upholstery, ergonomics and in particular the seats were superior to my Corvette of the same vintage. However in the first week that my friend had his TR-7 while pulling out of a shopping centre, his driver's side door 'fell off' the car. Quality control was to put it mildly, primarily just a 'rumour' at B.L. during that period.
  • Kcflyer Son has about 3000 miles on his ND now. I've only driven it a handful of times. Great car. I'm biased but I don't think it has the charm of my NB. Much quicker and that's always fun but not really the point of the Miata. If you want Miata goodness but are a little bigger check out the NC miata's. More room for people and a bit more room for stuff. Fuel mileage in the new one is around 38 mpg as compared to 30ish in the 05 nb.
  • Rick T. Apparently Marathon was a popular name because there is one similar here in Nashville.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marathon_Motor_Works