Killer Instinct: The Toyota Camry's Positive Post-shutdown Pandemic Performance in a Segment That's Still Dying a Little Bit on the Inside

The Toyota Camry may well go down as one of the ultimate soldiers in the American automotive marketplace: shooting straight despite distractions, marching forward undeterred by the terrain, somehow finding small victories when the losses are mounting, always ready to carry new recruits on its shoulders.

Somehow, amidst all of the recent economic turmoil and political unrest, and healthcare crises, the Toyota Camry’s U.S. sales trendline is outperforming the market at large while also embarrassing its direct rivals.

In one sense, the Camry’s just doing what the Camry’s always done. Winning.

In another sense, the Camry’s doing the unexpected. It’s winning at a point in time when everyone else seems to be losing, at least to some degree, and it’s winning in a major way just as its specific category approaches an inflection point. Is the midsize sedan segment, broadly speaking, on its last legs? Or is a post-shutdown pandemic performance like the Camry’s indicative of a midsize-sedan segment that’s finally set to round the corner?

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Toyota Camry CE With 5-Speed Manual Transmission
I’ve spent years documenting the rise of the Toyota Camry through the lens of the junkyard, from the homely-but-rugged 1983-1986 V10s through the Taurus-sales-pummeling 1987-1991 V20s to the very last US-market Camry wagons of the middle 1990s. After that, the ubiquitous Camry faded into the boneyard background for me… until about a year ago, when I decided to search for the newest possible manual-transmission-equipped discarded Camry.
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Toyota Lends a Little Attention to Its Car Lineup

Despite deep-sixing its Yaris hatch and sedan for the coming model year, Toyota hasn’t lost interest in all of its passenger car models (not that the Yaris was really as Toyota, but that’s beside the point). There’s been a fair bit of action on that front in recent years, and the automaker shows no signs of stopping.

New trims join the brand’s car entourage for 2021, though those looking to get into the barest-bones Camry will walk away from this article disappointed.

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Midsize Car Sales Weren't Actually That Bad in the First Quarter; Toyota Camry Market Share Is Rising

After years of steady decline, including an 8-percent decrease in calendar year 2019, U.S. sales of midsize cars stabilized in the early part of 2020.

In a manner of speaking.

Like the overall market, midsize car sales in the first quarter of 2020 declined. But the segment’s decrease was only marginally worse than the decline reported by the overall market, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the decreases reported elsewhere in the passenger car sector.

Meanwhile, at the top of the midsize heap, the Toyota Camry continued to improve its market share, expanding the size of its slice in a shrinking pie.

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Toyota Evidently Expects the All-wheel-drive Toyota Camry to Be Far More Popular Than the Subaru Legacy

In a shrinking U.S. midsize sedan market, Toyota’s slice of the pie is the biggest. In fact, despite its own year-over-year decline in 2019, the Toyota Camry’s slice of the U.S. midsize market actually increased to 25 percent last year because its decline was comparatively modest.

Now Toyota has its sights set on a corner of the midsize car market the brand has left uncontested for nearly three decades. Not since the Gulf War (no, not that one; this one) has Toyota fielded an all-wheel-drive Camry in the United States. And just as Toyota exerts its control in the overarching midsize car segment with a heavy hand, the automaker expects to do the same in the all-wheel-drive sub-segment of the same category.

Toyota has designs on 50,000 annual Camry AWD sales in the United States.

Oh, Subaru Legacy, where doth Toyota’s success leave thee? In the shadows.

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Pricing, Fuel Economy Revealed for Toyota Camry AWD

An all-wheel-drive vehicle will reappear early this spring after a decades-long absence, tempting those who demand a sure-footed sedan with untold amounts of badge and nameplate loyalty.

While the Toyota Camry AWD might arrive too late to tackle our current winter, the future is a blank slate, ready to be filled with instances of snow-flinging fun. Perhaps a dirt road race against a Subaru Legacy driver is in the cards.

As the Camry AWD heads to dealerships, Toyota has revealed pricing and fuel economy for the intriguing model.

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QOTD: Best All-round Midsize Sedans in 2019?

Many sedans are due to fade away at the end of this year, replaced via a cadre of crossovers (as preferred by Middle America). To that end, we began a trio of sedan-focused QOTDs last week. First up were the compact and subcompact sedans, where your author awarded the Mazda 3 a class win.

This week, we’re talking midsizers. The choices are fewer in number than you might think.

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Don't Drop Your Coffee: Toyota Unveils All-Wheel Drive Camry, Avalon

Depending on where you live, the newest variants of the Toyota Camry and its big brother, the Avalon, may arrive too late to help you conquer any wintry weather. This winter, anyway. Slated to arrive in North American markets starting early next spring, the two sedans boast something unfamiliar to owners of these long-running models: All-wheel drive.

In an announcement that took many by surprise, the automaker claims these new AWD sedans can thank the new-for-2019 RAV4 for their existence. A little engineering work later, and here we are. The 29-year drought of AWD Camrys has ended.

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Toyota Camry TRD Not Nearly As Dear As Its Big Brother

We talked up the amazingly real Toyota Avalon TRD recently, making note of its lofty, second-from-the-top price point, but now the second TRD sedan shoe has dropped.

According to pricing guides seen by CarsDirect, those of you salivating at the thought of taking a Camry to the next level — and frankly, who isn’t — can expect to pay significantly less for the smaller of Toyota’s two testosterone-fueled sedans. Five figures less.

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The 340,000-mile 2004 Toyota Camry Is Finally Gone, But It's Far From Dead

The story of the 340,000-mile 2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 that became the 15-winter story of a 347,000-mile Camry now belongs to another author.

My in-laws’ beautifully-maintained Camry ticked up to 352,000 miles – 567,013 kilometres on the odometer, to be precise – when they finally replaced their stalwart sedan with a 2019 Kia Optima.

The decision was not prompted by a breakdown. The Camry isn’t destined for a junkyard. It’s not being parted out.

We listed the Camry for $1,200 on Kijiji, quickly fielded 26 inquiries, and ended up selling this famous Camry to, you guessed it, a Camry owner who wants to add to his Camry stable.

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Sad! Toyota Throttles Back on the Camry

The best-selling passenger car in America for the past 15 years isn’t selling like it once was, and it’s all your fault. With the car-buying populace increasingly wooed by do-everything crossovers and trucks, the Toyota Camry isn’t flying off dealer lots in the same volume as before, and, because of this, the automaker has made the decision to slow production of the mighty midsizer.

What are people buying instead of the Camry? A lot of things, but loyal Toyota owners are increasingly heading over to the RAV4 for their grocery-getting duties.

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'That Might Scare Some People At Stoplights'

“Win on Sunday, sell Camrys on Monday,” as the old saying goes. That’s what Toyota’s doing in the lead-up to this week’s debut of two vehicles you’ve waited patiently for. Nah, let’s be real. You’ve resided in a heightened state of suspense, nerves jangling, taking Ativan just to get a few hours of sleep, ever since last week’s teaser of the upcoming TRD Camry and Avalon.

Don’t worry, they’re almost here — and now there’s a whole Tundraful of eye-popping, pants-rending optical candy to feast your peepers on. But don’t settle for having us louts describe the TRD-ified family sedans for you. What does defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr., noted lover of Toyota, think?

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Toyota Introducing Blacked Versions of Camry and Highlander

Toyota will be unveiling blackened versions of the Camry and Highlander at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, indicating that we’re one step closer to the trend ending. Factories started adopting the “murdered-out” look a few years ago after the movement gained steam in the aftermarket. Now it’s cropping up on the most mainstream of models.

Officially, the Japanese automaker claimed its newest Nightshade Editions are “preempting the earlier sunset associated with the end of Daylight Savings Time.” But we know they’re primarily an opportunity to markup existing models by adding a few darkened bits of trim. However, you’re unlikely to mind if you’re interested in conveying a more-sinister image on the road.

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Finally! Toyota Poised to Bestow Upon Us a TRD Camry … and an Avalon, Too

Frankly, you have to wonder what took them so long. With all of America crying out for big front-wheel drive sedans, especially ones with conservative pedigrees and visual upgrades to appeal (plead?) to the younger crowd, a move like this was long overdue.

Yes, finally, Toyota appears ready to give us the Camry and Avalon TRDs we’ve longed for these past many years. Get ready, because these two super sedans drop on an unsuspecting public later this month.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: The Japanese Family Wagons of 1995

On the last installment of Buy/Drive/Burn, we chose from three family-friendly luxury wagons from the Malaise year of 1975. Several members of the B&B peanut gallery quickly retorted that all three options were awful, and that only wagons from the 1990s were worth pondering.

Bam. We’re back on wagons, 20 years later. It’s now 1995.

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  • 3SpeedAutomatic Once e-mail was adopted by my former employer, we were coached about malice software as early as the 90's. We called it "worms" back then.They were separating the computers that ran the power plants from the rest of the system in the early 00's. One plant supervisor loaded vacation pictures from a thumb drive on his work PC. His PC was immediately isolated and the supervisor in question was made an example of via a disciplinary notice. Word spread quickly!!Last I heard, they still had their own data center!! Cloud Computing, what's that?!?! 🚗🚗🚗
  • 3SpeedAutomatic At this time, GM had a "Me Too" attitude towards engine development:[list][*]the Euro luxury brands have diesels, so can we via an Olds V8[/*][*]variable value timing, welcome to the brave new world of Cadillac V8-6-4[/*][*]an aluminum block V8 engine via the HT4100, the go-go 80's[/*][*]double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, no sweat, just like the Asian brands via NorthStar. [/*][/list]When you mindset is iron block and cast iron heads, life if easy. However, each time, GM failed to understand the nuances; intricate differences; and technical difficulty in each new engine program. Each time, GM came away with egg on its face and its reputation in ruin.If you look today, the engines in most Cadillacs are the same as in many Chevrolets. 🚗🚗🚗
  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉