The Seventh-Generation Toyota Camry
Will there be a more significant introduction this year?
In a word, “No.” After all, even last year, when it seemed as though there
was nothing but bad news and badder luck, Camry was the number-one
selling car in the U.S. And now it is brand new.
#HP #Subaru #Harman
Bob Carter, vice president and general manager of Toyota Motor Sales, stands in front of a group of people who will have less influence than they probably imagine they do, automotive writers from those name-brand buff books with circulation in the millions to bloggers who may toil in basements. They’ll have less influence in this case in particular for a simple reason: Because Carter—who had, with his colleagues in the Toyota organization, undergone more than two years of challenge, from the Great Recession to alleged quality/safety problems that led to a thoroughgoing reassessment of how the Toyota organization does what it does and where it does it to the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster, which had an effect on the availability of products in markets around the world, including the U.S., which Carter is responsible for—is introducing the seventh-generation Camry.
And while some of them may sniff, know this: As Carter enumerates: “It’s been 28 years since Camry first went on sale, and 25 years since Toyota broke ground for the Georgetown [Kentucky] plant . . . It has been the best-selling car in America nine years running and 13 of the past 14 years. The current generation car has been No. 1 every year since it was introduced. And Georgetown is now the largest automotive plant in North America. It has built nearly nine million vehicles, 6.5 million of them are Camrys . . . Along the way, Georgetown has earned more J. D. Power awards for quality than any other plant in North America. That’s one of the big reasons more than 90 percent of all Camrys built during the past 15 years are still on the road today.”
So one can only think that given this track record, when the Camry goes on sale, and as the U.S. auto market continues to improve, that the ~360,000 annual production of midsize sedans— built both at Georgetown as well as at the Toyota/Subaru facility in Lafayette, Indiana—will pretty much be sold, regardless of what the people in that room think.
Wait a minute. Midsize sedan? Didn’t the people at Toyota get the memo? The market that’s now hot is compact cars, the vehicles that get higher miles per gallon, a crucial consideration now that gas prices are on their inexorable climb, even though there may be some hysteresis in its pattern. But here Carter thinks that there is something that Camry has that will make it all the more appealing (in what Carter describes as “industry’s most competitive segment”) to customers (and he points out that about half of all Camry owners buy another Camry, and with more than 6.8-million Camrys on the road right now, that is a robust base): miles per gallon.
As in: “If you’re looking for fuel economy, the 4-cylinder provides a best-in-class 35 mpg on the highway. Speaking of fuel economy, at 200 horsepower and 43 miles per gallon, the hybrid is simply in a class of its own.” And in addition to the 2.5-liter, 178-hp four, there is a 3.5-liter, 268-hp V6 that provides an estimated 21 city/30 highway mpg, which is said to be the best for any current V6-powered midsize. So Carter says that when they are able to provide mpgs like that, what’s the point of buying a smaller car?
Carter knows that the people in the room are generally more enthusiastic about products that aren’t “appliance-like” as Camrys are sometimes described by them (and competitors) as being. While the Camry may not stir the soul—although there is a distinctly different SE trim package that Carter thinks will be of interest to some guys in their 40s and 50s—he knows what the customers are looking for, and he cites a list of questions that need to be considered vis-à-vis this car: “Is it safe? Is it reliable and economical? Does it offer good value and low ownership cost? Is it comfortable for me and my passengers, especially in the back seat? Does it fit me and my lifestyle? Does it make me feel good about being eco-friendly? Does it make my life easier and more fun?”
So maybe Carter doesn’t include “Does it have a low 0 to 60 time? Does it carve through the corners like a laser in a block of ice? Will it be a magnet for those of the opposite sex who resemble the inevitably attractive characters in a beer commercial?”
But that’s not the point. This is the seventh-gen Camry. The car that has become synonymous with Quality, Durability and Reliability.
Maybe it doesn’t have the “soul” that the people in the room are seeking like mystics. But it also doesn’t make the guy at the repair shop rich on the customer’s hard-earned money. It doesn’t leave one wondering how they’re going to get to work in the morning because it won’t start or the kids to baseball practice or the orthodontist (who is probably getting rich on the customer’s hardearned money).
But then you look at the stats and you realize that (1) Toyota is serious about continuing the run that’s it’s been making in sales, all of the kicks and buffets, deserved and undeserved, manmade and natural notwithstanding, and (2) it hasn’t forgotten why people buy cars like the Camry.
Like the Camry, but not just as many as them.
• What’s Old About the New Camry?
The appropriate term is “carryover.” And in the case of the 20102 Camry, the carryover takes the form of the 2.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, 178-hp, fourcylinder engine. It isn’t all that “old,” as it was introduced in model year ’10. It provides an estimated 25/35/28 mpg (city/highway/combined) in the new model. The numbers for the previous model are 22/32/26 mpg. We’ll get to why that’s the case.
The other carryover is the other engine, a 3.5-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, 268-hp, six-cylinder. There were some modifications made to this engine, like the use of a dual-stage fiber-reinforced, laser-welded plastic intake manifold. The fuel efficiency numbers for this engine are 21/30/25 mpg. The engine in the six-gen Camry: 20/29/23 mpg.
Both engines are mated to six-speed automatics. The nomenclature used by Toyota to modify “transmission” in the cases of each of the transmissions (one for the four and one for the six): “Super Electronically Controlled.” They do, help improve fuel efficiency.
But as for anything else that’s carried over from the previous generation Camry to this one: Nothing.
• The Secret Sauce
Simply stated: the secret sauce for achieving improved fuel efficiency for the 2012 Camry is less sauce.
Or said another way: the new Camry is lighter than the old.
That is, chief engineer Yukihiro Okane and his team worked to take weight out of the vehicle. With results like the chart here shows.