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The five greatest Toyota Camry features ever

The 2014 Camry is now in its seventh generation. Here is a top down list of the coolest Camry features ever.

My Grandmother was the first to break the tradition in our family and move to Toyota vehicles. She had a second generation Camry. My whole family for many generations going back to the 1950s had only ever bought GM vehicles, usually Chevys, even before coming to America. However, in the early 1980s the whole extended family quit Chevy after a series of disastrous nightmares having to due to quality and workmanship. Now, three generations later, we have mostly owned Toyotas. Dozens of them.

The Toyota Camry introduced some firsts and was a trailblazer for the modern American family car as America woke up the realities of the UAW-built GM, Ford, and Chrysler products from about 1970 through 2000. Available over the years in sedan, coupe (Solara), convertible (Solara Convertible), wagon, and hybrid version, no car except perhaps the Honda Accord can better define the family car in America. Let’s take a look back at some of the things that made this car cool.

#1 Dual Rear Wipers on Wagon
A window wiper is always a great addition to any vehicle with upright rear glass. The Camry wagon had that for its fourth generation from about 1992 to 1996. However, rather than just one wiper, Toyota stuck two on the back so they wouldn’t be lonely. That makes the list at number one because we’ve never seen that before or since.

#2 Snow Mode Transmissions
The first thing we noticed about that second generation Camry was the snow mode transmission. It was very interesting because at the time we didn’t really understand how it worked. We used that button in the snow and the car had better traction. We all later learned it was a simple trick. It started the car off in second gear rather than first, so that the engine’s torque would be reduced at the wheels. My 2007 Highlander has this feature too, and it works great. All-wheel-drive is a nice luxury, but that old Camry went through many New England winters in New Hampshire and it never – ever – got stuck. (never)

#3 First Hybrid Sedan
After the Prius, the first “real” sedan in America with a hybrid drive designed to maximize fuel economy was the Camry. When it first was introduced it was an “aha” moment for the buying public. It was a bit pricey, it was a slow poke, and was scary (will that battery last?). However, it worked and proved that huge leaps in fuel economy were possible.

#4 Solara V6 Convertible
The Solara was never the best looking convertible one could buy. It was never the fastest. It was however, a Toyota, so it was safe, fuel efficient, reliable, durable, and when fitted with the optional V6, quick. Kudos to Toyota for building a convertible all those years while the American made Taurus and Malibus, not to mention arch rival Accord were hard-top only.

#5 It Drives Autowriters Nuts
My personal favorite thing about the Camry is that it makes automotive writers at all the major magazines crazy. See, to these guys who all drive 10 year old BMW 3 series coupes or Subaru WRX variants with a carbon fiber wing on the trunk, the Camry is the worst thing imaginable. It is a car (in their opinion) with no personality. Vanilla ice cream. Plain Jane. That is because they don’t get it. Real people go to work every day and sometimes on vacation. To them the most important thing their car can be is reliable. They need to get to work. They want to be on vacation. The Camry to them is the best thing ever because it doesn’t let them down. Most people don’t really care about cars. They think of them like they do a shoe. Necessary for transportation. So whenever I read how boring Toyota sedans are I smile, because I am reading a writer who doesn’t understand the audience. More room for me in the industry.

The Camry is starting to get a bit less exciting lately. However, with a possible turbo coming, and a new plug-in variant almost a certainty, the Camry may yet have its coolest features ahead. The Camry could be all new in 2015. In the comments section below please let us know if we missed any Camry features you think should be on the list.


Aaron Turpen    November 27, 2013 - 1:11AM

You nailed it with #5. At a recent press event with several cars on hand for driving, I was asked if I'd rather drive a Jaguar or an Impala. I took the Impala and a lot of the writers present scoffed. The ones who aren't glorified bloggers - the ones who actually make a living writing about cars - all understood when I said "bread and butter always wins."

John Goreham    November 27, 2013 - 9:15AM

Thanks for the confirmation that I'm not crazy. I had a recent experience that was like that. At the Fall IMPA event I was the ONLY journalist who drove the new Corolla LE ECO. This was before the Toyota launch events had happened. It was THE FIRST chance to drive that car. The line for the Jaguar F type was never ending.

Tim (not verified)    November 27, 2013 - 1:59PM

#5 is right on. Don't know about the writer part, but most people and especially me, see their car as a transportation appliance, or as you describe it, a shoe. Reliability is my #1 priority and I'm a mechanic who can fix most anything. I buy a car new and keep it for >250K miles and find the cost of ownership is lowest that way. This only works with hi-rel cars like Toyota or Honda. My wife has a Pontiac Vibe which I bought as a cheaper Matrix. So far (135K mi), the only things that have broken/ worn out are GM parts.

Tim (not verified)    November 27, 2013 - 2:50PM

LOL checked your FB.
Never met a European car that wasn't high maintenance, like my first wife.
Can't believe FIAT (Fix It Again Tony) is back.