Why you can't find the 2015 Toyota Camry's secret to success in most reviews
The 2015 Toyota Camry is here, and it is going to be a wild success for Toyota. The customers who buy that new car are going to get exactly what they expect and will tell all their friends. Meanwhile, the reviewers over at the race car magazines are still saying that the Camry is rather boring. These folks need to remember that not everyone who can afford a Dodge Challenger Hellcat actually wants one.
Camry Explained by Vacations
I heard a story once from a pal. He had a friend that took occasional vacations to Southeast Asia and would spend a week or two in an opium den. You are interested in what I just wrote because a little part of you finds that exciting. Even still, the chances you are going that route on your next vacation are – nill. You will go where you always go. The lake house, the beach house, or to the old homestead to see relatives and tour the local hot spots with the other tourists. The reason you do that is you want to relax. You want “predictable”, and you know where to get that. I’m just like you. The Camry is the lake house. It will not surprise you. It will relax you. You are about as likely to buy a Camaro ZL-1 for your daily driver as your aunt is to book a skinny-skiing vacation.
Camry As Ice Cream
OK, the vanilla analogy is older than dirt. The Camry is vanilla. More people buy that flavor, and somehow that makes it boring. Commonality is boring is the message. The truth is though, that in its class the other cars are not chocolate, maple walnut, and peach sherbet. They too are all also vanilla. Some are the white vanilla; some are that yellow vanilla, and some are that vanilla my kids won’t eat that has those black “pepper” specs in it.
The guys that drive the Hellcat back to back with the Viper and say that the Camry doesn’t stack up are not you, me, and the rest of the neighborhood. They are outliers, and they write about cars as if people want an 11 MPG crossbow bolt to drive the kids to Sunday school. They don’t. They want a comfy cocoon to get them there and back safely, affordably, and reliably. Camry is better at that than any other choice. I would be willing to bet those guys have eaten their share of vanilla too.
Actual Mechanical Reasons Camry Wins
So, those analogies are pretty “out-there.” Here are the mechanical reasons the Camry wins. It has no turbocharger. Turbo-lag is annoying. The Camry has the geared, automatic transmission you expect, and it feels right. Constantly variable transmissions drone and feel weird on test drives. The car looks OK. Toyota can make a great looking car, but they know that is polarizing. They want 90% of the folks that look at the Camry to know it is a Camry and to think “Yeah, that’s fine.” Companies that make exciting looking cars get rave reviews, and fewer buyers.
How Wild and Crazy Can Front Drive Affordable Be?
The Camry is front drive which makes the cabin bigger, makes the car less expensive, and in winter is an excellent setup for snowy days since the engine helps push the drive wheels down. However, front drive makes cars understeer (so boring in its predictability and safety), makes them no fun for smokey burnouts, and does not have the panache that fuel-sucking all-wheel drive does. The company that makes Camrys also offers rear wheel drive cars, all-wheel drive cars, and ones that can do awesome burnouts. They sell at about 1/100th volume the FWD Camrys do.
Toyota knows what Camry buyers will buy just like Apple knows what iPhone buyers will buy. End of story. To many, that may seem boring, but remember, Toyota is said to have made some cars that accelerated unexpectedly. That is exciting! Most people were against it.
So if you are researching the Camry and a reviewer says it is “boring” keep in mind that his perspective is skewed. Unless you are the type that does plan to sky-dive into Borneo this coming Christmas break and then hike your way out with only a buck-knife and a six-pack of 5-hour energy. You, my friend, would be better-matched with a Hyundai Sonata.
Author's note - I drove the 2015 Dodge Hellcat Charger SRT and loved it. I own a Highlander.