We have here a review of a Toyota Camry. Midsize sedan. Plain incarnate. A sales stalwart for the same reason that people buy underwear, and about as thrilling. You yourself are probably reading these words and thinking, "If he doesn't say something at least lightly novel in the next ten seconds, I am heading for literally anywhere else on the internet. https://www.hagerty.com/media/new-car-reviews/review-2021-toyota-camry-xle-awd/
The moment they add the V6 to the AWD this gets interesting to me. The Camry is solid, reliable even quick with the V6 nice car, but it's no sports sedan. For Toyota you have to go and get a Lexus IS to meet that requirement.
Sam Smith takes one for the team. Undaunted, he produces a minor masterpiece. Maybe a major one. Emerson said "the invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common." Or as Sam Smith says, "the nobility in the ordinary." The Camry is one of the greatest of human accomplishments. It works beautifully, it doesn't suffer from anxiety, it is, as Sam was reluctant to say, a smooth operator. I would put it in perspective by arguing that the greatest invention in human history is the American middle class. Even now, Persian emperors or French kings would put aside all of their possessions for the chance to have the life of the American middle class. But it's difficult for the guy in Peoria to see how wonderful things are without taking him back in a time machine. Or making him invisible and showing him how the rich really live. (Yo, Bill Gates, would you enjoy pitching pennies with me? Then maybe a chocolate shake, a beautiful thing in itself? I bet you would, but I don't want a bunch of people hanging around and spoiling the fun.)
When I made a midlife change that involved increasing our income into the middle middle, my wife and I traded in our Plymouth Valiant station wagon for a Camry XLE. We were driving around and I said, "This is like having a luxury car." True story. And that's the relativity factor, which Sam didn't need to touch upon. If you're poor, P. F. Chang's is not unlike Le Cote Basque. Thanks, Sam, for refusing to condescend. There was absolutely no reason to do so in the first place.
Good post, I only respond on two items. One, good luck finding/defining the middle class today. That your journey to middle class was from a valiant to a camry doesn't necessarily qualify as middle class, but based on the year it likely happened, I can see how that might be qualified. The camry, in whatever trim, is the purgatory of automobiles.
I bought a new Toyota Camry XSE in 2019. This car is amazing. I love it. And it is Pearl White with a Midnight Black roof and what attracted me is that it has bright red (Cockpit Red) interior. It took Toyota to get the other manufacturers to get back in the interior game with colors other than gray, black or tan.
Listening to "Smooth Operator" (thanks for the link!) while reading this review was the epitome of a calming afternoon book club meeting. Just the facts, ma'am, nothing to get overly excited about, with a few tidbits of interesting info, but not necessarily need to know. Great write up! 🙂
Imagine if Toyota built an automobile that was attractively styled.... they would knock it out of the park. The old saying that "styling sells" is rendered moot with Toyota's insect- inspired "designs".
Yeah, I refuse to even rent one of these things. I wouldn't want even total strangers to think I have such poor taste. If Toyota is so great at engineering that they allegedly create such reliable cars, why can't they afford to hire some quality designers? Somehow it simultaneously excels at creating an offensive exterior coupled with the most bland interior.
The only thing I can say is that at least somebody is still making CARS. Soulless, of course, but still a car. Would I ever buy one? No Rent one? No Half the time when somebody almost clips me, they are driving one of these. It is the purgatory of cars, and I am ok with that. I got a couple of chuckles out of the read, thanks Sam
I "heart" Toyota, but I like to think I am objective. Based on experience I find they deliver balanced performance and above average reliability. That is what daily drivers are about. Even experiencing benign neglect, exceptional engineering delivers acceptable performance. Good for the masses whether they know it or not. As I have noted in other columns here, I buy used, durability and aberrant trends are in my metrics. Camry is a safe bet. The Camry has also been the ubiquitous platform for variants, somewhat like an award winning actor. Don't type cast him, he will surprise you. I remember the first Lexus ES250, then a Camry wagon, the Avalon, ES350, All great at their job, but the IS-F. that I drove was disappointing. Sam, you do not draw comparisons in the "Camry market", but I will. I identify "Chevrolet" in Cadillacs, "Ford" in Lincolns, and Lexus in Toyotas, specifically the Camry.