Sunday, June 11, 2006

Camry Karma

I’ve been cheating.

For the past couple of weeks the Toyota Motor Company has lent me the use of a couple of their newest automobiles in hopes that I would blather on and on and on about them to you, and recommend to all my friends that they buy one. And while I have been conspicuously silent about this escapade, the truth is I really haven’t known where to begin.
It is possible to become somewhat overwhelmed by the paradoxes of luxury and value, stylishness and spartan design, and get lost in it all. Fabulously lost.

The Toyota Camry is not just another cheap import.
It’s not obscenely expensive, at $24, 279, which was the sticker price on the Camry LE we drove around for a week. Even took it out of town for a weekend (see blog on The Rock House).

The Toyota Camry LE is full of surprises: loaded with features, and blessed with some very attractive lines, it looks like it could be a real mean car. And I mean that in a good way. But it drives with the crispness that Toyota is famous for in all of its vehicles, with a quiet, interior, responsive handling, and adequate power.

I would recommend springing a little extra for the V-6 configuration, however, regardless of the MPG rating differences. When I punch the pedal, I want the car to go, not think about how much fuel to miserly meter.

The Camry LE we drove was deceptive. Because it was a the 4-cylinder model, it was a little slower on the up take, and the engine would wind up going through the 5-speed automotive transmission. You must use the Cruise Control on this car, however, or you will get yourself in trouble.

Because of the smooth ride and quiet interior, you can lose track of how fast you’re really going. Sometimes it takes a reminder to keep that speed in check: an attentive spouse in an adjacent, or nearby rear seat position…a glance at the speedometer is always a great gauge of velocity. And then there are flashing lights in the rear view mirror that can serve as a final reminder that the earth beneath your wheels is slipping past faster than it ought.

Would I buy a Toyota Camry if my budget was $25K or less for a four-door sedan I want to drive the wheels off of?
So, why aren’t I driving one now?
It’s not my bag, man.
This is an automotive review, not a marriage proposal.

From the newly designed nose to sharply detailed rear tail lights, this is a car that can say class without costing you an arm and a leg.

(I saw a black one earlier in the week that just melted me: Dark smoked windows, nice rims, and the cool Camry stance.)

Face it, driving a Camry says something about you: You’re smart, frugal, stylish, and you know the latest Camry is not your father’s Toyota. Besides, in a couple of years, you can always trade it in on a Lexus!

By the way, telling an officer you're a journalist test-driving an unfamiliar car may get you off with a warning in a traffic stop. Maybe...if you're in a Camry.

No comments: