Camry Combos

While those of us on the automotive fringe love to drive cars with “soul”, the rest of the population is out cross-shopping cars based on the number of cupholders. It’s a marketing fact- most cars don’t sell to enthusiasts. They sell to people who need as big a box as they can get that rolls down the road using as little fuel as possible, and keeps them safe. Toyota, apparently, has taken this to heart:

“The current-generation Camry has a theoretical build of 1,246 combinations. The 2012 Camry will be available in a startlingly meager 36 combinations, because consumers have told Toyota they want a simpler ordering process”

Frankly, I’m surprised the current Camry offers over a thousand possible build combinations. My understanding of How the Japanese Conquered the American Auto Market was that, realizing it took 2 weeks to get cars from port to port, they decided rather than appointing cars with individual options (which used to get you weird combinations like fully loaded Caprices that didn’t have A/C), they’d just offer 3 or 4 trim levels, with minimal options, so people could drive off the lot. Sure, they might live in Pheonix and have a car with heated seats, but that just meant if the owner moved to Wisconsin they didn’t have to trade the car in. Value.

Toyota needs to just give it up altogether and sell “Beigecar”. No options, nothing to stir up passion or controversy. Just build as vanilla a car as they can possibly muster.

3 Responses to “Camry Combos”

  1. Pitt says:

    Makes you wonder about the mental capacity of a consumer demographic that complains that it’s too hard to order a car.

  2. matt says:

    The “consumers” in this case are probably the dealerships, who are sick of losing business to the competitor up the road who DOES have combination #946 in stock in Pearl White.

    And I think the Japanese translation of “beigecar” is “Camry”. Those things are so generic they should ship with a bar code on the door that just says CAR.

  3. Pitt says:

    With only 36 combinations, I could see a larger dealership having at least one of every combo in stock. I’m thinking especially of CarMax here- the only new car they sell is Toyota, and they sell a s-ton of them, all at some predetermined markup over sticker.

    Toyota seems to have jumped the shark. I rented a Corolla in 2008, and it was actually a decent automobile. Yeah, it was a compact, but it drove well, was comfortable, and was small enough to be kinda sporty. I rented a 2010 model last year and, holy crap, what a different car. It was bigger, but the steering was twitchier, so the handling was both piggish and tiresome. I’m only 5’10”, but I couldn’t get the seat far enough back to find a comfortable driving position. The fuel economy was worse. The engine sounded like a cheap upright vacuum cleaner. And it was…beige.

    What I want to know is, how did we get from compact cars like the Dodge Dart, cars that had styling, character, and comfort, to today’s rolling penalty boxes?

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