When I was a kid in the ‘90s driving a series of broke-ass Volvos from the ‘80s, a Toyota Camry was, truly, an aspirational car. It was reliable and stylish and had good resale value, which my cars had none of. My cousins, for example, had an XV20, and it had a multi-disc CD player in the trunk, which felt like magic. You could have given me an S-Class back then and I still would’ve longed for the Camry.
That Camry, like millions of others, was built at a plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, where there have now been ten million Camrys built, Toyota said this week. That’s a testament to the hot streak Camry started in the late ‘80s, a hot streak that never really stopped. By the aughts, Toyota was selling almost a half-million Camrys a year, and that was in the U.S. alone. Ford’s Taurus originally looked like a worthy challenger but then sales fell off a cliff with the fourth-generation, with only the Honda Accord still standing.
Functionally, there wasn’t much difference, and there still isn’t, really, as what you get with an Accord or Camry today is what you got back then, too: A safe, reliable sedan for your safe, reliable personality. What’s changed isn’t the product, but, with its insistence on SUVs, America itself. It makes me sad that the only new Camrys I see in New York these days seem to be almost all taxis, but that is also reassuring, because cabbies like cars that are both reliable and easy to find parts for. Hence: Camry.
And even though we live in an SUV-mad world, Camry is still, as of last-year, Toyota’s second-highest-selling car in North America, behind only the RAV4, with 294,348 Camrys sold. The Camry is still the Answer, and it’s just not for cabbies in New York, an incredible run at the top that only a car like the Ford F-150 can top, in terms of longevity. Not that any sedan even tries these days to top the Camry, Detroit delusions aside. Here’s to ten million more.