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Old 6th September 2012, 10:49   #1
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Default The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review

Warning: Some members know me as a person who is a bit particular about the sound IN the car (not so much the sound OF the car). This thread will NOT discuss ICE in detail. As you will find out the Camry is a challenge to ICE well but that is another story. This is a car BUYING and Initial Ownership experience thread.

Yup. I am old. Pushing 50 to be exact. Besides I have never been someone who enjoys driving in Traffic.
So despite having a really fun car in the garage (the Skoda Octavia vRS) I found myself often "stealing" my wife's 2010 Honda City, my mom's 2007 Honda City or the Company Honda Accord - all three of which were "lazy" automatics.

I got the Octavia in 2004 and despite driving it for 8 years my chauffer never got the hang of the car. It was almost like the car was driving him than the other way around. I used to call it the "Monkey in Ferrari" syndrome. Yeah I know the vRS is no Ferrari but you get the drift.

The Decision

My search for a car that suited my lifestyle (aka chauffeured from meeting to meeting) almost ended when Nissan introduced the new Teana. It was a smart car. It had a V6 engine. It had leg room. But when I test drove it I wondered where the V6 went. It was like press accelerator, 1-1000, 2-1000, then the car would start to move.

I limited myself to my top 5 requirements.
  • Budget around 30 lacs
  • Lots of Leg room
  • Smart looks - nothing that was too common
  • A refined and quiet Petrol power plant
  • Reliability with a modicum of performance

I knew that compared to the vRS I would be sacrificing performance but given the traffic conditions that extra performance was not being used anyway. Besides my "deer stuck in headlights" chauffer was unable to control the vRS anyway.

The Teana was too much of a sacrifice in performance though.

The German cars with leg room were all almost twice my budget except for the Passat which unfortunately was an oil-burner.

The Accord V6 was slightly outside my budget but more importantly was not as stately in looks.

I also considered a used E250 and a used 530i. Both were a bit over used. Neither was as clean as advertised.

When the 7th generation Toyota Camry made it's appearance at the Auto Expo 2012 I loved the looks. "So Lexus" was my first impression. Fellow Moderator GTO thought the same. see link.

I decided to wait. "Let's see what it drives like" I figured. Meanwhile Hyundai released their Sonata.

The Hyundai Sonata however made me feel like Hyundai has a very different way of computing their engine power and torque and not in a good way.

Back to the early August every major magazine had started reporting on it's imminent launch. see link below.

The Camry was released in just one variant. A 2.5L 4 cyl, Petrol auto box. No Diesel (rest easy Passat), no Manual (the Accord has both), not even a luxury model with a sun-roof and other razz-a-ma-tazz. Just One Model. Henry Ford would be pleased (thank God though Toyota offered 3 more colours than the Model T).

A few weeks later a fellow Moderator Jayakrishnan (Jaggu) got to test drive it. Of course I pestered him about his opinion. He replied in one short sentence. "Navin I think we found the perfect car for you.". Here is his test drive report.

I called Shinrai Toyota and booked mine on the 25th of August even before Jaggu finished his sentence. I did not test drive the car. That is the value of the TBHP brotherhood. Shinrai was a bit shocked. But sir "Don't you want a test drive?" the sales man asked.

They promised me delivery on Sept 6th. On August 30th I get a call from Shinrai - "Sir we have got your car. Can you pick it up tomorrow." This is the fastest booking to delivery time I have experienced. Well done Shinrai. I asked if I could pick it upon Sunday (Sept 2nd) since my chauffer refused to touch any new car on Saturday. Shinrai agreed.

Saturday night - I was not well. Very unwell with a severly upset stomach, flu and high fever.

On Sunday a still very unwell Navin went to Shinrai literally in his pyjamas (now you know why there are no pictures) to pick up the car. I was surprised by the fan fare. This was Shinrai's first 2012 Camry delivery.

The papers were ready, they were as caring as they could be (and maybe a bit amused by my deameanour and attire) and treated me with respect. I cannot say Skoda, Honda, Opel, Maruti etc have ever treated me badly though. I am lucky I guess. Never had a really bad experience with any dealership.

All the sales staff were a bit amused to see a guy in his boxers (that's what I use for pyjamas) coming to pick up his car. They made me break a coconut, paint a swastika and hang flowers. Almost all the sales staff present wanted to be photographed. I was partly amused and partly tired - my stomach flu was acting up again.

So i asked them if they could hurry up a bit or I'd pass out in the showroom. They got me water, asked if I wanted more refreshments (I declined). Then after a little more hoopala let me go. Shinrai had delivered their first 2012 Camry, and a fat old man in his boxers had driven it home.

The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review-img_1148-1280x800.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 5th October 2020 at 20:31. Reason: Minor typo
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Old 6th September 2012, 11:00   #2
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry initial ownership review

September 2nd the ride home.

The Ugly

I took a left turn out of the Shinrai showroom and instinctively turned on the stereo. Half a second later I turned it off. It was horrible. This is the first car I have owned or driven where the stock ICE was intolerable. My 1995 Opel Astra had acceptable stock ICE, my mom's 1999 Daewoo Matiz, my wife's 2003 Opel Sail, my 2004 Skoda vRS, my mom's 2007 Honda City, my wife's 2009 Honda City were all listenable and acceptable; this car's stock ICE was intolerable.

I parked it on the side. I tried fiddling with the controls and finally found a combination of settings that allowed at least news and commentary (not music) to be tolerable. This car soooooo needs better ICE.

The Good

The car is surprisingly sprightly. "Jaggu was right" was my first thought. It has enough oomph to not leave you wanting though the engine is not as free-revving as the vRS's 1.8 Turbo Petrol. The suspension is not as tight as most German cars but not too soft. For Mumbai city roads it should be just right.

Toyota have produced almost the perfect "Fat Cat" car.

The Bad

The Bad is mostly a set of components that a car in this segment should have.
  • No Integrated rear view camera
  • No Integrated Head's Up display
  • No Adaptive headlights
  • No memory for the electrically adjustable seats
  • No Sport mode (but it does have Sequential Mode)
  • Only 2 air bags instead of 6 usually found in this class of vehicle
  • and as Jaggu had reported NO ESP or Traction Control or Sun blinds for the rear passengers!

but in addition to this...there is no way to turn the irritating reverse warning sensor off, there is no 12V outlet in the rear seat (there is one in the front arm rest), and oddly the parking brake is foot mounted not a hand brake - I'd have prefered a dead pedal with a hand brake.

lastly...frustratingly there is very little feel. The Power assist is way too ambitious. For a car guy like me this robs the driver of any understanding of where the car is going. I wish the power assist was dialed back a little.

The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review-img_1112-1280x738.jpg

Last edited by navin : 29th November 2012 at 10:04.
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Old 6th September 2012, 13:49   #3
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry initial ownership review

September 3rd-5th - the Joy of an easy to drive Automatic.

I have my German partners visiting me in Mumbai. On previous visits I often found myself using my wife's Honda City since it was automatic, lighter to drive and over all less stressful in Mumbai traffic.

The past 3 days I have been happy. It is easy to drive - almost too easy but the negatives listed under "The Bad" have become more glaring.

For a car that costs 30 big ones it should have had 6 air bags, ESP, Traction Control, Adaptive headlights, an Integrated rear view camera and Head's Up display. This car has none of these nice things. Not even simple sun blinds for the rear passengers or a memory for the electrically adjustable seats!!!!!

...and then there is the ICE. It deserves to be shot. The people responsible for implementing this should be shot. No shooting them would be too easy. They should be stuffed in the Camry and force fed Kenny G over the ICE. I have heard elevator speakers that sound better.

So what the Verdict.

After 3 days I can say this. The Camry offers the basics. A nice rear seat, a reliable, quiet and sprightly engine, smart looks and hopefully Toyota reliability. If you are looking for anything more than this look else where. There are better deals to be had with the Superb, Accord, and a host of less expensive cars.

Fat Cats like myself might be satisfised but a car enthusiast would hardly be. I would strongly suggest that Toyota recall the models they have sold and upgrade some of the features because at the present level of trim there is too much left to be desired to ensure that the car is a success. If it sells well it would be because of the Toyota brand behind it. Toyota had (and still has) the opportunity to close the door on the Superb and Accord but they have left the door ajar and my guess is that unless Toyota is proactive Honda and Skoda are going to retain their market share.

The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review-img_1046-1280x803.jpg

Last edited by bblost : 23rd November 2012 at 11:59.
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Old 10th September 2012, 13:53   #4
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry initial ownership review

Sept 8th-9th. Oodles of space

My wife had still not sat in the Camry. Frankly she cant care what car she sits in as long as it gets her to where she is wants to go.

So on Saturday night I thought I would take my wife and son out for a drive and dinner. Usually, when I drive my wife sits in the passenger seat and my son is in the back (where all kids should be).

This time my son requested my wife to sit with him.

"Why" my wife asked.

"You got to see the space" my son replied.

Now my son is 10 and a little over 4 feet tall, my wife is a spot over 5 feet so for these 2 "shorties" the rear space of the Camry felt like a foot ball stadium. It was hilarious. The two of them kept switching seats and bouncing around in the back - it was like they had so much space they did not know what to do with it. Finally I had to firmly tell them both to belt up.

My friends all have the C class. My wife asked me why I did not get a C class. I told her have you ever sat in the rear of one? "Shorties", you see, don't notice the lack of legroom but if you are over 5' 9" tall you will. So there is another point. If you are under 5' 5" tall a C class might offer you more, you dont need the leg room anyway.

If you are over 6' and driving, the C class (and 3 series) become 3 seaters. I am reminded of Franco's quote in Gumball rally "What's a behind me iz not important". For the rest of us who prefer our cars to indeed fit FOUR adults comfortably the Camry makes a lot of sense. In a pinch you could even fit FIVE! Try doing that in your C200 or 320d.

Oh yes you wont get the handling of a 320d or C200 but how often do you need handling in Mumbai traffic vs how often do you need to get that extra friend in on a Saturday night. Your lifestyle will determine your choice.

Space - that is what the Camry is about. In it's space-class (Accord, Superb included) the Camry is the probably most sensible offering under 30 big ones. Sure if you have the bucks get an E class or a 5 series or even the A6 or A8 - or you could buy a matched pair of Camrys (his and hers) for the cost of one the Germans.

Yes that the ticket, buy a matched pair - one in white and the other in black: Zorro Black for you and Damsel White for her - I am sure the boys at Toyota would be pleased. And you can pretend to be Antonio Banderas!

The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review-img_1101-1280x777.jpg

Last edited by navin : 29th November 2012 at 10:08.
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Old 5th October 2012, 12:03   #5
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry initial ownership review

It has now been a month of owning the Camry and I am only on my second tankful of petrol.

My drive is about 15 kms per day and I get about 6-7 kmpl in traffic. For a 2.5 liter (maybe Toyota meant the 2.5G in the picture below to represent "2.5 Grand" or 2500 cc) 7 kmpl is not bad given Mumbai's traffic.

The Camry still retains it's smart look. I dont see too many other 2012 Camrys on the road so the exclusiveness is still there. Toyota, I believe, is working hard to reduce this though!

The fit and finish is ok (it could be better) and the doors dont close with the postive thud of the doors of my old Skoda. When I close the tunk I feel like the lid is a play thing. 8 years of using the heavy and solid feeling Octavia trunk has spoiled me.

Across the board, be it ride and handling, power delivery, steering and braking feel or high speed stability the Camry does not compare well against the vRS. The vRS was a drivers car, probably the best under 15L. The Camry however is nicer to the rear passenger, far nicer.

I sat in rear of a friend's 2008 Mercedes S350 and while the S350 was nicer (better under thigh and back support and smarter ergonomics) in the rear seat, it is also costs 3 times that of a Camry. The legroom was comparable (though I did not pay attention to the seat adjustment of the chauffer). My friend rarely drives. When he does he prefers to take his VW Beetle as the S class is too big to manouver though traffic or find parking for.

The airconditioning however is excellent. I was happier in the Camry than the Accord or even the S350 (I did not play with the settings in the S350 though). I often travel in mid-day (3pm) and the car is kept cool even with the passenger side air con set at 24 deg. My mad chauffer though insists on keeping his side at 18 deg, then spends the rest of the ride sneezing. I tried to explain to him that going from extreme heat to extreme cold is not good for the human body but my rationale falls on deaf ears. So I sit behind the passenger seat where it is comfortable and leave my chauffer to sneeze away.

I rarely drive out of town so can't comment on highway milage figures. If I do drive to the suburbs it would be on my Fathe-in-law's birthday or to go to the airport. 90% of my life revolves around my office, the apartment, or the few clubs I visit. In each place I have some access to private parking. If I go anywhere when i do not expect to find private parking I would take my wife's 2009 Honda City, failing which my mom's 2007 City (both of which have auto transmissions). Like my friend said, a smaller car is so much nicer when YOU have to drive and park it.

Coming back to the Camry, sure I wish the engine had more torque especially in the 1000-3000 rpm band, sure I wish it had a little less power assist for the steering, a foot rest instead of the foot mounted parking brake, but what I REALLY miss is an integrated rear camera and head up display, 3 memories for the electrically adjustable seats (even the Kizashi has this and you can buy 2 of them for the price of a Camry), 6 air bags (the i20 has 6 and you can buy 4 of them for the cost of a Camry) instead of 2, oh and yes, ESP, Traction Control, and please some Sun blinds for us rear passengers! Toyota are you listening?

Like I said before Toyota had the opportunity to SLAM the door shut on the Superb and Accord but they have left the door ajar and my guess is that Honda and Skoda are going to retain their market share. Toyota, sorry, you missed a good opportunity.

The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review-img_1111-1280x855.jpg

Last edited by noopster : 23rd November 2012 at 13:33.
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Old 17th October 2012, 17:19   #6
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry initial ownership review

My chauffer has gone to his village for a week. So I am driving.

The Stereo
What on earth were the guys in Toyota thinking?

The stock system is pretty poor but worse still, the stock locations for speakers is just as bad. It has been a nightmare trying to get consistent soundstage in this car. Either the music sounds like it is in mono coming from where behind the HU or dual mono (where there is a big acoustic hole between the left and right channels).

We removed all the processing in the OEM HU using an Audision Bit 10D, added better fullrange speakers in the dash, upgraded the front midwoofer and rear speakers and added some nice amplifiers and subwoofers and we still have not found what we are looking for.

In addition the location for the USB port (near the front arm rest) has no room for an ipod. If the cavity was just 5mm wider it would have been a perfect fit for an iPod Classic or iPod Touch. Obviously no one in Toyota understands the music has moved to the iPod (iTunes).

I like to keep my car looking stock and simple so we settled with a pair of Hybrid Audio L3v2 3" fullrange drivers in the dash, a pair of 18cm Audison Voce midbass in the door, a pair of Ground Zeno 6x9s in the rear deck, and pair of Morel Ultimo 12" subwoofers, and a pair of Steg amplifiers to drive the subs and front speakers. The rear speakers were driven by an Alpine MRV-F450. I am attached pictures of the subwoofers, Steg amps and Bit 10 below. The subwoofers will get grills when the grills are ready. The Alpine amp is hidden behind the Audison Bit 10.

The Camry is a mad car if one wants to upgrade the ICE. There are many issues. Simple things like front speaker locations limit choices, the rear speakers get a HP signal from the HU so a processor is ESSENTIAL.

Anyone needing help with a Camry's ICE please feel free to PM me. Lord knows I broke my head on this.

Damping is essential. In fact Jap cars seem to need much more damping than German.

The rear arm rest of the Camry is shoddy. The one in my 8 year old vRS was far better engineered and made. The padding is too soft, the armrest has no cubby holes (it has 2 drink holders) like by vRS. In my vRS the arm rest could accomodate an ipod, an ipod amplifer and a pair of folding headphones. Camry's rear armrest is a waste of space.

FE in the City
As far as FE is concerned, I am averaging 5-6kmpl while driving to and fro from work. I used to average 7kmpl in the vRS but my vRS drank Speed 97 while I use the regular Speed in the Camry.
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The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review-img_0849-1280x960.jpg  

The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review-img_0850-1280x960.jpg  

Last edited by navin : 15th July 2020 at 11:36.
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Old 20th October 2012, 09:53   #7
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Fuel efficiency : City and Highway

As mentioned earlier (see post #5) FE in the city (Mumbai) is about 5-6 kmpl in office traffic.

Today I got the chance to get the car to breathe a bit. I was out with my son and his friends at 7:30am. I am a safe driver so very high speeds are not my domain (unless I am on a closed track). But what a difference driving early in the morning makes. On the route from my apartment to my son's school and then to the office I averaged almost 11kmpl. Twice the average I get during office traffic. Thank you Toyota!

Sure I had 3 belted 10 year boys in the rear seat so i was maintaining a steady pace with no sudden bursts of acceleration or hard braking but 11 kmpl in the city? Wow!

On-road behaviour, Stability at high speeds, and Handling

Well sad to say but when it comes to pure joyful handling (from a driver's point of view) just about every Skoda (Superb, Passat), Mercedes, or BMW betters the Camry. I have not driven the Camry's baby sister (the Altis) but the Accord is a bit more fun behind the steering wheel. In the rear seat though the Camry bests the Accord. If it is the ultimate in driver fun you are after please look elsewhere. If you sit in the rear seat and maybe drive 20-30 days a year the Camry is a good option. No scratch that. In the rear seat the Camry is a great option. Maybe the best you can get under 40L.

The Handling is competent but not as sure footed as my vRS, the Passat Highline, or the E350. However the Camry is even stevens with the Accord.

The Braking is more sure footed that the Accord. Even under firm, sudden braking the Camry stays the course but still not up to the standards set by the Germans. Even the old 1995 Opel Astra was more confident. It must be something to do with the weight of the car, besides I too was 15 years younger when I had the Astra.

Maybe a wider tyres would improve braking but hey the 5-6 kmpl I get in traffic would then dip further.

I don't drive fast on city roads. It is plain stupid (in my view). There are too many people doing too many nutty things and you just cannot anticipate it all. Taxi drivers will attempt U turns from the left lane, scooters will literally 'scoot' out on to the main road from bylanes without even slowing, and the hapless pedestrian really has no place to cross the road without playing dodgeball with oncoming traffic. Mumbai is just not pedestrian friendly, and even when over bridges and under passes are built they are seldom used.

Given the above i have not really tested the Camry's high speed stability. At speeds under 80kmph it is fine. Again the Germans probably best it but hey try telling that to some guy sitting in a 320d's rear seat with his knees somewhere near his ears.

Likes and Dislikes

The Camry offers nothing particularly nice to like. For 30 big one one often gets less than one expects but the Camry is competent and offers lots of rear seat comfort and leg room. That's it, but often that IS all one needs.

The list of Dislikes is more a list of wants.

No Integrated rear view camera or GPS, No Integrated Head's Up display, No memory for the electrically adjustable seats, No Sport mode, Only 2 air bags instead of 6, No ESP or Traction Control, No Sun blinds for the rear passengers if Rihanna had written this review she might have sung

No no no
Your seats don't have memory, no no no
Your brakes ain't got ESP, no no no
The rear window's blindless, no no no
What happened to Traction Control! No no no

....and then to 'ice' it all; that really terrible ICE (pun intended) system and that really stupid rear arm rest. For a car meant for the rear seat passenger the rear arm rest should have been designed the way Skoda has done for the vRS: with storage and maybe the addition of a 12V socket. For a car expected to sell primarily for the comfort in the rear seat why stick a pair of 6x9 BEHIND the rear seat like it was an after thought? Even in the front the cubby holes are a bit innane. For example there is no place to tuck your ipod near the 12V socket in the front armrest (which where one would be charging their ipod from). Most German cars in this size class are better thought out.

Maybe I complain a bit too much.

I guess it's like the Rolling Stones sang:
"You can't always get what you want, You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want, But if you try sometimes, you might find
You get what you need"

That's the Camry, not everything that you want, but enough to cover your needs.

Last edited by navin : 29th November 2012 at 10:15.
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Old 26th November 2012, 09:46   #8
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Initial Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 26th November 2012, 11:11   #9
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review

Well a review I was awaiting since long. Thanks for it Navin. Your regular inputs on the ownership will be very helpful to someone like me whose looking for an ideal replacement for my Corolla.
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Old 26th November 2012, 12:19   #10
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review

Hi Navin

Let me be the first one to congratulate you on the forum. Thanks for a terrific review.

I guess it is all about what works for you as an individual. I agree for a chauffeur driven mumbai traffic there are few cars that would work better than the new Camry.

Any reason why you did not look at Superb V6?
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Old 26th November 2012, 12:37   #11
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review

Congrats on the purchase, we had almost forgotten the car! Couple of days back, I was in the 2nd hand market looking for an Endy. happened to see some nice Camry's & Accords. Surprisingly the deals were so sweet that I decided to go in for either of them. A 1-2 yrs old car is selling at less than half the price of new, for ~8-10L to be precise.

This one just got launched, will take around a year to be seen in the 2nd space.
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Old 26th November 2012, 13:48   #12
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Congratulations Navin on your new buy!! I like your unbiased point of view.

Absolutely enjoyed reading it. Eventhough a Camry doesn't offer much for 30 big ones, it does offer peace of mind coming from a Toyota.

Happy motoring.
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Old 26th November 2012, 14:27   #13
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review

This is a very honest and practical review. If I have to sum it, this car provided you with only 2 goodies:
1. Great space at the rear
2. Less common in a crowd.

While I would not care too much about the point # 2, it may be worth a very slight premium if that is the case.

Coming to the point # 1, I think the Hyundai Sonata would have fitted a better bill except if you dont like the brand. This would be cheaper with more safety, bells and whistles. It would be more or less as reliable as the Japs. Well it would also comply to point # 2.

Regarding used Germans, if tried a little harder, you could have found a cared 2 year old 530i within the range you were looking and if one came with BSI plan (assuming it is transferable), it would have been great. Though the playground effect in the rear would be missed.

What is the Mumbai OTR for this and how much it is over the Accord and Superb.

The Camry no doubt would be reliable; but as you have rightly said, it loses the game to the competition.

Last edited by dipen : 26th November 2012 at 14:29.
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Old 26th November 2012, 15:07   #14
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review

Congrats on the buy Navin.

What an eccentric review, excellent ! Was fun to read all along.

Coming from a vRS, why didn't you consider the superb ? It provides all the bells and whistles which toyota has missed/ignored.
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Old 26th November 2012, 15:32   #15
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Default Re: The Fat Cat's new treads - Toyota Camry Initial Ownership Review

Wonderful review. Very neutral too.

I am also very fond of automatics but unfortunately there are none in my budget except Scorpio which I would like to stay away from.

BTW FE is not cool but you seem to be happy about it.

Happy ownership and ride.
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