For 10 consecutive years, Toyota Camry has won the title of best-selling automobile in the U.S.. Although 2012 hasn’t yet come to a close, the Japanese automaker is confident Camry - the anglicized version of kanmuri, or “crown” - will remain king of the hill.
With just over two months remaining in the year, Camry has notched sales of 315,000 units, roughly 67,000 more than its nearest competitor, Honda Accord. In third and fourth position respectively are Nissan Altima and Honda Civic.
“The auto industry had another very encouraging month in September,” said Bill Fay, Toyota group vice president and general manager. “Our dealers got off to a great start over Labor Day and that momentum carried us through the rest of the month, as Camry continued to stretch its lead as the most popular car in America.”
Camry’s year-to-date sales are 37% higher than in the first nine months of 2011. What’s more, Toyota officials say Camry is on track to race past the company’s initial projections of 360,000 total sales for the year by 15 percent, hitting roughly 400,000 units by the Christmas holidays. The populist sedan’s sales run is impressive considering that Camry transaction prices have shot from the segment’s lowest to highest, while incentives on the model have dropped.
These are considerably sunnier times for Toyota, which weathered unintended acceleration charges and major recalls in 2009 (federal investigators eventually cleared the company of wrongdoing) and had to contend with crushing assembly line problems after the 2011 tsunami (production plummeted 67% to 1976 levels). In contrast, Toyota’s recent fortunes have been buoyed by steady upticks in the U.S. demand for new vehicles; so far in 2012, brand sales for Toyota, Lexus and Scion have shot up 32%.
Helping Camry’s 2012 sales in particular are higher-than-normal corporate and rental fleet sales, which this year jumped from 10% to 15%, or around 60,000 units, the result of delayed 2011 deliveries due to tsunami-related issues. But other factors in Camry’s continued appeal could be the car’s makeover for 2012, which included a slightly more rakish exterior and high-tech interior tweaks. Sticking with crisp sheetmetal creases helps Camry appeal to a more conservative consumer, while features such as optional blind-spot avoidance and the company’s Entune smartphone interface signals the model’s technology-friendly focus.
Camry ranges from $22,055 for a base model featuring a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine to $30,115 for a top-of-the-range XLE with a 3.5-liter V6 under the hood. For eco-conscious shoppers, the Camry Hybrid ($25,990 to $27,500) delivers more than 40 mpg in the city and almost as much on the highway.