We've all heard those jokes about how cars would function if Microsoft made them. Well, on a recent ride in a Toyota Camry press car, for an instant I thought they had.
But before I tell you why, let me digress. In a somewhat similar vein, "If IBM, Boeing and NASA built a car, would you buy it?" was an actual ad run by Saab in the 1980s touting its expertise in computers, electronics, and aerospace, which translated into their cars. (And indeed, the only new car I ever bought was a Saab.)
Now back to my Camry experience. I had grabbed a CD (yes, I still like my music tactile, high fidelity, and not all in an "all eggs in one basket" file), but as I rolled along, I couldn't find the "slot" in which to load it into the audio system. At first I thought that Toyota had decided, "Who uses CDs anymore?" Trying to keep my attention on the road, I was able to scroll a menu on the touchscreen that showed there was an icon for a CD player. Now, being an astute auto electronics editor, I know some cars use a tilt screen to hide the CD player, but I couldn't find a button or touchscreen "pad" to "open" the screen, if indeed it did tilt. So I made do with Satellite Radio.
After my ride, I was able to check Toyota information that indeed one of the center stack buttons does tilt the screen to reach the CD player—a button labeled "CLOSE." I also realized that on the button was a tiny icon, usually used to eject CDs, which while trying to drive, I didn't notice.
As for my ride in the 2012 Camry, the car provides a fine driving experience. This car was the XLE model and had all the bells and whistles, including navigation, leather seats, keyless entry, push-button starting, and wood trim. When, after 150 miles the computer told me my mileage was over 28 mpg, I realized it was powered by a V6. Without the 6-speed automatic transmission, mileage would have been worse. EPA numbers for the car are 21 mpg (city) and 30 mpg (highway). The powertrain produced smooth and responsive performance, but who really needs a V6 in a Camry?
Only negative on the ride was a somewhat high level of noise, which would change over different pavements—indicating that switching from the OEM tires would probably mitigate the sound.
Base price for the Camry XLE is $29,845, but then it is loaded. But the test car had premium navigation and audio (in place of standard systems for these on this model), blind spot detection, safety connectivity (similar to OnStar), mats, etc., which results in a sticker-shocking total of $33,446.
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