It’s Beautiful! There, I said it.
by Steve Siler
Camry, the country’s best-selling car, has also been one of the least compelling to gay people. And for only one reason: style. Or rather, the lack thereof.
Now, it’s not that Toyota couldn’t build a good looking car. It just didn’t. Clearly, Toyota achieved plenty of success selling cars that are inoffensive, uncomplicated and almost always painted some shade of beige. After all, vanilla is America’s favorite flavor if ice cream. But it’s not like the talent in Toyota’s design department wasn’t there. It was just dormant; somewhat of a sleeping giant.
Well, that giant has just snapped out of its slumber. The new 2007 Camry is beautiful. And yes, I am just as surprised to write this as you are to read it. But chances are, if you’ve even clicked on this page, something about the Camry’s newfound swagger piqued your interest. Perhaps you’ve spotted one on a Toyota forecourt after it caught your eye and want to learn more about them before you look to get a deal on one. With a bit of Mercedes-Benz in the front, and a whole lotta Lexus GS300 in the back, the Camry successfully scavenges proven upscale design elements for a look that aspires, successfully, to appear more substantial than your ordinary mid-size sedan.
If you expect it to get any uglier inside, you’ll be wrong (but not disappointed). The same carefully balanced aesthetic of inoffensive yet freshly modern style of the sheetmetal has been applied to the dashboard and door trim, all the while upholding the ergonomics correctness that Toyota has worked for years to perfect. As usual, all the switches and controls fall right where they should, only this time they’re surrounded by cool shapes and forms, including a glowing “plasmacluster” trim piece around the radio (or optional navigation/radio combo) that glows at night in a rather otherworldly-and distinctly un-Toyota-way.
Dimensionally, the new model is similar to last year’s, which itself was a relatively large vehicle by “mid-size” standards. As such, there is puh-lenty of space inside for five adults, making the larger Avalon-or anything larger, for that matter-seem excessive for most any gay household. And in terms of luxury, there’s plenty of that, too, with available glove-soft leather upholstery, simu-wood trim, a JBL audio system (with some 440 watts!), heated seats and the aforementioned navigation system, which is accessed via a very easy-to-use touch-screen interface.
The Camry is available with a choice of three powertrains, including a 158-hp four-cylinder engine, a velvety, gutsy 268-hp V-6 and, for the first time, a hybrid four-cylinder/electric system. All achieve impressive fuel economy, regardless of which of the four transmissions you end up with. Our tester came with the V-6, which is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission with (gasp) manual shift control! It was slick. And fast. And capable of setting the front tires a-smokin when released from the traction control nannies in no time.
But such antics would be unseemly for this luxury-car-in-training. Especially because the soft suspension would give away this car’s true intentions once the road started to turn. Not that it would roll over and play dead or anything; its steering and brakes are communicative enough to keep things interesting. It’s just not one of the playful puppies that the similarly powerful Nissan Altima SE-R or MazdaSpeed 6 sedans are, for example.
There was a time (we’ll just call it the last 20 years) when the Camry commanded about the same amount of attention as a Sara Lee delivery truck, and had about the same amount of sex appeal. But after driving the new Camry, I can’t help but think that it’s poised to make its way into a good number of our gay garages in coming years. Makes you wonder what they’ve been putting in their rice cakes.
2007 Toyota Camry
- Base Price (incl. destination): $18,850
- Fuel economy range, EPA city/hwy (est.):
- 2.4-liter: 25/34 (manual), 24/33 (auto)
- 3.5-liter: 22/31
- Hybrid: 43/37
Toyota is a gay-friendly company.
Read other Toyota reviews by Gaywheels.com’s writers