For most of the past two decades, the Toyota Camry has been the best selling car in America. It seized that title from the Ford Taurus in the 1990s and briefly lost it one year to the Honda Accord before fighting back. In many years the Toyota Camry has easily outdistanced its rivals, but that has begun to change.
Toyota Camry Incentives
New models from Nissan, Ford, Honda, Kia and Mazda are beginning to slice away at Camry sales with other makes such as Hyundai, Dodge and Chrysler also enjoying robust sales. In 2012, Toyota sold 404,886 Camrys to 331,872 Accords reported Kicking Tires. That 73,000 unit edge, however, is beginning to evaporate and Toyota is taking the unusual (for them) approach of offering deeper incentives for its Camry.
For one incentive, Toyota is offering regional incentives that make it possible to lease a Camry for 36 months at $189 per month and with $2,588 due at signing. In some markets, a Toyota Camry can be leased for 24 months at $199 per month with $1,999 due at signing.
The Toyota Camry can also be bought and financed through Toyota Financial Services for zero percent APR for 60 months. Toyota is also putting $750 subvention (assistance) cash on each hood. Other discounts and consumer negotiating can lower the Camry’s price further for a model with an MSRP (sticker price) from $22,235.
Honda Accord and Nissan Altima
Closing in fast on the Camry is the Honda Accord. Through June, Toyota sold 207,626 Camrys to 186,860 Accords. Year-to-date sales of the Camry are down 2.9 percent, but are up 20.4 percent for the Accord. Also on the move is the Nissan Altima with sales of 167,787 units, up 23.3 percent according to Good Car Bad Car.
Working against the Toyota Camry is its age. Although this sedan was updated in 2011, its change was more evolutionary than revolutionary. Meanwhile, the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion have each been updated more recently with the latter two models enjoying more significant changes. Indeed, the 2013 Ford Fusion did — much like the 2010 Hyundai Sonata — deliver a much more radical next generation model while Toyota has continued to play it safe with its segment-leading sedan. The Honda Accord may not have the panache of the Fusion or Sonata, but its reliability and reputation are considerable drawing cards.
Multiple Toyota Lawsuits
Toyota may also be suffering from the residual effect of multiple recalls that have cast the company in a negative light. Its once bulletproof reliability has been questioned, with the automaker recently agreeing to settle a class action lawsuit for $1.6 billion, covering sudden acceleration claims made in 2009 and 2010. However, there are many more lawsuits that must be contended by Toyota separately, with those reports part of the company’s narrative.
While Toyota’s quality overall appears to be ahead of the industry average, seeds of doubt may be shifting buyers to competing brands. Expect Toyota to perform damage control by settling many of these lawsuits quietly. What it can’t do is get rid of the pictures of destroyed Toyotas that are spread across the Internet or blot out the name of Noriko Uno, a Japanese-American who died in 2009 when a stuck accelerator sent her 2006 Toyota Camry speeding down city streets at more than 100 mph before crashing. If competing models don’t do the Camry in, negative publicity may.
Your New Car Strategy
If you are in the market for a new car, you may not need to wait until the end of the model year or the calendar year to find the best savings. Certainly, Black Friday offers one of the best times to buy a car, but that’s four months away. If you are looking at cars in a competitive segment, such as midsize sedans, then you may find that the best deals are already in place. Certainly, those deals may prove to be strongest for models from manufacturers, such as Toyota, that are in danger of losing their edge.
See Also — Highlights of the 2018 Toyota Camry