To be the most popular car in America, a model has to posses a wealth of features- reliability, safety, inoffensive yet attractive styling, power, and good gas mileage. Considering these design features, what is the most popular car? These desirable traits come together in the Toyota Camry, making it the highest selling and most popular car in America since 2002.
Launched in limited numbers in America in 1982, the first Camry was compact cars available in hatchback and sedan body styles. A second generation model followed in 1987, upgrading available engine power and offering new safety features such as anti-lock breaks and all-wheel drive. The hatchback model would vanish, replaced by the wagon body style. First sold in America in 1992, the third generation of the Toyota Camry ditched its compact roots to become a mid-size family sedan. 1997 saw the debut of the restyled fourth generation Camry, followed by the introduction of the Camry Solara coupe in 1999. Available as both a hardtop and a convertible, the Solara was built with more graceful and youth-oriented styling than the Camry. In 2000, the Camry became the highest selling car in America for the first time in its history, with reported figures of 422,930 sold. The next timely iteration to the Camry occurred in 2001, when America’s most popular car became much taller and roomier. The wagon body style was dumped for the fifth generation Camry. The sixth generation, launching in 2006, marked a decided change in the Camry’s styling. The aggressive front fascia compliments the available 3.5L V6, giving the new Camry much more power than any of the previous versions. America’s most popular car is now also available as a hybrid, using Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology.
Toyota Camry Hybrid
The Toyota Camry classically performs well in crash safety tests, with all models since 1997 receiving a “Good” frontal crash rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Strangely, the fifth generation Camry receives a “Poor” rating in side impact tests from the IIHS when not equipped with side-impact airbags. The side airbag option, introduced in 2004, improves the side impact rating to “Good”.
Sales of the Camry in America peaked in 2006, with the nation’s most popular family sedan selling 448,445 units. The Camry’s future includes a foray into the increasingly popular NASCAR Nextel Cup, making it the first non-domestic car to compete in NASCAR in recent years. 2007 also expects to see the Camry produced in America for the first time, finally bringing America’s most popular car a little closer to home.
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