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Sat, Jan 07, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Toyota Camry US' biggest seller for almost nine years

AP , DETROIT

Jeannine Anderson's Honda Accord served her well for 13 years before she decided to give it to her son-in-law. But when the self-described Honda fan was hunting a new car, she decided to consider the Toyota Camry, a car her late husband had wanted and one whose stellar reputation she knew from reading Consumer Reports.

After test drives with the Accord and the Camry, Anderson, 71, got her first Toyota -- a gray V-6 she says gets 15km per liter.

"I just absolutely love it," Anderson, of Bancroft, said on Thursday. "It's quiet, dependable."

Drivers like Anderson have helped make the Camry a perennial top seller, with figures for last year showing it was the bestselling car in the US for the fourth year in a row, and eight of the last nine years. It again topped the Accord and other mid-size competitors such as the Chevrolet Impala.

And with a hybrid Camry due out this year and a fully redesigned 2007 Camry set to be unveiled on Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the sedan will likely set the bar high for its competitors.

"Camry is a benchmark," said Jim Sanfilippo, a senior industry analyst with Bloomfield Hills-based Automotive Marketing Consultants Inc. "The new Camry is going to be another Toyota benchmark. It is going to be a little more expressive in its styling ... it will be more powerful."

Toyota hasn't released details about the new Camry, but Jim Press, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc, said it will offer better style, technology and drivability. And it will build on the reputation the nameplate has established in previous incarnations.

"It's a car that really hits the needs of most customers," Press said during a conference call on Wednesday. "It's a car that will get you from here to there without any hassle. It's a good reflection of our brand, because it's about customer satisfaction."

Press said he expects the company this year to sell about the nearly 432,000 Camrys it sold last year, but may lose some sales as it switches from offering the old model. He said that Toyota strives to keep Camry's style timeless while keeping in mind the goal of a well-balanced car that satisfies drivers' needs.

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