And the US-spec Camry is quite different from the version that until recently was sold in the UK – mostly about that powertrain. While the UK models were hybrid-only, the US Camry is still offered with an old-school – and quite old-fashioned – pure petrol four-cylinder. Believe me, the hybrid makes a lot of difference.
Still, the strengths of the Camry absolutely shone: it was dependable, relaxing and easy to drive, and the boot was absolutely mammoth. And that was put to the test: I was in the US for Thanksgiving, so we took a family road trip from my brother’s Texas home to Santa Fe, New Mexico, an 800-mile each way trek. With four adults and two kids, we ran a two-car convoy: my brother and sister-in-law led the way in their Audi Q7, then me driving the Camry with my mum, niece and nephew.
Granted, the Camry did give up something to the Q7 in comfort and fuel economy, but little else: my niece and nephew had bags of space in the rear, loved the amount of cup holders they had and were pleased to find enough USB ports to keep their iPads and iPhones charged.
It was a varied journey: up the fraught Interstate 45 than runs from Houston towards Dallas, skirting Forth Worth’s labyrinthine highway network at rush hour on a Friday, across the flat Texan panhandle wilderness, and then the steady climb up into the stunningly scenic mountains of New Mexico.
On the outward leg we made an overnight halt at Amarillo (where Sweet Marie was not waiting for me), but we did the return leg in one 18-hour, 879-mile journey, pausing only for food, the toilet and so my niece and nephew could spray paint their names onto the Cadillac Graveyard.