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SEE ALSO:Toyota Buyer's Guide

In the decade since its introduction Toyota's Camry has acquired an enviable reputation. When people think of Camry they normally think of competence, reliability and value - all excellent attributes for a benchmark family sedan. It has developed a commendable image of appliance-like utility and practicality without any pretensions of sportiness.

In the beginning the Camry was a compact four-door, four-cylinder, high-mileage economy sedan. The latest edition of the now venerable Camry is a mid-size, two-door, optionally V-6 powered, sporty and powerful coupe. This all-new model was designed in Toyota's Ann Arbor, Michigan Technical Center. The mission of the coupe is to add a more sporty and personal dimension to the Camry image. All of the Camry coupes are manufactured in Georgetown, Kentucky. An expansion project is now underway at this large manufacturing plant, and by early 1995 its production capacity will be doubled. Soon two-thirds of Toyota automotive products sold in the United States will be American-built.

A week of both utility and sporty driving left these impressions:

APPEARANCE: Even though its a coupe, no one will doubt that it is a Camry. It has all of the styling characteristics of its four-door sedan and wagon siblings - the wide horizontal grille, wrap-around head and tail lights, integrated bumpers, black window trim, near flush glass, large side mirrors and body colored rub strips. Even though it has only two doors and a short rear deck, it has the same platform and length as the sedan. The sports car look of the SE Coupe is verified by its high rear spoiler, twin exhaust tips, seven-spoke alloy wheels and Bridgestone Potenza P205/65R15 speed rated performance tires.

COMFORT: Like the sedan, the coupe is well-equipped for convenience. All of the power accessories are part of the SE package, while the leather trim, tilt and slide sunroof and upgrade sound system are optional. The drivers' six-way manually adjustable seat is quite comfortable, and the passengers' tilts and slides forward for easier rear seat access. The back seat features excellent head and legroom for adults, and when additional storage space is needed. the seatbacks can be folded down. Other features include a quiet and efficient heater-air conditioner, cruise control, tilt steering column and height adjustable front shoulder straps. Controls and instruments are well-placed and instrumentation is very good.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Dual front airbags, three-point outboard seat belts, and side-impact protection are incorporated into the coupe. The SE V6 is equipped with four-wheel disc brakes, but anti- lock brakes are optional.

ROADABILITY: Because of its special sport-tuned suspension system and, in keeping with its sporting pretensions, the Camry SE Coupe delivers a firm but predictable ride. Its handling is smooth, well- behaved and refined, but not too refined. In fact, it might be thought of as near-luxury/near-sports car handling. The Bridgestone V-rated performance tire are real road-holders. In combination with the coupe's front-wheel drive, disc brakes and anti-lock braking, as well as special steering and differential ratios, sure-footed maneuvering and stopping are assured when behind the wheel of the SE Coupe.

PERFORMANCE: The all-new aluminum engine and electronically controlled automatic transmission powertrain combination that was originally developed for the Lexus ES300 powers the Camry SE V6 coupe. The new lighter weight 3.0 liter, 24-valve, double overhead camshaft, with direct ignition produces 188 agile horsepower as well as 203 foot/pounds of broad-range torque. Power is delivered to the front wheels via an improved automatic transaxle that now has a built-in intelligence system that allows for smoother and more responsive shifting as well as enhanced performance.

CONCLUSIONS: Toyota is entering new territory with the Camry coupe. It offers the solid practicality of the Camry sedan and wagon combined with the performance potential of the Lexus ES300. It is not a traditional sports coupe, rather, a vehicle that combines sporty flair with practicality.


	   Base Price              $  22,238
	   Price As Tested         $  26,777
	   Engine Type             V-6, dohc- 24v, mpfi
	   Engine Size             3.0 liter/182 cid   
	   Horsepower              188 @ 5200
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         203 @ 4400
	   Wheelbase/Length        103"/188"
	   Transmission            four speed auto w/od
	   Curb Weight             3180
	   Pounds per Horsepower   17
	   Fuel Capacity           18
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 oct)
	   Tire                    Bridgestone Potenza RE88 P205/65VR16   
	   Brake                   anti-lock optional    disc/drum    
	   Drive Train             front engine/front drive
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      18/25/22.3
	   0 to 60 mph                  8.1 sec  
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                16.3 sec       
	   Coefficient of drag (cd)     .32