2012 Toyota Camry SE: I Was Wrong
October 8, 2012
A week or so ago, I complained about the Lexus GS350's cruise control stalk. I called it dumb or stupid or something else unflattering. Many of you got on me about it, calling the Toyota/Lexus stalk a stroke of genius. And you were right.
I don't know if it's the best solution out there, but after driving our Camry a couple hundred miles, I admit, it's damn handy. As an experiment, I set cruise on the way home from the office and tried to use the brake and throttle as little as possible. Combined with the Camry's paddle shifters, it was amazingly easy to maintain a fairly constant speed without braking, nursing the throttle or even accelerating via the cruise stalk.
It's easy to get a fluid dance going with the stalk and paddles. When closing in on the car ahead, push the stalk forward to cancel cruise, maybe downshift for some engine braking, open the gap a bit, then set a slower speed. If there's room to pass, grab a paddle to downshift, make the pass, then ease back into the slower lane.
There's a slickness to the stalk that you don't get with thumb-oriented steering wheel controls, and I further refined the technique on a round-trip to San Diego over the weekend. Not quite heel-and-toe, but fun enough for long drives.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor