Wants Versus Availability - 2012 Toyota Camry Long-Term Road Test

2012 Toyota Camry Long Term Road Test

2012 Toyota Camry SE: Wants Versus Availability

December 09, 2011

 2012 Toyota Camry SE: Wants Versus Availability

Our Camry purchase has triggered a lot of discussion about the options we chose for our test car. When we buy cars for the long term test fleet, we decide what trim level and options we want, and weigh that against what we can afford and what is actually out there on the dealership lot.

You can use a configurator all day long and design the car of your dreams, but what you'll find on the dealer lot is rarely what you had in mind. Dealers order vehicles not for the sake of variety, but instead they choose options and colors that they think will sell the fastest and maximize profit.

Each time you choose a color and an option, the pool of cars that will match that description gets smaller and smaller. And since we were one of the first to get a Camry SE, there were even less available to choose from. If you aren’t willing to budge on your options, you can always custom order the car, but you're going to wait 8-10 weeks on average.

We knew that we wanted a four-cylinder SE and that we wanted it with the Entune system. But the cars out there didn’t just come with Entune. They also came with a moonroof, and the convenience and leather package. This added $3,601 to the MSRP, in addition to the $1,050 that the Entune already cost.

Next we had to find a Camry with those options and in a color that wasn't the typical black, silver or white. We could've had a silver Camry sooner, but we decided to wait an extra week for the Cosmic Gray Mica (which looks more like a midnight blue) we ended up getting.

A Camry with an MSRP of $28,656 may seem pricey for some people, but keep in mind we didn't pay that. We negotiated and ended up paying the invoice price, which was $26,397.

For those curious, the V6 model, though not in our original game plan, would have cost an extra $1,300 and pushed the price out of reach. We are a big company, but we still have to follow a budget like everyone else.

When buying a car, you'll have to strike a balance between what you want, what is available, and how soon you want it. If you set out to buy a red car, with a sunroof and the upgraded sound system, will you be able to find it in the real world? And if not, are you willing to order and wait for it? Or would you be willing to consider the black one sitting in the showroom with the sunroof and leather package?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate

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