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Toyota Wants to Change Your Opinion about the Camry

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2018 Toyota Camry PEMC

Toyota openly admits that while the Camry has been the best-selling car in the United States for 16 straight years, it has “long been criticized as a plain vanilla, grocery-getter.” That’s code-speak for “lethargic” and “boring to drive,” and clearly this has annoyed people like Akio Toyoda, who is a known gearhead.

The all-new 2018 Toyota Camry is much sportier—both in and out—than it has ever been, as is the rest of the Toyota lineup, but public perception is a tough thing to change.

To help with that, three Toyota engineers have been tasked to take the Camry XSE, Camry SE, and Camry Hybrid to the 2018 Tire Rack One Lap of America, which began May 5 and will end May 12. Over the course of the eight days, the so-called “Toyota Engineering Motorsports” team will take to seven road courses and show off the performance of the Camry.

Related: 2018 Toyota Camry specs, trims & more

“We were doing track testing just a few days ago with the Camry Hybrid,” said Toyota Indiana engineer James Nichols. “It was met with humor by other drivers in the paddock, but, when we started passing cars on the track, the atmosphere changed. I think we’re going to surprise some people out there.”

In 2016, the Kentucky-based team showed up with a modified 2013 Toyota 86 and placed second in the Sports GT Small Bore class. They’re hoping to get to the podium again with the Camry—or with the 2017 Prius, which they also brought along because of its similar reputation.

Related: Toyota uses robots to test rough-road durability