Produced for over a quarter century, the Toyota Camry was designed to be an affordable midsize sedan geared toward the family segment of the market. Over the years it has garnered a well-deserved reputation for reliability, comfort, and excellent standard features at a reasonable price.
Toyota Camry Origins
Debuted late back in 1983, the Toyota Camry was built to replace the old rear-wheel drive Corona. Equipped with front-wheel drive, the Camry was geared specifically toward the U.S. market.
About the Toyota Camry
From meager beginnings, the Toyota Camry would eventually dominate the midsize family sedan market for most of the next 25 years, becoming well-reputed for its excellent build quality, comfortable ride, and lasting durability. Perhaps noteworthy is that the family segment has vastly improved over the last few years. Although several rival sedans have eclipsed the Camry in recent years as far as quality and demand are concerned, the recent redesigned Camry has significantly improved the vehicle’s reputation. The Camry offers a comfortable and quiet ride that pleases consumers in the market for a solid midsize sedan. It also offers great power and fuel economy for either engine choice to boot. In terms of handling, however, the Camry comes up a bit short compared to its nimble competitors the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.
Toyota Camry Features
The Toyota Camry offers a choice of two engines. Firstly, there is the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder which produces 178 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. Optional is a 3.5-liter six-cylinder with 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a six-speed, automatic transmission, and all Camrys are front-wheel drive.
The base L and LE trims only offer the four-cylinder engine. Highlights of standard features included with the L are air-conditioning, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a touchscreen display, and a six-speaker audio system with USB input. The upgraded LE offers several more standard features, while the SE affords a few extra goodies, including a sport-tuned suspension and sporty styling details. The high-end XLE trim gets a softer suspension and includes other features such as leather seating, a sunroof, dual-zone, automatic climate control, and power front seats. The XLE also offers an optional premium audio system with a larger touchscreen and a more advanced navigation system. The Camry’s recently redesigned interior features roomy seating, great outward visibility, and controls that are easy to access. Among the Camry’s major improvements, the quality of materials used in the cabin is better, offering plenty of soft-touch surfaces and fine stitching normally reserved for more upscale vehicles. Toyota’s Entune smartphone integration system is another noteworthy addition, offering high-tech features such as Bing search functions and streaming Internet audio, as well as traffic, sports, and stock information.
Toyota Camry Evolution
Redesigned for 2012, the Toyota Camry began its seventh generation of models. The interior got a significant upgrade and the four-cylinder engine is more powerful than previous incarnations. No major changes have been made in more recent models.
The sixth generation Camry was manufactured from 2007 to 2011. This generation of Camrys was generally praised for its roomy cabin, the powerful and fuel-efficient V-6 option, excellent ride quality, and high safety scores. The downfalls of this incarnation, however, included cheap interior plastics, inconsistent styling details, and poor driving dynamics for all but the SE trim.
For a majority of its run, the Camry was offered in the LE, SE and XLE trim levels, with CE offered only the first year as the base model. Many of the features offered standard for the upper trim levels were available as options for the other trims. The previous Camry was offered with either a four- or six-cylinder engine, and many improvements have been made to these engines throughout the years. The previous four-cylinder engine was a 2.4-liter that produced 158 horsepower and 161 lb-ft of torque. In 2010, the base engine was upped to a 2.5-liter, which increased its power to 169 horsepower. The SE now offered 179 horsepower, and both the manual and automatic transmissions were replaced with six-speed transmissions. Other changes for the 2010 model year were a new grille and taillights, standard stability control, satellite radio, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity for all trim levels.
The fifth generation Camry was produced from 2002 to 2006. Before 2005, the base Camry did not come with standard Anti-lock Brake Systems. As with other generations, this one offered a spacious and comfortable ride loaded with plenty of great standard features in all trim levels. Three engines were available. The first was a 2.4-liter four-cylinder which produced 154 horsepower. Five-speed, manual or five-speed, automatic transmissions were available, with a four-speed transmission offered until 2005. A 3.0-liter six-cylinder that made 190 horsepower was also available for the LE and XLE trims, and a 3.3-liter V-6 which produced 210 horsepower debuted in 2004 and was offered on just the SE trim. The six-cylinder options were only made available with the automatic transmission.
Camrys produced between 1997 and 2001 offered several excellent contemporary features such as side airbags and anti-lock brakes, and was available with either a four- or six-cylinder powertrain. This generation also offered the same quiet and comfortable ride that the Camry is well-known for. Camrys produced before this generation are not abundant, though are still found on the road today, providing a glimpse into how reliable this vehicle can be if properly maintained.