This is not a race car, it is a practical approach to simplicity that was perfected by Toyota. There is a reason these cars sold like crazy. My dad even called it a baby Lexus when I bought my 1995 Toyota Camry V6 XLE back in 2001. I purchased the car with 110,000 miles on it, and being the rolling stone that I am, I put 168,000 more miles on it before selling. While I owned the car I put Tokico HP blue shocks on it with Eibach springs(popular combo back then). The man I sold the car to took on look at this 278,000 mile car and drove back to Maryland from Michigan in it. He was so pleased. Being an easy car to work on, having 188hp, and the very high quality leather interior truly did make this a car to remember, and I may buy one for the kids, 12 years after selling my XLE.
This was a great car. My parents bought it new in 1995. It had ample power (V6) and good fuel economy. I recall 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. It needed a new timing belt every 60,000 miles. As it aged it needed periodic repairs. Once I had the head gasket repaired. It occasionally needed axle boots. And some other function needed repair. But it was very comfortable to drive, had good visibility, and I thought the repairs were warranted for its age. I sold it at 189,600 miles. It was driving fine. I could just as well have kept it.
I bought this car for $3500 cash when it had about 80K miles on it. I have put $100K+miles on it over the years. I keep all repair receipts. Over the past 2 years I have probably sunk $1000 a year into maintenance/repairs, mostly maintenance - tires, decided to paint, timing belt, struts, new radiator etc. The AC and heat are amazing, rear defrost amazing, reliability not perfect but pretty great. No complaints. I have noticed lately when accelerating the automatic tranny hesitates around 45 MPH- I do not gun it, I barely let off the gas a bit and it shifts fine. I heard this from another long time owner, who did the same thing. Comparing to a car payment, this car is very inexpensive- low tag registration due to it's age and much lower car insurance as well. Unless you need a fancy car for clientele, this engine and body type are are excellent mode of transportation- point A point B- that is what a car is for. I do not travel for a living, but have taken long trips in this car- I am small and love the ride- it is more squarish so I can see out easily. My husband is large and tall and does not think it is all that comfortable for his long legs. Overall a smashing great car!
To this day my 1995 Toyota Camry zips me from place to place with absolute joy. This car just wants to be on the road and it truly does feel at home. The suspension articulates every detail of surface to your hands allowing you to truly understand what is happening. If the ride is rough then you're driving somewhere the Camry doesn't want to go. With this being said, I have indulged in a little dirt road rallying and the suspension is tremendous for handling. There is a true feeling of being glued to what ever you are gliding across. In tarmac situation there is just enough roll to make you avoid pushing the car to hard, but since it has a 5 year old child's center of gravity, you really have to be pushing it to begin to feel this. I have the front wheel drive 4 cylinder LE model with a V6 version available, but I have never felt under powered in this car, of course you will not be beating anyone off the line. The automatic transmission is solid 90% of the time. It is alittle sluggish. The steering is light and responsive yet I would say it causes a slight disconnect with the drive, like you would be able to throw the car into a barrel roll while steering with on finger. While for day to day driving this feature is wonderful, the lack of feedback from the steering will allow you to over steer if not concentrating on where the traction is. Throttle is very responsive and breaking is wonderful until you really need them. The AntiLock system loves to engage at opportunities when a fast controlled stop would be possible, so in emergency situations go ahead and floor to avoid having the antilock system pulse you right into the back of someone. High MPG and a decent tank makes this perfect for commuting. Features are not the plentiful, but instead of having a billion buttons that do little, every knob produces a noticeable outcome. A/C is one of the quickest I have ever experienced. After sitting in 90 degree Georgia heat it will be blowing cold after about 30 seconds of running, something most new cars can't manage to do. Wiper controls aren't perfect. either a little too slow or a little to slow, but this is only for the pickiest of wet weather trekkers. Comfortable interior with lots of room despite the size. Having the steering wheel block the gauges when in the perfect driving position has been the only real issue for me. The beautiful thing about this car is first impression is the lasting image you are given. It feels the same as the first day I drove it which I assume varied little from when it drove off the assembly line. I've had no mechanical issues and see nothing happening anytime soon, as is the story for many Toyota of this time. I promise that if you enjoy the test drive then you will enjoy the car as long as you own it.
My husband and I bought this car last year with 350 thousand miles on it. For $1500 He drives it 5 days a week about 90 miles a day. Now its up to 386 thousand, it's by far the best car we've every owned.