The Toyota Camry quietly debuted late in the 1983 model year, when Toyota replaced its old rear-wheel-drive Corona with the front-wheel-drive Camry, a car aimed specifically at the U.S. market. From these humble beginnings, the Camry would go on to dominate the midsize family sedan segment for virtually all of the next quarter century as consumers immediately embraced it for its high build quality, comfortable ride and impressive durability.
New or used, the Toyota Camry comes pretty highly recommended. As the Camry sells in such high numbers, finding one that matches your criteria should be pretty easy. It is worth noting that the family segment has improved greatly in more recent years. Many competing sedans have matched or outpaced the Camry in terms of quality and desirability. Indeed, the sixth-generation version displayed a rare misstep in the model's history, specifically a disappointing drop in cabin quality. More recent versions, however, have restored the car's reputation as a well-built, go-to choice.
Current Toyota Camry
The Toyota Camry is offered in LE, SE, XLE and XSE trim levels. Highlights of the LE's standard features include air-conditioning, a rearview camera, a power driver seat and Bluetooth, while the SE spices things up with a sport-tuned suspension, larger wheels and sporty styling treatments. The luxurious XLE reverts to a softer suspension and adds dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery and heated front seats. The XSE is essentially an XLE with a sport-tuned suspension and larger wheels.
The Toyota Camry offers a choice of two engines. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder produces 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, while the available (depending on trim) 3.5-liter V6 makes 268 hp and 248 lb-ft. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered, and it sends power to the front wheels.
Edmunds' reviews reveal this Camry to be a solid overall performer, especially with the potent V6. Although generally focused on comfort, the sport-tuned SE and XSE trims offer sharper, more engaging handling. Other factors in the Camry's favor include easy-to-use high-tech luxury and safety features. As such, Toyota's midsize mainstay should continue to please consumers looking for a roomy, well-rounded sedan that comes with a strong reputation for reliability and durability.
Used Toyota Camry Models
The current, eighth-generation Toyota Camry appeared for 2015. Immediately noticeable is the upscale styling that might make you mistake it for a Lexus. The cabin similarly went uptown with higher-quality materials along with larger controls and sharper gauges. Under the skin, the powertrains remained unchanged, but an improved body structure and tweaks to the suspension tuning yielded a more responsive and confident Camry. There haven't been any major changes since.
The seventh-generation Toyota Camry was produced 2012-2014 and had a number of significant improvements over the previous one. The interior is significantly nicer and the four-cylinder engine is more powerful. Yet the car is still unmistakably a Camry, with a focus on pragmatic appeal and convenience. Trim levels included base but well-equipped L (standard features included air-conditioning, cruise control and Bluetooth), the popular LE (added automatic headlights, keyless entry and a touchscreen infotainment interface), the luxurious XLE (added a sunroof, power driver seat and upgraded audio) and the sport-tuned SE (firmer suspension, larger wheels, styling tweaks and sport seats).
Changes through its brief run were minimal. For 2014, the SE Sport trim level joined the lineup, and halfway through that model year brought some minor equipment shuffling that included the rearview camera becoming standard across the board.
Despite its overall competency, this generation ran only a scant three years (versus the more typical five or six), perhaps due to the influx of rapidly improving rivals. Yet in reviews, we praised this Toyota Camry's roomy interior with its admirable outward visibility and well-placed controls. Toyota's Entune system also earned kudos for its enhanced audio, information and navigation features, although the touchscreen's virtual buttons could be a little frustrating to use at times.
Overall, this Camry provides the comfort and the quiet and smooth ride that should please a wide swath of midsize sedan shoppers. Power and fuel economy are excellent with either engine as well. The only major downside is the car's somewhat tepid handling, which isn't as lively or engaging as that of other top family sedans, such as the Honda Accord or Nissan Altima.
The sixth-generation Camry was produced for the 2007-'11 model years. In reviews, we commented favorably about the Camry's spacious cabin, powerful and fuel-efficient optional V6, plush ride quality and top crash test scores. Unlike older Camrys, though, this one was let down by disappointing interior plastics, inconsistent fit and finish, and uninspiring driving dynamics for non-SE models. It's still a respectable choice for a used family sedan, but we thought more highly of competing models, such as the Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima.
For most of its production run, the Camry was offered in LE, SE and XLE trim levels. The entry-level model was labeled as the CE trim, but only for the first year. Base and LE models came fairly well equipped, while the SE brought with it a sport-tuned suspension. The softer-sprung XLE included items such as a premium sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power passenger seat, reclining rear seats and leather upholstery (V6). Most of the features on the higher-trimmed models were offered on supporting trims as options. Other major options included a sunroof and a navigation system.
This Camry was offered with either a four- or a six-cylinder engine, with improvements made over the years. The initial base engine was a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produced 158 horsepower and 161 lb-ft of torque (slightly lower in California and other states). A five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic was available, though four-cylinder XLEs were automatic-only. The 3.5-liter V6 produced 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque and was paired to a six-speed automatic only.
In 2010, the base engine was increased to 2.5 liters and power output was boosted to 169 hp. The SE was further pushed to 179 hp. Both manual and automatic transmissions were also upgraded to six speeds. Other 2010 changes included a restyled grille and taillights and standard stability control, satellite radio and Bluetooth for all models.
The fifth-generation car was produced from 2002-'06. As expected, it was a comfortable sedan that offered a roomy cabin, a choice of inline-four or V6 power and, depending on trim level and optional equipment, most of the latest safety features such as stability control and side curtain airbags. However, before 2005, the base Camry did not come standard with antilock brakes. As with other Camrys, we generally found this generation to be very good in terms of room, comfort and feature content.
Three engines were available for this generation. The first was a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that made 154 hp (145 hp with PZEV emissions controls). It was mated to either a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission (a four-speed prior to '05) and should be powerful enough for the majority of buyers. A 3.0-liter V6 that generated 190 hp was also available (18 hp less prior to '04) on the LE and XLE trim levels, while a 210-hp 3.3-liter V6 (introduced for 2004) was available on the SE model only. These six-cylinder Camrys came with the automatic only. In previous years, these power numbers were higher because of a change in measurement that occurred in 2006, although actual output never changed.
Like the more recent versions, the 1997-2001 Toyota Camry sedan offered a quiet, stress-free driving experience. Many desirable modern features were also available, including side airbags and antilock brakes (which became standard on all trim levels except the base CE). It, too, was offered with four- and six-cylinder powertrains.
Although a Camry older than 1997 is likely to have quite a few miles on it, it is still something to consider for folks on a tight budget. Provided it has been faithfully maintained, a 1992-'96 Camry (which was available in coupe, sedan and wagon body styles) should be able to spin its odometer to nearly 200,000 miles without major problems. It's this final trait more than any other that has kept the Toyota Camry popular with buyers over the last two decades.