SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 23,185 Price As Tested $ 25,120 Engine Type DOHC 24-valve 3.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 184 cid/2995 cc Horsepower 194 @ 5200 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 209 @ 4400 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 105.1/70.1"/188.6" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 3394 pounds Fuel Capacity 18.5 gallons Tires (F/R) 205/65R15 radials Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.30 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 20/27/23 0-60 MPH 8.5 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 16.0 seconds @ 86.5 mph Top-speed 120 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
(Matt says not to expect sparkling style or performance in the Toyota Camry. Bob says that despite these "shortcomings," it's been the best selling new auto in the U.S for four years straight.)
BOB - This may come as a shock to the performance freaks and hot-car aficionados out there in the auto world, but most new car buyers don't base their purchases on elapsed quarter-mile acceleration times or maximum G-forces through a slalom course. To be a best-seller, a car must be comfortable, reliable, easy to drive, able to effortlessly stay up with traffic and show obvious quality. The new Toyota Camry has these attributes and as a result, it's been the best-seller here for a long time. The Camry name has been on an upper-end Toyota since '83 but it's grown slightly in size since then, so it's now designated as "midsized" by the EPA.
MATT - That first Camry packed a four-cylinder engine and even today it can be had with a four-banger. But our test machine carried a technically sophisticated all-aluminum 3.0-liter V6 that put out a 194 horses but an "oversquare" torque rating of 209 pound/feet. This ratio pretty well indicates that the car is built for cruising and not for the drag strip. Although there's a five-speed stick-shift available, our car came with a four-speed automatic that will no-doubt be the transmission of choice for the nearly half-million buyers who will pony-up for a Camry this year. Its EPA fuel mileages are given at 20 around town and 27 on the highway, which is about on a par with other cars in its class. There's nothing overly fancy about its suspension, either. It has MacPherson struts up front and trailing-arm independence in back, but it provides a level of straight-line ride and isolation from road noises that is equal or superior to cars costing two or three times as much. It's a car that's bought with the head rather than with heart-throbbing emotion.
BOB - And although lots of Camrys I've come across have up to 300,000 miles on their odometers, resale value on Camrys is among the top half-dozen. The car comes in three degrees of trim. The CE is the entry-level version and it can only be had with the four-cylinder engine. It's also only available with drum brakes in back and anti-lock brakes are an option, which is not my favorite scenario. Next up the line is the LE such as the one we had, and it comes with either engine but the rear brakes are discs. The XLE is the top-of-the-line and has all the bells and whistles in the Toyota bag of tricks. A traction control system is an option on all the Camrys with V6 engines and automatic transmissions but in my opinion, it should be available on all of them. For safety, it should be high on a buyer's list of extras if a vehicle is going to be used in areas that are subject to ice and snow.
MATT - The interior uses cloth upholstery and the front buckets are quite comfortable, but the rear is a bit tight. Half of the rear seatback folds down for carrying long stuff like skis or fence studs and the trunk alone has over 40 cubic feet of cargo space. The front seatbacks have storage pockets in them and the back headrests are adjustable. Somebody thought out the driver's ergonomics very well because there's nothing in the way of any of the instruments and you don't have to reach very far to get to any of the controls. Although Toyota has been building Camry sedans and station wagons in its plant in Georgetown Kentucky since '88, they're so popular that they also have to be produced in a plant in Tokyo City, Japan, to fill the need.
BOB - The wheels are 15-inch aluminum alloys that carry 205/65R tires and the spare is full-sized instead of being one of those little "space-saver" units. They seem to hang on pretty well considering the fact that the Camry isn't a sports sedan, but they complain loudly when they're pushed to their limit.
MATT - Since this car is targeted towards the average American family that has 2.3 children and a mortgage payment on the house, I don't think that many buyers will call upon their Camrys to corner to the limits of tire adhesion, Dad. It makes kids car sick.