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New Car Review


by Matt/Bob Hagin


SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide


Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 24,868
Price As Tested                                    $ 28,621
Engine Type                DOHC 4-valve 3.0 Liter V6 w/MFI*
Engine Size                                 183 cid/2995 cc
Horsepower                                   192 @ 5200 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               207 @ 4400 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  105.2"/70.1"/188.5"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3270 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  18.5 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     205/65HR15
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                 55 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.30


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            19/27/25
0-60 MPH                                          8 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       16.5 seconds @ 88 mph
Top speed                                           130 mph
     * Multi-point fuel injection

( Bob Hagin says that when he did an evaluation on the first Camry in '83, no one knew what the word "Camry" meant - even the folks at Toyota. Matt Hagin says buyers still don't know or care but they have made it the best selling car in the U.S. anyway.)

BOB - I didn't know what it meant in '83 but I'm now told that Camry is a westernized version of the Japanese word for Crown. When the car first hit our market, it was a harbinger of things to come. It was a mid-market four-door sedan that had a reasonably powerful engine but the surprising thing about it was that it featured front-wheel drive. Front-drive Toyotas had all been small-engined econoboxes until then but the Camry was aimed at buyers a step above the entry-level status. We've had a couple of Camrys in the Hagin family over the past 15 years and they've all given good service.

MATT - Our family is pretty big, Dad, and between us, we've had Alfa Romeos and Zephyrs and almost everything in between so it's not surprising that we've had one or two Camrys. And it looks like lots of Americans think that the Camry gives good service too. For the first time, the Camry label has outsold every other automobile in this country. There's been three generations of Camrys since you drove that first one 15 years ago, and over time, the car has gotten longer, heavier, more powerful and definitely more luxurious. The '98 version that we had last week carried a 3.0 liter all-aluminum V6 engine that produced 192 California horsepower although the same car has a couple of extra ponies when it's delivered in most other states.

BOB - I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference, Matt. All three versions of the '98 Camry, the basic CE, the upscale LE and our posh XLE, can be had with the smaller 2.2 liter 133 horse four-banger, too. Both of the engines are very high-tech with twin overhead cams and four valves per cylinder but the optional traction control can only be had on the V6 cars. Surprising, the four cylinder model carries drum brakes in the rear rather than the disks found on the V6. And if buyers are of a more sporting nature and want a five-speed stick-shift on either the four or the V6, they'll have to go with the basic CE model and trick it out with some of the optional dress-up stuff. The car we had handled very well, especially so in view of the fact that this isn't a sports version. Anti-skid brakes are standard on all the Camrys and for a car that weighs in at around 3000 pounds, the fuel mileage of 19 MPG around town and 27 on the highway is pretty good. Toyota gives it a towing capacity of 2000 pounds but to tell the truth, I've never seen a Camry with a trailer hitch. There's no Camry station wagon anymore and that fancy All-Trac all-wheel-drive version is also gone because it cost too much to build and the demand was too low. The sporty Camry coupe of a few years ago suffered the same fate.

MATT - The Camrys sold here are made in two factories, one being in Georgetown, Kentucky and the other in Toyota City, Japan. Most of them sold here are also assembled here and more than 75 percent of the parts that go into most of them are made in the U.S. According to government classification, this makes it an American car.

BOB - The XLE that we had is the flagship of the line and had almost all the bells and whistles Toyota makes. The sound system is a three-way unit with the CD player, cassette player and radio all pumping through six speakers. The interior is leather and the sunroof slides back and tips up, too. The windows and door locks are electric and the remote control system on the key fob lets you open the car from a distance. And when it does, it flashes the parking lamps a couple of times to let you know where the car is in a dark parking lot. I'm not crazy about the leather upholstery especially since it costs an extra $1000 but I liked the 60/40 fold-down rear seat for slipping 2X4 wooden studs through.

Matt - Dad, I think the Toyota designers had carrying skis back there in mind rather than lumber for fence building but I was relieved to see that you laid newspapers down so they wouldn't tear up the upholstery.