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August 14, 2013

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By Andrea

Let’s face it: Nobody absolutely wants to own a Toyota Camry, but anybody wishes their auto was as reliable and trouble-free as one.

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I’ve aspired to own abounding cars in my life. An old BMW E46 M3, an air-cooled Porsche 911-even if those are now absurd to allow on a journalist’s salary. Or a simple Golf GTI. Those are all fun to drive sports cars that’ll accomplish any automotive enthusiast feel adequate about active and owning them.

The Toyota Camry is not one of those cars.

Yet, there’s one sitting in my driveway appropriate now and I don’t absolutely accept a botheration with that. It’s my circadian driver, actually, replacing the absorbing little Honda Civic EP3, which I gave up abating because I’m lazy. Don’t worry, my Civic is still around, I aloof awash it to my dad. He takes abundant bigger affliction of it than I anytime could.

But, a Camry? Seriously? Yes. A goddamn Camry.

This can alone beggarly one of two things: That I’m clearly an old fart, and article has gone awfully wrong. Or that the poster-child for the best arid auto on Earth has aback become an article of desire. I took my car out for a circuit to acknowledgment these existential questions.

(Full disclosure: My apron and I bought a buzz 2001 Toyota Camry XLE V6 from a affectionate old man. It is our year-round circadian driver.)

The Toyota Camry has been a athletic auto actuality in North America for over 30 years. People like it so abundant that it’s currently the acknowledged auto in the U.S., somehow afraid SUV ascendancy with over 300,000 units awash anniversary year.

It appeared in the backward 1970s, in Japan, as a alternative of the Toyota Celica. We alone got it at its additional generation, or what Camry connoisseurs (is there alike such a thing?) accredit to as the V10.

Back then, the car was offered in two anatomy styles: a five-door liftback or a four-door sedan. This new and advocate front-wheel-drive auto concluded up replacing the crumbling rear-wheel drive Toyota Corona.

The archetypal you see actuality is a fourth-generation example, or additionally accepted as the XV20, awash amid 1997 and 2001. A wagon alternative was accessible in added genitalia of the apple (I aback appetite that one too), but we never got it here.

The Toyota Solara was about a Camry coupe, additionally accessible as a convertible. It awash from 1999 to 2003, breadth it was redesigned for its additional and aftermost generation.

The gen-four Camry was powered by two absolute bruised engines; a 130-horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder, or an appropriately blood-warm 3.0-liter V6 adequate for a claimed 192 application and 209 lb-ft of torque. All Camrys awash on our abstemious were front-wheel-drive.

While four-cylinder cars could be had with a five-speed manual, the V6 alone came with a five-speed automatic… with overdrive! (Update: The Canadian car was auto-only, but U.S.-specification fourth-gen Camrys absolutely did accept a stick option.)

That’s how my car is spec’d. I can’t accept I aloof wrote that.

While the accepted Toyota Camry has assuredly afford off its arid biscuit reputation, accomplished ancestors accept never aflame anyone. Yet, they accept somehow garnered an astronomic bulk of account from the automotive community.

Come rain, snow, neglect, or nuclear apocalypse (probably), these things aloof work.

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There’s a acumen why the Camry has bound become the cardinal one best for cab drivers, replacing the absolute Crown Vic. Because a Camry is able-bodied put together, abounding enough, decidedly adequate and aloft all: Indestructible.

Stories of owners bringing these things able-bodied aloft 200,000 afar with absolute little aliment are common. Alike aback they’re baffled to bits and not maintained at all they accumulate on running.

What you accept actuality is a juggernaut of a ancestors sedan. Through its arch abidingness and affordability, the Camry has become an capital allotment of the American burghal landscape. It’s altogether blessed shuttling accepted families to their circadian duties, a job it fulfills appreciably well.

My archetype is a decidedly aerial one, conspicuously because of its Lunar Mist Metallic acrylic job, but additionally because of its artificial hub caps. For those wondering, yes, my car has the XLE’s aboriginal wheels, but aback we attempt it during the holidays, you’re seeing it on its winter annoy and caster amalgamation instead.

Having an XLE is rather fun, actually. Not aloof for the added ability and torque from the V6 but additionally because of all the animal comforts.

Remember, this is the top-spec variant, which agency it comes with a abounding deluge of accurate appearance like acrimonious power-electric covering seats, automated headlights, a rather good-sounding JBL complete arrangement (with both band accouter and CD player!), a ability sunroof, acrimonious mirrors and altitude ascendancy with A/C.

That was absolute high-end actuality at the about-face of the millennium.

Samantha and I bought the car from an aged man who had been the alone buyer aback 2001. He consistently maintained his Camry at the aforementioned Toyota banker he bought it from. A rust-proof analysis was done every Fall, and he consistently brought his car in for checkups and recalls, as per Carfax and receipts.

It’s fair to say that the car is mint, both mechanically and aesthetically. We alike got a alien amateur as able-bodied as a set of winter and summer tires and auto befuddled in the deal. Final amount was $3,000 CAD, or almost 2,300$ USD.

The alone automated affair I noticed aback we best it up was the valve awning seals, a accepted botheration on these V6 Camrys. For instance, the seals end up dehydration up, so they able at about 100,000 miles. This causes the two arch covers to aperture oil.

You ascertain the botheration by a attenuate smoke and ambiguous aroma acquired by the oil aperture on the manifold.

Fixing it amount us about $300, genitalia and activity included. No biggy. Except for the charge for a new set of rear shocks–because they’re absolute tired–our Camry is mechanically sound.

It currently stands at 196,000 km (121,000 miles).

Honestly, not much. I will say I was somewhat let bottomward by the V6 engine’s performance. I don’t apperceive why I was assured baking dispatch from an old Camry, but this feels affectionate of slow, alike aback compared to added cars of its era.

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I say this because I acclimated to own a 1998 Mazda 626 V6. And it was absolutely quicker than this.

I assumption I was assured article a little added burning from the Toyota 1MZ V6 unit. This is the adverse of urgent. It’s absolute laid aback and relaxed. Not absolutely what you would alarm action auto dynamics.

The audio arrangement doesn’t bolt FM channels absolute well, I assumption that’s a affliction because you can’t affix your buzz and beck your admired Spotify playlist.

Tire cycle and wind babble are rather aerial at freeway speeds, but that’s mostly attributed to the actuality that it’s a twenty-year-old car.

Overall, annihilation dramatic, actually. This is a adequate car! If I was a car analyst aback in the aboriginal 2000s, I’d apparently blab out some cliche like: “It’s a accomplished and dependable sedan”, a car that does “everything well”.

Because the Camry was aboriginal and foremost advised for circadian driving, this is acutely the breadth area it dominates. Alike if it’s accepting old, I’m afflicted by how smooth, adequate and accessible to accomplish this affair is.

The cabin’s best noteworthy asset is its visibility, a affection avant-garde cars assume to boring lose due to their ever-growing girth. Because this car’s beltline is so low and the A-pillar is so thin, the autogenous is nice and airy.

Windows arise to be beyond than they absolutely are. And because it’s lower to the arena than best avant-garde cars and SUVs, you feel instantly added affiliated to the road.

I never anticipation I’d one day address that in a Camry review.

Remember, this is a car that comes from a time aback you absolutely had to aberration your close to analysis out your dark spots. An era breadth you bare a adequate appearance of what was accident out the rear-view mirror afore agreeable reverse.

Lazy technologies like advancement cameras and blind-spot ecology systems we’re alike in people’s minds in 2001.

I’m additionally admiring by how bedrock solid this car still is afterwards actuality apprenticed on awful Quebec anchorage for two decades. There are no credible rattles aback you drive over amiss surfaces, a attestation as to how able-bodied put calm these cars absolutely were. The covering seats are additionally fantastic, assuming no arresting signs of cracks or tears.

Meanwhile, the V6 is adulate bland and air-conditioned quiet, affairs a appropriate 26 mpg if you run it calmly.

While my Camry was advised a midsize auto during the Y2K bug, its accommodation are added in tune with avant-garde bunched cars. It’s still rather abounding though, with abounding leg and allowance out the rear too. I wouldn’t try to fit three adults aback there though. That could prove a little tight.

Trunk amplitude is additionally rather appropriate at 14 cubic feet, which is aloof one cube lower than a accepted Honda Civic sedan. That’s how abundant cars accept developed over the years.

So aback I say I’m aghast by the Camry’s performance, it doesn’t beggarly it’s necessarily slow. It’ll hit 60 mph from a standstill in a claimed 7.8 seconds, which, at the time, was aural adequate achievement numbers for the segment. It gets the job done.

Obviously, it’s not a driver’s car. Handling is awkward and anatomy cycle is absolute present. The old exhausted dampers absolutely accentuate all that. The anchor pedal is aloof as adequate as the ride and the hydraulic ability council is apart and ambiguous with no credible feedback. There’s annihilation blood-tingling about flogging a Toyota Camry adamantine into a corner.

It candidly affectionate of sucks to drive hard.

But the V6 agent provides abounding advance already it picks up and goes. It consistently charcoal smooth, never too loud, alike aback its avaricious air abounding swing. The car will alike lay a application if you abolish the absorption ascendancy system, which is affectionate of fun.

This is an agent that needs to rev to aftermath power. Unfortunately the automated slushbox that’s affiliated to isn’t the best apparatus to let it sing. You absolutely charge to barge the burke for it to deathwatch up and absolutely bead a gear.

Removing the overdrive affection at atomic gives it a bit of a allowance hand. Accomplishing so will accept it kickdown appropriate away, agreement the agent in the meat of its powerband. But this charcoal a laid aback transmission. It artlessly feels agitated aback you ask it to perform.

Because the fourth-generation Toyota Camry was awash in absolute ample quantities and because we never got different bespoke models like a wagon or a accurate high-performance variant, it’ll never acknowledge in value.

The two-door Solara seems to be accomplishing alright in the buzz market, but I agnosticism it’ll anytime become a collector’s item.

The adequate account is you can put your easily on a rather bargain Camry that’s still in absolute adequate shape. Prices for low-mileage XLE V6 models like abundance will never absolutely beat $6,000. You can acquisition a appropriate active and attractive one with college breadth for about three grand, as I apparent myself.

Plus, its resale amount is appreciably bigger than best sedans from that era. Except for conceivably a Honda Accord or a Volkswagen Passat, Camrys about advertise for added money than your boilerplate 20-year-old midsize.

The Camry’s allegorical cachet as an abiding auto allows it to abide a adequate buzz automobile. You aloof apperceive you’re not activity amiss aback affairs one.

Who knows, maybe in, say, 2o years, my old circadian disciplinarian will be account a aerial sum, but for now, these things aren’t account much.

I’m not absolutely abiding how to achieve this review. The aftereffect is absolutely how I had advancing it: a 2001 Toyota Camry is an dull car that does a absurd job at being… A Car. The end.

As I boring at its simple, classic, yet affected lines, I can’t advice but adore how honest and apprehensible this auto is. Added important than that is how far the year 2001 now is, and how abundant the auto has afflicted since.

What this tells me is that “normal” cars don’t abide anymore. Anybody wants cool, beginning and adventurous now. Automotive designers accept fabricated alike the best apprehensive Kia arise like an big-ticket abstraction car. Safety regulations accept morphed our calm sedans into crash-resisting SUVs. And in-car technology has brought us connectivity as we’ve never accomplished it before.

As abundant as all this advance is, it has somehow adapted the old, no fuss, lame-ass blah Camry into a attenuate and adorable piece.

Nobody absolutely wants to own a Toyota Camry, but anybody wishes their auto was as reliable and trouble-free as one.

192 HP • 209 LB-FT

$26,225 List (In 2001) • A Few Admirable Now

(Correction: The Canadian car was auto-only, but U.S.-specification fourth-gen Camrys absolutely did accept a stick option. We affliction the absurdity and confusion!)

William Clavey is an automotive announcer in Montreal, Canada and contributes to Jalopnik. He runs

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