Thursday, October 24, 2013

Used Car Review - Toyota Camry (2002-2006)

Before leaving this month, Myk Belmonte reviews an executives favorite that can be yours.

2002-2006 Toyota Camry

History
Why do the Americans love the Camry? Well, here are some reasons I can think of: practical for most Americans, dependable, a number of variants to choose from, well mannered, and will last long than you do. Hundreds of thousands of them are driven off dealership floors, with the Camry grabbing the best selling car (trucks are not mixed here) title in 1997, dislodging the Ford Taurus (and never reclaimed by an American sedan).

First launched in September 2001, the XV30 Camry grew in size than the pizza crust dimensions of the XV20 (1996-2001). No station wagon version here, but the platform where the Camry was based paved way for the Highlander crossover and Sienna minivan. If the previous model looked flat, it gained more height and wheelbase that resulted to a tall structure. This generation of Camry was marketed in different parts (except mainland Europe, with the vehicle being sold in UK for a short time) of the world by adjusting to local preferences.

June 2002 saw the introduction of the Camry in the Philippines and this generation had executives jump for joy. Why did I say this? People didn't warm up to the anonymous looking previous gen, but this one looked stately and evokes their image without being kidnapped. Sales of the XV30 Camry ceased with the introduction of the XV40 Camry in the latter part of 2006. Variants include the following: E (base) and G (upgraded) for the 2.0, available until 2004; the E and V for the 2.4 and the V is reserved for the 3.0.

Value and Costs
With just resale prices below P500,000, the Camry is a steal for those who want more luxury for less. Hunt for a 3.0 V6 and you'll enjoy paradise in no time. Don't forget the funds for parts and fuel, though.

Toyotas are definitely reliable, which is why they are sought out in the market and the Camry is one of them. Maintaining one is definitely more than the Corolla Altis, due to the larger engine and myriad of power features. Find something well taken care of, and you'll enjoy each miles of it.

Exterior and Interior
Thanks to Hiroyuki Metsugi, the Camry looks tall but without being scary. Smooth and sleek, it hides its bulkiness well with the help of the large headlights good for quad beam and a high shoulder line. The rear is somewhat detached from the rest of the body but still an improvement nevertheless.

It was definitely worth the money inside the Camry. Except for the E, all models do have a leather clad interior of high quality. Controls are within reach of the driver but the dashboard is where people against illegal logging would be angry for. Space, is of course, class leading and a huge leap from the flat predecessor.

Engine
Two four bangers and a V6 found home under the Camry's hood throughout the years. Available from 2002 until 2004, the 1AZ-FE 1,998cc which is good for 149hp at 5,600rpm and 192Nm at 4,000rpm is the base engine until it was chucked in 2004. Next in line is the 2AZ-FE 2,362cc that carries 157hp at 5,600rpm and 220Nm at 3,800-4,200rpm and relegated to the base model role in late 2004. The icing of the Camry cake is the 1MZ-FE 2,994cc V6 which possess 212hp at 5,800rpm and 298Nm at 4,400rpm. So how do these engines play? For the 2.0, we wouldn't bother much although it is decent enough inside the city, the engine might struggle to carry the weight. Our pick is the 2.4 which has the balance of power and economy, and since this is the common engine, finding one isn't trouble. Despite having a monster of an engine, the 3.0 V6 is whisper quiet and smooth.

Driving Impressions
If the previous Camry would treat passengers like they are in a boat, that malady was vanished in the XV30 Camry which you'll love riding in more. The suspension vindicates all road bumps and gives the Camry a well controlled body. Handling is still on the safe side, which is not an enthusiast's dream.

Verdict
Toyota did it right with this model which gained the approval of the moneyed people. Back in October 24, 2002, the Nissan Cefiro is still the top choice, the Toyota Camry attracts curious buyers (from the anonymous replacement), and the Honda Accord and Mitsubishi Galant are heading towards the retirement home. Now, October 24. 2013, the XV30 Camry is a great buy since you get the feeling of isolation and royalty for less.



The Good:
  • Top notch quality
  • Presentable
  • Comfortable
The Bad:
  • Bulky
  • Not a driver's delight
  • Generic styling
The Pick: 2.4 V

THE SPECS
Engines: 1,998cc 1AZ-FE (2002-2004) and 2,362cc 2AZ-FE I4, 2,994cc 1MZ-FE V6 gasoline
Power: 149hp @ 5,600rpm (2.0), 157hp @ 5,600rpm (2.4), 212hp @ 5,800rpm (3.0)
Torque: 192Nm @ 4,000rpm (2.0), 220Nm @ 3,800-4,200rpm (2.4), 298Nm @ 4,400rpm (3.0)
Fuel Consumption: 5-8km/L (city), 7-10km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic (2.0 and 2.4), 5-speed automatic (3.0)
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent dual link strut

MORE INFO
Price (New): P1,250,000-P1,600,000
Price (Now): P320,000-P480,000
Rivals: Nissan Cefiro, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Galant, Chevrolet Lumina, Mazda 6, Hyundai Sonata, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes Benz C Class, Volvo S40
On Sale: 2002-2006
Resources:
http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/15-camry-solara-forum/
http://www.camryforums.com/forum/

Contacts:
Toyota Pasong Tamo - (02) 893-8084
Toyota Pasig - (02) 671-9854
Toyota Quezon Avenue - (02) 712-5001

Photos courtesy of http://quezoncity.olx.com.ph/2005-toyota-camry-ref-13228-iid-542190633

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