A minor facelift is the main news for 2000 on the Camry, America's favorite passenger car. Camry outsold the Honda Accord in 1997 and 1998 and has a big lead in the 1999 race.
Not only does Toyota sell more than 400,000 Camrys a year in the United States, the same basic front-wheel-drive platform serves as the architecture for the Camry Solara coupe, the Avalon sedan and the Lexus ES300. Most Camrys sold in the United States are built at Toyota's Georgetown, Ky., plant, but some are imported from Japan.
Most of this year's styling changes are at the front, including a new grille with dual horizontal bars, bumper and multi-reflector headlamps. The rear also has a new bumper and taillights with wider horizontal reflectors.
Camry's 105-inch wheelbase is 2 inches shorter than the rival Accord's, and the 189-inch overall length is the same as the midsize Honda. Unlike the Accord, which comes in coupe and sedan styling, the Camry comes only as a sedan. The Camry Solara coupe, which wears different styling, is treated as a separate model by Toyota.
Camry has ample space for four adults, and the driver's seat provides enough adjustment to accommodate tall or short people. The dashboard layout is a typical Toyota design that is uncluttered, attractive and convenient, except that the climate controls are too low to easily operate while driving. Split rear seatbacks standard on all models supplement the 14-cubic-foot trunk.
Under the Hood
A 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine with 136 horsepower (three more than last year) is standard on the CE and LE models. A 194-horsepower, 3.0 liter V-6 is standard on the XLE, optional on the LE. Versions of the V-6 also are used in the Lexus ES300 sedan and RX300 sport utility vehicle. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the CE and LE V-6 and a four-speed automatic is optional. All others come with the automatic.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats are optional on all models. Anti-lock brakes are standard on V-6 models and optional on those with the four cylinder, and traction control is optional on V-6 models with automatic transmission.
Camry is as close to a blue-chip investment as there is in a family car. All cars lose value as they age, but the Camry loses less than most, and someone else will be happy to buy yours when you're done with it. Camry's quality, reliability and durability are three more good reasons to buy this car. Because the ES300 uses the same basic design as the Camry, some of what makes the ES300 a good entry-level luxury car makes the Camry an excellent family car.