Toyota totally redesigned its midsize, mainstream front-wheel-drive Camry sedan for the 2002 model year. The Japanese automaker hoped the fifth-generation Camry would broaden the company's image.
For 2005, four-cylinder-powered models can be equipped with a five-speed-automatic transmission as an alternative to the five-speed-manual gearbox; the previous automatic for four-cylinder Camrys was a four-speed unit. All 2005 models have standard antilock brakes, and the front and rear styling has been freshened with the installation of a redesigned grille and updated headlights and taillamps. Vehicle Stability Control is now optional on select four-cylinder sedans. XM Satellite Radio is newly available.
The Camry model line includes the Standard, LE, upscale XLE and sporty SE, which has different suspension tuning.
The Camry is about the same size as the Honda Accord. It has a 107.1-inch wheelbase and measures 189.2 inches long overall. The sporty SE sedan features fog lamps and a black grille with chrome trim.
Even though Honda offers its Accord in both coupe and sedan forms, the Camry is only available as a four door. Toyota's Camry Solara coupe and convertible, which were redesigned for 2004, have different styling and are listed separately in the cars.com Research section. Standard and LE sedans have 15-inch tires, but upper models are fitted with 16- or 17-inch rubber.
Interior space is ample for four adults and acceptable for five. The driver's seat has enough fore-and-aft travel to accommodate tall and short people. Standard 60/40-split, folding rear seatbacks supplement the load volume of the trunk, which holds 16.7 cubic feet of cargo.
Additional standard equipment on the XLE includes power front seats, heated mirrors, automatic climate control and an engine immobilizer/alarm. Leather-trimmed seats are installed in the XLE V6. The sportier SE sedan gets unique sport fabric upholstery, a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel and gearshift lever, and amber gauges.
Under the Hood
The Camry can be fitted with one of three engines: a 160-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder; a 210-hp, 3.0-liter V-6; or a 225-hp, 3.3-liter V-6. The 225-hp V-6 is only available in the SE. The four-cylinder teams with a five-speed-manual or five-speed-automatic transmission, but the V-6s are available only with the five-speed automatic.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain-type airbags are optional. The driver-side front airbag has three-stage deployment. Toyota's Vehicle Stability Control system is optional.
If the Camry has been criticized for anything, it's bland styling. Most Camry customers aren't seeking flashy looks, but rather Toyota's reputation for reliability, high quality and excellent resale value.
All the desirable Camry attributes are here. Owners get a comfortable ride, ample interior space, blissful quietness and reasonably energetic performance. Acceleration reaches well past the acceptable mark with the four-cylinder engine, which is about as quiet as models powered by a V-6.
Only a little penalty in ride comfort is evident in the sporty SE, which promises somewhat tauter handling than other Camry models. The manual transmission performs admirably, and its lever clicks crisply through the gears.