2009 Toyota Camry SE 2.4L 2AZ-FE
I'm getting sucked into the Toyota family
Nothing has gone wrong so far.
I've had my Camry for about 18 months now, and think this is a reasonable time to give a decent review.
What made you buy a Camry?
I didn't initially set out to get a Camry, although I really liked the SE body style for the 2007-2011 Camry. I was shopping for a used Grand Prix, and was interested in the 2008-2012 body style Chevy Malibu, but didn't really want any cars in the $10k+ range.
Well my search didn't turn out too great, and the one car that was a great deal was sold before I got to the dealership. I then realized that the used car market is not a buyer's market like it was when I purchased my first car in 2006. I went to a dealership to check out a Grand Prix I saw online, and it did not look like the online pictures (not surprised) and was overpriced. So I looked around the lot and spotted an SE Camry. Long story short, I bought it and the dealer had to take off $2k of the price due to their internet pricing, which I checked out right before I signed the papers.
I really wanted the V6 Camry. It has 269HP, but I ended up with the I4 at 158HP and 168ft/lb of torque, which is a mule in comparison. Even though it only has 158HP, it's actually adequate for most situations. It feels no slower than my old Buick, which had a V6 at 205HP / 230ft/lb of torque. That being said, passing at higher speeds takes some planning. There is a delay between your foot and the computer actually allowing the car accelerate, along with the I4's lack of overall power. I've taken the Camry up to 115+mph, so it's still dangerous and can more than get out of its way. Its max speed is 127mph, but my common sense prevents me from going any faster.
The SE package has a stiffer suspension and stiffer body than the LE and XLE models, so that contributes to its stability and handling. The Camry handles well for what it is with the SE suspension, which can be somewhat harsh at times.
I'm not so enamored by the 2.4L gas mileage. The gas mileage is around 21-23 MPG in city traffic with some interstate driving. 20 MPG if you do short trip driving (4-8 miles). My 95 Buick with a 3.8L V6, along with an extra 300lbs of weight, gets 18-21 MPG in the same traffic circumstances. I've have gotten about 28 MPG in my limited highway trips. I would get 28-31 MPG with my Buick. I'm assuming that I could hit 31 MPG in the Camry on good trip. I guess that's the trade off of a 4 cylinder in a 3200lb car. The car has to work harder at highway speeds comparatively to a V6. Even though my gas mileage didn't improve greatly, every little increase helps. I just don't want anybody to think they will get 25 MPG if they do your typical city traffic. The EPA rating is accurate and you won't deviate much from that.
I purchased this car with 90,000 miles, and have put 20,000 miles on it since then. I have not had to do any maintenance outside of new tires, oil, cabin filters, wipers, and a license plate bulb. That's it! I also did a drain and fill of the transmission fluid. I like the 4 cylinder due to ease of maintenance, which was a considering factor in purchasing. V6s take up a lot of space in midsize cars and are not as DIY friendly.
Thought the car has been excellent so far, even at 110,000 miles, though I couldn't give it a 10/10 in reliability due to a few reasons.
For one, the car burns some oil. Approximately 1 quart per 4-4.5k miles. That's not a lot, but the 2007-2009 2.4L engines have a TSB for oil burning. Mine happens to not burn much really, but there's a possibility that it could turn into an oil burner. This requires that the pistons and rings be replaced. Hopefully mine stays where it is at now.
The second issue I'm concerned about is the water pump. I can tell that the water pump was replaced before I purchased the car. The original water pumps were bad for the 2007-2009 models also. Toyota came out with a updated one, but I have no idea which water pump I have. So this is another thing that I have to watch out for. The Camry has a pretty small coolant capacity, so if any coolant issue ever arises I hope I catch it in time. I wish this car had a coolant level sensor like my Buick has, instead of an idiot coolant gauge.
My third issue that is a strike against the overall reliably score are the brakes. My rotors are warped, which is also another known issue. But it's only noticeable when braking firmly at speeds above 65mph. This is more of an annoyance at this point, and I'll change the rotors when the car needs brakes, which seems to be a while away. It seems bad rotors are the norm these days for cars.
This is where I'm not so satisfied. It's really true that the interior workmanship is not that great.
The biggest offender to me is the carpet. When you open the door and look down, you can see that the carpet is two separate pieces. Toyota didn't even have the decency to tuck the carpet edges under interior moldings. Absolute fail to me, borderline insult. Also the fit and finish could be better. There is some discoloration in the front doors' lower panels, and in my car there is a tiny piece of felt lining sticking out of one of the trim pieces. You won't notices these things off the bat and will generally ignore them, but they are negatives. The 2012+ interior is much better.
I also have a gripe about the paint. It's thin! I have bought Toyota's touch up paint to take care of the little chips, but I'm not impressed with the paint. Although I do get a lot of compliments on the car. I try to keep it waxed and cleaned, and you can't see the little scratches and chips unless you're close.
Overall I'm satisfied with the Camry, but I did want to give an honest review. I get complements on the car all the time. I love the fact that I have not had to do anything other than routine maintenance, even though the car currently has 110k miles. Hopefully when I do the 120k maintenance I won't have to do anything for a long time. Also this car has a good overall interior space, somewhat deceiving. Five normal size people will fit comfortable. If you're tall, I'm 6'2", you might have some headroom claustrophobia at times. I also like the simple layout, although I do miss automatic climate control that's in my old car, but I've gotten used to it. I'm hoping to get another 150k out of this car with little issues. So far so good. :-)
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 26th December, 2013
What year was your Park Avenue? I had two and really liked them. My last was a 2005 (last year) non-Ultra with just about every option in White Diamond. I traded it in 2011 and still regret doing so. I stayed in the Buick family, but don't feel any of the modern models stack up to the Park Avenue in terms of economy and sheer comfort. I may look to a used Cadillac DTS when I trade my current Enclave (bought new) just because it is about the closest thing to a Park Avenue available in a newer car. Good luck with your new car.
It's a 1995 and is still running with 208k miles on it. A relative has it now. I drove it a couple of weeks ago and went back in time on how comfortable and 'lazy boy like' it is.
A good car overall; it's just little things that go wrong that remind you that it's close to 20 years old.
Honestly I'm surprised the transmission has lasted as long as it has. It shifts so smooth, that I think when it fails it will come with no warning. You have to pay a premium to get a ride like that these days, but at my age I ultimately prefer a somewhat sportier ride.
I wish you the best. The newer Toyotas are crap. I have a 2009 Corolla and I am starting to hate it. I have had $9000 in warranty repairs and only 58,000 miles. My family also has a 2002 Corolla that burns oil, and it only gets worse as time goes on.