1990 Toyota Camry LE 2.0L EFI SOHC I4 (3S-FE) from North America


A good car if you can accept the limitations


Nothing out of the ordinary. I have had to replace a starter, and the front brakes. Those are wear-and-tear items, and at this car's mileage it is to be expected.

When I purchased the car, it had a number of problems. The AC doesn't work. The sunroof is jammed and will not open. The driver's side power door lock will not lock the doors (although it will unlock them). None of these things are a big enough deal in a car this old for me to fix.

General Comments:

The two best selling points of this car are reliability and gas mileage. This car gets 28mpg on a mixture of ~80mph highway and stop and go city traffic. The car is well-built as well, no squeaks or rattles.

The problem with this is that it drives very poorly. The engine, even after a full-tuneup, still is gutless and slow. The engine lacks low-end power and only starts to wake up around 3k. Pulling out into traffic can be a frightening experience. Also on any sort of hill or incline, the car is forced to downshift and rev up to 3-4k to maintain speed. Forget trying to make a quick pass on a two-lane - even with careful planning it is still hairy business.

Another problem is the poorly-designed automatic transmission which goes quickly to the highest gear, which is strange since the engine lacks the low-end torque to carry on in it. It also shifts rather roughly as well. Compared to my other car, which has a GM automatic that has about the same mileage, but shifts smoothly and will not go for overdrive until a certain speed is reached, I am disappointed in Toyota.

The car has tons and tons of body roll. Stock 185/70/14s do not help at all either. If this was my daily driver (someone else drives it) I would replace with a set of 195/60/15s and some larger sway bars (I do not believe it has a rear one stock, as a matter of fact). I am sure the handling would be much improved without much loss of ride quality. Another thing that bugs me is the brakes do not inspire confidence at all. This car needs a larger set of front brakes.

I could never drive this car around. I drive a full-size GM sedan (a Pontiac Bonneville) which ironically, I paid the same amount for as the Camry, but beats it in nearly every category (except gas mileage - it gets ~8mpg less). I am a rather aggressive driver and my current car suits me well. But for the laid-back, slow driver who currently drives the car the Camry is a good choice. I advise you to test drive one before purchasing to see if it fits your driving style.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd June, 2002

11th Dec 2004, 10:08

I read through the review hoping to see a comment on the jamed window. All doors to my 1990 Camry are locked and jammed. The manual informs me that I should proceed to the side kick panel. This panel is virtually imossible to get to unless you open the drivers door and if I could do that I would not have a problem. The battery is short so I think that there is a short somewhere. Trouble started after I had a remote starter install. Installer says its not his problem.

1990 Toyota Camry DX 3S-FE 2.0L I4 from North America


A car that is bolted together as if to last an eternity


Over the last 7 years, my Camry has only required the manufacturer's specified maintainence.

At 210,000 miles, I am having to replace the lower control arm bushings. Other than that, I have had no trouble with the car.

I have always performed all maintainence at the manufacturer's recommendations at the local dealer where the car was sold new.

My only complaint is the body. after observing the 1987-1991 Camrys, I have come to the conclusion that all American production Camrys are prone to rust on the rear quarter panels over the wheels. Those made in Japan generally do not unless damaged in a collision.

General Comments:

As the editors of several auto magazines have stated: the Camry does everything exceptionally well.

It is exceedingly reliable, comfortable, and performs well.

I absolutely love my Camry. After 7 years of having it, I could never give it up. When the control arm bushings went bad, I contemplated trading it in, but could not. After a very rough day, I decided to fix it and that I would never think of getting rid of it again.

In my opinion, the 87-91 Camrys are nearly perfect. only the 1999-2002 Japanese home market Crown sedans rival its near perfection. An ideally styled/designed car. They don't make'em like this any more.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th May, 2002

26th Nov 2003, 13:29

I have one of these cars and it is a piece of junk. It doesn't like to run above 50mph. It also has a magnet built into it for rust.

4th Dec 2003, 00:00

To the fella who wrote that his camry doesn't like to go above 50. Sounds like she needs a major tuneup mine likes to travel as fast as she can go, frequently over 100. they are governed for 122,but I have never pushed it that far.

26th Apr 2004, 18:34

What kind of moron would tolerate a car with a speed problem? My 252,340.7 MI (3SFE) Camry wagon does 83 all day long, and quietly. Anyone know where the lower control arms or bushings could be located other than the high priced Toyota?

5th May 2004, 09:38

Sounds like you need to change the spark plugs.

4th Jan 2011, 12:22

My 90 Camry wagon actually likes to go over 65 MPH, 75 MPH the sweet spot.

23rd Feb 2019, 01:24

It is now 2019 and I still have this Camry. Current miles are about 276,000. It needs a few things (clearcoat is peeling, A/C compressor), but in 24 years of ownership, it has only broken down once. At around 250,000 miles the original ignition coil finally quit. It has been an exceedingly good car and I still have no plans to replace it.