1998 Toyota Camry LE 3.0L V6 from North America
Ahead of its time
Normal wear and tear.
Some O2 sensors.
Gas cap lid release cable.
Nothing is more reliable than a 90s - 2000s Toyota.
The car's powertrain (3.0L V6 + 4-Speed Auto Combo) is smooth as glass, more so than many cars 10 years newer.
The car is fast. Yes, it’s faster than your new Civic, yes, it’s faster than your ‘98 V6 Mustang. No it’s not as fast as the new WRX or the new Camaro Daddy just bought you. If I’m paying for insurance, the V6 Camry is the best in the speed/insurance cost ratio.
The car handles well, despite what the auto magazines say. No, it’s not a BMW M5, but compared to a Buick LeSabre, or any SUV, it might as well be.
The car is comfortable for longer drives. Is it a Lincoln Town Car? No, but I could sleep in this thing.
Very reliable with basic/routine maintenance. This car never had a problem (other than the gas cap lid release cable breaking early in the car's life). Sure, a burnt-out headlight, a dead battery after the lights were left on, but that is basic wear and tear, or user error.
In 2010, a non-car person thought this 98 was my "new" car.
The car happily took the abuse of a teenager. It withstood the minor fender-benders and the stupid, wreckless things its teenage driver put it through.
This car got me home when I was lost. It was a sanctuary when I wanted isolation. It took me on my first date, first day of college, first job, first everything. It always did what I asked.
The synthetic oil was always the color of gold. A pure, clean engine, even at 16+ years old and ~240000 miles.
The audio system in this Camry had deeper bass than many cars a decade newer than it as well, even higher trim models.
The interior quality was on-par with the class of the vintage, maybe slightly above average.
If I had to complain about something, it would be the headlights at night. The low-beam lights seem to light up about 10 feet in front of the car, and that's all. Very dim compared to the newer cars. The high-beams are adequate though. I think many older cars had poor headlights.
This review was written in 2017, and I still see these vehicles on the road. Who knows if in 20 years we’ll still see the 2017/2018 Camrys.
If you’re still looking to buy a 97-01 Camry, 99-03 Solara, similar Avalon, or Lexus ES300, I would recommend searching for a low mileage creampuff. This will get harder and harder as time goes on, as the supply gets smaller every day. In my opinion, these vehicles could probably go another 20 years with consistent care/maintenance. Just do your test drive, make sure the car drives well, and ensure you can get comfortable in it. When you’re shopping for cars this old, how the previous owner treated/maintained the car matters much more than the badge.
Still, I’m a Toyota fan 4 life because of this car, even if I grudgingly admit that the new Toyotas just seem to be missing some undeterminable element of quality compared to these old ones.
The car treated me very well. I figured leaving a good review on CarSurvey.org was the least I could do.
As an unrelated aside: I do wish new cars today were simpler. Wish I could find an untouched, mint, 0-miles Camry, ES300 or similar of this vintage hidden in a garage somewhere, just so I could drive a simple but excellent vehicle for the rest of my days.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 28th August, 2017
29th Aug 2017, 10:19
Totally agree with your review, you can't put a price on reliability and simplicity of cars from this time (1990-2000).
6th Sep 2017, 12:34
I enjoyed reading your review. I liked how you made comparisons with different cars right away, as some people love to bring up totally different types of cars. The first comment on your review describes this era so well. We owned similar cars at the time, and all were excellent in terms of the service they gave us. I, too, wish I could find basically brand new examples of some of these cars. Toyota/Lexus did a fabulous job in making cars with a great combination of comfort, performance, ease of use, reliability, and cost of maintenance.