1998 Toyota Camry CSi 2.2 5S-FE from Australia and New Zealand


A car that shuns image for substance


I have just purchased the car, so no mechanical dramas yet, other than a routine timing belt change.

General Comments:

Having previously owned two modified Toyotas, a '94 Celica and an '89 Corolla SX, I was drawn to the Camry for the prospect of a reliable, practical, comfortable and attention-free ownership experience.

The first positive point is that used Camry's are ridiculously good value. The volatile petrol prices of the past 2-3 years seems to have spooked used-car buyers away from anything perceived as "largish". This has meant the better equipped, more comfortable and only slightly less fuel-efficient Camry is commanding prices that are the same, and often quite less than, comparable Toyota Corollas. Find a low-km example owned by a retiree, and the reliability/value equation is further turned in favour of the Camry over used-car competitors.

In 2.2L manual guise, the Camry does very well to disguise it's lack of outright grunt. This in part due to a throttle cable calibration that seems to amplify small throttle openings, working with the torquey 2.2 to make the Camry feel very relaxed as it accelerates to a cruising speed. For the Camry's size and space, it is also exceptionally light - only around 200kg more than my previous cramped Celica with which it shared it's mechanical underpinnings. On Australia's viciously policed interstate and coastal highways, the Camry's engine combo adapts perfectly to a 110km/h cruising speed. I'm sure the V6 is as great as it's said to be, but 99% of the time the 2.2 is perfectly adequate.

Compared to my previous Toyota's, the comfort of this Camry is a revelation. The cabin is large, serene and of obvious quality. NVH is great, though the 2.2 can get a little vibey.

On first encounter, real-world handling seems quite good. The nose turns in quickly and precisely, and bumps do not upset the car.

Obviously I haven't driven the car much yet, but for now I couldn't be happier and can't wait to see how it performs on drives down the coast, semi laden with stuff for those weekend camping escapes.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st January, 2009

29th Jan 2009, 03:33

A few extra observations after owning the car for a week:

Fuel economy is pretty damn acceptable for a car this size. At my first refill I had used approximately 49 Litres to travel 583 km, or around 8.4L/100km (28MPG in US measurement), with about 250km of that on the open road and the other 330km in suburban short haul driving. With completely suburban/city driving I'd expect fuel consumption to go up to around 9.5L/100km.

The fundamentals of the Camry's dynamics are OK, the steering feels much like the off-shoot Celica only lighter, and the car turns in eagerly up to a point. After that point it is let down by the standard tyre and suspension package that is clearly biased towards around-town comfort. It's a compromise that I gladly accept after two previous lowered cars, and Australia's inconsistent bitumen quality.

The Camry was from a generation before electronic stability systems became commonplace in mainstream cars. As a result, in wet, slippery or off-camber conditions the big Camry doesn't require all that much lateral load to overcome the grip of the 15 inch tyres. This could be a reflection of the non-factory (i.e., cheaper) tyres more than anything else. Luckily, plough understeer is as bad as it's gonna get.

Little nit-picky things include the (otherwise excellent) air-conditioner producing a mildewy smell on start-up, but that's about it.

1998 Toyota Camry LE from North America


6 years, no problems! Love my Camry!


Nothing. I've had this car 6 years, and it's never had to be serviced for anything other than oil changes.

The brake pads do wear out easily. We've replaced those three times.

General Comments:

I love this car. I'm so scared of getting a new car next month because I have been so lucky with this car. We bought this February 2002 just a few days before our first daughter was born. We wanted a safe, reliable car. That's what we got.

Maybe we just got an exceptionally made car, maybe we just take good care of it. Who knows. But I've never had to replace a thing. Never had it die, or break down, never had an engine light come on, or weird noises. It runs like a champ. We change the oil and filters regularly.

My only "complaint" if I can even call it that, is that my brake pads wear quickly. Might just be cheap brake pads we are using, might be the brakes. Who knows.

We now have two kids, and my husband, the kids and myself all ride very comfortably in the car. It handles well and rides so smooth.

My only wish, is that is had a CD player, and I might have gotten another color since mine is beige... it shows dirt well!

It gets EXCELLENT gas mileage. At least 30mpg. It actually gets up and goes pretty quickly too, it packs a lot of power in such a modest sized car.

But, now that our kids are getting bigger, and we have two dogs we want to get an SUV. We are keeping the Camry, for my husband though, I could never part with it. It's been too good of a car. I'm so scared to get anything other than a Toyota. I love Japanese cars. You hardly ever hear of them tearing up. We may consider a Toyota 4Runner.

Overall, I would highly recommend this vehicle to anyone. If you buy a good quality Japanese or German car, and maintain it well... you shouldn't have any problems. They actually hold their value pretty well too. You can compare a 1998 Camry, to a 1998 Taurus, and it's almost a joke the price difference.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 31st December, 2007