*** Updated: 13th December 2009 ***
Please note that this list is not of the faults with my 2001 Toyota Camry, it is what has GONE WRONG. My model has the four-cylinder engine coupled to an automatic transmission. It is a list of what has actually gone wrong with the car. You will read my viewing of the faults soon in the "General Comments" section, that is, if you have the patience to sit through this section first.
NOTE: All costs throughout this survey are in United States Dollars (USD).
When I purchased the car, these were the problems that it came with (or I knew that had been fixed).
1- The lower control arms were replaced sometime before I bought the car. I have no idea of when they failed; the salesman stated, "The lower control arms have been replaced." I have no idea what these do or how they help the car to run.
2- The door fuse. I could not open the door by sticking the key in. I either had to use the remote (which was sporadic to begin with and still is today) or I had to unlock the passenger door, hit the unlock button for all the doors (which again only sometimes works), and walk around to the other side of the car. It may be unrelated, but to this day I must turn the key twice to get all the doors to unlock.
3- The fuel tank lid does not close flush with the body of the car. This was since I purchased the car. I think it is a bad lid latch but I can't be sure. I'm not going to bother fixing this.
4- One of the window washer "spitters" does not work at all (the one on the driver side). If I want to wash the windows, I must do it with a bucket of water and a squeegee. I assume that I purchased the car this way because it did not precipitate nor did I use the "spitters" until at least week after I bought the car.
5- The back right cup holder was broken upon purchase. When I flipped the lid, I figured something was broken because the lid itself was flimsy. I figured that one day the other cup holder would break, and it did.
6- The plastic portion on the driver sun visor that holds the visor extension came apart (fell off). I refuse to spend any money to fix a stupid plastic part as stupid as that. The passenger side sun visor still had the little plastic piece and both visors work exactly the same way, so therefore that plastic piece is a waste of plastic and has no true function. Later in the ownership, the passenger sun visor lost this plastic piece.
7- The rear bumper is a different shade of gold than the rest of the Camry. The Camry is a light gold, but the bumper is a "muddy" gold. I was assured by the salesman that this is fine and that the car was okay. I was thinking that it was rear-ended or it was damaged in a flood. Now that I am looking at other Camries, I am seeing this problem persistently on Camries of this generation, particularly the gold color.
After I purchased the car and had it in my ownership, I experienced these problems.
8- 69,900 miles - The trunk lid is not flush with the back bumper/walls of the car. This is irritating as it looks open but is shut. You also have to hit the in-cabin release two or three times to open the trunk. It is truly quicker to use the key. I don't expect utter perfection by any means, but the performance of this gadget is badly below par. Also, when you unlock the trunk with the key, it does not pop up at all; you still have to open it with your fingers (counteracting the function of the key). I think one day someone must have bumped it when they were loading a bike or unloading groceries.
9- 70,000 miles - You have to literally PUNCH the steering wheel to get the horn to work. It used to go off with just a feather’s tap. Sometimes, it will sound and others it will not. I think it has a “sweet spot”. Also, sometimes the horn will work and sometimes it won’t.
10- 70,300 miles - If the right air vent on the passenger side is closed, there will be a LOUD whistling noise if the air conditioning is on. I noticed this is only when there is COLD air blowing and is not affected when HOT air is being blown.
11- 71,250 miles - The Camry leaks window washer fluid. I do not know when this started. I noticed it a few days after I bought the car. I popped the hood and saw the dipstick was not on correctly. I tightened it, but, to this day, no matter how tight it is the car still leaks it occasionally. I was told it needs a new reservoir. For now, it's cheaper to keep refilling the reservoir.
12- 71,950 miles - The Check Engine Light came on, and I was told that it was either going to be the oxygen sensor ($400) or catalytic converter ($1500). Since the car was under the used car warranty (thank goodness!) at the time, I had both of these replaced free of cost. It was a good thing because both would have cost over $2000, including labor and diagnostic.
13- 71,950 miles - The mechanics say I will need a fuel pump any day now. I'm waiting until it "goes out" so my extended warranty covers it. Apparently, the warranty company frowns upon preventative maintenance But, they told me this in December 2008 but the car has been “limping around” since.
14- 72,000 miles - Once, the glove box lid was slammed shut because it would not close (and it had nothing in it). Ever since, the glove box lid is not lined up properly- it takes multiple tries to close it even if it is empty. You can see a HUGE gap (of at least 1/4 of an inch) in the top where it should be parallel to the dashboard. Also, if you brake hard enough or the passenger riding shotgun bumps the dash, it will fall open.
15- 73,000 miles - The brakes squeal like no tomorrow. They irk me to no end and back again. They are good until the day after they are adjusted, and then the squeal comes back. By the time the 4,000 mile service interval is up, the noise that the brakes produce when they are applied is an unbearable squeal that can be heard from up to four blocks away (and I'm not lying, either). They still work the same as if they don't squeak, but they feel too light for the car period. I always worry if I hit the brakes soon enough or not. I have had a few close calls. The brakes in my Taurus VERY rarely squeaked and they did a better job of stopping the car. Every time I take the car in to the dealership for one thing or another, I always ask the mechanic to tighten the brakes. As the service intervals near, I can actually FEEL the brakes weakening; I could NEVER say this about any of my Fords.
16- 74,000 miles - I replaced two light bulbs - the right low beam headlight and a rear license plate light (I don't remember which one). Both bulbs were standard sizes and were easily purchased at Wal*Mart. This is understandable as it is basic maintenance. I don’t remember how much I paid for these.
17- 74,060 miles - A clip from the right front headlight broke and the headlight wobbles unnecessarily. I was told that to replace this, I would need an entire headlight assembly. Forget it!
18- 75,000 miles The air conditioner turns up pieces of felt-like objects when it is blowing. I have no idea of what this is and the mechanic could not/refused to replicate it. I left some in there, and he merely told me, "It's something that's blocking the air flow. I don't know what it is but I will get it out for you." Whoppedee-do. Don't get me wrong - the air conditioning and heat work, but this is definitely something that is not correct. By the way, it never came out.
19- 75,620 miles - A valve stem on a tire went bad, giving me a flat tire. I called a tow truck who towed the car two blocks to Pep Boys who gave me a new valve stem. I was astounded and felt that this happening was ironic since I had gone to Toyota for a tire rotation and an oil change that morning. It is nice that Toyota provided a full-size spare wheel and tire. My Taurus had a doughnut good for 50 miles under the speed limit of 55 miles per hour, and I have heard of cars that the spare tire is optional and an air pump and can of sealant come standard (ex: 2008 Ford Focus). THIS HAPPENED TO THREE OF MY LEXINGTON TIRES. I then gave up and bought Continentals like the ones I had on my Taurus.
20- 77,000 miles - The plastic on the right-hand side of the front passenger foot well the broke off. It will not reattach correctly and is exposing wires.
21- 79,000 miles - All of the window mount switches have come apart except for the back left. Amazingly, the windows all still work as with the back right one you are literally holding the switch in your hand. I question how long it will be until one of the windows go out. I hope it is soon because I have noticed that the windows are indeed getting slower and slower. However, I am reluctant to try glue because if the windows DO go out, I am worries that Toyota may not cover me if there is glue in the control. The front ones just will not stay in the door and keep popping out. The back left is good and the back right is just a worthless piece of crap - end of story.
22- 81,000 miles - The stickers on the door locks are peeling off one-by-one.
23- 82,300 - The hook for the driver floor mat came out of the floor. We tried getting it back in, but it didn't work. No big deal, it never worked the way it should have anyway. Why wouldn't something like this be made of metal? Why was it plastic? It was plastic in my Taurus also, but it never shook loose or came out! It never even rotated! No wonder Toyota has the floor mat recall now… but the 2001 Camry isn’t covered under it!
24- 84,500 miles - The back left cup holder broke when I tried getting a regular-sized water bottle in to it. I may get this replaced but labor will be through the roof because there is no room in the back seat to get in to replace them. Recall that upon purchase the back right cup holder was broken.
25- 88,600 miles - The screen in front of the instrument panel is cracked. I have to assume that this is a stress crack, but nonetheless I do not know when it occurred.
26- 90,100 miles - The plastic piece that holds the visor extension on the passenger visor also broke off.
27- 90,500 miles - A little clear plastic piece broke off of the handle of the glove box (on the inside, located on the latch). I don’t know what this was but now the handle assembly is flimsier than it already was.
28- After the occurrence of problem #31, the glove box light sometimes does not work.
29- 90,900 miles - The temperature screen is “caving in” and it actually moves when you hit a button on it.
30- 91,700 miles - The passenger visor vanity mirror cover broke off.
31- 91,800 miles - When the steering wheel is turned all the way to the left or to the right, there is a loud, squealing noise. I think this is a power steering issue; the Toyota mechanics deny it and it remains unresolved.
32- 92,000 miles - I am told that I will need a new timing belt within 1000 miles.
33- There is rust by the taillights. I did not notice this when I bought the car, but they may have been there. There are two little places, both with surface area under quarter-sized each. My Taurus of the same year never had any rust on it, and it was never "rust-proofed."
34- The back seat headrests never stay up on their own unless you prop them up with something underneath. They must be raised again after nearly every ride. There appears to be a total of two notches on the back seat headrests, but the notches do not work. For the seats in the front, one head rest is not raised and the other is. Both seats have a seat cover on them, but the raised headrest has not needed to be adjusted for height up to this point.
35- Under normal use, the front passenger interior door handle has a vertical crack in it.
- However, with this quite EXTENSIVE list of things that have broken or gone wrong, I have had no further problems with the engine or transmission.
I bought this 2001 Toyota Camry used in December 2008 with 69,570 miles. My Taurus had to get a valve cleaning priced at $3000, and at eight years old and 140,000 miles, it wasn't worth fixing it anymore. So, I needed something cheap (as in less than $10,000 max), an automatic transmission, and in four doors.
I test drove this car like no tomorrow. First, I drove it in the city with only my son.
Next, my son got in the back seat (directly behind me). He asked if the seat was adjusted to my liking. I then proceeded to move it forward one inch. He said the back seat was great, but then said he noticed that one of the pop-out cupholders was missing (broken).
Then, we drove the car home (on the highway) to get the rest of my family (four people and a small dog). The Camry was silky smooth on the highway.
By the time we got home, it was nightfall. The headlights were nice and bright. The family liked the car.
Major notes per the family:
The front seats are definitely a step up from those of the Taurus. My son noted that they were not flat and had good lumbar. The rear, he said, was also fine. He did not like the rear headrest, and tried adjusting it. There were no notches on the headrest, and it slid out after only about an inch of adjustment. He took it off, but ultimately decided he would put it on, and in the lowest position. The interior has also worn well. This may be because it was just detailed to be put on the market, but I thought the seats were pristine for a seven-year-old car. The cloth showed no wrinkles, no cigarette holes, and they were still sculpted.
There were no squeaks or rattles.
The interior needs more sound insulation. Both road and wind noise were harsh. The wind noise was bad in my Taurus, but it was a little better than the Camry. The road noise is FAR worse in the Camry.
The trunk is smaller than the Taurus. The trunk of a 2007-2008 Taurus is 17 cubic feet, and on the Camry is 14. (The largest trunk of any sedan sold in North America is tied for two vehicles: the 2008 Taurus and twins and the Crown Victoria and twins at 21 cubic feet.) The difference is immediately noticeable. The rear seats on my example do collapse. However, they yield minimal pass through space.
The Camry accelerated well, but not as well as my Taurus. It was better than the 2007 Focus I rented, but, again, not as good as the Taurus.
The brakes were better than my Taurus. Plain and simple. I cannot explain it.
The Camry was tippy in turns. In my head, I could not take a turn with a maximum speed limit of thirty five miles per hour at thirty five miles per hour. The fastest I could go was twenty miles per hour. The tail slid entirely too easily. When I was doing the traditional three-point turn, I could tell that the car was fishtailing.
I did not feel too many of the bumps on the road. I felt the biggest bumps, but the little ones were absorbed well. In my Taurus, every single bump of every single size was felt.
The power door locks work on their own schedule. I have to hit ‘Unlock’ on the key fob three times to unlock all the doors. (If I recall correctly, once is only the driver door, twice is both front doors, and three times is all doors).
The gas tank release and the trunk release is on the floor in the driver foot well. I like this better than in the Taurus. On my Taurus, there was a finger hole to open the tank. Anyone could put soap in it or steal gas. However, I noticed that the gas tank lid does not lose properly. It latches but it can still be pushed.
The hood release is appropriately located: out of the way of everything else. It is well-hidden. The hood latch sticks but is okay.
Based on first impressions, the Camry will be a fine family car.
*** Updated: 13th December 2009 ***
This is a followup to my original review on this site from when we bought the car, one year ago today.
I just started driving on a learner’s permit one month ago. But, we have had the Camry for a year when our 2001 Taurus bit the dust. We bought the Camry with 69,570 miles on it, and now it has 92,300. I never drove the Taurus, but as a passenger, it was better than the Camry. I like to drive, but sometimes driving the Camry can be frustrating. Let’s start out with what the car does right, and, believe me, that really isn’t much.
BY THE WAY, I realize this is not a luxury car, but I expected it to be better.
The car handles okay for what it is: an everyday family sedan and commuter car. If we had wanted something cool (and as far as coolness is concerned, I would think that almost anything beats a Camry), my family would have gone into debt for the Mustang three cars over. The Camry does feel tippy in turns, and it hates S-curves as it will tell you after a few minutes. My Taurus was much sportier, and, in part, much more comfortable and enjoyable to drive. Neither the Taurus nor Camry are F1 cars, and I realize that and I admit it, but the Camry is like driving a canoe; fishtailing is not uncommon, and the turning radius is pathetic at best, taking three lanes to make a complete U-turn.. You steer it your way, but it ultimately decides which way you go. Sometimes, it's not pretty. Basically, if you stay in a straight line, you will not have any complaints about handling. But, that's true for every car.
To be truthful, the engine has been dependable during my family’s particular ownership of the car, but I can’t say that it’s as reliable as gravity. Thus far, the following have been replaced (to my knowledge) : the lower control arms, before purchase, as aforementioned, the oxygen sensor, and the catalytic converter, but I am told that one day I will need a fuel pump and timing belt (probably within the next month).
Now for the bad…
SUSPENSION AND TIRES.
Somehow, the suspension is below average. You feel every little bump in the Camry. I thought it might be bad tires, but I have since changed them and there is no difference. Bad springs? Possibly. I don't know, but it is uncomfortable to ride over uneven pavement or gravel roads. It's like riding a bike on a gravel trail- every little bump is absorbed by nothing- nothing at all. Actually, my Schwinn is a little more comfortable. You feel every pavement imperfection, every pothole, and every crack in the pavement. You feel less bumps in a Taurus or in a school bus.
The car used to have Lexington tires, but my family had three flat tires (one valve stem, one nail, and one leak) so I bought Continental brand tires. I had those on my Taurus and even when I got nails in them they still didn’t go flat.
THE ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION- PERFORMANCE.
I have mixed feelings about the engine, and overall, the cons outweigh the pros so it isn't a pretty critique. In fact, the only real pro, if you must call it that, is the dependability. It’s nice to know will run, even if it takes three or four turns of the key or some hesitation. We were never stranded because of an engine failure, and other than the average handling, that is about the only thing this car has going for it.
One hundred thirty one horsepower at 5400 revolutions per minute is what the four-cylinder engine is rated for. This figure looks quite fine and dandy on paper, but, in reality, the Camry is SLOW. Not smooth, not settled, but SLOW. You can also hear the engine struggling to go DOWN hills. Maybe it is engine braking, but whatever it is, you can hear it loud and clear with almost no effort on your part. People who ride in my car with me always complain how loud the engine is. My Taurus had 200 horsepower, but this Camry drives me nuts! Keep in mind I never drove the Taurus, but as a passenger it picked up speed more willingly. If I tap the gas in the Camry, the speed does not increase. You need to slam the accelerator and then let off.
Folks - we’re talking family sedans here. I would think that they should be pleasant, if not enjoyable to drive or ride in. The engine noise of the Camry unbearable, the road noise intolerable, but I will admit that the wind noise is okay. Sure, it IS evident, but it isn’t horrible. The Camry is EXTREMELY loud on the freeway; so nothing is left to be praised there. You can leave a phone on full volume, and if you’re driving at anything over 55 miles per hour, you won’t hear it. Having conversations in the Camry on a highway is difficult, too.
Accelerating takes the art of patience, and once you set the cruise, you will never want to turn it off because that is about as comfortable as the Camry gets. This statement becomes false, however, once you factor in big uphill grades. Set the cruise at 40 and the car will lurch and the revolutions per minute will go through the roof (5,000 RPM, read five thousand) to keep the keep the car at a constant 40. You can tell that the car wants to stay at 40, and even though will Camry will do anything, ANYTHING to get there, it is a losing fight going in, and this is because the engine has SO little power. This might not be a problem on the XLE V6, put on the four-cylinder it is just plain cruelty to the proletariat of America. I can only imagine what the CE models are like since they probably have LESS sound insulation. Going up hills requires a lot of tolerance and patience for driver and passengers alike, between listening to the engine noise and feeling your blood pressure go up as people pass you, left AND RIGHT. I find myself putting the car into second (and, more recently, FIRST) gear to go up hills that anyone with patience can scale, even riding a Schwinn bicycle. By the way, the cruise control light is too low on the instrument panel for me to see.
Speaking of cruise control, it is difficult to set. I didn’t know where this would fit best, so I put it here. You have to speed up, press the button, lift something, press the button, and other stuff. On the Taurus, you just got up to speed and hit the “On” button.
I personally would NEVER dream of pulling a trailer behind this car. If the car were a living organism and it was on fire, it wouldn't get out of its own way! Is it really a reality that the U-Haul company would rather have THIS CAMRY pull one of their trailers than a Ford Explorer (remember the Firestone controversy of the 90's Explorers?)!? That is impressive!
The transmission is fine. It never whines and you cannot feel it shift, except when you slam the gas. However, the Camry needs better highway fuel mileage badly. Of course it is not a Prius, but 28 for a four-cylinder is bad, even after considering the car’s size and weight (only 3120 pounds). Adding another gear would have been a good idea, making it a five-speed automatic instead of a four.
I only get about one to three miles per gallon better than my Taurus with 70 more horsepower and two more cylinders. Plus, the Taurus was A LOT quieter, both while idling and driving, in the city and on the highway. Like I said, I get a consistent 28 miles per gallon, but this is not much better than my Taurus with the 24 valve double overhead cam engine (anywhere from 25-27, depending on speed, weather, and amount of driving). The Camry is rated at 23 city and 32 highway, so this can be somewhat frustrating to the “wannabe” frugal driver. The best mileage I ever got was when I “hypermiled” on a 30-mile highway trip, and that got me 32. A few times in my Taurus, I saw 35 by doing what I did in the Camry. Typically, the Taurus was right on the money with its rating of 20 city and 27 highway. Like other cars, it had some good tanks and some bad ones. I will accept that, but good tanks on the Camry come few and far in between. Not that 20 in the city for a sedan is anything to scream about but at least it wasn’t 4 shy of its rating.
Don't even get me started about the comfort (or lack thereof). I complained a lot about the engine, but the comfort is just plain STUPID! Did the engineers even drive this car more than one thousand miles?
A big thing that people forget about pertaining to comfort is entry and exit. So, let's start there. It is BAD. Not thoughtful, not intuitive, just deplorable. If you slam your head going into a car, you know it will be a long ride. I am five and a half feet tall, and routinely, not just once in a while, but genuinely regularly, I hit my head on the roof.
The seats sit so low to the ground that you can't get into it by sitting on the seat sideways and turning your body to orient yourself. That's the hard way. The easy way is to open the door, and go down diagonally. But, make sure you have ice packs for when the sixth-grade basketball players hit their heads on something much harder than a practice ball, in this case the roof. My Taurus had curvier entryways but the actual door opening was larger, so the effect was counteracted. If you have Parkinson’s, do NOT buy this car, even if it’s the last one on Earth. I think you would actually PREFER walking.
The seats are made of wonderful fabric! No, I'm not being sarcastic. They are soft and have NO wrinkles. There is only one cigarette burn on the front passenger seat but that is no fault of the car. I only note this because the fabric is very thick on the seats. But, you guessed it. The good news ends there.
The seats, even inside the cabin, sit too low off the floor that to comfortably sit in the front, you must have the seat back the whole way so you can stretch your legs without being extensively pinched by the wheel well. But, even if the seat is in the rearmost position, your feet can still be pinched by the foot well. If you choose to sit with your knees touching the seat, they will protrude upward. It makes me wish I could have had a limo.
To add insult to injury, the driving position is very awkward. It gets pretty tiring pretty quick to drive this thing. The Camry needs adjustable pedals - BADLY! I find myself nearly butt-up against the steering wheel making my feet hurt. I can safely operate the pedals, but when both my feet are off them, I must point my toes toward the ceiling. I also find that the headrest is too close to the B-pillar on the seat, it is not centered. I line up to the steering wheel, which is about two inches to the right, making about a third of my head unprotected from the headrest. I feel that this is unsafe.
Don't bring cruise control into this- you still can't stretch your legs. The seat itself is poor, too. The bottom is too flat and too short, the back shaped like a spoon. No lumbar support for anything past the test drive is available. A lack of fore and aft adjustment is also evident. In the passenger seat, it seems that there are three adjustments: all the way back, all the way up, and somewhere lost in translation in between. The headrests on both seats are too close to the B-pillar by about two inches.
To intensify the injury, the driver seat and the steering wheel do not line up. I feel that I am sitting toward the right of the seat to be head-on with the steering wheel.
The seat belt, at any height, at any seat position, will rub into your neck. This is evident in all five seats. If you don't wear a collared T-shirt very often, put on your golf shirt to ride in this car. If you don’t own any golf shirts, take your other car or a friend’s car to go get some. I bet that you will thank me later when you aren't scratching your neck. Put the seat belt at its lowest position, or at its highest (which isn't very high at all), and it will still dig in to your neck. I’m only five and a half feet tall, but the seat belt isn’t high enough for me when it is in the highest position. We tried those "pads" that you put on the seat belts to make them softer, but due to the force of the seat belt, the use of the pads fails to work. It’s almost as if the engineers didn’t even TRY to make this car comfortable. They WANTED it to be a BEAR to drive.
Also, the trunk release is on the floor. I originally said that I like this idea better than my the push-button that my Taurus had on the control stack, but, in retrospect, this is a stupid design, because when I am in the seat I cannot reach the control because it is actually UNDER THE SEAT. If I’m just sitting in my driveway listening to the radio and the seat is back all the way, I can reach it perfectly fine.
Move into the back seat and it gets worse. I apologize. I meant to say, "a lot worse." I don't know how it gets worse than the front, but it does, and it does big time. The back seat is entirely too narrow for three adults (regular-sized adults). Leg room is below par, foot room... well, I can't swear, but it's bad. I wear a size 10 ½ wide shoe, and cannot get my foot in straight across. I must uncomfortably angle it. Then, my foot is so big that if it leans against the back part of the foot well, it goes under the seat (front seats are both all the way back).
There is a solid wall-like protrusion under both of the front seats (power driver seat and manual passenger seat) that pinches my toes. The back seat sits higher off the ground then the front, but the trade-off of that - and it's a big one, so get ready - is that the head room gets eaten. The seat still sits so low off the ground that my legs are in a funny position and I find that my feet are being crushed to the extent that I come down with leg cramps every time I exit the car, even if it is only after 2 miles to Wal*Mart in five to eight minutes. There is only about an inch of room between my head and the roof (keep in mind that my Camry is not even equipped with a moon roof).
In addition, there are no comfortable armrests for any seat (unless you count the center console, but I don't find that to be comfortable due to texture, unevenness, and width). In the back, the door armrests are too low down and ditto with the center armrest. I just pull the center armrest out a little bit and put my elbow on it. The window sills are also poor as armrests because they are too narrow, yet they are of adequate height for one arm. However, I do imagine that one would feel very claustrophobic if they had both arms at that level. Comfortable, but claustrophobic. Also, in another year, I will have completely outgrown the microscopic back seat. Yay me! My father keeps telling me, "It can't be THAT bad. You're exaggerating." To which I reply, "You sit back there!" Needless to say, he always declines the offer. I also vividly recall one afternoon when my grandparents were visiting. My dad said to me, "You'll go into the back seat when Grandpa comes, right?" To which I replied: "Putting Grandpa back there would be animal cruelty. He would be speechless. He would have no speech." By the way, Grandpa is six and a half feet tall, weighs 305 pounds, and drives a comfortable (by his words) Mercury Milan. (Note: The Mercury Milan is a badge-engineered product of the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ/Zephyr, which replaced the Sable, which was a rebadged Taurus.) I remember that he had to recline the seat to fit in, and getting out was A PAIN IN THE YOU-KNOW-WHERE.
The radio is probably the one thing that I really shouldn’t complain about as far as the speaker and controls are concerned, but again some details were left out. It works well, although you have to really crank up the volume to drown out the engine noise. That’s not the radio’s problem, though. It is due to either the poor, underpowered engine or a lack of sound insulation. I have no desire to analyze the situation any further.
I have cassettes but I have never put them into the cassette player in the Camry. The CD player has been good about (not) eating CDs, so I expect the cassette player to be the same. The controls are logically placed, and the display is easy to read, but if and only if it is daytime. I do like how when a CD is playing, there is a minute and seconds timer, but there really should be a colon between the minute and second, because it is a time. If the engineers thought it was a LENGTH as opposed to a TIME, I can understand this, but I think it is a TIME as opposed to a LENGTH.
There are three radio frequencies: AM, FM1, and FM2.You can program up to eighteen stations into the radio, six AM stations and twelve FM stations on two frequencies, six apiece. Father and son. Two friends. Husband and wife. Good job. Both my 1999 Taurus (designed in 1995 for 1996) and my 2001 Taurus (designed in 1999 for 2000) had this feature, too.
The good pretty much ends there. The lack of details becomes evident quickly. At night, the neon green back light is distracting and hard on the eyes. The black dims to a light gray, so reading the display requires that your eyes are off the road for more than a minute while you find the text on the screen. In addition, there is no volume “display”. In my Taurus, you would turn the volume knob and a group of circles and squares would illuminate or become dim as you increased or decreased the volume respectively. I have seen cars with a volume number (like zero to twenty, etc.), but the display doesn’t change to display the volume level.
The preset buttons are not individual. I will press one, and another will be pressed. I think it is 1-2 on one button, then 3-4, then 5-6. There is no CD changer, so the one that’s in is the one you’re stuck with, unless you are willing to risk your life trying to change the CD (or you have a willing passenger to sacrifice his comfort and patience even more than he already is by getting it out of the glove box or center console). By the way, don’t slam the glove box shut when a CD is playing or it WILL skip.
The center storage console, like most of the rest of the car, is good before you find that it was really plagued with faults. The only real pro about it is that it is of an excellent size on the inside. As one may have guessed, the cons make themselves clearly visible. The entire assembly of the console is plastic, so it does clean up quite easily. The lid is another story that isn’t about success. The clip that closes it is made of soft plastic. If you lean on the console sideways, you will push the lid sideways. The hinge is horrid, as it will not prop the console's lid up. The console will close on your hand if you are in it too long. The cup holders are good, but they hold only a soda can or a 20 ounce bottle. Forget the Big Gulp and forget the Dixie Cup, as you have only two options. The back seat cup holders, well, let’s be nice and say they suck. The right cup holder in the back was broken when I bought the car, and the left cup holder is so flimsy that no one that rode in the back seat trusted it before it broke. The back cup holders could not hold any size container. Everything either had too small a diameter for the cup holder or was morbidly obese for its taste. That left cup holder broke without much difficulty when a regular-sized water bottle was placed in it.
The center storage console is the one and only one hope of storage in the cabin this car. The glove box has latch issues, even when it is empty. There is one map pocket on each of the front doors, but they are tiny. They could hold a few pens at most. Forget the maps, and just do yourself a favor: hang a global positioning system device from your windshield. The back seats have no storage at all. There is no storage console in the armrest. There are no pockets in the back doors. There are no seat back pockets for the rearmost passengers. Leave those electronics at home, kids. If you want entertainment, listen to the engine as it gives you the music to look out the window plenty loud. My Taurus SES model had four map pockets (one per door) and two seat back pockets (one mounted onto the back of the front seats). My particular example did not have a back seat armrest, however, and to this day I do not know if a Taurus’s arm rest would have had a storage console or cup holders in it or not.
The Camry has a trunk, and it is useable. Loading and unloading is a snap as there are no protrusive trunk hinges (think the Taurus) and there is a nice big opening for things. The grocery hooks were a good idea, but, again, the execution was poor. You can only clip one bag onto them without collapsing. I would know - I loosened one of them. So, only two (or, in my case one) bags hang from the hook and everything, everything slides around the trunk because of the unsettled ride. Squashed bread is not a complicated feat in the Camry, and neither is a separated stick of butter. “Why are you returning this?” the customer service representative at my grocery store said about my dented can of corn. To which I replied, “Blame it on the car!” Eggs break in the trunk constantly. Buy two dozen eggs because, unless you hook the bag with the eggs in it, up to six will break. DEPLORABLE! True, the Taurus had no hooks, but the smoother ride ruined fewer groceries, challenged less patience spans, and gave a more tolerable journey. If the hooks were metal, they would be able to hold more weight. The trunk itself is smaller than the Taurus (14 cubic feet in the Camry as opposed to 17 in the Taurus), but you can barely tell a difference.
The back seats do collapse, though. The pass-through space’s height seems plenty adequate in height, but in width it is exceptionally poor. I have not yet used it extensively. I had to stick a 26-inch bike in the trunk (it was just a hair too large for the back seat), but what the tire's height is is a measurement substantially greater than the width of the pass-through. My Taurus had a smaller height for the pass-through, but the width was actually usable. Be aware, however, that if you release one of the seatbacks, that half of the outboard seat is protruded by a pillar (that runs parallel with the steering wheel), so in most instances you have to give up and collapse all three rear seats. I'm surprised the armrest is not another hole to the trunk. I am, however, okay with this because due to the unsettled ride, anything in the pass-through may come right up to the radio. Unless the front seats are moved almost all the way forward, you must remove the rear-seat headrests to collapse the seats. But, Toyota did not provide a space to put these headrests, so you must either put them on the floor, in the trunk, or leave them behind.
The instrument gauges, as far as information goes, is adequate, however, some of the details really need to be worked out. The instrument cluster itself gives good information, if you can interpret it, and, although there are major, obvious issues with the coloring, the gauges are actually easy to read, namely due to large numbers on the tachometer and speedometer. They are also appropriately placed.
But, now I would like to pose a question.
Why are the needles, the numbers, and all of the little, tiny, barely readable speed increments of the same color? Get real, Toyota. Make the needles red. Make the tens lines green. Keep the twenties white. Mark 55 and 65 because they are common interstate speeds. Honda does (did) that in their cars. The “low fuel” light is a dot by the big E. This makes no sense whatsoever. Make it SAY something. YOU CAN’T COMMUNICATE WITH A YELLOW DOT, TOYOTA. There is no message being sent unless you know the underlying meaning! Ding a chime. Give it a “low fuel light” that actually states, “low fuel!” Make the E red when it gets near empty. SOMETHING! Maybe they fixed this in the 2002 models, but the stupid dot is ABSOLUTELY DOWNRIGHT PATHETIC! I have never seen a monotone speedometer, nor have I seen a “low fuel dot!”
Don’t get me wrong - because I think that a few errors on the whole car is okay, but the gauge cluster alone would have been enough of an indicator to me during a pitch black nighttime test drive that the manufacturer did not care about details with this model. White needles and white numbers? GET REAL! Oh, and get rid of the neon green back light for the odometer. It is distracting, as just the numbers should light up, as they do on the clock. I understand that some people out there will like a neon back light with black text, but for the people who work the night shift, give us a black background with a light color for the digits.
Also, is it asking too much to give us a separate screen for the temperature? Checking the temperature is a tedious operation unless you know EXACTLY where the button is, because it is a small, lonely black button on a microscopic black field. It would relate to launching a missile from Mars and trying to land it in the Clarion River. Also, why do you have start the car to know the temperature? If you try it in Accessories mode, it will not work. Another downfall is that you cannot read the clock when it is sunny out, because the sun's rays hit the black screen, causing glare. This is not a problem with the radio screen because it is “light” as opposed to “dark”. I remember that, in my Taurus, due to the black radio screen, on very sunny days one would not be able to read the radio screen unless they were wearing polaroids.
The styling is bland. It is inoffensive and unattractive. The back end looks so incredibly ugly with the “extra-large” reverse lights. As the other reviewer said, "The car is bland. I mean bland. Not even pleasing, just bland." The wheel covers are tacky. Note that I said “wheel covers” and not “wheels.” That’s right, the Camry came equipped with… drum roll please… HUB CAPS! Way to cut costs, Tokyo! This was the mainstream model of the lineup in 2001, and this was the mainstream trim level. Hub caps are cheap and they are tacky. They look like flowers! FLOWERS! How much would actual rims have cost? About the same price? What was Toyota thinking? Sure, they look good on the white models, and they look okay on the silver models, but on the gold, forget it! By the way, they scuff just like actual rims would; one wheel cover has lost some of its “paint” and is looking very faint and gray (a dark gray as opposed to silver). Yes, the styling serves its purpose- none. It won’t win over any chicks like a Thunderbird or even a Taurus would (you’d be surprised about some of the comments I got when I had my Taurus, and it had been cleaned, and I was alone), but that is another story. You won’t win any beauty contests, but the exterior is fit for purpose, despite the complaints anyone would have.
One good thing about the design is that there are four tail lights as opposed to two on a lot of other vehicles. Amber turn signals make the car more visible when turning, and I prefer them because if your red turn signal is on and you are constantly pressing and depressing your brake pedal, drivers behind you may not be able to tell if the turn signal is on or if it is the brake light.
The interior looks drab and spartan. The doors have carpet panels on them, and the door handle is embedded somewhere within the carpet. The radio looks bland, but again it does the job. At least the layout is logical, except for the (load) CD button. I have owned the Camry since December 2008 and I still have to look to find it. However, the radio is too far away from the driver and passenger when the seats are all the way back, as are the climate controls. Too much plastic is used, and you hear many squeaks when you go over bumps.
In conclusion, I have mixed but mainly bad opinions about my 2001 Toyota Camry. I can’t make my mind up about anything, since the good things are plagued with bad. Some of the ideas in the car were good but executed poorly. I may purchase Toyota again, but only because the engine and transmission haven't had too many problems.
Like I said, my biggest beef is the lack of comfort. If the designers and engineers at Toyota were to have gone back to the drawing board and entirely redesign the car, which means to work out the comfort, work out the lack of details with the center console, make the window mount switches more durable and so they don't pop out of the door, refine the handling, get rid of the squeaky brakes, use less plastic in the interior, fix the gauge cluster and its details, and give the four-cylinder engine more power (just enough so the car doesn't surge going up hills with cruise control), there may have actually been hope for this bread-and-butter sedan. It was a good platform, the ideas for it were good, but the lack of overall detail and an overabundance of plastic really do the car in, ultimately killing it.
I really don't understand why anyone would want this Camry over a Taurus (but to be fair I never tested a Malibu, Accord, Intrepid, or Maxima in depth). But, for right now, I’m counting down the days until I can get out of this car. It just isn’t enjoyable.