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Older (Pre-2018) Toyota Camry Overview And Buying Tips
In today's extremely high-priced used car market, many shoppers are now looking for "older" models that have aged well as a way to save significant dollars. The Toyota Camry is one of these models, making them a viable and definitely more economical option at this time.
We're specifically referring to the 5th, 6th and 7th generation Camrys, those produced from 2002 through 2017. That's where the largest savings are. And well below average annual mileage candidates can still be found out there.
Potential older Camry buyers can use this information to help identify which models may be the best fit as well as how to then purchase the vehicle at the best possible price ... and yes, even at wholesale.
The Camry was first introduced in 1983, having been specifically designed for the U.S market. With its front-wheel-drive (replacing the rear-wheel-drive Corona), the Camry went on to virtually takeover the midsize family sedan segment. Car buyers were won over by its comfortable ride, high build quality and ongoing reliability.
Originally produced with a four-cylinder engine only, a V6 engine was soon added. Increases in size and features also grew over time. And the Camry become so popular that in the late '80's Toyota began manufacturing them in Georgetown, Kentucky.
More specifically, the following is information for the above mentioned generations, which are also particularly noted for their strong build quality and impressive reliability record. The supply of good-condition and lower-mileage older Camry models is still surprisingly strong as many owners kept them for years.
The sixth generation Toyota Camry debuted for the 2007 model year and carried through the 2011 model. It's a front-wheel drive, midsize sedan offered in base, LE (the most popular), SE (sporty) and XLE (more luxury-oriented) models. But even the base Camry is already well-equipped with standard features such as full power accessories, stability control, antilock brakes (ABS), cruise control, air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and a 6-speaker CD sound system.
Opting for an SE adds a sport-tuned suspension, while the smoother-driving XLE adds upscale features such as leather upholstery (in the V6), dual-zone automatic climate control, a premium sound system, a power passenger seat and reclining rear seats. You can also find many of the XLE's features on the lower trims that have been added as options. Other option highlights include navigation and a sunroof.
Three different engines power this version of the Camry. The base model is equipped with a 169-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4. A 179 horsepower version of the same engine powers the SE, while there's also a powerful optional 3.5-liter V6 that produces 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque that can be found in all models except the base.
Initially, Camrys with the four-cylinder engine had either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic (standard on XLE). V6 Camry models were all equipped with the 5-speed automatic transmission.
Older Camry shoppers should note that for 2010, the base engine was increased to 2.5 liters and power was increased to 169 horses. The SE also got a power boost to 179 hp. In addition, all transmissions, whether manual or automatic, were upgraded to six speeds. Also for 2010, stability control, Bluetooth and satellite radio became standard across the board while the the exterior's grille and taillights were revised.
This Camry generation was spacious, well-equipped, smooth riding, fairly fuel-efficient and had top crash test scores. Other top choices during this time period would include the Ford Fusion as well as the Nissan Altima.
There's also a Camry Hybrid gas-electric model that produces 192 horsepower and has an EPA gas mileage estimate of 33 mpg city and 34 mpg on the highway.
The earlier fifth generation Camry was produced during the 2002 to 2006 model years (a 2004 is pictured above left). Again, this Toyota Camry was a roomy and comfortable sedan offered with either an inline-4 or V6 engine. While many of these Camrys were still equipped with most of the latest safety features such as stability control and side curtain airbags, the base Camry did not get standard antilock brakes until 2005.
There were also three available engines. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder generated 154 horsepower and was coupled to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic (4-speed pre 2005). While this engine is found satisfying by most buyers, used Camry LE and XLE models from this generation can also be found with a 3.0-liter V6 that delivers 190 horsepower (18 less prior to 2004).
And in 2004, a 210-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 was introduced for the Camry SE. Again, all V6 Camrys were automatic transmission only.
The seventh-generation Camry made its debut for the 2012 model year and was produced through 2017. The more recent of these are still fairly heftily priced but older versions are where the savings can be significant.
This Camry sports a sharper exterior design with more angular lines and a more aggressive overall look. Inside, the layout and materials quality has been upgraded and design tweaks have produced more passenger room even though the vehicle hasn't changed in size. There's also a new Display Audio system that integrates audio, infotainment and navigation systems.
And in terms of performance, revisions to the engines and suspension have improved handling and made it more fun to drive. At the same time, fuel economy was also increased to where the four-cylinder became the most fuel-efficient in its class while the V6 gets 30 mpg on the highway.
Overall, we happen to think an older Camry could be a very good choice in today's extremely overpriced used car market. And whether rated by industry experts or consumers themselves, the Camry has a long history as a top performer. Typical reviews note roominess, comfort, quietiness, easy and smooth driving, safety and luxury features, and a strong reputation for reliability.
Buy at wholesale?
So lastly, there are actually several different ways to buy an older Camry at the lowest price, and even at wholesale.
In addition, you can also try the public car auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.