Toyota’s old faithful
No thrills, but this car won’t let you down, writes GRAHAMSMITH
IF ALL we ever wanted from our cars was reliable basic transport to get from A to B, we’d all drive Toyotas like the Camry. The big Japanese carmaker has made an art form out of building plain middle-of-the-road cars that do everything quite well without being exceptional apart from their build quality and reliability.
For most car buyers that’s perfectly acceptable, but for anyone with even a drop of petrol flowing through their veins, Toyotas pull up short in the excitement stakes.
The latest Camry is the perfect example. It was promising at first sight in 2006 and it looked more attractive than previous models, but fell short in the driving experience once you dug deeper.
What it does have in spades is build quality, reliability and durability. They’re admirable and ultimately they’re the things that keep buyers heading to Toyota dealers. propel, but the Camry handled the task with manful determination.
In most cases it was aided by a smooth five-speed auto. There was also a five-speed manual.
The five-speed self-shifter could be shifted manually if preferred.
Inside, the average family found it roomy with comfortable accommodation for five. The cabin was airy and quiet, there was plenty of rear-seat space and a generous boot.
Toyota offered the Camry in a choice of sporty and luxury models.
The range kicked off with the Altise, which was nicely equipped with airconditioning, twin airbags, anti-skid brakes with brake assist, rake-reach steering column, wheelmounted sound-system controls and auto headlamp control.
Next up was the Ateva, which added a CD stacker, alloy wheels, side-front airbags, head airbags, power seats and traction control.
The Sportive had a more sporting edge with suspension tuned to local conditions, and a locally developed body kit.
At the head of the pack was the Grande, which came with all the fruit you could possibly want. TOYOTAS retain their value, which makes them a good initial buy, but subsequent owners have to stump up more when they hit the market.
The Camry is no exception; it has a good record for resale value.
Pay $16,000-$18,000 for an Altise, add $2500 for an Alteva, $3500 for a Sportivo, and $7500 for the luxury of a Grande. EVEN though Toyota’s build quality is respected and their reliability held to be among the very best, they are not immune to problems and breakdowns.
The earliest of the sixth generation Camrys are showing 50,000km and more on their odometers, and are coming up for major servicing.
That is likely to be due within the next two years, so prospective owners should be aware they will soon face heftier service bills.
Check for a service record to make sure the engine oil has been replaced at regular intervals.
Camry owners report few faults with their cars, so they’re living up to the Toyota reputation. WITH twin front airbags standard across the range, and side and head airbags standard on some models, the Camry came well equipped to stand up in a crash.
It was also well equipped dynamically with standard anti-skid brakes and brake assist on all models. THE Camry is no lightweight, so its four cylinders have to work hard and the result can be seen at the pump.
Expect to see 9.5-10.5 litres for 100km in normal motoring and a little less on the open road. NOT a thrilling ride, but the Camry is a wellbuilt mid-sized car that delivers on its promise of comfortable, refined and reliable motoring.
Part of the family: the Toyota Camry is reliable, well built and performs well, but never set the world on fire.