The Toyota Camry has been America's best-selling car for the past few years. That's an important title for auto manufacturers, so Toyota is quite pleased that the Camry has outsold the Honda Accord and Ford Taurus, its arch-rivals among mid-size sedans. Now comes a completely redesigned Camry for 2002, making this the fifth generation.
This year's Toyota Camry is a slightly larger car. Yet performance and fuel economy have been maintained. Styling is all new, designed to add sensuality to what has been a bland design.
Better yet, prices have dropped slightly over last year's models. Given Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability, the new Camry will once again prove to be the ideal car for about 400,000 new-car buyers a year who don't want to worry or even think about their car.
Trim levels are nearly the same as last year: LE 5-speed manual ($18,970); LE 4-speed automatic ($19,800); SE 5-speed manual ($20,310); SE 4-speed automatic ($21,140); XLE 4-speed automatic ($22,295) LE V6 4-speed automatic ($22,260); SE V6 4-speed automatic ($23,700); XLE V6 4-speed automatic ($25,405). (Gone is the low-priced CE.)
LE was always the most popular model. This year, it comes with a lot more standard equipment, including air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, cruise control, 60/40 split rear seat, and vanity mirrors.
However, Toyota hopes that more people will be interested in the luxuriously appointed XLE, as it is not such a jump up in price from the LE as before. XLE adds luxury appointments such as wood grain trim, power driver and passenger seats, automatic air conditioning, alarm system, keyless entry, cargo net, and rear-window sunshade.
SE is a new model, a sportier version of the LE with added equipment such as fog lights, stiffer suspension, bigger wheels and tires, rear spoiler and sportier trim inside and out.
Each of the three models can be had with a newly redesigned four-cylinder or V6 engine. Manual transmission is only available on the LE and SE four-cylinder models.
The list of option packages is quite long, enabling buyers to order a Toyota Camry to suit taste and budget. Side airbags are available as an option on the LE and SE, but are standard on the XLE.
The 2002 Toyota Camry Solara is still based on the old Camry platform, even though it has a few small cosmetic changes to make it look more like the new Camry sedan.