's Camry is a reliable, spacious
car which is very practical
, though unimaginative. As I only have experience driving my 5SFE
Camry with its slushbox
, I can't say if there's any more fun to it with a decent transmission
and powered by a V6
; the tiny four-cylinders combined with the curb weight
starting at well over 3100 pounds for any of the more recent model years lead to an especially slow car. A huge fault
I place on this car is that way too much was compromised in order to make it and keep it one of the most popular cars. This translates to a very sluggish
automatic, power steering which is too detached and far too amplified
, wheels which are much too small and thin for a car its size, and a dangerously bad suspension providing extremely bad grip
Engine power has creeped up over the years, so hopefully new ones should be less agonizingly slow. Additionally, the wheel size was finally increased; this translates to HUGE improvements in handling capability, judging from my replacement of the 1997's 14 inch wheels with the 2002's 15 inch wheels and higher-performance Kumho tires. Since this means more work for a car with low torque, I lament that my Camry now tops out at 100 mph. There is now an SE model again, which incorporates yet better wheels and a much better suspension. I do not know how much they firmed it up, but I would never recommend one with as bad of a suspension the non-"sport" models have. After having replaced the struts and springs with much better performance ones (KYB and Eibach), though, it does become a car which can be fun to drive, even if acceleration is horrible. The stiffer parts improve handling and predictability thereof dramatically for on the order of $1000 total.
I conclude that on a budget this can be a halfway decent car to have fun with and remain completely unassuming on the roads. After I complete my first season of autocross, I'll know for sure whether the car can actually perform competitively after breathing more life into it.