1995 Toyota Camry
There’s a lot to like about the sublimely smooth new Toyota Camry. Just 15 minutes behind the wheel and you’ll understand why it’s a best-seller, and why it actually soared to the top of the national sales charts in June 1994. Clearly one of the best midsize family sedans under $25,000, it shares much of the look and feel of its kissing cousin, the Lexus ES 300, but sells for thousands less.
Compared with its chief competitors, the Ford Taurus and Honda Accord, the Camry is a little more expensive, but many dealers are offering buyer-friendly lease packages to make it easier to get past the relatively high suggested retail prices.
And if you’re a member of the “buy American” camp, you might be surprised to learn that Toyota Motor Manufacturing in George-town, Kentucky, is the sole worldwide builder of the new Camry wagon and coupe, and that it manufactures almost three-quarters of all the Camrys sold in the United States.
Like Honda, Toyota is rapidly becoming a major exporter of U.S.-built automobiles.
So what’s new about the ’95 Camry? The exterior has been refined – a modest face-lift that updates the Camry’s elegant, seamless body design. The headlamps are slightly more angular in the new models, and they have a heightened crystal appearance. Also, the grille is more narrow, giving the body a wider, sportier look.
New option groups include a power package on basic DX models (power windows/mirrors/locks), revised fabric for LE models, new fabric for the sporty SE and luxurious XLE models, and a moonroof and a 4-way power-adjustable front passenger seat with leather trim for the XLE.
Even though anti-lock brakes (ABS) are still an option on all models except the XLE sedan, the overall safety package is quite impressive. Dual airbags are standard, and the front head restraints, even when lowered all the way, are high enough to protect you from whiplash. An added plus for parents are the child-protection rear door locks on sedans and wagons, and special retractors on the front and rear 3-point seat belts, which make it a snap to secure baby seats without having to use a separate locking clip.
The seat belts also feature adjustable upper anchors, which add to security as well as comfort.
The trunk is roomy enough to hold a week’s worth of groceries or four sets of golf clubs with space left over. If you take advantage of the folding split rear seatback, you could probably get a new lawn mower in there, as well.
The Camry is bigger than its key Asian rivals, the Accord, Mazda 626, Nissan Altima and Hyundai Sonata, as well as the new Chrysler Cirrus/Dodge Stratus. It’s a little smaller than the Ford Taurus and the redesigned Chevrolet Lumina.
Like last year, the Camry offers two engine choices: the smooth 125-hp 4-cylinder, which is standard on all models except the SE; and the even smoother 188-hp V6.
A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on the DX model, and all other Camrys come equipped with an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic.
There’s lots of legroom, headroom and just plain moving-around room in the front of the new Camry, and the large front seats give you firm support. Whether you’re built like Willard Scott or Mary Lou Retton, it’s a breeze to get comfortable with the 6-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, an option on our test car. The footrest is a real plus for the driver, a subtle comfort feature that’s still absent from many cars.
The contoured rear bench seat gives you the same luxurious feeling as the seats in the front. If you happen to be sitting in the middle of the backseat, however, you might have to lean forward a bit because of the rear armrest that folds up between the seatbacks.
There’s less backseat legroom in a Camry than in a Taurus, al-though there’s enough space for adults to sit comfortably without feeling cramped. And the Camry does have more rear-seat space than the much bigger Chevy Lumina.
One little glitch: The optional front center armrest on our test car got in the way when we used the parking brake.
Standard on all models except the DX is a sophisticated sound system that includes a power antenna, four speakers (six on the wagon) and a deluxe AM/FM/cassette radio. For you high-tech music lovers, an even fancier sound system with a CD player is available as an option.
Also standard on all but the DX are power windows, locks and mirrors, in addition to cruise control, tilt steering and a rear-window defogger.
OK, now for the best part. The key turns, the tachometer springs into action…but that’s about as far as the signs of engine life go. No vroom, not even a hum; no jolt, not even a sway – the engine is all set to boogie, and, aside from some slight vibration at idle, it’s hard to even tell it’s running.
How did they do that? How did they create this whisper-quiet engine? The combination of hydraulic engine mounts, extra insulation and rubber mounted chassis subframes is one explanation.
And, as with the Lexus, the Camry has a fully independent suspension, so it feels as if it’s soaking up bumps, potholes and other irregularities in the road.
The overall handling was impressive, but not exceptional. You don’t get the sporty, road-hugging feeling that a lot of drivers love. But the steering is accurate and quick to respond, and if the Camry’s cornering isn’t exactly zealous, it’s certainly confident.
Confident is a word that also applies to our test car’s ability to stop. The brakes were excellent on both wet and dry pavement, with good stopping distances and very good control. Our test car was equipped with ABS, which was an extra-cost option. But considering the importance of this active safety feature, and the importance of safety in new-car buying today, we think ABS should be standard equipment on all models.
Acceleration in our Camry was spunky. We’d call the car’s passing power adequate, although the V6 would provide quicker response, as well as passing performance not far short of dramatic.
Overall, expect about 24 mpg with regular unleaded fuel. Toyota claims that the 4-cylinder gets between 21 and 23 mpg in the city, and between 28 and 31 mpg on the open road. Meanwhile, the V6 requires premium unleaded fuel and averages about 21 mpg.
Although the Camry’s ride and general performance are very good compared with its competitors, where this car really excels is in the area of interior noise. There isn’t any. Even at freeway speeds, you can carry on a conversation at living-room decibel levels, even with rear-seat passengers.
The Camry is quieter than any of its midsize rivals, as well as many luxury cars costing thousands more.
If you want country-club luxury in an all-around family sedan, you simply can’t beat the ’95 Camry. Even though it can be expensive, especially the loaded V6 models, for reliability, comfort, styling and performance it’s still one of the best buys in the midsize sedan market.
A little sedate? Maybe for some. But what you give up in flash and sportiness you more than make up for in quality and dependability, with a service record that’s the envy of the Camry competition.
The same can be said for this car’s quality ratings, which regularly top the J.D. Power midsize customer satisfaction surveys. That’s why the Camry has been Toyota’s No. 1 seller, and why it will stay at the top in ’95.
The Toyota Camry is a car you can trust, and that’s not always so easy to find.