Toyota Camry 1997-2001 review

Overall rating:4.5 Star Rating: Recommended
Updated: August 17, 2013
Toyota Camry 2001
2001 Toyota Camry. Click for larger photo

The 1997-2001 Camry is one of the most reliable cars ever built. It offers a comfortable interior and soft, quiet ride,
You can buy it as a four-door sedan or two-door coupe (Camry Solara).

The interior is roomy, with soft seats and easy-to-use controls. There is plenty of head- and legroom in the front; the rear space is pretty good too. The trunk is large and the rear seatbacks fold down for more cargo space.

The Camry has front-wheel drive and comes with a 4-cylinder or V6 engine and a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. Maintenance and repair costs are moderate. The 4-cylinder Camry is rated among the best in its class for fuel economy. The Camry is very reliable and with good care can easily last for 250,000 miles and more. Common problems are mostly minor, read more below.

Toyota Camry 2001 Interior
Toyota Camry 2001 Interior. Click for larger photo
Toyota Camry 2001 engine
Toyota Camry 2.2-liter 5S-FE engine.

Powertrain: The base 136-hp 2.2-liter 4-cylinder DOHC engine is fairly quiet and easy to maintain. The optional 194-hp 3.0-liter V6 is smooth and offers plenty of power. Both engines have a timing belt (for 2000 and 2001 Camry, Toyota recommends replacing the timing belt every 90,000 miles). Both are very good reliable engines; with good maintenance you shouldn't have too many problems with either one.

Fuel Economy: The EPA rates the 2000 Camry with a 4-cylinder engine and an automatic transmission at 20/28 mpg or 11.8/8.4 L/100 km city/highway, which means you can travel approximately 382 miles (614 km) on one 18.5-gallon (70 liter) tank with a mix of 55 percent city and 45 percent highway use. The estimated annual fuel cost: $2,450.

Handling and ride: The Camry has a soft and quiet ride. The steering is light, without much feedback. The soft suspension absorbs road bumps and expansion joints well, but some body lean is noticeable when cornering. Overall, the handling is secure and comfortable, although not sporty.

Safety: Antilock brakes are standard in all, but the base models. In the NHTSA frontal crash tests, the 1997 Toyota Camry received four stars for both the driver and the front passenger; the improved 1998-2001 Camry received four stars for the driver and five stars for the front passenger.

Pros: Reliability, fuel economy (4-cylinder models), soft and quiet ride, comfortable interior, easy to maintain, easy to sell.

Cons: Plain interior styling, body roll in turns, steering wheel wears fast, both engines have a timing belt that must be replaced at recommended intervals.

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Overall: The 1997-2001 Toyota Camry is still one of the best family sedans within its price range. Among competitors, Honda Accord is also worth considering; it's also reliable for the most part and offers pretty good fuel economy for 4-cylinder models. Read about common problems, tips on what to look for and maintenance on the next page.