The current-generation Toyota Camry has been on the road for three years, remaining relatively popular despite declining sedan sales.
When it launched, this renewed version and its hybrid-powered variant flaunted a new platform that offered improved ride comfort and quality over its predecessor. With a push for safety tech and upscale styling, the latest Camry offered shoppers plenty of selection thanks to a few powertrains and trim packages to choose from.
Look for four- or six-cylinder gasoline engines, the latter of which makes 300 hp. [Yes, you read that right. – Ed.] Many used models will feature the Camry’s popular four-cylinder engine, a smooth and thrifty 2.5L that nicely blends fuel efficiency with solid torque output. Hybrid-powered models, meanwhile, pair dual electric motors with a four-cylinder engine to save even more fuel.
Feature content includes an upgraded stereo system, panoramic sunroof, automatic exterior lights and wipers, multi-zone automatic climate control, quilted leather, and more. All models are four-door sedans. Though most used Camry models will be front-wheel drive, note that optional all-wheel drive (AWD) was introduced for 2020.
The Camry came standard with a 2.5L four-cylinder, delivering 203 hp. The upgraded 3.5L V6 is one of Toyota’ longest-running and most-proven engines, and delivers 301 hp. Finally, the hybrid puts out a combined 208 hp. All models get automatic gearboxes, with the hybrid’s being of the continuously variable transmission (CVT) variety.
What Owners Like
Owners tend to gravitate towards the Camry for its strong reputation, safety scores, resale value, and overall sensibility. Many owners note a comfortable and upscale drive, and plenty of power from the available V6 engine. Generous seating space and an easy-to-load trunk round out the package.
What Owners Dislike
Some owner complaints include the intrusion of the trunk arms into the cargo area, while others wish for a sportier driving feel from certain model grades. (Note that the four-cylinder engine isn’t as quiet or punchy as some turbocharged competitors.)
The Test Drive
Many shoppers are keen to find a used car equipped with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and if you’re one of them be sure to check compatibility of the specific used Camry you’re considering; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were introduced for model-years 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Do This Transmission Test
Some owners have reported transmission trouble from their Camry, often in the form of rough or clumsy shifting in certain specific situations. Most have not. There’s more reading here.
On your test drive, hold the Camry at cruising speed for a moment, then slow down gently to about 10 km/h. Once there, immediately accelerate again. Note that a hesitation to downshift – or a hard or clumsy gear change – in this situation is a sign to have the transmission inspected professionally before you buy. In many cases, a simple software reflash is the fix for this sort of problem.
Check on the Recalls
Safety recalls are issued by automakers to fix latent safety defects with vehicles, free of charge. This generation of Camry was subjected to a list of safety recalls, which you can find here. Ensuring that all recall work has been completed makes your vehicle safer and can prevent headaches. Take steps to ensure the used Camry you’re considering has had any applicable recall work performed. Your local dealer’s service department has more information.
New vehicles are harder on their batteries than ever, and some owners report that factory-installed units may have disappointing lifespans, possibly requiring replacement in just two to three years. A weak or dying battery can wreak havoc on modern vehicles, causing error messages and random malfunctions across various systems. For this reason, a pre-purchase inspection of the battery and charging system can help prevent headaches and problems.
Possible Water Leak
Some Camry owners have reported a water leak that can result in soggy carpeting, mould, and unpleasant odours. Most have not. Water leaks are never a good time, so checking the used Camry you’re considering carefully for signs of water leakage can prevent some pretty serious hassle.
Check for water leaks by removing all floor mats from the vehicle, and emptying the trunk of any contents. Next, in the vehicle’s passenger compartment, press your hand – or a rag – into all accessible carpeting to check for signs of moisture. Pay very close attention to the outer corners of the cabin carpeting, including the footwell areas both front and back.
Move to the trunk, lifting the cargo floor out of the way and removing any provisions underneath. Once you’ve exposed the bare metal body beneath the trunk, inspect the area fully for signs of dampness, standing water, mould, or rust. If you detect any signs of water leakage, it’s probably best to move to another unit.
Three years in, this generation of Camry seems to have earned a following of happy owners. An attentive test drive with consideration of the tips and check listed above should help ensure you find the best possible unit for your dollar. For maximum peace of mind, consider a certified pre-owned model sold by a dealership familiar with the vehicle. If buying privately, consider a pre-purchase inspection by a trained technician as a final step before your purchase for maximum confidence.
IIHS: Top Safety Pick+ (2018)
NHTSA: 5/5 Stars