Toyota Camry (1997)
We tested the bare-bones Camry, with roll-up windows and no leather interioror any of those other fancy accoutrements.
The car was great. I can't describe it in any other way than to say that it's "unencumbered." It's a basic car, and there's not a lot of stuff thatc an break on it. It's a very basic car that is quiet, handles reasonably well, takes the bumps well, is comfortable inside and has great visibility. I imagine that if you're 6' 3", it might be a little tight in there, but it's fine for the average person. The controls are well placed and simple to figure out. Simply put, this Camry is a pleasant car to drive.
This is a time-tested car. We tested an automatic transmission, which shifted smoothly. I especially like the 4-cylinder engine, because it's a lot cheaper to maintain and fix than the 6-cylinder model. Admittedly, the 6-cylinder has more power. If you really think you need the power--that is, if you're going to be hauling around five people all the time, or hauling a trailer, or (worse still) hauling your mother-in-law--then it makes sense togo with the larger engine. But, the 4-cylinder engine will drive at 75 miles an hour (which is 10 miles an hour above the speed limit, unless youlive in Montana) all day long--and it'll do that for 150,000 miles. If you want more than that from a car, then forget it. You're not going to get it.
Incidentally, the Camry's primary competition comes from the Ford Taurus andthe Honda Accord. My experience working in the garage has been that the Camrys are less trouble than either of these two vehicles. This car will run pretty much trouble-free for a long time.
Is this car as refined as a Lexus? Not by any means. But, it's a heck of alot less money. I can't say I was "giddy" every time I got in it, but I certainly appreciated its qualities. This is a basic car that's not going to give you trouble for a long time, and I for one like that.