VIDEO: Was the Camry really that boring?

The Toyota Camry often gets a bad rap for being boring, but it’s really not a bad car. That is especially true when talking about the XV10 chassis, sold in the US from 1991-96, and we’re not even talking about its stone cold reliability. The steering isn’t sharp, but it actually holds the road surprisingly well for something that passes over every bump in the road like a puffy cloud. That goes doubly so for the sporty SE trim.

In fact, the 1993 Motorweek review for the car spent the entire time comparing it to BMWs and Mercedes. It’s not really a fair contest, since the much cheaper front-driver would obviously not live up to the expectations of luxury rear-drivers in terms of handling. But, in metrics like the 0-60 time — which the Camry SE ran in 7.2 seconds thanks to its 185-horses and 195 lb-ft of torque — it outperformed a BMW 325i.

The SE model also came with a sport suspension, alloy wheels, and a spoiler. But the real magic was in the 3.0-liter V6 and 5-speed manual combo. Add in a spacious, no-nonsense cabin, an entirely analog driving experience, and that aforementioned bulletproof reliability, and it’s starting to look like a pretty appealing package. In 1993 the starting price of an SE was $19,138, but you can pick up a manual V6 for under $5,000 today, making it a positively excellent daily driver.

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13 Responses to VIDEO: Was the Camry really that boring?

  1. MWC says:

    The Cressida was a keeper, but they kept the Camry…

  2. Nigel says:

    There was a guy in my car club that use to autocross and go to track days with his Camry 5 spd. Then there is the NATCC race versions.

  3. Nigel says:

    The NATCC..

    North American Touring Car Championship – Wikipedia

  4. Lupus says:

    I really like this generation of Camry. Few years ago i’ve searching for such one as daily driver, but they extincting here, in central Europe. When new they where ridiciulosly expensive (due to high import taxes in my country), so only a handfull was officially sold here. Most of Camry’s that drove on Polish roads where grey imports from Germany or USA. In two main configs: 2.2 I4 w. 5MT or 3.0 V6 w. 4AT.
    And indeed, i consider this car as hell’uva boring in stock form. From the outside a non-enthusiast can be fooled that this is a Subaru Legacy 2nd gen or Mazda 626. But the dullness of this Camry’s shape can be a great canvas for mods. In all possible ways. Just simple drop and nice wheels with good fitment can make it look a lot more stylish and elegant. Crude bolt-on fender flares and widened steelies can create a stock-racer image.
    By the way – the wagon version was literally HUGE. It had TWO wipers on trunk lid.
    And the largely forgotten coupe version witch i personally considered a MILF-like Celica 😉

  5. nlpnt says:

    It’s a shame there was never a V6/manual SE wagon. They’d have sold all of a dozen of them but it’d be the Holy Grail of Camrys.

  6. Scotty G says:

    I don’t think it’s a boring car at all, but if it was, or is, maybe Toyota had that in mind from the beginning. Maybe they know that the overwhelming majority of humans just want a car for reliable commuting, thus creating a huge market for them which in turn creates a huge pile of cash for their other “fun” projects? Just a thought.

  7. F31roger says:

    The 80s-90s Camrys were awesome. I’ve always liked them and wanted a coupe to put a “Scepter” rear garnish on it.

    I think practical, these, just like accords, are perfect for making cool daily drivers.

  8. BlitzPig says:

    I still call them the “Japanese Buick”. Calling them boring is being kind.

  9. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    I saw a Cressida Station Wagon, lowered with fake wood exterior panels & some patina. It was one of the best looking wagons I’ve seen for this wagon fan. Don’t know what drivetrain combos were available for wagons. Awesome!

  10. nlpnt says:

    A lot of the “boring” reputation comes from the 4/auto being the combination that sold the highest numbers, along with ’90s/early ’00s Toyota’s penchant for using beige as a hero color in almost all their ads.

  11. Speedie says:

    Great family/commuter car. But to be honest it is boring. I have driven a number of Camrys and BMWs of this era and this a classic case of don’t go by the numbers. The BMWs were a much more involved and enjoying ride.

  12. Retro Mike says:

    This car was a game changer. I remember driving one in 1992 and thinking this was the end for American bread and butter sedans. The fit and finish, features, power, reliability, ergonomics, straightforward functionality of the interior, even the fuller round soap-bar styling was such a big change from the previous gen and from what the domestics were offering it was a no brainer. It felt like a modern 90’s car while a lot of other cars still felt stuck in the 80’s.
    For fun, compare a 1992 Toyota Camry to a 1992 Pontiac Grand Am. Try not to laugh too hard.
    Even the comparable Japanese sedans couldn’t measure up. Don’t forget it took awhile after this for Honda to finally shoe-horn a V6 into the Accord (1995).
    The chassis was worthy enough to underpin the ES300 as well.
    And comparing the Camry to BMW and Mercedes is completely unfair. This was an everyman’s sedan not a luxury sedan.
    As time went on, the long term reliability was excellent and it was apparent how much quality and good engineering went into this chassis, further burnishing Toyota’s reputation for building dependable vehicles.
    To me this is the car that was the catalyst to propel Toyota to the top of the sales charts later on in the USA and should be given it’s due at least in North America.
    I’m not a Camry lover nor have i owned one (too deep into the Nissan camp) but have always worked on them and have respected these cars for what they are especially the XV10 gen.

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