Crucial Cars: Toyota Camry

From timeless icons to everyday essentials, Crucial Cars examines the vehicles we can't live without. For this installment, we showcase the Toyota Camry.

2019 Camry

Source | Toyota



36 years later and the Toyota Camry is still battling it out with its arch-nemesis the Honda Accord.

First introduced in the U.S. in 1983 to replace the rear-wheel drive Corona, the Camry was Toyota's answer to the Accord's steadily growing U.S. popularity. The Accord had already been available in the U.S. for seven years when the Camry entered the market, so one of the ways Toyota helped set the Camry apart from that competition was by making it larger and more powerful.

The first Camry's wheelbase was nearly half a foot longer than the Accord's, and it had about seven percent more horsepower. But it would take the Camry nearly 14 years to jump ahead of the Accord in retail sales, a feat first accomplished in 1997 when it also became the best-selling car in the U.S. The two have traded places numerous times in the years since, even as many other Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs were added to the lineup.

Even today Toyota still offers prospective buyers head-to-head comparisons between Camry and Accord on Toyota's 2019 Camry website. The Camry – not surprisingly given that it's a Toyota website – comes out the winner with more horsepower, better fuel economy, and a lower MSRP.

Like other Toyota vehicles, the Camry continues to change with the times, undergoing a redesign approximately every five years. That first Camry's 2-liter, four-cylinder engine cranking out 92 horsepower has evolved to today's 3.5-liter, V6 engine delivering 301 horsepower. That V6 wasn't even an option until 1988 when all-wheel drive also became available.


2019 Camry

Source | Toyota



Toyota positions the 2019 Camry as a dependable, but certainly not boring, performer, with the moniker – "The Daring Side of Dependability" – on Camry marketing materials.

With 10 models to choose from, including three hybrids, drivers can get into a base Camry with a starting MSRP of $24,095, 29/41 MPG, (51/53 MPG for a Camry Hybrid LE) and an exterior design that's both sporty and impression-worthy thanks to a powerful stance and muscular shape.

First impressions matter and from the front, an aggressive grille – available in gloss black – and LED headlights add to the stylish, menacing look. Around back, the dual, quad-chrome-tipped exhaust delivers a sporty, aggressive sound and look, while 19-inch, black, machine-finished alloy wheels and LED taillights complete the boldness.


2019 Camry Interior

Source | Toyota



Inside, there's an available panoramic roof with front power tilt/slide moon roof, leather-trimmed seats, and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. A driver-focused design places everything at the driver's fingertips and in view, including the Apple CarPlay paired with an available eight-inch multimedia touch screen, a seven-inch color driver's Multi-Information Display and an available 10-inch color, heads-up display that projects important information onto the windshield. Additional technology offerings include Wi-Fi Direct Powered by Verizon that can support up to five devices, and an available wireless smart phone charging option. Even when drivers are away from their Camry, they're still connected thanks to Remote Connect that monitors guest drivers and can even help locate your Camry in a crowded parking lot.


The Camry's Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS) detects nearby obstacles, and after warning drivers, will reduce engine power and apply the brakes to avoid a collision. A “Bird's eye view with perimeter scan" system utilizes front-, rear-, and side-mounted cameras to provide an all-around overhead view, while the Blind Spot Monitor alerts drivers when there's something on either side.

When the Camry's in reverse, a rear cross-traffic alert detects vehicles approaching from either side and provides visual and audio warnings. Ten airbags in all – including advanced dual stage SRS driver and front passenger bags and front and rear side curtain airbags – provide further protection, as do the six advanced safety features that make up the Star Safety System and include Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology. The peace of mind those safety features provide are supplemented with a 24-hour roadside assistance package, and two years or 25,000 miles of no-cost factory maintenance.

The Toyota Camry has traveled a long way in its 36 years in the U.S. and it shows no signs of slowing down as it continues to enjoy popularity and strong reviews thanks to refreshing designs, performance, dependability, technology and safety.

For a nostalgic look back, here's where it all began with one of the earlier Camrys in 1986 that looks a lot simpler than today's complex machines.

Camry? Accord? Whatever camp you fall into, you can rely on Advance Auto Parts for the car parts and supplies you need to maintain your vehicle right. Buy online, pick up in store—in 30 minutes.

Last updated September 4, 2019