2002 Toyota Camry LE (410)


This week I drove the 2002 Toyota Camry LE 4-door sedan and I sensed it was bigger than it needed to be unless they plan to dump the Avalon. This totally redesigned Camry is surely Toyota’s response to people wanting bigger cars again. I hope we don’t return to the days of huge lumbering cars that could second for a “Tank” if you just added a gun turret.

In reality, although it felt much bigger, it is only one inch longer with a two inch longer wheelbase. But it is taller and wider and that is what attacked my senses. I just thought it was a great size before and filled a need in that size car.

Sales figures from Toyota show that 75% of buyers opt for the fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine. And they say that this new Camry change represents a move from Sensible to Sensual. Right. That’s exactly my point. Why would they want to change a winner? And is it really all that Sensual?

Handling & Performance:

Decent handling but nothing to write home about. I was a little miffed at a couple of things. My foot kept hitting the support under the dash while applying the brake, which was annoying. Braking was also noticeably spongy with a long travel.


Unexciting is the best way to put it. It simply isn’t a memorable car, and that’s ok because that cuts both ways. Obviously people liked the look and functional attributes of the Camry up to this time. And only time will tell if they will embrace the changed version as much.

Fit and Finish:

Good.  But this is something you notice when it’s bad, and overlook when it’s good. Most Japanese made cars do a good job at making the joints fit closely, even and uniform. This Camry is no exception.


Not bad, all things considered.

Consumer Recommendation:

This new Camry reminds me too much of the Chevrolet Malibu or a Buick in that bulky feeling that is not attractive to me. The Corolla is about the size of previous Camry’s and you’d save some money at the same time if it satisfies your requirements.

The Competition: * (in order of ranking)

(1) Saturn LS $16-20,000, (2) Honda Accord $16-25,000, (3) Ford Taurus $19-23,000,  (4) Chrysler Concorde $23-28,000, (5) Mitsubishi Galant $18-24,000, (6) Subaru Legacy $19-25,000, (7t) Pontiac Grand Prix $21-26,000, (7t) Toyota Camry LE $24,950, (8) Nissan Maxima $25-27,000, (9t) Buick LeSabre $25-30,000, (9t) Dodge Intrepid $21-27,000, (9t) Volkswagen Passat $22-38,000, (10) Volvo S60 $27-34,000, (11) Chevrolet Impala $20-24,000.

* – Ranking is based on a formula using cost, cu ft, number of features, warranty and gas mileage.

Good News:

One of the best selling cars in the US so it is highly regarded on a wide scale, and the good gas performance probably has a lot to do with its popularity.

Bad News:

Boring, untested new platform, jerky gas peddle, brake travel is long and spongy.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter4-cylinder engine, 4-speed auto transmission, front wheel drive, power steering, 4-wheel independent suspension, power front disc brakes, dual airbags, child safety rear locks, power mirrors, power windows and locks, climate control, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, variable intermittent wipers and split fold down rear seat.

Gas Stats:

23 City and 32 Highway MPG.


MSRP $19,800.
Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2002 – An Automotive Love Affair

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