The Toyota Camry is an iconic car but not all years are made equal.
Using expert analysis and real user data, we have analyzed each model year, categorizing the best, neutral, and worst times in the Toyota Camry’s history.
We will describe each generation’s unique strengths and weaknesses, revealing the issues faced and the strides made, to give you a comprehensive understanding of the Camry lineage.
First introduced to the market in 1982, the Toyota Camry has grown to become one of the world’s best-selling passenger cars.
Known for its reliability, impressive safety features, and efficient performance, the Camry has been an excellent choice for families and individuals seeking a dependable midsize car.
First, we will show you the different Toyota Camry generations.
Table of ContentsShow
Toyota Camry (Wide Body) Generations
The wide-body version of the Toyota Camry, which came into existence in 1992, gave this popular sedan a broader and more robust appeal. It marked a significant transition in design and build, setting a new standard for midsize sedans in its class.
Here is a table that outlines the six generations of the wide-body Camry:
|1st generation (XV10)||1992-1996|
|2nd generation (XV20)||1997-2001|
|3rd generation (XV30)||2002-2006|
|4th generation (XV40)||2007-2011|
|5th generation (XV50)||2012-2017|
|6th generation (XV70)||2018-Present|
We have categorized these generations to provide a clear overview of the evolution of the Camry. The changes between generations, in technology, safety, and overall build, often become the deciding factor for potential buyers.
Toyota Camry Best, Neutral and Worst Years
To determine the best and worst years, we took into account various factors, including but not limited to:
- Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
- Annual maintenance costs
- Safety ratings
- Consumer Reports reliability scores
- Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
- NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
- Edmund’s owner ratings
- JD Power owner ratings
- Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
- VehicleHistory.com owner ratings
- Cars.com owner ratings
Here’s a graph that combines all the ratings from the mentioned sources to provide an overall score for each model year.
Following is a table representing the Best, Neutral, and Worst years for each of these Camry generations:
|Generation||Best Years||Neutral Years||Worst Years|
Neutral years are the yEARS that neither excelled exceptionally nor performed poorly across the categories evaluated. These models typically exhibited a balanced performance, not being disturbed by significant recalls or complaints.
It’s important to note that factors like NHTSA recalls and complaints negatively impact a car’s reliability score. The higher the number of recalls and complaints, the lower the car’s reliability, and consequently, the lower its score.
Let’s go deeper into the intricacies of the data to gain a better understanding of each generation and their respective years.
Best & Worst Years for Toyota Camry 1st Generation (1992-1996)
The Best Years: 1995, 1996
The 1995 and 1996 model years stand out as the pinnacles of the first generation. They had a robust engine that was known for its reliability and durability. In terms of technology, these models featured state-of-the-art systems for their time, including an advanced transmission system and an electronic fuel injection system.
Safety was also prioritized with features such as anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags. This combination of reliability, technology, and safety made the 1995 and 1996 models favorite among consumers.
The Neutral Years: 1993, 1994
While the 1993 and 1994 models did not necessarily excel in any particular area, they maintained a consistent performance level and featured gradual improvements in technology, safety, and design.
These model years carried forward the reliability and comfort that Camry had become known for, thereby earning their place as neutral years.
The Worst Years: 1992
Despite being the model that launched the first-generation Camry, the 1992 model year was plagued with a significant number of structural problems. These issues affected overall reliability and performance, leading to numerous customer complaints.
Problems included troublesome transmission and reports of engine failures, placing this model year in the worst category.
Best & Worst Years for Toyota Camry 2nd Generation (1997-2001)
In the second generation (1997-2001), Toyota Camry took significant strides, earning a reputation for being reliable and high performing.
The Camry was the best-selling passenger car in the United States during this period, except for 2001.
The Best Years: 1998, 2000
The 1998 and 2000 models stand out as the best years of this generation. With their enhanced interior quality, improved powertrain performance, and better fuel economy, they provided a seamless driving experience.
Toyota introduced optional side airbags during this period, improving passenger safety in case of collisions.
The 2000 model, in particular, delivered a reliable 3.0-liter V6 engine that provided excellent performance without sacrificing fuel economy.
The Neutral Years: 1997, 1999
The 1997 and 1999 models of the Camry were dependable and efficient, though they didn’t bring any major breakthroughs.
As the introductory model of the second generation, the 1997 Camry set the pace with a solid performance, better fuel efficiency, and enhanced safety measures. The 1999 model continued the steady performance, incorporating incremental improvements in technology and design.
Both models offered reliability and comfort that defined the Camry brand but didn’t introduce any significant changes that set them apart, making them the neutral years.
The Worst Years: 2001
Despite the significant successes of this generation, the 2001 Camry had some challenges. The model was faced with numerous issues that spanned the engine and transmission systems.
There were multiple reports of oil leakage, premature engine failures, and transmission hesitation, resulting in a surge in NHTSA complaints. The combination of these challenges resulted in a dip in the model’s reliability scores and consumer satisfaction, marking it as the worst year for the second-generation Toyota Camry.
Best & Worst Years for Toyota Camry 3rd Generation (2002-2006)
The third-generation Camry (2002-2006) represented a renewed focus on design and performance. Despite being well-received overall, it had its fair share of challenges and triumphs, leading to a mix of best, neutral, and worst years.
The Best Years: 2004, 2005
The 2004 and 2005 models stand out as the best years of the third generation. These years featured notable improvements in safety, comfort, and performance.
The implementation of side-curtain airbags and an optional Vehicle Stability Control system greatly improved the Camry’s safety profile.
Coupled with an upgraded 3.3L V6 engine in the SE trim level, these models offered a more powerful and secure driving experience.
The Neutral Years: 2006
The 2006 Camry is marked as a neutral year. While it showcased advancements in safety technology, such as an Advanced Airbag System, and achieved better fuel efficiency, it didn’t quite match the success of the 2004 and 2005 models.
The 2006 Camry didn’t generate a significant number of complaints, maintaining Toyota’s reputation for reliability and performance.
The Worst Years: 2002, 2003
Despite the overall success of the third generation, the 2002 and 2003 models encountered various problems, categorizing them as the poorest years. The 2002 model had a total of 1037 NHTSA complaints, mainly regarding vehicle speed control, service brakes, hydraulic, and engine.
Owners reported unintended acceleration, brake failure, and oil leakage. The 2003 model year continued with the same issues. Many consumers reported problems with the brakes and the engine, which resulted in several recalls and a drop in reliability scores.
These significant challenges overshadowed the model’s otherwise reliable performance, solidifying the 2002 and 2003 models as the worst years of the third-generation Toyota Camry.
Best & Worst Years for Toyota Camry 4th Generation (2007-2011)
The fourth-generation Camry, produced from 2007 to 2011, was characterized by more powerful engines and additional safety features.
The Best Years: 2010, 2011
The 2010 and 2011 models emerged as the best years of the fourth generation. Toyota significantly improved engine efficiency during these years, enhancing both performance and fuel economy.
Advancements in safety, like better stability control, traction control, and an anti-lock brake system, played a role in making the ride safer.
The 2011 model especially was lauded for its strong resale value, great gas mileage, and its potent, available V6 engine, earning high owner satisfaction ratings.
The Worst Years: 2007, 2008, 2009
Despite the significant improvements, the initial years of this generation – 2007, 2008, and 2009, were marked by a number of serious problems.
The 2007 model had an alarming 3572 NHTSA complaints and 11 recalls, mainly concerning engine, vehicle speed control, service brakes, structural problems, and visibility issues. A prevalent dashboard defect caused severe visibility problems, proving to be a major safety concern for drivers.
These years saw widespread issues with excessive oil consumption, causing premature engine wear, and failures. Problems with the vehicle’s speed control led to unintended acceleration, posing serious safety risks.
These considerable problems negatively affected reliability scores, marking these as the worst years of the fourth-generation Toyota Camry.
Best & Worst Years for Toyota Camry 5th Generation (2012-2017)
The fifth-generation Camry (2012-2017) brought about a revival in Camry sales in Japan, primarily due to the introduction of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system. This marked a turning point for the Camry, especially in its home market.
The Best Years: 2014, 2017
The 2014 and 2017 models emerged as the best years for this generation. The 2017 model year, in particular, was hailed for its robust engine, advanced technology, and superior safety features.
Notably, these models boasted enhancements in fuel efficiency and overall ride comfort, contributing to their high owner satisfaction ratings.
The Neutral Years: 2013
The 2013 model year is considered a neutral year for this generation. While it didn’t reach the heights of the 2014 and 2017 models, it also didn’t suffer from significant issues.
The 2013 Camry continued the tradition of providing a comfortable, reliable midsize sedan, with gradual improvements in interior quality, ride comfort, and safety features.
The Worst Years: 2012, 2015, 2016
The 2012, 2015, and 2016 models faced numerous issues, leading to their categorization as the worst years of the fifth generation.
The 2012 model year was particularly problematic, facing many complaints regarding the vehicle’s brakes and powertrain.
Owners reported brake failure under normal conditions, along with excessive oil consumption, contributing to a reduced reliability score.
Best & Worst Years for Toyota Camry 6th Generation (2018-2023)
The sixth generation of the Toyota Camry (2018-present) is a testament to the evolution of the automobile industry, embracing advanced technology, improved safety, and superior performance. Nonetheless, like any product, it has seen its highs and lows.
The Best Years: 2022
The 2022 Camry model year has emerged as the most successful so far in this generation, with several key improvements distinguishing it from its predecessors.
With advancements in performance and reliability, it’s the best representation of what the sixth-generation Camry has to offer.
Equipped with enhanced safety features such as the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+) package, the 2022 model takes the lead in ensuring passenger protection. Moreover, the 2022 model offers a more robust and efficient engine performance.
The Neutral Years: 2018, 2019, 2020, 2023
The 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2023 Camry models represent the neutral years of the sixth generation.
They didn’t introduce any groundbreaking improvements or present significant drawbacks, which is why they fall into the neutral years category.
The Worst Years: 2021
In contrast, the 2021 model year of the Camry faced substantial challenges. It was marked by the lowest consumer report’s reliability and owner satisfaction ratings in this generation.
Owners reported problems with the fuel system, airbags, and brakes. Issues with the airbag system included malfunctioning seat occupant sensors and warning lights.
Lastly, some 2021 Camry owners reported problems with the braking system, including unexpected activation of the brake assist and stability control features.
Toyota Camry Average Resale Value
Here is a graph that shows the average list price of each Toyota Camry model year. It gives you a good overview of what to expect to shell out for any given model year.
You are now able to make an informed decision when buying a Toyota Camry. Avoid the worst Toyota Camry years and go for the best!
What are your thoughts on the Camry’s evolution, and is there a particular model year that stood out to you as a car enthusiast or owner?
We’d love to hear your insights or personal experiences with the Camry. Please share in the comments below.