2002 Toyota Camry SE V6 (376)


This week we’re looking at the 2002 Toyota Camry. Bore – ring! I’ve always felt their whole line of passenger cars has been unexciting. You know, like they are not controversial in styling where some people love them while others hate them. But, at the end of the day, they always get the job done without any fan-fare. They simply are great cars all around.

Camry was introduced in 1983 and began being built in the US in 1988. They took the title of “Best Selling Passenger Car in America” away from Honda Accord and Ford Taurus in 1997. Today they are available in six trims –  LE, SE, XLE, LE V6, SE V6 and XLE V6. They are powered by either a 2.4-liter 157-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, or a 3.0-liter 192-horsepower V6. There is no manual trans option with the V6.

Toyota has always had a good reputation for quality and that is reason enough to be crowned the top selling mid-sized sedan in America for the past five years. I have to admit, I liked this new 2002 a lot. I’ve owned a few Toyotas over the years and they have been consistently good cars. Brother-in-law Steve and wife Margaret have driven a Camry for a long time and I’ve never heard a bad word. You come to expect them to be good and they never disappoint me. That reputation precedes them these days and has given them momentum that is hard to overcome by the competition.

I have, however, tested all the competition noted below at one time or another, and the standout this year for me is the Mitsubishi Galant.

The 2002 Camry is newly revamped and sits on a Lexus platform. However, don’t get excited, you won’t confuse it for a Lexus, especially when you check out the $31,000 price tag for the ES 300.

Handling & Performance:

I thought it was very good for the most part. But even perfect things, like people, have chinks in their armor. It performed well enough, but there was an unsettling little stutter in the engine from time to time and I couldn’t put my finger on the problem. I felt that at any moment the missing could end in complete engine failure.


I don’t know about you, but I don’t see that it has changed in appearance all that much. But that’s a “good” thing. It didn’t become the best selling Sedan in America by needing a face-lift. I don’t think I’d fool around with the looks all that much either.

Fit and Finish:

I expect them to be good. The Japanese have set the standard in today’s world because Japanese workers have a work ethic second to none. They just seem to give more care to the process of putting all the parts of the puzzle together to produce a pretty picture, and a pretty darn good car too.


Fairly usual for the price and quality of this car.


Not bad. But you could eliminate options packages in parenthesis in the equipment list below and save $4759.


If you’re seriously in the market for a new car, and in this price range, begin test-driving in the numbered order noted below in parenthesis to save some time. Let me know where you stopped and what you thought. You can email your comments by going to www.autolove.com. Happy hunting.

The competition: 

(1)Mitsubishi Galant $18-24,000, (2)Toyota Camry $19-25,000, (3)Volkswagen Passat $22-29,000, (4)Oldsmobile Intrigue $23-28,000, (5)Honda Accord $16-25,000, (6)Buick Regal $23-27,000, (7)Ford Taurus $19-23,000, (8)Nissan Maxima $25-27,000, (9)Mazda 626 $19-23,000, (10)Chevrolet Impala $20-24,000,  (11)Chrysler Concorde $23-28,000, (12)Saturn LS $16-20,000, (13)Subaru Legacy $19-25,000, (14)Dodge Intrepid $21-27,000, (15)Pontiac Grand Prix $21-26,000.

Good News:

 It’s a Toyota with a great rep.

Bad News:

Changes usually cause bugs.

Standard Equipment:

3.0 liter 192 horsepower V6 engine, 4-speed auto trans, front wheel drive, power steering, power 4-wheel disc brakes, dual front air bags, child door locks, auto halogen headlights, alloy wheels, auto air conditioning, stereo with cassette, CD player with 6 speakers, power windows and door locks and mirrors, cruise control, leather tilt steering wheel and shift knob, (keyless entry, leather trim package, power driver seat, upgraded stereo with a six disc CD changer and two more speakers, power moon roof, heated front seats, vehicle skid control and side air bags).

Gas Stats:

20 City and 28 Highway MPG.


MSRP $28,914.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com

Copyright © 2002 – An Automotive Love Affair

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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