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1997 Toyota Camry Sedan

4dr Sdn CE Manual

Starting at | Starting at 23 MPG City - 31 MPG Highway

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  • $16,448 original MSRP
Printable Version

1997 Toyota Camry Sedan

Printable Version

1997 Toyota Camry Sedan


1997 Toyota Camry LE

Source: New Car Test Drive

Polishing the gold standard.

by Marcia Ruff

Among ordinary cars, sales leap after a redesign and then gradually decline as the new becomes familiar and other, more exciting models catch the public's eye.

Not so the Camry. Last year -- the final year for a five-year-old design -- Toyota sold more Camrys than ever before. Thanks to its status as the benchmark among family sedans, the Camry manages to sustain ever-increasing sales, even with a comparatively steep pricetag.

The Camry's virtues have included bulletproof reliability, excellent fit and finish, and a comfortable, quiet interior. Its performance has never stirred the soul, but it has been predictable and precise. In redesigning the car, Toyota had no interest in tinkering with the formula. Its goal was to enhance the car's features without changing its fundamental nature.

In this, the company has succeeded. The new Camry is slightly bigger and slightly more powerful, with an all-new exterior and interior, a longer list of safety and convenience features and more refined ride and handling.


The 1997 Camry comes in any shape you want, as long as you want a sedan. The low-volume Coupe and Wagon models have been dropped. The trim levels have also been tweaked. The base model is now called the CE instead of the DX; the mid-level LE, which makes up 60 percent of sales, and top-of-the-line XLE remain the same.

The new Camry is less than an inch longer than before, but it looks bigger and more substantial, thanks to smart design. The car's lines are more angular, and angularity generally lends a larger appearance. Toyota also stretched the wheelbase two inches and chopped the front and rear overhang. This puts the wheels closer to the corners, which gives the car a sportier stance and a fuller look overall.

The car's aerodynamics have been improved significantly (from a coefficient of drag of 0.33 to 0.30), thanks to a sharply swept-back windshield and a squared-off tail with wraparound lights. The aerodynamic new tail design does double-duty by also changing the trunk opening, which is an inch and a half wider and has a lower liftover, making loading easier. The simple gooseneck trunk hinges are unchanged, however, and still intrude into the cargo area.

The interior of the trunk is slightly wider (it can hold golf clubs crosswise) and fully lined for a nicer appearance and less noise. The rear seats can be folded forward (in a 60/40 split) to increase cargo capacity even further.

To jazz things up even more, Toyota has added five new exterior colors, some of them positively exotic, such as Sunfire Red Metallic, Blue Velvet Pearl, and Frosted Iris Metallic.

The Inside Story

The interior of the new Camry was designed at the Toyota Technical Center in the U.S. and it displays a welcome Americanization. You notice the first difference as soon as you sit in the car: the bottom seat cushion has been lengthened to better fit long American legs. Plus the seat and seatback can be adjusted to more positions, fitting a wider range of people.

The Camry LE we tested had a clean, simple dashboard with a low cowl for good visibility. The white-on-black gauges of the instrument panel are larger and brighter this year. A low washer fluid light and odometer with dual trip-meter have been added. The most helpful change has been to invert the audio and temperature controls, with the more frequently used audio controls on top.

Several thoughtful amenities have been added. A second power outlet is located at the bottom on the front console, next to the new built-in tissue dispenser. The sun visors have extension panels. The front cupholders now hold 20-ounce bottles, and new rear cupholders can take either juice boxes or cans. There are numerous new storage cubbies, and the glovebox is almost 30 percent larger.

Interior dimensions are slightly larger, particularly in rear leg room, thanks to the longer wheelbase. The amount of sound-deadening material has been increased, making an already-quiet interior luxuriously quiet. The radio antenna has been replaced on all but the CE-level cars by a new in-glass antenna at the rear that improves reception and reduces wind noise and carwash damage.

Safety is important to family sedan buyers, and the Camry has received several improvements in this area. Body structure has been strengthened thoughout, as have been the rear seatbacks to resist intrusion from objects in the trunk. The lap belt in the rear center seat has been replaced with a safer, three-point belt. An integrated child seat is now available on all cloth-seated models ($125).

Antilock brakes are now standard on all but the four-cylinder CE models, which is a good deal considering they were an $1100 option last year on all but XLE models. Traction control is also an option for the first time on a front-drive Toyota car, available on six-cylinder LE and XLE models ($300).

Ride & Drive

The standard engine for the Camry is a 2.2-liter four-cylinder that is a remarkably smooth piece of work. Horsepower this year has been boosted from 125 to 133, a small but noticeable increase, particularly since the car is 33 pounds lighter than before.

A four-cylinder engine in a car this size is usually a dismal choice, but not here. The 2.2's acceleration is acceptable, and once up to speed, it rolls along nicely. It has to downshift more frequently, and passing on two-lane roads requires more planning than with a larger engine. But the 2.2 is a refined engine, with none of the roughness typical of a four-cylinder. It's economical to buy and operate, which is why 85 percent of Camry buyers opt for it.

The optional 3.0-liter V-6, generally recognized as one of the best in the business, is a significantly more powerful engine, but it will set you back an additional $2300. For the money, you get a family sedan that will go from 0 to 60 in 8.7 seconds, as opposed to 10.9 seconds for the four-cylinder. It passes with ease, and accelerates briskly away from stoplights. Horsepower is improved here, too, from 188 to 194. However, the uprated V-6 now requires premium fuel for optimum performance.

An intriguing new combo this year is a CE fitted with a V-6 and a manual transmission, to satisfy sporty tastes (base price $19,668). It's the fastest of them all with a 0-to-60 time of 7.6 seconds. Take note, though, that the CE V-6 is a little short on standard equipment; air conditioning, power windows and locks, and a cassette player are all optional. (The same limited equipment list is true for the four-cylinder CE models.)

In terms of ride and handling, the Camry has always had the poise of a far more expensive sedan, thanks to the underpinnings it shares with the Lexus ES300. Steering is more precise this year, giving greater maneuverability. Though the car is no sports sedan, it is smooth and competent, giving the driver a confident sense of control.

Final Word

The Camry redesign had a secondary goal of wringing cost out wherever possible. The yen strengthened dramatically during the car's development period, and saving money was imperative to keep the Camry within reach of American buyers.

Surprisingly, we can't see any cheapening. Many changes are even improvements. The new bumpers, for example, are cheaper to build and install yet protect up to 5 mph instead of 2.5 mph, as before.

However, it's not easy to see the savings on the Camry's window sticker. The company says new Camrys are three to four percent cheaper than comparably equipped 1996 models. That may be technically true, but it is largely because anti-lock brakes are now mostly standard instead of mostly optional at a relatively high $1100.

Nevertheless, the new Camry is just what Toyota set out to achieve: more of everything but still a Camry. It is more refined, better handling, roomier and better equipped. The Camry holds its resale value well, and its reliability means you probably won't have to see much of your dealer until it's time for a new one.

Order our 200+ page magazine of reviews. Send $8.00 (S&H included) to New Car Test Drive, 2145 Crooks Rd. Suite 200, Troy, MI 48084

© 1997 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

1997 Toyota Camry Sedan

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade

No consumer rating

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Passenger Crash Grade

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Side Impact Crash Test - Front

No consumer rating

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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear

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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Fog Lamps Opt
Intermittent Wipers Opt
Variable Inter. Wipers Opt


Alarm Opt
Printable Version

1997 Toyota Camry Sedan

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles Service adjustment 12 months/12,500 miles (24 months/18,000 miles in New York)
Drivetrain 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/Unlimited Miles

Toyota Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

12-month/12,000-mile Comprehensive Warranty*

7-year/100,000-mile Limited Powertrain Warranty**

1-year of Roadside Assistance***

160-Point Quality Assurance Inspection

CARFAX® Vehicle History ReportTM****

Certified customers are eligible for standard new car financing rates*****

*Whichever comes first from date of Toyota Certified Used Vehicle purchase. The Comprehensive Warranty covers any repair or replacement of components which fail under normal use due to defect in materials or workmanship. (Program not available in Puerto Rico and Hawaii.)

**Whichever comes first from original date of first use when sold as new. See your Toyota Certified Used Vehicles dealer for warranty details. Program not available in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. For AL, FL, GA, NC & SC, warranty coverage differs in the following ways: 7-year or 100,000-mile Toyota Certified Limited Powertrain Warranty coverage begins on January 1st of the vehicle's model year and zero (0) odometer miles and expires at the earlier of seven years or 100,000 odometer miles.

***From date of Toyota Certified Used Vehicle purchase. Covers most services, including flat tires, lockout service, jump starts, fuel delivery up to 3 gallons and towing for mechanical breakdown or collision recovery to the nearest Toyota dealership. Services provided exclude any parts required. Coverage not available in Mexico. See Certified Warranty Supplement for warranty details.

****Beginning December 1, 2005 CARFAX® Vehicle History ReportsTM are a required part of every Toyota Certified Used Vehicle. See your local dealer for details.

*****Rates mentioned are for standard new car rates, and do not include new car specials or subvented rates. Not all buyers will qualify. Financing available through Toyota Financial Services for qualified buyers only.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 7 years / 85,000
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection All TCUV vehicles must pass a comprehensive checklist that includes a 160-point inspection. This way you can rest assured that your pre-owned Toyota is in perfect condition. To see full inspection list visit http://www.toyotacertified.com/inspection.html
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance 1-year of Roadside Assistance from date of TCUV purchase.
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $50

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1997 Toyota Camry Sedan

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