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1998 Toyota Camry Sedan

4dr Sdn XLE Auto

Starting at | Starting at 23 MPG City - 30 MPG Highway

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  • $22,628 original MSRP
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1998 Toyota Camry Sedan

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1998 Toyota Camry Sedan

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1998 Toyota Camry LE

Source: New Car Test Drive

by Marcia Ruff

America's best-selling car.

Base Price $20,638
As Tested $21,299

When Toyota launched the fourth generation of its popular sedan last year, the automaker's stated goal was take the Camry, already the benchmark for family sedans, and make it even better. A less-public goal was to make the Camry the best-selling car in America, bumping aside perennial winners Ford Taurus and Honda Accord.

To do so, Toyota devised a simple strategy: give the car more of everything without sacrificing the traits that made the Camry so successful. The new model was slightly larger, the interior more spacious, the ride and handling more refined, and it sported a longer list of convenience and safety features. Perhaps most important, the price was a few points below comparably equipped '96 models.

It was a smart plan.

One year later, Toyota has met the challenge it set for itself. When sales numbers were tallied at the end of the 1997 model year, Americans had bought 385,814 Camrys, 10 percent more than last year, edging out Accord and Taurus.

With that kind of success, it's not surprising the 1998 Camry offers relatively few changes over the 1997 model. There are, however, several significant improvements, including the availability of side airbags and an engine-immobilizing anti-theft system. These days, even winners can't slack off.

Walkaround

The exterior of the Camry is unchanged from the 1997 model, which offers a sleeker, more prestigious appearance than the modest, rounded shape of the previous generation.

The Camry looks substantial without casting a big shadow. The angular lines stretch the car's profile and give it presence. And yet it doesn't look stuffy. Minimal overhang at the front and rear of the car pushes the wheels to the corners, giving it a sporty, dynamic stance.

At the rear, a tall, square tail improves the car's aerodynamics. The trunk is wide enough to carry golf clubs crosswise, with a broad opening and a comfortably low lift-over height. To further increase cargo capacity, the rear seats fold forward in a 60/40 split. The trunk is fully lined for a clean appearance and less noise transmission into the passenger compartment. The gooseneck hinges on the trunk lid, which intrude slightly into the cargo area, are less than ideal, however.

The Camry is available only as a sedan. The previous generation included coupe and wagon models. A Camry-based coupe is scheduled to appear next year, but the low-volume wagon has disappeared in favor of the all-new Toyota Sienna minivan, which is based on the Camry platform.

Buyers have a wide range of trim levels to choose among. The budget-minded can shop the CE: with a four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission, the CE starts at $17,358. That buys you the Camry's famous reliability and quality, but not a lot else: air conditioning, cruise control, ABS, power windows and locks, cassette player, and even intermittent wipers are all optional.

Most buyers (about 60 percent) opt for an LE, like the one we tested. All the features missing from the CE that listed above, as well as an automatic transmission, are standard on the LE, which has a base price of $20,638.

The top trim level is the XLE, which starts at $23,048. Standard features on the XLE include a premium audio system with CD player, the engine-immobilizing anti-theft system, aluminum wheels, a more plush interior, and power seats for the driver and passenger.

For about $2300 on any trim level, you can replace the four-cylinder engine with a V-6.

The Inside Story

The biggest changes on the Camry for 1998 are in the area of safety -- a key consideration for family sedan buyers. Side airbags for the front-seat passengers are available for the first time (for $250). Side airbags can reduce the number of abdominal and chest injuries, according to safety experts. The Camry's front airbags have been reduced in force for 1998. Seat belts now come with pretensioners and force-limiters, which boost effectiveness by tightening the belts in an impact, then loosening them slightly to reduce the chance of belt-induced injuries. This combination has been found on luxury models for years, and it's nice to see them on large-volume mid-priced cars.

These enhancements come on top of an already-strong safety package. Anti-lock brakes are standard on all but the four-cylinder CE model, where they are a $550 option. Traction control is an option on V-6-powered cars ($300).

There are three-point safety belts in every position, including the rear center spot. The rear seatbacks are fortified to resist intrusion from objects in the trunk. Indeed, the entire body structure has performed very well in government and insurance industry crash tests.

The interior of the Camry is a light and airy space, with comfortable seats and a low cowl for good visibility. An elegant dashboard houses bright white-on-black instruments. The audio and climate control knobs are simple and within easy reach of driver or passenger and the stereo system is excellent.

Thoughtful amenities abound. A second power outlet is located at the bottom on the front console, next to the built-in tissue dispenser. The sun visors have extension panels. The front cupholders hold 20-ounce bottles, and the rear cupholders can take either juice boxes or cans. There are numerous storage cubbies, and a capacious glovebox.

The interior is roomy, thanks to the Camry's long wheelbase. A generous amount of sound-deadening material makes the interior luxuriously quiet. The radio antenna on all but the CE models is mounted in the rear window to improve reception and reduce wind noise and car wash damage.

Ride & Drive

The standard powerplant for the Camry is a 133-horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine that is remarkably smooth. A four-cylinder engine in a car this size is usually a dismal choice, but not here. The 2.2-liter provides acceptable acceleration performance and, once up to speed, keeps the car rolling along nicely. It has to downshift more frequently, and passing on two-lane roads requires more planning than with a larger engine. But the refined 2.2-liter has none of the roughness typical of four-cylinder engines. It's economical to buy and operate, which is why 85 percent of Camry buyers opt for it.

The optional 194-hp 3.0-liter V-6, generally recognized as one of the best in the industry, is significantly more powerful. For the extra money, you get a family sedan that will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, as opposed to 10.9 seconds for the four-cylinder engine. It provides good performance for passing and accelerates briskly from intersections. You'll have to add premium fuel to the budget, however.

Four-speed electronic automatic transmissions are standard on the LE and XLE models. The ECTi transmission mated to the V-6 has an adaptive program responds to individual driving styles. Drive more aggressively and it will delay the shift points for more spirited performance. Leisurely cruise around town and it will shift sooner for smooth, fuel-efficient performance.

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. Though the car is no sports sedan, it is smooth and competent, giving the driver a confident sense of control.

Final Word

It's not hard to see why the new Camry was America's best-selling car last year. It is refined, roomy and well-equipped, with a strong resale value and a reliability record other carmakers envy.

The Camry traditionally has been pricey, but Toyota has worked hard to rein in cost; 1998 prices are up less than 2 percent. The competition among mid-size sedans is fierce. Honda has introduced a new Accord. And several attractive competitors are less expensive, notably the Oldsmobile Intrigue and the Pontiac Grand Prix. But if refinement, safety equipment, resale value and reliability are important, the Camry is the leading contender.

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

©1998 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

1998 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
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

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

Road Visibility

Fog Lamps Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std

Security

Anti-theft System Std
Printable Version

1998 Toyota Camry Sedan

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 Report"****

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 Reports" 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

1998 Toyota Camry Sedan

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