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2002-2006 Toyota Camry Pre-Owned

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Justin Pritchard
Fifth-generation Camry, one of the used market’s most reliable family sedans—but watch alignment and automatic transmission on early models.

2002-2006 Toyota Camry

Writing a used car report on a vehicle known for its reliability can be a doozy of a task. Though about 750 words is allotted to present common problems, issues and owner gripes, high-reliability cars like the Toyota Camry often leave the story running short.

Since starting life in 1980 and going on sale in Canada a few years later, the Camry has earned a name for trouble-free operation, reliable performance and owner satisfaction. The sixth generation Camry is now on sale-- offering numerous option packages, four or six-cylinder power and even a hybrid option. There’s also a crossover based on the Camry’s new platform, called the Venza.

The latest Camry builds on the reputation cemented by the fifth-generation car and those before it. Buyers should expect to pay a premium for a used fifth-gen Camry, and they shouldn’t expect any pulse-pounding excitement—though this model is largely touted as a no-nonsense family sedan that’s got a proven track record.

The fifth-generation Camry was powered by a 2.4 litre, four-cylinder engine with 157 horsepower. It was attached to the front wheels by a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. A 3.0 litre, 192 horsepower V6 was available, though it came exclusively with a four-speed automatic. Later in this generation’s life, the V6 was up-sized to a 3.3 litre unit, with horsepower increased to 220. A five-speed automatic joined the engine room, too.

When shopping used, note that lower-end models used an ‘LE’ designation, while more upscale models were badged ‘SE’ or ‘XLE’ in top-line trim. Shoppers can look for features like a sunroof, remote entry, power accessories, power seats, antilock brakes and automatic climate control. A 6-CD changer, steering wheel mounted audio controls and an auto-dimming rearview mirror were available, too—depending on the year and trim level in question.

Owners taking to the internet with their stories of fifth-generation Camry ownership report the most satisfaction with the quiet ride, roomy interior and fuel mileage. Fit and finish are also highly rated, as is the performance from the V6 engine and the generously-sized trunk. Several owners also report that the fifth-generation Camry is a great-handling car in the snow, too.

2002-2006 Toyota Camry

Justin Pritchard
Justin Pritchard
Automotive expert